Monday, September 30, 2013

Romans 5:13-14 - Yeshua and Adam Part 2


Paul began his comparison of Yeshua and Adam in verse 12.

Romans 5:12 (KJV)
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

When Adam disobeyed the Word of God by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered into the world. With sin came death for all mankind. The last phrase of the verse says, "for that all have sinned."

Paul then continued.

Romans 5:13-14 (KJV)
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Verses 13 through 17 in Romans form a parenthetical note that ties into verse 12 and helps in the understanding of the last phrase in verse 12. We will cover only verses 13 and 14 today.

Between the time of creation and the giving of the Torah to Moses and the people of Israel, sin was committed (verse 13). But since there was no law, sin could not be imputed to the sinner's account. This statement of Paul seems to contradict the case that he had outlined in the first chapters of Romans, where he had made an important argument about the guilt that all man had regarding sin. Did Romans 5:13 excuse those before the Torah? Obviously not, when we consider God's destruction of the world in the days of the Flood or of Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the wickedness of mankind. So, Paul was not saying that an individual who committed sin during this time was not punished or was not guilty of sin. He or she was subject only to the light of their consciences, not a specific law that demanded the death penalty.

Paul then said that in spite of sin not being imputed to sinners before the Torah, death reigned from Adam to Moses, (verse 14). Therefore, death, as something that comes to all humans, could not have come to those between Adam and Moses because of their own individual sin. Other examples of those who had not sinned in the similitude (or manner) of Adam, besides Paul's example, are unborn babies, or newborns, who have not committed any sin. They still die. Therefore, death resulted to the human race because of something else. Death had to have come only because of Adam's sin.

But this raises an issue since being penalized for someone else's sin runs counter to the principles in God's Word.

Ezekiel 18:20 (KJV)
20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV)
16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Therefore, it is not possible that we are held accountable for Adam's sin. We don't inherit his guilt. This is the point Paul was trying to make. It is only a consequence of Adam's sin.

Finally, Paul introduced the main goal of this section of Scripture, to compare and contrast Adam with "the figure of him that was to come," meaning Yeshua. Stay tuned for next time.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Romans 5:11-12 - Yeshua and Adam


Paul had been listing the many benefits of justification. He added one more.

Romans 5:11 (KJV)
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

We, believers, rejoice in God through Yeshua by whom we have received the atonement (reconciliation). Sinful man, as enemies of God, are reconciled to Him. We belong to Him and He belongs to us!

With so many benefits already mentioned, it is possible that God has more for us? Paul then began an extremely important passage in Romans 5:12-21 where Yeshua and Adam are compared. Whereas Adam wreaked such havoc on the human race, Yeshua is demonstrated as the solution.

Romans 5:12 (KJV)
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Sin entered into the world through one man. This one man was Adam, the very first person created by God. Although, the Genesis account of the fall of man reveals that it was Eve, Adam's wife, who first ate of the forbidden fruit and then gave some to Adam, it is Adam who is held primarily responsible for the act. It was not only in the act of eating the fruit that Adam sinned. The eating of the fruit was the outcome of Adam's choosing to rebel against God's Word, his pride, and his desiring to be like God.

There was no sin in the world before Adam. Although Satan and the other fallen angels had committed sin prior to Adam's, the human race was without sin until Adam.

When sin came into the world, death came in as the penalty or consequence of sin. Prior to Adam there was no death. After Adam all human kind would die as a result. This is the final consequence to which Paul will prove Yeshua is the answer!

But before we go on, we need to look at the last phrase of verse 12 that says, "for that all have sinned:" This phrase has caused a great deal of confusion, misunderstanding, and pages of written theology, that go far beyond the scope of this post. This phrase is where the ideas of original sin come from. Historically, there are about six different theological views regarding original sin. Suffice it to say that without looking at various views, the phrase simply seems to imply that once Adam had sinned God and man were estranged. In this condition, every human being now sins.

Stay tuned for part 2!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Romans 5:1-10 - Benefits of Justification


Paul had just finished his discussion of Abraham's faith. Now he expanded his ideas from verse 25 of chapter 4.

Romans 5:1-10 (KJV)
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Therefore, because we are justified by faith, we can have peace with God through Yeshua (verse 1). It is by Him that we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand (verse 2). We can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Within these first two verses Paul listed two benefits of justification. The first is that we have peace with God. When Adam and Eve sinned, the peace that had existed between God and man was destroyed. We became enemies. By Yeshua's death the ability for peace or reconciliation was restored. The second benefit is that we can rejoice in the glory of God. Because of man's sin, we all fall very short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but by being justified we have the hope of His coming glory, when all will be restored and the Kingdom of God becomes a present physical reality.

The third benefit is that we can glory in tribulations (verse 3). Although glorying in tribulation seems to be a negative thing, the believer knows that tribulation can produce desired results in his or her life. Tribulation can produce patience, waiting on God. Having patience can produce experience of God (verse 4) and experience can produce hope in that future glory. That kind of hope will never let us down (won't make us ashamed) (verse 5), because we can trust in God's promises. We have already experienced the love of God that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. We can trust Him, indeed!

In verse 6 Paul reminded his readers that they were without strength. In other words man is totally unable to save himself. We are all guilty and deserving of death. Yet, Messiah Yeshua, at the right time, died in the place of the ungodly (us). But how unusual was Yeshua's willingness to die in the place of sinful mankind? Although someone might die for a good man, it would be very unusual for someone to die for a wicked man (verse 7). Yeshua died for His very wicked enemies (us)!

An aside: The Greek text in verse 7 doesn't seem to make sense. However, the confusion can be cleared up by looking at the text in Aramaic. In the Greek text, "the Aramaic word rashiaa, which means 'wicked,' has been confused with the Aramaic word zadika 'righteous.' The Eastern text more correctly reads, 'Hardly would any man die for the sake of the wicked, but for the sake of the good one might be willing to die.'" (From Roth, Andrew Gabriel, Aramaic English New Testament, Netzari Press, 2008, footnote 33, p. 470).

Yes, God manifested His love toward us while we were still sinners, when Yeshua died for us (verse 8).

Being justified by Yeshua's blood, how much more will we be saved from wrath through Him (verse 9)? And if we, as enemies, were reconciled to God by His death, how much more will we be saved by His life (verse 10)? These questions bring Romans 4:25 back into focus as a kind of summary. God certainly did a marvelous work in our salvation, yet that is only the beginning. God continues to work for us and within us.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Romans 4:17-25 - Abraham's Righteousness Part 4


Both Jews and Gentiles can receive the righteousness of God by the same kind of faith that Abraham had. Paul described Abraham's faith further.

Romans 4:17-25 (KJV)
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Paul began by quoting Genesis 17:4 (verse 17).

Genesis 17:4 (KJV)
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. (Although Abraham looked upon this in a physical way, God intended it to refer to Abraham's spiritual descendants as well, to those who were grafted into the Kingdom by the same kind of faith that Abraham had.) Abraham believed that God was able to raise the living from the dead (Think about the faith Abraham had when he was willing to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah. This of course also connects to Yeshua's death and resurrection.)  and call into reality those things that aren't real. Paul explained this further in the next verses.

Even though the promises of God seemed impossible, Abraham believed that he would become the father of many nations just as God had said (verse 18). (Mention of "seed" connects back to Genesis 3:15 and Yeshua's being the remedy for man's fall.)

Genesis 3:15 (KJV) 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

And since his faith was not weak, Abraham didn't take into consideration the fact that he had reached the age of about one hundred, where he was unable to have children (verse 19). Nor did he take into consideration the deadness of Sarah's womb. This is how Abraham physically viewed his body. It was dead and only God could make it come alive again.

Instead of unbelief Abraham was strong in faith and gave glory to God (verse 20).

He was confident that what God had promised He could do (verse 21).

Therefore, that faith was imputed (or credited) to Abraham for righteousness (verse 22).

In verse 23 Paul informed his readers that this description of Abraham's faith had not been written for Abraham alone, but also for those who believed in the God who had raised Yeshua from the dead (verse 24). It was Yeshua who had been crucified for our sin and raised again for our justification (or salvation) (verse 25).

This section of Paul's discussion of faith is multifaceted. The verses refer not only to Abraham in both a physical and spiritual sense, but to Yeshua also. The meanings are deep, but the conclusion is simply that we can be justified by Abraham-like faith, trusting in the work that Yeshua accomplished on the cross and the God that raised Him from the dead.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Romans 4:12-16 - Abraham's Righteousness Part 3


Paul was deep into his discussion of Abraham's righteousness by faith that was available to both Jews and Gentiles. He continued.

Romans 4:12-16 (KJV)
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Paul summarized his discussion to this point in verse 12. It was by faith that Abraham received God's righteousness. He received it before he was circumcised, therefore he was the father not only of the Jews, but also the Gentiles who walked by faith in God.

Then in verse 13 Paul began to speak about the promise that God had given to Abraham that he and his descendants would become the heirs of the world (This likely refers to Abraham becoming the father of many nations or the nations being blessed by him.). This promise didn't come by the observance of Torah, but by the righteousness Abraham received through faith.

If the promise had come by being Jewish, then faith was made void and the promise was made of no effect (verse 14). Paul was saying that if only Jews could participate and the receiving of the promise was conditional upon observance of the Torah, faith didn't matter. Also, since Paul had already established that no one had perfectly observed the Torah, the promise would never come about.

In verse 15 Paul stated that the Torah works wrath. In other words, the Torah is a book of instructions. When the instructions are transgressed there is punishment. This is what the Jews deserved. However, the Gentiles were in an even worse position. Where the Torah is not taught, legally there is no transgression. Yet, the Gentiles, as Paul had been arguing, were not without culpability. They did what was right in their own eyes and incurred the wrath of God as well.

If the promise came by being Jewish or by observing Torah, there was no hope. But thankfully, the promise comes by faith (verse 16). It is a result of the grace of God rather than through any act or native inheritance of the recipient. It is therefore available to all the "descendants" of Abraham, to Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Yeshua.

Next will come part 4!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Romans 4:4-11 - Abraham's Righteousness Part 2


Last time Paul was discussing the righteousness that Abraham received by faith. He continued.

Romans 4:4-11 (KJV)
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

In verse 4 Paul declared that the giving of eternal life to a person who earned his or her salvation by doing righteous deeds would be like repaying a debt. It had nothing to do with grace. However, for the person who had not worked for his salvation, but rather believed in the One who gave righteousness to the ungodly, his faith was counted as righteousness and eternal life became a gift of grace (verse 5). It should be stressed that Paul was not saying that anyone could earn salvation. He had already pointed out that "All have sinned." Nor was he saying that righteous deeds played no part in salvation. Righteous deeds are the evidence of salvation.

Next, Paul gave an example in verses 6 through 8 where David had described the blessedness of the man to whom God had imputed righteousness by faith and not works. He quoted Psalm 32:1.

Psalm 32:1 (KJV)
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

The reverse was also true, that the man to whom God did not impute sin, was blessed!

Paul then asked a leading question. Was this blessedness available only to the Jews or to the Gentiles also (verse 9)? Paul's readers were of the opinion that these blessings were reserved for the Jews, so he asked another question. When did Abraham receive God's righteousness? Did he receive it after he was circumcised or before (verse 10)? The fact is that Abraham received God's righteousness before he was circumcised. His circumcision was the sign or seal of God's righteousness that he had already received through faith (verse 11). By this, Abraham became the father of all of them that believe whether circumcised or not. God's righteousness could be imputed to both Jews and Gentiles.

Although circumcision was an advantage that the Jews had over the Gentiles, it was the sign that the Jews were in covenant with God. It was not a barrier to the Gentiles participating in the covenant. Abraham's receiving God's righteousness by faith before circumcision was the proof that both Jews and Gentiles could participate.

Paul's argument will continue next time!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Romans 4:1-3 Abraham's Righteousness


After Paul's conclusion that both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith, the Jewish readers were undoubtedly disturbed. Although Scripture is really very clear that deeds of the Torah don't mean anything without faith in God, many of the Jews of the first century had lost sight of this truth as evidenced by the following:

John 8:33 (KJV)
33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

Practically, the Jews had come to believe that the righteousness of Abraham could be credited to his descendants and result in their justification. So, as we come to chapter 4 of Romans we see that Paul had anticipated how his readers would question him.

Romans 4:1-3 (KJV)
1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul's question in essence was, "What did Abraham find in his works that were done in his own efforts (verse 1)?" Paul's answer was that if Abraham had been justified by his works he could have boasted (verse 2). In many ways Abraham was an example of someone who obeyed God and did righteous deeds. Just think of Abraham's obedience in offering Isaac on Mount Moriah. Yet, Abraham knew that he had not followed God completely and could not boast before God. He would not have been saved by his works. However, what does the Scripture say (verse 3)? Paul quoted Genesis 15:6.

Genesis 15:6 (KJV)
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abraham believed God and that was what granted him justification. His faith counted for righteousness in the eyes of God, not his works.

The theme of Abraham and faith will continue next time!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Romans 3:21-31 - Justified by Grace Through Faith

Based on Paul's letter to the Romans up to this point, mankind's situation is nothing short of dire. Can you imagine the Roman believers reading this and what they must have thought? Yet, Paul was not one to pull punches. He told the world what it needed to hear, not necessarily what it wanted to hear. But was there any hope?

Romans 3:21-31 (KJV)
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

"But now!" With this small phrase, Paul changed his direction (verse 21). Now the righteousness of God is manifested outside of the Torah and it is attested to by the Torah and the prophets. Paul was acknowledging that the Torah was the manifestation of the righteousness of God. But with the birth of Yeshua, the righteousness of God was visibly embodied in Yeshua. This should not have been a surprise to anyone since God's plan of redemption was contained in the Torah and in the prophets (meaning the Old Testament).

The righteousness of God which comes by faith in Yeshua is available to all, but to those who trust in Yeshua by faith receive the righteousness of God (verse 22). It didn't matter if one was a Jew or a Gentile, because all have sinned and have come short of God's glory (verse 23).

Justification (the legal declaration of blamelessness or absence of guilt) is made available by God's grace through redemption in Yeshua (verse 24). Justification is free for us. We don't have to pay the penalty for our sin. Yeshua is the one who redeems us. Redemption could be described as paying a penalty or paying a ransom for someone's deliverance.

It was God who set Yeshua as the instrument of making peace between God and man (verse 25). The peace comes through faith or trust in Yeshua's shed blood. God declared that this satisfied the debt that sinners owed. God legally refrained from exacting the debt from us and the sins committed previously were pardoned.

Through all and at this time, God's righteousness is demonstrated (verse 26). He, in His actions, remains righteous, but also makes righteous those who believe in Yeshua.

So can anyone boast (verse 27)? No! By what Torah can the Jews boast against the Gentiles? Can they boast about a Torah of works whereby they can be saved? No, but they can boast of the Torah of faith.

Therefore, Paul concluded, a man is justified by faith, outside of the deeds of Torah (verse 28).

In verse 29 Paul stated that God is not only the God of the Jews, but He is also the God of the Gentiles.

Since there is ONE GOD who justifies both Jews and Gentiles by faith (verse 30), is the Torah made void (ineffective or without legal force) (verse 31)? Again, Paul responded with his shocked phrase, "God forbid!" Rather the Torah is established.

Paul really was saying that the Torah is not a rule book that the Jews were to follow mechanically, that that was enough to save them. Rather, the Torah is a book of faith that outlines how God wanted His people to live with Him in holiness and how to go about being holy. Paul wasn't some new prophet or teacher who came to teach a new way, but someone who came to establish (or to give the right understanding of) the Torah. Faith has always been God's way, but too often man perverts what God says. In true understanding we need to see how essential the Torah requirements are to our lives, not only in Old Testament days, but in our present, as well.

(Paul addressed how faith and Torah work together in chapters 7 and 9-11.)

Next, Paul continued on his examination of salvation by faith! Stay tuned for my next post!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Romans 3:9-20 - None Righteous


Paul said that there were advantages in being Jewish. Having the Word of God was the primary one.

Romans 3:9-20 (KJV)
9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Paul asked the next logical question. Did that mean that the Jews were better than the Gentiles (verse 9)? His answer in the KJV is, "No, in no wise." Other translations use, "No, not at all." However, the Greek is ou pantos, ou meaning "no" or "not" and pantos meaning "entirely, wholly, certainly." Together, as David Stern points out in the Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc, Clarksville, Maryland, 1992, p. 341-342) the literal meaning seems to be "not entirely." Paul was acknowledging that because the Jews had the Word of God, they had the advantage over the Gentiles and should have been better. However, as Paul had been proving, both Jews and Gentiles were on equal footing when it came to sin.

Paul then began a list of the common ground that the Jews and Gentiles had regarding sin. He pulled his list from the Old Testament where, "it is written." No one is righteous (Psalm 14:3) (verse 10). No one understands and no one seeks God (Psalm 14:2 and 53:2) (verse 11). They are all gone out of the way,  they have become unprofitable, and none do good (Psalm 14:3) (verse 12). They speak deceitfully and in other evil ways (Psalm 5:9) (verse 13). They speak in curses and bitterness (Psalm 10:7) (verse 14). They shed blood (verse 15). Their ways lead to destruction and misery (verse 16). Their ways are not peaceful (Isaiah 57:21) (verse 17). They have no fear of God (Proverbs 1:17, Psalm 36:1, Ecclesiastes 12:13) (verse 18).

Again, Paul was painting a very dark picture of mankind. Although he understood that man is capable of doing good deeds, our bent is to do otherwise. There is no one who is really righteous by nature.

In verse 19 Paul said that whatever the law says (and he is referring to those comments taken from the Old Testament in verses 10 through 18) is said to the Jews. So, if the Jews, with the advantage of the Word of God, were guilty before God, the Gentiles, without that guidance of the law, were also guilty (Paul proved this already in 1:18-2:16).

Paul summarized in verse 20. The Jews often claimed superiority over the Gentiles, when they should have understood how sinful man really is, since they knew the law and saw how both groups missed the mark. Obviously, no one could claim justification by their deeds.

An aside: After reading this section of Romans, I was struck by some of the wisdom that is expressed in Christianity today. I've often seen comments like, "I'm not perfect, but God loves me anyway." Although this statement is true in a very generic sense, the tone implies that God doesn't care about how much we sin, or even approves of our sin so that our salvation from such sin is magnified. Paul's condemnation of mankind, both Jew and Gentile, should cause us to look deep within ourselves to see the evil that lurks there and be determined to allow the Holy Spirit to remove any and all sin found within.

What did Paul say next? Was there more condemnation, or was he ready to give his readers some good news?