II ROMANS 17
Romans 6 & 7
GOD’S WILL IS THE ONLY STANDARD OF RIGHT AND WRONG
We live in a world of pragmatic rationalism. Don’t stumble over those two words because I am about to tell you what I mean by that. The standard of the world, which I used to hear often quoted by a church leader, was, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. If it works, according to the standards we work by, don’t change it. Every televangelist, who becomes popular and builds a large following, uses that criterion. If it appeals to people and causes more to come to my church, then that is what works and it is the right thing to preach.
A young lady was sent to me once for counseling. Her mother had insisted that she come. She was wanting to live with her boy friend, without the benefit of marriage. She said, “Mother does not approve of it, but I think it is all right”. I asked her what standard she was using by which to decide it was all right. Saying it is “all right” means you know there is a difference in right and wrong. I just want to know what the standard is that differentiates between the two. Of course, she was silent. I pointed out that the standard she was using was the standard of the world, i.e., if it makes me happy, it is right. Then the only standard of right and wrong is what you want, and the rules of morality, or the will of God, are not to be considered.
That is pragmatic rationalization. If it works to make me happy, then it is right. The 6th and 7th chapters of Romans were written by the Apostle Paul to combat this philosophy. His argument is that sin is a violation of God’s will, separates us from our source of life, and results in spiritual death. He makes it plain that when one follows the path of sin, he becomes the slave of sin and ceases to be a servant of God.
When Paul said, in the Ephesian letter, “By grace are you saved through faith”, he was talking about a special kind of faith. It was not just faith in Jesus that causes one to be baptized and verbally accept Christ as the Savior. It was the kind of living faith that governs your behavior every day. It was the kind of faith James referred to when he said, “Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Faith is the on-going motivation that causes the Christian to be an imitator of Jesus in all that he does.
Some argue that once you are saved by God’s grace, you cannot be lost, or that you cannot fall from grace. Paul writes the entire 6th and 7th chapters of Romans to say that this is not true, and to warn all men that God’s grace is only extended to those whose faith makes them take God’s will as their only standard of right and wrong. We will see, as we get into chapter 7 more deeply, that Paul says we often fail to live up to that standard, but that the one who has faith in God realizes when he fails, repents and is sorry for his failure. He does not rationalize it and think it is all right because it makes him happy.
The televangelist tells you that God wants you to be happy, and if money makes you happy, then He wants you to be rich. God’s word says the love of money is the root of all evil. Take your pick. You will choose either what the Bible says or, “If it works to make me happy, don’t tell me it’s wrong and should be changed”. In our next essay, covering chapter 7, we will see Paul’s answer to this false reasoning.