Romans 1:18-2:29, Psalm 45


Like I mentioned yesterday, obedience to God plays a prominent role in Romans. Paul claims the main reason we disobey God is idolatry, and idolatry is simply a choice to worship creation above the creator (Romans 1:21-31). The consequences for “following evil” is the wrath of God (Romans 2:8), while those who persist in doing good will inherit eternal life (Romans 2:7). Paul insists that obedience, even to the common law given to everyone via the conscience is superior to merely being a recipient of God's laws (Romans 2:13). Paul reiterates that those circumcised (Jewish males) who disobey God might as well be uncircumcised, while the uncircumcised (Gentiles), in doing what their God-given conscience prescribes (Romans 2:25-27), prove obedient to God. Perhaps it is shocking for us read Paul's next words, the one who so often declares we are saved by faith, that “it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13) Certainly Paul will explain how it is faith that actually saves us, but in this section Paul sounds like obedience also is salvific. That is not exactly right. Paul is simply saying those who obey God are those that show they have faith in God as opposed to those who truly rely on their pedigree or ethnic identity for God's favor. Those who are justified are those who obey, because those who genuinely have faith that saves, will obey God. Faith is the means of salvation, but obedience reveals our faith is bona fide. Such genuine faith is possible for both Jew and Gentiles as they respond to the Gospel. Romans is famous for its lofty and brilliant theology, but we miss its main message if we think we are only supposed to understand the truths found in this letter. We are to obey the Gospel, for though it is a message of Jesus' works, it still makes demands upon our lives.