Part 6 – Real Change Comes From God
People are encouraged to change to become ‘better’ people by the advertising industry because they know how insecure all people are, and that in our insecurity we’ll do (or buy) just about anything to make us better. Although humans are certainly capable of making changes in their life, and we should strive to make ourselves ‘better’ or more mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively, there’s one area that we CANNOT improve or change on our own – and that’s in regards to our spiritual condition. Humans spend a lifetime trying to ‘make things right’ between themselves and their Creator, but it is NEVER on God’s terms; it is always man’s way and (as you will soon see as we move through Romans 1) it is not towards the Holy God of the Bible, nor for His glory. Man can reform and inform; but only God can transform. Man can change a habit, but only God can change a nature.
Verses sixteen and seventeen were not only vital in the spiritual transformation of Martin Luther, but they are fundamental in understanding the Christian faith and are the coup de grâce (death blow) to the erroneous view of a works-oriented salvation. There are four key words/phrases in understanding the Gospel in these verses, which in turn will help unravel the endearing truth of the rest of the Book of Romans.
- “the power of God” – our salvation is all about the ‘power of God’ transforming we as sinners, and NOT about any power that we have to contribute to our salvation. It’s all about the Lord God and His powerful grace through Christ.
- “salvation” – the Greek word ‘soteria’ means ‘deliverance’ or ‘rescue’ and the idea behind God’s salvation of sinners is NOT about delivering or rescuing us from natural or supernatural enemies, although in His providence and grace the Lord may very well do that. We, as spiritually dead and rebellious sinners, need to be delivered, rescued, saved from the wrath of God; our rebellious and spiritually dead sinful nature; the grip or ownership of the devil; and the negative influence of the world system we live in. God in His amazing mercy and grace through Christ ‘saved’ us from these factors, and delivered us into His family; into the Light of His presence; and into a justified state before the Holy, Holy, Holy God. All for His good pleasure!
- “faith” – faith isn’t just ‘believing’ because plenty of people ‘believe’ that Jesus truly existed and even believe the truth about him. Saving faith is ‘trusting’ Jesus Christ with our entire life, which causes us to depend on nothing but the work and person of Christ for our salvation. And this ability to trust Christ – to have saving faith – is a gift given to us by the Spirit through Christ as ordained by the Father, because spiritually dead sinners are not capable of – nor do they want to – muster up within themselves a trust in One that they spiritually hate. Once again, it’s all by God’s grace.
- “righteousness” – the goal of our salvation is to be declared or made righteous (right, holy, justified) so that we can legitimately stand in the Lord’s presence as His redeemed children. We cannot make ourselves ‘righteous’ through our good deeds, heritage, or by any other means. But fortunately for us, the Lord God makes us righteous through the perfect righteousness of Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf and His perfect life has been applied to our lives when we came to a gracious faith in Him. We are now righteous because He is righteous. He has become for us righteousness. We are righteous because our life is His life.