Romans 1-4 Overview (No Longer Slaves Series)
Jason White


How good is the good news? As we begin our series on Romans 5-8 today, Pastor Jason takes us on an overview of Romans 1-4 and shows us how good the good news really is!

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes





Sermon Audio Transcript
Several years ago, a man in his late 50’s/early 60’s came up to me after I had finished preaching and asked if he could talk to me. And so we went some place a little more private, and he just began to weep and started opening up about all of these problems and struggles that he was having in his life…His marriage was falling apart, he was having problems with his adult kids, he couldn’t hold down a job…and as a result he started drinking and over the years had become an alcoholic… He used words like bondage, enslaved, it has a hold or a grip on my life. He felt stuck…like there was no real hope and he was searching for answers and hoping that maybe Jesus had something to offer himAnd honestly, maybe there are some of you who are even here today or watching online and you know that feeling…whether it’s some of the same problems you struggle with or something different, you know what it feels like to walk in bondage…to be a slave to alcohol…or to be a slave to food or to sex or pornography…you know what it’s like to be a slave to work, to performance or achievement…you know what it’s like to be a slave to fear or condemnation…you know what it’s like to be in bondage to depression, or loneliness, or to even be a slave to social media, video games, or your phone, or any number of other things…And if that’s you, I don’t have to tell you how hard life can be, you know the pain, the struggle, the hopelessness…and maybe that is why you are here today…you are searching for answers… Jesus?BUT you know there are some of us who are here today, and we know Jesus…but we face many of the same struggles…we too live in bondage to many of the same things that we just talked about… we too feel enslaved…stuck…like we really can’t get past certain sins in our lives, and there’s frustration and we wonder if we are missing something in the Christian life…like how to make it work…or maybe it doesn’t…maybe you’ve started to think you may just have to suffer through it, but at least you have heaven to look forward to at some point…BUT until then this will just be my life…a life of bondage and slavery and just filled with problems that I can’t overcome.Well, listen if you are here this morning and that is you, I am here to tell you this morning that it does not have to be that way…that the gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) isn’t just some future promise of a better life, but it has present implications for the things that can have such a hold or grip on us in this life…And that’s not just my opinion, it’s the truth…because this message is found in God’s Word. And one of the places in God’s Word where this is seen is in chapters 5-8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul says things like Christians are those “who have died to sin and are alive in Christ”(6:11)… He says “Sin shall no longer be our master” (Ro. 6:14).. He says “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”(8:1) and that “The Holy Spirit we received in our lives does not make us slaves, so that we live in fear but rather has brought about our adoption into His family, where we get to experience an intimate relationship with Him.” (8:15-16)And so we see even in just mentioning a few things in this section of Romans that there is hope for our present lives and that we can live victoriously over these things that can have such a grip and hold on our lives…And so what we are doing today is starting a new message series that we are calling “No Longer Slaves,” and what we will do each week for the next 8 weeks is walking through Romans 5-8 verse by verse, unpacking what Paul is teaching to the church at Rome 2,000 years ago and seeing how it still applies to our lives today. My hope is that you will begin to experience freedom from the slavery and bondage to the things of this world and begin to walk in victory and the abundant life that Jesus came to offer.GOD - Ok, so let’s get started…and today what we are going to do is lay the groundwork for what Paul is going to say in ch. 5-8. So I want to kind of summarize what Paul is doing overall in this letter and outline ch. 1-4 so we have the context for when we jump into ch. 5 next week.And really what Paul is doing is sharing the full gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) with this church in Rome. Look at what he writes in Ro. 1:14-16…14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believesSo Paul says, “I’m so eager to preach the gospel to you.” Why? Well b/c Paul didn’t plant this church and had never met these Gentile and Jewish Christians…and they had never met him…they had never sat under his teaching.They had probably heard bits and pieces of what Paul had taught from other people but they hadn’t heard the full gospel from him… And so, a lot of what follows from here in this letter is kind of like Paul’s doctrinal statement on the gospel. Romans is the most extensive teaching of the gospel from Paul that we have. And remember, “gospel” simply means “good news. But Paul knows that to truly understand and appreciate the good news, you have to know how bad the bad news really is…and that is what Paul talks about first, beginning in 1:18 and all the way through 3:20… And what Paul basically is showing them and us is how every one of us are lost because of sin and therefore without hope. And so in the rest of ch 1 he starts off by saying that basically what we have each done is exchanged the glory of the Creator for his creation. We’ve made idols out of his creation, and we worship them instead of Him as the Creator. We take things that were designed by our Creator to play one function in our life and we pervert it and twist it to be used as a different function…and to bring us life/satisfaction.Example: So we go eat some great barbecue at Stanleys…and what that is meant to do is to cause us to look to God and say “Thank you for this amazing creation of yours…all praise glory and honor to you to create something so amazing and enjoyable for us,” …But what we do instead is say, “Oh there’s so much life in this food. I’m finding pleasure and satisfaction in it, and our response is to go eat more barbecue to try to find life and fulfillment and satisfaction in it.” We’ve exchanged the glory of the Creator for his creation.And that may be a silly example, but we do this with all kinds of things… physical intimacy, $, entertainment, technology, & on & on… We worship the creation and the temporary satisfaction it can bring us instead of God who provides ultimate satisfaction. We exchange the glory of the Creator for the creation…And in doing so Paul says in vs. 29-31 that we become gossips, slanderers, and God-haters…people who are full of greed, deceit, envy, strife, arrogance, wickedness, and evil. And yeah, he says all of this before he ever even gets out of the first chapter!Then as he gets into chapter 2, he makes sure that just in case the Jewish people in the audience thought that they were any better b/c they were part of God’s chosen people in the O.T. that they knew they weren’t…& they certainly weren’t going to get out of the situation by obeying the law (which will talk more about ltr)He wants to make sure that everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, know how bad their situation really is… So then as he gets into the middle of chapter 3, he just kind of stops and sums it all up to make sure they didn’t miss the point. Listen to what he says starting in Romans 3:9…9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” Well that should just about sum it up, huh? We are all under the power of sin, he says in verse 9…it’s got a grip on you…you are a slave to it…and therefore because it’s got such a hold on you your life is marked with ruin and misery and lack peace…No matter how many idols you find to try and bring you satisfaction and fulfillment, you’ll never find that ultimate peace in them…You’ll constantly be searching and needing more, and your life will as a result be marked with ruin and misery. And also you can try to be more moral than others and look around and justify yourself when comparing in your own mind, but remember they are not the standard…God is! And so, you are in the same boat…enslaved to the power of sin & never able to measure upThat’s about as bad as bad news can get…we are all declared a guilty sinner by God…we are slaves to sin…it has a grip/hold on our lives.But then starting in verse 21, Paul, thank goodness, begins to unpack how good the good news really is…21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.So Paul says “all are justified freely” but what does that mean? What does it mean to be justified? Well, the greek word for justified is the from the same root word as the one that is translated “righteousness” in verse 21-22…So to be justified is to be made right…to be made right with God. If you are justified, that means that you who once stood before God as a guilty sinner have now been declared and made innocent and righteous. But the question is, “how is that possible?” Well, look at v. 24 again…24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.So let’s talk about both of those things a little bit more. First, Paul says we are justified freely by “his grace.” And grace of course, is a gift…meaning that however this is possible, it didn’t come from anything you did. It came from God as a gift to you. Then, Paul tells us next that it came “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Redemption means to “liberate by paying a price.” This word is similar and related to the word “ransom” that is used throughout the N.T. And in Paul’s day the words referred to the way in which people could pay money to buy the freedom of slaves. In other words, “Jesus paid the price that you owed to be set free from the slavery of sin…from being a guilty sinner before the Lord.” And of course the price that had to be paid was death. Paul goes on to say in verse 25…25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.The price that had to be paid was death, and Jesus paid it for you so that you could be forgiven and set free from the slavery of sin. And of course as Paul says here at the end of v.25 and as he said in 22, this is applied to each one of us through faith. When we put our faith in His finished work on the cross to purchase us back, we are declared innocent and made right with God.Now that is some really good news! Especially when we consider how bad the bad news really was…that none of us had a chance, we were guilty and rotten to the core. But God stepped in and made a way when there was no way out for us. And this is what Paul is driving home in his unpacking of the gospel to the Romans…He wanted to make sure they understood what the TRUE gospel really was…that thru faith (not by works) all people can be justified (declared righteous) before God. So in the next chapter (4) he just continues to drive home that this is applied thru faith and not by works by using the example of Abraham and how when we receive Jesus by faith, He brings us all into one family (father of many nations)…Jews and Gentiles…and of course this is what is called “the Church”The gospel gives us a family to belong to and to walk with on this new journey of faith…rescued by ransom & given freedom & a family!So that is what Paul does in the opening chapters 1-4…He has laid the groundwork on justification through faith…and now as he turns the corner into ch. 5, he is going to show the results of justification in our lives. We won’t dive into details but look at how he starts ch. 5…1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith…“so now that I’ve show you that we have been justified through faith, let me show you what the results of that justification are…And He will show that those benefits are both future and present. And so I can’t wait to dive into those starting next week…so we can see how this leads to us “no longer being slaves”…YOU - But before we start thinking too far ahead there are applications for us in what we’ve looked at today. B/C what we really saw in Paul’s explanation of the gospel was the reality of who we areWho we really are apart from Christ & who we are if we are in Christ. So we are either a guilty sinner in the eyes of God or we are righteous in the eyes of God. And as Paul painted the picture, we saw how drastically far apart the 2 extremes are.And I think it is really healthy for us to have the proper perspective… to see the reality of where we are at today and either how far we really are from God or how far we’ve really come in order to be with Him. Because when we see that reality…it prompts a response in our lives.It prompts a response if you are here today and you’ve never received Jesus into your life…Because if you see the truth of what Paul was saying today…that sin has a hold on your life…that no one is righteous…that you are a guilty sinner…and there is nothing you can do in and of yourself to be declared righteous before God. When you really begin to see the truth of that…then the only proper response is to fall on your face before God and say “I am a sinner who is in need of your grace,” and put your faith in Jesus to forgive you and declare you righteous before God. And I hope and pray that is the choice that you’ll make. God loves you and that is why He made a way when there was no way for you to be reconciled to Him.But here’s the response it prompts for those of us who have already said yes to Jesus. We begin to trust that we are radically different than who we once were. We may not feel like we are different…we may have struggles and feel like we are in bondage to certain things in this world and that we really don’t have what it takes to live the Christian life victoriously…But Paul says that if you have received Jesus by faith that you have been justified and made righteous…Paul would even say it this way in 2 Cor. 5:2121 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Is that how you see yourself this morning? As the righteousness of God? In Christ that is who you are…you are radically different than you used to be and as you continue to learn more about this and walk by faith that it is true, you will begin to experience victory and freedom in your life b/c you are no longer a slave.When we see how far we’ve come, it grows our love and appreciation for God…Luke 7 (dinner…sinful woman comes in & worships Jesus… Jesus tells Simon that whoever has been forgiven a lot loves a lot but whoever has been forgiven little, loves little…$ & debt ex)