Romans 5:12 — Romans 8.

1869 379 I purpose to look at the testimony given us in the first part of the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 1 — 8), not merely as a doctrine or theory, but endeavouring to regard it as an individual, to look certain things in the face which are brought before us. It is here we get God's estimate of man: the first Adam and all his race and the blessing He has for any of that race whom He means to bless. There is one thing lurking in the mind of many true Christians which hinders the soul's perfect peace in the presence of God; and that is, a wrong thought of God's estimate of man, and that there is something in man that God can look upon.

Romans 1:16, shows us, not man's righteousness, but God's dealing with man as a creature as to whether he could meet the demands which God had on him. It is the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel, not dealing in righteousness, but revealed from faith to faith — faithwise and to faith.

Next, Romans 1:18 is His wrath "revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness" — not against a class merely, but against all ungodliness. Some hold the truth in unrighteousness, and others do not. It is the question now what God means to do with man as man. It is not only a statement of the Apostle Paul, but the preaching of the apostles on the day of Pentecost, that man's case was utterly hopeless. God's Son had been into the world. They had with wicked hands crucified and slain Him, and nothing remained but God's wrath. Man had crucified Christ and we get the statement in verse 4 that God had declared Him to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead. If God deals according to that, there can be nothing but wrath. Has your soul ever been in the presence of God, whose wrath is thus revealed — His thoughts against sin? If you have, you have been stripped of everything about you, and as a creature you deserve the wrath of God from heaven.

The apostle then goes on to show what the character of man is. (Romans 1:19.) Creation was a witness of the unity and goodness of God, but man himself becomes a god-maker after the imagination of his own heart. The things which he called gods were unlike anything in creation; he made them after his own imagination, and the result is, God gives them up.

Not so with me, says the Jew (in Rom. 2). No: he met God, and what did he do? He met God in the world, manifest in the flesh, come in love to reconcile the world. They met Him, they sat in judgment on Him. They always sought to justify themselves, and therefore condemned the Lord Jesus Christ, and the wrath is revealed.

That which might be known of God, the works of His hands, had been manifest to the Gentile. God Himself come in the flesh had been manifested to the Jew.

Romans 3 is something a little more specific. Man is brought into court. (Ver. 9, etc.) God is here bringing forward a series of counts He has got against him, not taken from one psalm or prophet merely, but bits collected from different parts of the scriptures, so as to give the different characters of man. Some of the counts might seem to be spoken only against notorious sinners. (Ver. 13-16.) "Their throat is an open sepulchre." But there are some which must apply to all, verse 17 for instance — "The way of peace have they not known." What man of Adam's race ever knew the way of peace? See how he winds up the trial — "Every mouth stopped, and all the world become guilty before God."

This is the difference between chapters 1 and 3. Chapter 1 is about the wrath of God. Here we get man in court; every generation from Adam to the millennium, and the result of the trial. All that God can say of the creature, from the creation downward, is "None righteous, no not one." The only place we can take is to plead guilty. And now nothing will satisfy God but our being brought, like the lost sheep and the prodigal, into His presence rejoicing. I do not think it will satisfy Him until He has rooted out every bit of thought of good in the creature. It must be so, for unless He brings man into this position, it would not be true that none are justified by works. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Ver. 24-26.)

In chapter 1 we get the great work God has to make known for His own glory; but we find there are no people fit for it to be revealed amongst. If God deals now in righteousness, I am lost for ever, nothing but lost. If one thing of self remains in your mind, it hinders your receiving God's testimony about Christ — "All … come short of the glory of God." Now God says, they have not cared for My name, for My glory; I will care for it Myself; I will show the sort of God I am, contrary to their thoughts. I will take My own way. I will deliver My Son for (on account of) their offences, and raise Him again for (on account of) their justification. The delinquent gets a free pardon. If men are dealing with men, there is some ground on which a man committing an offence may be pardoned. You are a delinquent. God says, I come in with this forgiveness and justify for My own name's sake.

I remember, forty years ago, learning what the forgiveness of sins was; but then, after rejoicing awhile, I found what the nature of sin was, and did not know how to get rid of it; and it is a much more difficult thing to get rid of.

In Romans 4 we get two men brought before us, Abraham and David; but there is an immense difference between the imputing of righteousness to these two men.

Abraham is called out, and he went out according to God's call to him; he took the promise in simplicity. If God has promised, He will certainly do it; God imputes faith to him for righteousness. The tenor of chapter 4 is the walk of the man who had faith. The time came when God gave Abraham the promise about a son, and God is more than a match for all the difficulty.

It is very different with David. (Ps. 32 and Ps. 51.) He learns God's way of justifying him who had committed sin. It was all known. His sin has come to light, and then he gets his conscience purged. In the opening of chapter 5 we have the life of faith in a believer now. It is the same faith that Abraham had, with this difference — that to Abraham it was a promise that it should be imputed; with us it is retrospective. Here we get a saint in weakness, not sinning.

In Romans 3 it is a question of a sinner and his sins; now from Romans 5:12 the apostle come, to the question of self. It was not God's mind to leave the believer there with only his sins gone. Now He sets in contrast the first and Second Adam. There is the evil nature in man; and what becomes of this? God shows how He gets rid of it in believing people by associating them with Christ. By the first Adam, judgment came; by the last, the free gift came. We now get two things. The first aspect of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is that righteousness is shining forth on all, in the end of chapter 5; and there are some who believe, and to whom it is imputed. Then in Romans 6, the believer identifies himself with the thought of God, and can say that he is not only forgiven, but crucified, dead, and risen with Christ. Christ becomes the hiding-place of the believer. I am still on the ground of mercy. My feet shall stand on the ground that marks my position in the first Adam. Mercy was found in chapter 3, but the believer was there looked at as remaining on the ground of the first Adam.

Now (Rom. 6) God sets forth His Son that I might recognize myself in Him. I am put out of sight. I am dead with Christ, buried and put clean out of sight. This is the difficulty found by many. They cannot take the place of saying, I reckon myself dead; I am hidden by God Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at the difference between Saul and Paul. God reveals His Son in him; and now I look upon this man as hid in the cleft of the Rock that is higher than he; I look upon him as hid in Christ and all my thoughts roll around the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the opening of chapter 6 he is challenging the believer. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Do ye not know, that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" This is where christian liberty comes in. It is not now a question of God's wrath against you, but you are no longer looked upon by God as connected with the first Adam at all. I am reckoning self dead.

There are two things I would now notice. First, that when the soul is in communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, there is power to make the life of Christ manifest. Secondly, there is power to refuse things which would be according to the flesh, "Always bearing about in the body the dying (or, deadness) of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal bodies." "Sin shall not have dominion over you."

There are two more things I would advert to. First, being in the light, I find God's wrath revealed against all ungodliness; God challenges the conscience and then justifies the believer. Secondly, in union with Christ, I get what dissociates me from the first Adam altogether. Do you understand God and yourself thus?

In chapter 5 the two Adams are brought to light. Romans 7 the believer takes his stand under the last Adam. There are two more positions I would look at. The question in chapter 7 is, In what power am I to walk in newness of life? Here he passes through the experience of a soul drawing all its energy from self. He finds that all the springs which self supplies are in vain. He finds himself attached to a body of sin and death, and the result is, "O wretched man that I am!" He wants deliverance from self not only by faith but in power. If we examine carefully the workings of what is generally called Christianity, we find almost all the religious machinery counts upon human energy, and the end of this is, "O wretched man!" Energy cannot come from self. But in Romans 8 we get the power. "They that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit." Why are believers not fruitful in every good work? Because they are trusting to some energy of their own instead of the energy of the Holy Ghost. We are not reflecting the Christ which the world hates. What is the way that God works? By communicating a life, the exhibition of resurrection power. The way man works is not on the principle of death and resurrection at all — "that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead." I have got life in connection with the exhibition of resurrection power.

Paul knew he had to do with a certain character in God who had delivered him, but it was by a way that was rolling him down into depths every step. The self-same God marks every step of the way all through the wilderness. God is a present God with us. He did not bring us out of the Red Sea to meet us again at Jordan. No: He will mark out all the wilderness path. He Himself is with us all the way. We have not yet got to the Father's house; but I would ask, Will there ever be a time when the Father's heart will be more set on us than now?

How far are we walking with God? My conviction is that if we are not, we shall be swept out of the path by the next wave of difficulty that washes over us. But if you are walking with Him, you will find the same hand which was stretched out to smite the Shepherd turned upon you, the little ones, to guide you all the way.