Category Archives: Romans

Romans 16 Devotion Guide

[Saturday, 12/05/2012, Read Rom 16:1-27]

We have been looking at Romans using the themes of “accepting one another” and “unity” for this season of devotion at S-Word. The data of Romans 16 ends these themes as well in a “BIG” way.

Just look at the [ATTACHED CHART] which summarizes the DISTRIBUTION of a particular kind of verb used by Paul, the second person (you/you all) commands (imperatives). The green bars totals up these occurrences. Any surprise that most of the verbs occur from Romans 12-16 (practical section) and the number of occurrences in Romans 16 TRUMPS them all?

—-PART 2——
QUESTION: How do I START to practise “accepting one another” and “unity” at S-Word?

ANSWER: One way is to GREET ONE ANOTHER sincerely to express this unity (in view of the various kinds of unity set out in Romans 1-15).

Paul COMMANDS the recipients of the Epistle to the Romans to GREET ONE ANOTHER – Paul gave them a long list to greet :

1. Receive Phoebe and help her (Rom 16:1-2)
2. Greet Priscilla and Aquila (Rom 16:3)
3. Greet a house church (Rom 16:5)
4. Greet Epenetus (1st convert, Rom 16:5)
5. Greet Mary (Rom 16:6)
6. Greet Andronicus and Junias (Rom 16:7)
7. Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord (Rom 16:8)
8. Greet Urbanus & Stachys (Rom 16:9)
9. Greet Apelles (Rom 16:10)
10. Greet household of Aristobulus (Rom 16:10)
11. Greet Herodion (Rom 16:11)
12. Greet household of Narcissus (Rom 16:11)
13. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom 16:12)
14. Greet Persis (Rom 16:12)
15. Greet Rufus (Rom 16:13)
16. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them (Rom 16:14)
17. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them (Rom 16:15)
18. Greet one another (Rom 16:16).
APPLICATION (1): When you greet one another, REMEMBER and THINK of the CONTRIBUTION that person has made for the gospel, like what Paul DID :

1. “She has been a GREAT HELP to many” (Rom 16:2)
2. “They RISKED THEIR LIVES for me” (Rom 16:4)
3. “FIRST convert” in Asia! (Rom 16:5)
4. “Worked very hard for you” (Rom 16:6)
5. They were “IN PRISON WITH ME” (Rom 16:7)
6. “They are OUTSTANDING among the APOSTLES” (Rom 16:7)
7. They were “in Christ BEFORE I was” (Rom 16:7)
8. “Fellow worker in Christ” (Rom 16:9)
9. “Tested and approved in Christ” (Rom 16:10)
10. “Who work hard in the Lord” (Rom 16:12, 13)
11. “Who has been A MOTHER TO ME” (Rom 16:13)

APPLICATION (2): Can you think of a person whom you have DIFFICULTY accepting now? Think how items 1-11 above can be used to DESCRIBE that person whom you have difficulty accepting.
To close the Epistle, Paul still PERSEVERED with his concern for UNITY among the believers in Rome right at the end – Rom 16:17-19 :-

“17 I urge you, brothers, to WATCH OUT for those who CAUSE DIVISIONS and put OBSTACLES in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their OWN APPETITES. By SMOOTH TALK and FLATTERY they DECEIVE THE MINDS of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”

APPLICATION (3): May we strive for “unity” at S-Word so that the “gospel” and “proclamation of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25) can be revealed and made known “so that ALL NATIONS might believe and obey him” (Rom 16:26) and on THAT DAY stand before God justified BY FAITH in UNITY as ONE church of the living God. Amen!


Romans 15 Devotion Guide

[Friday, 11/05/2012, Read Rom 15:1-33]

The “me”, “my” and “mine” mentality, be it “my interest”, “my viewpoint”, “my prerogative” and “my business, not yours” have frequently been at the root of disunity among believers (see Gospels, Acts and Romans).

The perennial “I am right”, “you all are wrong”, “I can see”, “You all are blind” mentality have been the source of many unnecessary pains too.

For situations similar to this, Paul urges the believers in Rome (in view of Romans 1-11):-

1. To “bear with the FAILINGS of the weak” (Rom 15:1). This mentality is contrasted with “not to please ourselves” (Rom 15:1). That’s a tough one.

2. Concentrate on pleasing “his neighbour for his good” (Rom 15:2), with the motivation “to build him up” (Rom 15:2) and not to tear him down. Follow Christ’s example (Rom 15:3).

3. To ACHIEVE “UNITY among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with ONE HEART AND MOUTH you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:5-6). That’s the ultimate concern – God’s glory. Warning: the DISUNITY of believers in Rome (for whatever reason) will jeopardise Paul’s upcoming testimony to the Caesar in Rome.

4. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (Rom 15:7).

5. Paul cites a few Old Testament passage regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles (2Sam 22:50; Psa 18:49; Deut 32:43, Psa 117:1). However, he also cites Isa 11:10 to connect the Gentiles to the “Root of Jesse” (Jesse being King David’s father), highlighting the Jewish connections.

QUESTION: Why did Paul mention the collection of charities in this section – Rom 15:23-33?

6. From Rom 15:23-33, Paul demonstrates the UNITY of OTHER GENTILE communities with Jews by referring to the EXAMPLE of the GENTILE believers in Macedonia and Achaia (Rom 15:26). They are SHARING with the Jewish believers in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26-27).

7. Paul notifies the believers in Rome REPEATEDLY that he IS COMING to see them (Rom 15:32, 23, 24, 28, 29). They better get their house in order so that Paul will come to them “with joy and together with you be refreshed” (Rom 15:32). Such a situation is only achievable if the Gentile and Jewish believers are at peace with one another – which should be the case as “The God of peace be with you all. Amen” (Rom 15:33; Rom 1:7).

Romans 14 Devotion Guide

[Thursday, 10/05/2012, Read Rom 14:1]

Paul’s application of Roman 1-11 becomes more and more specific after Rom 12. The themes of acceptance of one another and unity are becoming clearer. Romans 14 focuses on “the weak”. Romans 15 on “the strong”.

1. ACCEPT the one whose faith is weak (Rom 14:1).

The “weak” in Rom 14:1 seems to be the one who “eats only vegetables” (Rom 14:2) and “abstains” from meat (Rom 14:6). In contrast, the strong “eats anything” (Rom 14:3). However, the issue on food is a “disputable matter” (Rom 14:1).

This is because “all food is clean” (Rom 14:20). But this liberty to consume just about anything we can lay our hands on (just like we Chinese Singaporeans) might become a “stumbling block” and an “obstacle” (Rom 14:13), by which another “brother or sister is distressed” (Rom 14:15) or destroyed (Rom 14:15).

In a gathering of believers in Rome, the Gentiles’ food tastes might cause Jews much discomfort. As such, Paul urges the Gentiles to forgo the consumption of meat which the Jews would consider “unclean”.

2. Apparently, there are those who “consider one day more sacred than another” while another “considers every day alike” (Rom 14:5). The Jews would have more “sacred days” than the Gentiles. The less restrictive behaviour of the Gentiles on a “Jewish sacred day” might cause the Jews distress. Holy days are also disputable matters because “each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind” (Rom 14:5) and keeps (or does not keep) the sacred day “to the Lord” (Rom 14:6).
As such, the acceptance of one another is based on :-

1. The fact that “God has accepted them” (Rom 14:3), the opponents whom you are condemning;

2. The fact that both sides are merely “servants” and “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Rom 14:4). The Final Account is “before God’s judgment seat” on that day (Rom 14:10), NOT NOW, nor before US!

3. The fact that “the kingdom of God is NOT a matter of eating and drinking, but of RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE AND JOY in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). Are you focusing on the NOTs but had ignored that which “is pleasing to God and receives human approval” (Rom 14:18)?

4. The fact that “Peace” and “mutual edification” (Rom 14:19) should become the main motivations of behaviour. Moreover, “NONE of us lives for OURSELVES alone, and NONE of us dies for OURSELVES alone” (Rom 14:7).

5. The fact that what one considers good (Rom 14:16) and has given thanks for (Rom 14:6) should not provoke anger and condemnation from others.

6. The fact that “disputable matters” should be kept PRIVATE: “So whatever you believe about these things keep BETWEEN YOURSELF AND GOD” (Rom 14:22). They should  not be brought up within the spiritual community publicly to be IMPOSED on others, nor asserted in such an UNEDIFYING way as to DISRUPT the “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

Romans 13 Devotion Guide

[Wednesday, 09/05/2012, Read Rom 13:1-14]

Why should Paul ever write Romans 13?

How does Roman 13 fit into what we have been saying since Romans 1?

Paul is on the way to Jerusalem (Rom 15:25) but writes the Romans to the believers in Rome. He discloses his plan to visit the believers in Rome (Rom 15:25-26) AFTER delivering the “contribution” for the poor in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26).

Paul hopes to go to Spain (Rom 15:24) but Rome is THE CITY that he HAS to visit and he has been “longing for many years to see you (believers in Rome)” (Rom 15:23).

In addition, the LORD has said regarding Paul: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the GENTILES and their KINGS …” (Acts 9:15).

The most important “king” before whom Paul is “to carry” the Lord’s name in Paul’s day is the Caesar in Rome, a Gentile! Paul’s testimony and witnessing before the Caesar becomes an IMPORTANT milestone.

IMAGINE: Paul arriving in Rome after travelling from Jerusalem. He travels into the capital and is about to start to witness for Jesus Christ and hopes to incorporate more believers into the church in Rome. But Paul’s witnessing might hit MAJOR OBSTACLES:

OBSTACLE (1). the Gentile and Jewish believers are REJECTING one another before the watching world in Rome (Rom 2:1) and are DIVIDED (Rom 16:17). For this Paul has to require them to practise “acceptance” (Rom 14:1, Rom 14:3, Rom 15:7) in order that the believers there can become a good testimony so as not to hinder the gospel message that Paul is going to preach when he arrives in Rome.

REFLECTION (1): Is there anything more painful in God’s sight than to see a sinner who is saved by grace and not works (Rom 3:24, 4:14, 5:2) BEING UNABLE TO ACCEPT ANOTHER sinner that is ALSO saved by grace and not works?

For this Paul, reminds them that “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME like Sodom, we would have been LIKE Gomorrah” – a gone case (Rom 9:29, citing Isa 1:9). Forgiven sinners speak with less pride while talking to other forgiven sinners.

OBSTACLE (2): The believers in Rome might have hoped to OVERTHROW the Roman government in order to establish their own nation and king. This is especially so for the Jews because “Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:2). The animosity towards the Roman authorities would have, in all likelihood, remained.

For this Paul reminds them not to REBEL against authority because they are something that “God has instituted” (Rom 13:2). Disorderly and unsubmissive attitudes explain their refusal to pay taxes, refusal to give respect and honour to those in authority (Rom 13:7).

REFLECTION (2): A person who has a history of “Does NOT SUBMIT to God’s law” (Rom 8:7), “Did NOT SUBMIT to God’s righteousness” (Rom 10:3) might be more inclined NOT TO SUBMIT to the authorities or be subject to them (Rom 13:1, Rom 13:5). Do I fall into this category?

REFLECTION (3): Paul reminds the Romans of three things:
(a) Love your neighbor as yourself (Rom 13:9),
(b) Love does no harm to a neighbour (Rom 13:10), and
(c) Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10).

Do these reminders fill our thoughts and minds? Do they EMPOWER us in our daily living, especially in relation to civil authorities and those that work under them?

REFLECTION (4): Are we united because of our COMMON LOVE or our COMMON ENEMY?

Romans 12 Devotion Guide

[Tuesday, 07/05/2012, Read Rom 12:1-21]

Rom 12:1-21 is the LOGICAL consequence of Romans ch. 1-11. The “Therefore” of Rom 12:1 becomes a pivot of what follows.

Romans ch. 1-11 can be described as “God’s mercy” (Rom 12:1). Paul highlights that what he has said so far displays God’s mercy for the believers in Rome to SEE. It is because these mercies are kept “in view” (Rom 12:1) that Paul now finds the BASIS to urge them to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”.

All are under God’s wrath (Rom 1). No one is righteous, neither Jews nor Gentiles (Rom 2). All have sinned but can be saved by the substitutionary work of Christ (Rom 3). Righteousness is obtained through faith (Rom 4). Both Jews and Gentiles have links with Abraham (Rom 4) – through faith. We have peace and joy through Christ (Rom 5). Believers should be dead to sin because we are alive in Christ (Rom 6), like being married to Christ only (Rom 7), having life through the Spirit (Rom 8). God is sovereign to bring some Jewish and some Gentile believers to Christ (the “true” Israel) in His own way and time, something which can be investigated but quite unfathomable now (Rom 9-11).

As such, Paul urges the “renewing of your mind” if this will of God is to be absorbed and understood (Rom 12:2).

APPLICATION: Coming back to the theme of unity and acceptance of believers in Christ, Paul reminds the believers :-

1. BE HUMBLE: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Rom 12:3). “Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom 12:10). “Do not be proud… Do not be conceited” (Rom 12:16).

QUESTION (1): Do I FREQUENTLY play the supervisor role when I am NOT the supervisor?

2. BE COMMUNITY MINDED: “We who are many form one body, and each member BELONGS to ALL THE OTHERS” (Rom 12:5). This includes bringing to the COMMUNITY what God has given DIVERSELY (Rom 12:6-8), living “in harmony with another” (Roms 12:16).

QUESTION (2): Am I ALWAYS trying my best to BRIDGE relationships with one another and be the PEACEMAKER?

3. PERSEVERE IN EDIFYING OTHERS: In love (Rom 12:9), in clinging to goodness rather than evil (Rom 12:9), being zealous (Rom 12:11), sharing with those in need with hospitality (Rom 12:13).

QUESTION (3): Can you command the RESPECT of even those who OPPOSED YOU?

4. BLESS, DON’T CURSE: This includes blessing “those who persecute you” (Rom 12:14) [Oh man that’s a tough one], not revengeful (Rom 12:17, 19) but leave it to God (Rom 12:19). Live blamelessly before everyone to the best of our abilities (Rom 12:18). This extends even to doing good towards enemies (Rom 12:20), overcoming “evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

QUESTION (4): Write down all the words that you have said this year and still can remember. Put them on a balancing scale – “blessings” on the left, “curses” on the right. Which side is heavier?

Romans 11 Devotion Guide

[Monday, 06/05/2012, Read Rom 11:1-36]

We should not give up on a group of people when it sometimes seems to you that EVERYONE is beyond redemption. There is only one Saviour, Jesus Christ. Not you.

Rom 11:1-6 refers to Elijah and his encounter with Baal. When Elijah remarked that “I alone am left” to fight for God (Rom 11:3, 1Kgs 18:22, 1Kgs 19:10), God revealed the “seven thousand” that He has kept for himself (Rom 11:4).

Just look at the numbers:
1. Elijah – 1 prophet (1Kgs 18-19);
2. Baal has 450 prophets (1Kgs 18:19);
3. Asherah has 400 prophets (1Kgs 18:19);
4. Obadiah hid 100 of God’s prophets (1Kgs 18:13);
5. God has reserved 7000 prophets in Israel (1Kgs 19:18).

Elijah focused on items 2 & 3, but ignored items 4. Item 5 is UKNOWN to Elijah. The UNKNOWN resources of God (the 7000) OVERWHELM the rest (<1000). Elijah should not think he is the only one left to fight for God. Our perceptions and knowledge are limited.

By focusing on the 7000, Paul is using the Old Testament text of 1Kg 18-19 to APPLY to the Gentiles. He reminds the Gentiles in Rome NOT TO REJECT the Jews there on the FALSE assumption that there are no God fearers among the Jews, or being proud that it’s a Gentiles’ world only now post Pentecost (Acts 2).

APPLICATION (1): Get rid of the “only me” superhero mentality. “Do not be arrogant, but be afraid” (Rom 11:20). Do not be “conceited” (Rom 11:25). The reason is clear: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either” (Rom 11:21).

In fact, through the Jews’ “trespass salvation has come to the GENTILES” (Rom 11:11), “their REJECTION is the RECONCILIATION of the world” (Rom 11:15). Be thankful, Gentiles. But do not gloat over the natural branches that seem to have been chopped off from the tree for now.

Paul is still hopeful: “And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26) because God will still keep His promises. “They [the Jews] are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are IRREVOCABLE” (Rom 11:28).

APPLICATION (2): Acknowledge that God’s wisdom, knowledge, judgments and paths are beyond our understanding often, including the episode of how Jews and Gentiles can come to Christ (Rom 11:33-36). “To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom 11:36).

Romans 10 Devotion Guide

[Sunday, 05/05/2012, Read Rom 10:1-21]

Paul prayed for his fellow Jews in Rom 10:1.

REFLECTION (1): Why did he still pray for his fellow Jews when the majority of them had rejected Jesus?

APPLICATION (1): There will be a remnant of them that remain (Rom 9:27). But we do not know exactly who they are. Only God knows. Therefore, the prayer for salvation must be for everyone that we meet, for now.

REFLECTION (2): What’s wrong with religious zeal of Paul’s fellow Jews?

ANSWER (2): They “sought to establish their own” righteousness (Rom 10:3) in order to please God. Reliance on their OWN righteousness will never work. Christ has come down from heaven to die for us. He died and is buried.

Why “ASCEND into heaven” (Rom 10:6) when Christ has already COME DOWN? Why “bring Christ UP from the dead” (Rom 10:7) when Christ has already RESURRECTED by HIMSELF without our intervention?

REFLECTION (3): Do not do the UNNECESSARY thing (earning salvation by works), when God has done it all through Christ.

In fact, the “word of faith” (Rom 10:8) that Paul is proclaiming is NOT in heaven (Rom 10:7) nor in the depths (Rom 10:7). It is SO NEAR – “it is IN your MOUTH and in your HEART” (Rom 10:8).

REFLECTION (4): Now WHO does Paul quote? He mentions Moses and Deuteronomy! Hey, it’s God’s GRACE through FAITH all along – according to what God has revealed to that generation. Just as the Land of Canaan is a gift for those who believe God enough to acknowledge and receive it (Lev 18:5, Deut 30:12-13), salvation is a GIFT for those who acknowledge their own inadequacies but appropriate God’s provisions for life and relationship with Him.

Consider similar verses from Deu 5:6; Deu 6:4–9; Deu 7:7–9; Deu 10:12-13.

As such, instead of hunting for it, we just need to KNOW IT and ACKNOWLEDGE IT  (Rom 10:2), SUBMIT to it (Rom 10:3).

This involves CONFESSING with your mouths that “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9) and “BELIEVE in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:10).

A ROBOTIC and MINDLESS uttering of the words “Jesus is Lord” without the involvement of the heart (the seat of our emotional, mind and will) will not do.

On the other hand, a GENUINE believing heart would inevitably SHOW ITSELF UP in some form of OUTWARD expression, e.g., CONFESSING with the MOUTH sooner rather than later.

APPLICATION: Share how Romans 1-10 have CHANGED your thinking and behaviour.

Romans 9 Devotion Guide

[Sat, 04/05/2012, Read Rom 9:1-33]

Romans 9:1-11:36 form a sub-unit and should be read together for better understanding.

So is ethnic Israel condemned?  They were the very people of God descending from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also renamed “Israel”) from the Old Testament who rejected Jesus Christ and cruxified Him?

Should Gentiles condemn ethnic Israel then? Did God fail to make good His promises to Abraham and the patriarchs? No! Paul (in Rom 9 to 11) now seems to address the Gentiles and warn them against being conceited (Rom 9:3, Rom 10:1, Rom 11:13, Rom 11:25).

1. No. God did not break His promises. “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (9:6). Paul seems to imply that ethnic Israel DID NOT TOTALLY fail – Paul himself is a good example. In addition, true “Israel” is no longer confined to ethnic Israel. This is especially so post Jesus Christ. Gentiles who believe are also part of the true “Israel”.

2. God’s actions cannot be faulted because He acts as God, dealing with humans: Abraham (9:7), Sarah (9:9), Rebekah (9:10), Isaac (9:11), Jacob (9:13), Esau (9:13), Pharaoh (9:17), Jews (9:24), Gentiles (9:24-26, 30), Israel (9:27), Sodom or Gomorrah (9:29). It is his prerogative to show mercy on whom He has compassion (9:15) or to show wrath (9:28-29).

God is always just and sovereign!

‘What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it NOT BY FAITH but as if it were by WORKS. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”‘ (9:30-32)

1. Gentiles, do not be proud, you all are “saved” not by works. “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (10:12).

2. Warning: God can chop YOU Gentiles off (wild olive, Rom 11:17) if He did not even spare the NATURAL branches (11:21).

4. Don’t write off Israel, because if God is able to do marcotting using “wild olives”, even more so God can graft Israel in again because they are the NATURAL BRANCHES ANYWAY. Indeed, “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26).

If you don’t understand 100%, it’s okay. Even Paul remarked, “How unsearchable his judgments”, “beyond tracing out”, “who has known”? (11:33-34) But we shall understand better one day.

Romans 8 Devotion Guide

[Fri, 03/05/2012, Read Rom 8:1-25]

8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

REFLECTION (1): Why then do we CONDEMN ONE ANOTHER regarding things that do not really matter?

8:8 “Those who are in the realm of the FLESH cannot please God.”

REFLECTION (2): Why then do some believers in Rome insist on circumcision of the FLESH as a way to please God (Romans 2)?

8:9 “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the SPIRIT, if indeed the SPIRIT OF GOD lives IN YOU. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”

REFLECTION (3): Why then do two people who both claim to have the Spirit of God NOT manage to RECONCILE with one another as they are being “led” by the Spirit?

8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

REFLECTION (4): How then is it possible that one child of God treats another child of God hypocritically, and cuts one another up with the most UNKINDEST cuts of all?

8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to SEPARATE US from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

REFLECTION (5): Then how is it that trivial matters (things that do not matter in eternity) can SEPARATE brothers and sisters from speaking lovingly to, and thinking kindly about one another?

APPLICATION: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (15:7).

Romans 7 Devotion Guide

[Thur, 03/05/2012, Read Rom 7:1-25]

Relationship between you and another person (if both are justified by faith), should be characterised by peace (Rom 5:1), reconciliation (5:11), holiness (6:19, 22) and FREEDOM (Rom 7:3). Freedom from what?

QUESTION: Do you not know? (7:1). What? That if a married man dies, the woman is RELEASED from the law of marriage (7:2) – she is free and can now belong to another by remarrying (7:3).

When a believer dies, “the law” cannot hold him any longer. He is free to “belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God” (7:4).

REFLECTION: What is “the law” in Rom 7? Is it the same as the law in “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your LAW”? (Psa 119:18). The same as that in “Great peace have they who love YOUR LAW, and nothing can make them stumble?” (Psa 119:165). Is Paul contradicting Jesus, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, NOT the smallest letter, NOT the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the LAW until everything is accomplished”? (Matt 5:18)

Aiyo, headache, my head is starting to spin again.
NO.  There seems to be a DIFFERENT definition of law in Romans and Psalms. The law referred to by the Psalmist is good as it encompasses the wisdom and will of God that is practised out of gratitude and reverence in response to what God had done for them in Israel’s history – Exodus 20:1-2. Paul even says that “the law is holy … and good” (7:12), “the law is good” (7:16) and “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law” (7:22).

The “BAD law” is a set of “code” that MUST be followed mindlessly, routinely, heartlessly, emotionlessly in order to EARN salvation. The Jewish religious leaders of the 1st century A.D. and their followers had already received the “expanded” version God’s law in the Old Testament. This expansion consists of numerous added oral traditions, minute regulations that micro-manage all parts of daily life to the point of NUMBNESS.

To this kind of tradition, Jesus replied, “Thus you NULLIFY the word of God for the sake of your TRADITION” (Matt 15:6).

The practitioners of this kind of “code” do them for SELF-justification and SELF-elevation. They tend to be PROUD and LOOK DOWN on other believers and CONDEMN them, as in the Roman church.
SPECIFICS: 3 items of this “code” appear in Romans to cause division between the Jews and the Gentiles:-

1. Food issue – eat all things or only vegetables? (Rom 14:2)

2. Holy days issue – all days are alike or one day above another? (14:5)

3. Circumcision – a must for salvation? (Rom 2, 3:1, 4:11).

CONCLUSION: Gentiles should not view the Jewish laws as totally useless, in order to make it an excuse for sinning under grace. Jews should not insist on those 3 items to set themselves apart from the Gentiles and reject the Gentiles who are God’s people in Christ.

APPLICATION: Jewish and Gentile believers (yes, people at S-Word) have similar struggles in living out the abundant life promised by Christ. But note that “We have been released from THE LAW so that we serve in the NEW WAY of THE SPIRIT, and not in the old way of the WRITTEN CODE.” (7:6) Let’s go!