Reading for Monday, Feb. 6: Romans 5
Reconciliation and justification emerge as some major themes in the first part of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The justification that he discussed in chapter 4 restores peace between God and humanity. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5.1). We are a people longing for peace. As a minister, I speak to so many guilt-wracked people, men and women who carry around these burdens, whether it’s past sins, current struggles, relationship problems, wayward children, etc. What they’re most hungering for — what we’re ALL hungry for — is a word of peace and hope. To know that all of this strife and burden doesn’t have the final word in our lives.
Paul lays out a trajectory that helps make sense of our struggles. Sufferings produce endurance; endurance produces character; character produces hope; and hope leads us to God’s love that has been poured into our hearts (v5). In our weakness, we can remember that Christ died PRECISELY BECAUSE we are weak and incapable of justifying ourselves before God. This, for Paul, is cause for rejoicing (v11).
Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus in the second part of the chapter. Sin and death entered into the world through Adam (v12), but grace and life come through Christ. The sin we read about in Genesis 3 was a “game-changer”. God created the world, called it good and intended for His creation to bear witness to His glory. (This is part of our understanding of humanity being made in God’s image, Genesis 1.27.) Yet, through sin, this image is marred and corrupted. And we all participate in this same willful disobedience (Rom. 3.23). The condemnation we experience as a result of sin — personified here by Adam and his disobedience — is overcome through the justification we know in Christ. Romans 5.17 speaks of the “abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” that are ours in Christ. Now sin no longer has the last word. Instead, “as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom. 5.21).