To this point, Romans 1-4, we have learned that not only are the Gentiles (non-Jews) guilty of sin, but also the Jews are guilty of the same. The significance of the Law of Moses was to point this out (3:20), but also to speak of justification apart from the Law. The standard example of justification is seen in Abraham. Just as Abraham was justified, those who respond in faith as Abraham did will have the peace that he had. This peace is not peace from the world’s perspective or afflictions, but peace between God and the individual who responded in faith. Along with this peace there is hope (5:5). The significance of what God did in Christ is seen in His having done so even while man was living in rebellion to his Creator. Sin entered the world through disobedience; the result of that sin brought death into the realm of the natural world. Since that time man has been plagued with the burden that death brings. On the other hand, with the actions of Jesus He brought life into the physical realm, that is, spiritual life. Thus, those who respond to God in faith are the recipients of that life. The contrast is before us: to get out of the realm of the physical and into the realm of the spiritual, that is, heavenly, one responds to God in faith. RT
When Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome he knew well the difficulties associated with living as the Lord’s light in the midst of a dark world. He also knew what it was to live in a world with competing ideas, even ideas that once came from God; this is what Paul addressed in chapter 2. The problem was not (and never has been) God, but those who identify themselves with God. This the Jews did. As Paul addressed the Jewish mindset, he addressed that which plagues man in general, and not just the Jews; that which plagued them (and us) is hypocrisy. With regard to their way of thinking, they insisted on having others obey the standard in Moses’ Law, but those insisting did not even live by the standard they affirmed. This hypocrisy brought discredit to them and to the Lord they so readily promoted. Moreover, the Jewish mindset was a mindset that did not even understand the purpose of Moses’ Law; they placed emphasis on physical obedience when there should have been emphasis placed upon the heart, that is, they were to obey from the heart the Lord’s will (2:28-29). With the heart properly motivated, godly obedience follows naturally.
When Paul wrote to the church at Rome he was addressing Christians who were living in a metropolitan area that was well known for its moral vice. Paul longed to make a trip there to encourage the brethren as well as to instruct them better in the Lord’s way of righteousness. Unfortunately, he was unable to get there, thus he wrote to them. After some introductory thoughts, Paul gets right to the issue that was plaguing the church—they lived in the midst of a dark world that had come to reject the idea of God and His teaching of righteousness. This rejection did not go without a proper response from God; He gave them over to their vile passions. While having given them over to Satan’s influence, the Lord did not allow them (man in general) to go without hope in a better life and world. This hope, this message came in the life of Jesus, the preaching of Jesus, His death and ultimate resurrection of Jesus. The same message Paul preached to those of his world, we are to preach the same. When thinking about Rome, or even Chicago, is it not all the more reason for the message and hope of Jesus to be present in this dark world? RT
The Holy Spirit made it very clear when he had Paul write with regard to those who set their mind on the things of the flesh that they have set their mind on the wrong thing (Romans 8:5-8).
What does it mean to set the mind on the flesh? It simply means that when one hears God, and does not do what the Lord said He wants done, the disobeying person has his (her) mind on the flesh. The word flesh in this context pertains to those things that originate in the mind of man, such as fishing, immorality, family picnics, debauchery, ball games, and/or the way in which one dresses.
Don’t misunderstand; some of the items listed above (fishing, family picnic, ball games) have nothing to do with disobedience to God—except when they take priority in one’s life over the Lord’s way. Thus, when one tries to do right by the family, but has forsaken the Lord from his or her presence in the doing of it (whether in a single occurrence or on multiple occasions) – now that is another matter. Those who live this way fall right onto the path that leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12), and this is not a good place to be!