Category Archive: Bible – NT – Romans
In a footnote inÂ The Gospel in Genesis (p. 101n6), Warren Austin Gage points out that when Paul traces the revelation of God’s wrath against ungodliness in Romans 1:18-32, he follows the order of God’s judgments in Genesis 3:14-19: first the beast (Rom. 1:23, 25; Gen. 3:14-15), then the woman (Rom. 1:26; Gen. 3:16), and finally the man (Rom. 1:27ff.; Gen. 3:17-19).
This chapter shines a bright spotlight on the dangerous half-truth, currently fashionable, that “God accepts us as we are.” Indeed, the question of 6:1 could be read as raising exactly this question: Will “God’s acceptance” do as a complete grounding of Christian ethics? Emphatically not. Grace reaches where humans are, and accepts them as they are, because anything less would result in nobody’s being saved. Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone.
But grace is always transformative. God accepts us where we are, but God does not intend to leave us where we are. That would be precisely to “continue in sin, that grace may abound.”
Unless we are simply to write Romans 6 out of the canon, the radical inclusivity of the gospel must be matched by the radical exclusivity of Christian holiness. There is such a thing as continuing to let sin reign in one’s mortal body, and it will require serious moral effort to combat this tendency.
The idea that Christian holiness is to be attained by every person simply doing what comes naturally would actually be funny were it not to prevalent. True freedom is not simply the random, directionless life, but the genuine humanness that reflects the image of God. This is found under the lordship of Christ. And this lordship makes demands that are as testing and difficult as they are actually liberating (p. 548).