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Joshua was one of the two brave spies that were sent out to check out the land God had promised to the Israelites. He then emerges as Moses’ assistant who is called by God to lead the people into the Promised Land. He does not have Moses any longer or all the details, but God has called Joshua to something much bigger than him. In the midst of fear, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because He is with him, and the same goes for us.
In the final pages of his letter, Paul stresses unity within the body of believers. We are to take encouragement from the scriptures and in Christ as our example in living in acceptance of one another. Paul reminds us that we are competent ministers of the gospel by internalizing the amazing grace of God. Now it is our job to share the gospel with others. At the end of this letter, Paul expresses his affection for the Romans. He also gives them a final warning to watch out for false doctrines and teachings and to beware of those who cause division among them.
Paul charges us to clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus and live as His children in this present world. He encourages us to consider everything we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. It is a call to do what leads to peace and mutual edification within the body of Christ. In these chapters, Paul was mainly concerned with urging Christian congregations to behave in ways that would not attract the negative attention of pagans or authorities and to make sure that interpersonal behavior of church gatherings promote unity, not division.
Paul encourages us to be living sacrifices in view of the mercy we have received in Christ Jesus. We do this through renewing our minds to the truth of God’s word, serving and blessing the body of Christ through our gifts, and above all by loving and being devoted to one another. Romans 12 is a call to live a life of peace, faithfully serving the Lord in all things and overcoming the evil of the world by faith. Our actions are a result of what we think. Intellectually, we may believe something to be true, but our real convictions show through our actions. This is why it is so important to renew our minds with the Word of God. Life and godliness is a byproduct of knowing God and what He says.
Paul taught that it is not natural children that are God’s children, but rather children of the promise. He uses the example of the Israelites who pursued righteousness by the law without obtaining it, and Gentiles who pursued it by faith and obtained righteousness through Jesus Christ. He gives a sobering call that faith in Christ alone saves us. Although Israel as a whole rejected Jesus as the Messiah, there is still a remnant chosen by grace. Their dismissal of Jesus has blessed the world because this salvation message was then opened to the Gentiles. However, they have not fallen beyond recovery and in the end, Israel will be saved through faith.
Christians are to no longer live according to the desires of their flesh or sinful inclination, but rather according to and empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we live according to the Spirit of God, He gives us the power to escape all the condemnation and guilt that life throws our way. Understanding this grace is the key to living free, pursuing the life for which the Lord has set us apart. God provided everything in our redemption to enable us to live a life worthy of our calling. He wants us to live a victorious life by the Spirit of God, a life of peace and joy.
Paul eloquently teaches that when we are born again, sin’s power is broken in our lives. He maintains that we are freed from sin and made alive to God through Jesus Christ. Our old sinful nature was crucified with Him when we were baptized into His death. Now through Jesus, we have received the gift of God, which is eternal life. Paul shows us the contrast between living bound to the law and living by the Spirit of God. The struggle with sin may still be evident, but Paul maintains we have no obligation to succumb to it. We are instructed to live by the Spirit and bear fruit according to our new nature.
We all struggle with the truth that we are saved by faith alone, that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s mercy and grace. The best of our works cannot justify us. Paul explained that the purpose of God’s law was to define sin not to save us from our sinfulness. He expounded on that truth, stating that what the righteousness of the law was powerless to provide, God gave by sending His own Son, Jesus. Paul maintains that this righteousness comes by faith to all who believe in Christ Jesus apart from obeying the law.
In the opening of Romans, Paul introduces himself as an apostle appointed to spread the gospel about Jesus, the Good News that tells of God’s power to save people from the consequences of their sin, and reveals the righteousness of God. Paul explains that all people are trapped in the spiral of sin and selfishness. The human heart and mind are broken, turning from God to idolatry which results in destructive behavior. God rightly judges each person for what they have done, regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile, looking at the intents of their hearts. But God’s intent is to not merely judge the world’s sin, but also to set right the sinner.
The church is a collective of creators and co-creators working together in unity to paint a picture of God’s kingdom. God uses each of our gifts and talents to create a work infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. When God’s people respond to the ugly divisiveness and violence of the world with the beauty of love, peace, and unity - this is the beauty of the Church!