The book of Romans has probably been responsible for more misunderstandings than any other book ever written; not excepting revelation. The book of Romans IS confusing. Let’s take this passage for example;
Romans 7:9-13 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful
Ok, let’s face it. That’s just confusing. It’s confused people for thousands of years. It used to confuse me. And it will always confuse people until they understand the KEY, the KEY to the book of Romans
It’s actually very simple; but until you understand that foundational key it makes no sense at all. But once you DO understand it, it is perhaps the most meaningful passage in the entire Bible!
Let’s start at the beginning and go through it bit by bit.
“For I was alive without the law once…”
I was alive without the law… how was he alive without the law? What gives you life, when there is no law? Well, back in…
Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
So we’re talking about sins not being imputed because of IGNORANCE in Romans 7. We’ll later give that concept a simpler word, but not yet. Paul said he was alive… without the law. Because without the law, his sins were not counted against him.
But then, when the commandment came, sin revived and he died…. now, why did sin revive after the commandment came? Because sin is not imputed when there is no law, and if you KNOW, or even just THINK something to be wrong, it is sin TO YOU, whether it is actually WRONG or not!
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it IS sin.
So, Paul was alive without the law, and completely covered under grace. But when the commandment came – when he learned, and KNEW the GOOD, if he DID IT NOT, to him it became SIN!
“…but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
There was no sin and he was under no penalty until the commandment came, because he was IGNORANT of his offenses! But when the commandment came, he was no longer ignorant, and THEN he had to die for his sin! He was once again guilty under the law, no longer passed over by grace, SIN REVIVED, and he deserved the death penalty!
“And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.”
So it was this commandment that killed Paul, because until he had this commandment, he was alive, and under grace! And sin had no excuse to kill him because he was ignorant… But then the commandment came, and all that changed!
“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
Again, that is just confusing; first he said the law killed him, then he said that the law is good, and even HOLY! Why? Well, remember, SIN had no occasion to kill him, no reason, no CHANCE to kill him until there was a commandment! Remember what we read in Romans 5:13; where there is no law, there is no sin!
But when the commandment came, it gave sin the excuse it was looking for to condemn Paul! Once the commandment was given to Paul, once he KNEW BETTER, that gave sin an opportunity to kill him. SIN required his death once he knowingly broke that commandment, but without that commandment being there, he wouldn’t have been sinning! So then, the logical conclusion is to just get rid of that “good” commandment, isn’t it?
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful”
Absolutely not! The commandment wasn’t to blame for killing him! It wasn’t the COMMANDMENT’S FAULT that he had to die! This process all happened so that sin would APPEAR as sin, so that sin would be shown for what it is! And this sin caused death in Paul, using that good, perfect commandment as an excuse so that sin, BY THAT COMMANDMENT could be seen for what it is – exceedingly sinful!
The reason all this had to happen, is that YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT SIN IS! PAUL didn’t even know what sin was! He said “…Nay, I had not known sin, BUT BY THE LAW: for I had not known lust, EXCEPT the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
You see, you don’t know what sin is, without the commandment. Paul said that even HE wouldn’t have known what sin was without the commandments! But they will only teach you what sin is, and that it IS evil, not how, or WHY it’s evil! And for you to voluntarily CHOOSE to avoid sin throughout all eternity, you must hate sin for your own reasons! You must hate it, not just because God told you to hate it, but because YOU, YOURSELF, have experienced it and fully know the suffering it brings, and because you know “the exceeding sinfulness of sin”!
You simply can’t know how evil sin is, until you’ve experienced it. You don’t know what a hot stove feels like until you’ve touched it! There is just no easy way of learning what it feels like, you have to TOUCH it, and experience the pain it brings for yourself! And then, once you feel the PAIN that is brought on through sin, you can finally see, first-hand, JUST HOW EVIL SIN IS!
Until you feel the pain that’s brought on by touching that stove, by sinning against your hand and touching that stove, you don’t know what it feels like and why it’s so bad. Likewise, you can’t know why it’s wrong to steal until you’ve been stolen from. Until you’ve had a family heirloom you treasure greatly taken from you, lost forever to a thief. You can’t know why stealing is wrong until that happens!
But the true experience of sin is when you commit it! You can’t know the real reason that sinning is wrong for YOU, you can’t realize that sin doesn’t just hurt everyone else, it hurts YOU, until you have stolen yourself! Until you have taken that which does not belong to you, and seen that it not only didn’t make you happy, but it led to more and more pain and suffering, because money has no value to you.
So, until you’ve experienced this you don’t know just how evil sin is. And you never will! You never will believe someone who tells you a stove is hot, if you don’t know what hot is! You never will believe it hurts to fall until you’ve fallen! And you never will believe that sin is evil until you’ve been burned by it! And so back to verse 13,
“But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good;”
HE says that sin is causing death in him, by the commandment…
that sin by the commandment, [or BECAUSE of the commandment] might become [or APPEAR] exceeding sinful”
All he’s trying to say is that the purpose of the commandment is to show sin up for what it is! But you will not understand this, this will not mean anything to you until you have experienced sin FOR YOURSELF! And grace is the way you are allowed to experience it! IF it wasn’t for grace, the very first time you sinned you’d have been killed, because the wages of sin is death! (Romans 6:23)
But this grace allows you to live in spite of that sin! And so you’re going along your merry way, ignorant of the law, and you are ALIVE because of that ignorance! And then the commandment comes along to upset your applecart, and now sin revives and you MUST die! More accurately, I should say that at that point A death is required to pay for it. You can apply the death of Christ to that, so that He dies for you, but ONLY after you repent! IF you don’t repent, you must bear your OWN sins!
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully AFTER that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
While you are ignorant you are under grace and your sins are covered, but once you’ve received a knowledge of the truth, once the commandment comes and you KNOW that something is wrong, IF YOU SIN WILFULLY AFTER THAT, and DO IT ANYWAY, there can be no more sacrifice for your sins! Christ’s sacrifice CANNOT apply to you! His death cannot pay for it, it requires YOUR DEATH to pay for it!
So when that commandment comes, and you realize what the truth is, at that moment it becomes sin to you. Sin revives and you die. Now, IF you repent, and change, THEN the sacrifice of Christ can pay for you, but if you do not, then as it says in the next verse, you have nothing left…
Hebrews 10:27-29 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the SPIRIT OF GRACE?
The context of these scriptures is GRACE! This is GRACE we’re talking about here! Grace is what allows you to live until you can SEE the sin for what it is, and change! But if you don’t care about that sacrifice of Christ which has cleansed you, if you just treat it like a credit card and commit a willful sin counting on Christ to pay for it, you are INSULTING Christ, and trampling His sacrifice underfoot, and defeating the whole purpose of the spirit of GRACE!
Let’s give a practical example of this process. Let’s say you do something every day, and you just don’t realize that it is evil. But it is. Well, God pays for that through grace. There was no commandment given to you, you didn’t know, so it couldn’t be sin!
Then one day you learn that it’s evil. And then you think “Should I stop doing it?” and respond to yourself “Nah, I’m under grace. God likes me. He’ll cover this sin for me. It’s not that big a deal anyway, it’s just a little sin!”
This has happened to everyone, so I know it has happened to you at least once in your life. Now, a man who despised MOSES’ law died without mercy. Of how much WORSE punishment do you think YOU will be worthy, if you spit on that spirit of Grace?!
If, once God shows you that you shouldn’t do a certain thing, or once God shows you that something is wrong, if you go back and do it again, you are sinning WILFULLY and there is no sacrifice for that sin! And grace CANNOT COVER IT! Instead, God will exact the penalty for that sin FROM YOU! In the very next verse it says…
Hebrews 10:30-31 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
So, grace only covers sins of ignorance. It does not cover a sin once you know about it. But… that knowledge has been lost in all the churches today; grace has been changed by preachers, and used as license to pay for everything. Today we hear all you have to do is believe on the Lord and God’s grace does the rest. But let’s see if that’s really how it works.
It may surprise you to learn that this isn’t a new concept. This idea has been around a long time. It was around in Paul’s day. But it was being taught, not by Paul, but by his enemies! Not just that, they were claiming that Paul said it, but PAUL DISOWNED THE IDEA!!
Romans 3:8 And NOT rather, (as we be SLANDEROUSLY reported, and as SOME AFFIRM that we say,)…
So people were LYING, saying that Paul was teaching a certain doctrine, that PAUL DID NOT TEACH!
…Let us do evil, that GOOD may come? whose damnation is just.
These men were saying that PAUL said “Let us do evil, that good may come! Let us BREAK the law, and we will be covered by Grace and good will come!” This is what people were saying about Paul, WHILE HE WAS STILL ALIVE!
And it is what is taught in EVERY CHRISTIAN CHURCH ACROSS THE WORLD EVERY SUNDAY! They claim that Paul DID AWAY with that law and introduced GRACE that covers all sins, regardless of repentance! That faith alone, and no works, is all that is required for salvation! Paul said that he most definitely DID NOT teach this lie!
He did not teach that we should break the commandments, and SIN, so that GRACE would abound to cover our sins! Rather, he said “God forbid!” to this idea! (Romans 6:1-2)
But this idea was around long before Paul’s time! The reason is that it’s just much nicer to believe that God likes you so much that He is going to let you do WHATEVER you want and give you a blank check drawn on His Son’s sacrifice to cover it all! If that is true, you can live your life however you like, and never worry about sinning, because it’s all paid for!
Jeremiah 7:8-10 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
So then, the entire Christian world rejects the commandments of God, five of which are mentioned here, and then comes before Him, and stands in a house CALLED BY HIS NAME every Sunday – they stand in His temple, a church dedicated to worshiping him, a place called by GOD’S NAME and says “We are delivered to do all these abominations!”
Jeremiah 7:13-14 And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
So this Church, which is called by the name of God, be it the Church of Christ, or the Presbyterian, Methodist, the first Baptist Church, or the Catholic Church of God, whichever one it is that YOU trust in, this church that tells you that YOU, TOO don’t have to try to keep the commandments – (in fact, they’ll probably tell you that you SHOULDN’T even try to keep them!) – why, that Church is doing nothing more or less than telling you that YOU are delivered to break all the commandments that you want, because YOU ARE UNDER GRACE, and you are DELIVERED to do these things even when YOU KNOW that God says something is wrong!
If choose to trust in that church, or that minister, and do it anyway, it is NOT covered by grace! God says that if you do these things – murder, adultery, stealing, lying, worshipping other Gods, etc… and then come before God to say “we are delivered BY GRACE to do these things…” that He will destroy you, your church, AND YOUR COUNTRY just as He has destroyed Shiloh and Jerusalem!!
Now it’s time to examine the key to the book of Jude. Jude happens to have the same lock as Romans does – Grace. Jude was written by the physical brother (or rather, half-brother) of Christ. His book was written late in the first century, probably around 60 A.D. It was written in response to a general attitude in the church much like the one we have today. After only 30 years the first-century church, as raised up by the Apostles had already largely fallen away from the truth. Because of this, Jude says…
Jude 1:3-5 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you [or REMIND you, and teach you] that ye should EARNESTLY contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, TURNING THE GRACE OF OUR GOD INTO LASCIVIOUSNESS and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this …
These men were turning the Grace of God into Lasciviousness! Lasciviousness is an unusual word which means, in this sense, license to sin. They had taken the grace of God and changed it into a doctrine that said “let us do evil, that good may come”, and “let us sin the more, that grace may about”. And these men were accumulating a following out of the churches of God in the first century.
And so Jude wrote to them saying that he is going to remind them of the truth, although they once knew it, because these men were turning Grace into a free ticket to sin. Because there are men teaching this lie to you, and they are denying God in so doing, AND Christ and His sacrifice!
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not….
So now Jude is giving an example, to prove that these people who are turning the Grace of God into license to sin are all wrong. Proving that those who believe that God will blanket all willful sins under Grace are all wet, and to do this he cites several historical examples of peoples that believed God would overlook their sins forever.
And so he says he’s going to remind them, though they already had known it, that God, after delivering those people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who didn’t believe! These people of Israel were under GRACE! Their sins, just like yours, of which they were not aware, were covered! Without law, they, too, had no sin!
They had been in Egypt for nearly 200 years, and had lost much of their identity and culture, and had forgotten the commandments of God which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had had. And God understood that! He knew that they didn’t even know they were supposed to keep the Sabbath, and for six weeks after they left Egypt, God didn’t tell them!
Therefore, it wasn’t sin to them, because THERE WAS NO LAW! Grace was able to cover their sins, because they were ignorant! And as long as they remained ignorant, He was willing to work with them because they just didn’t know any better! But once He GAVE them the commandment, and they KNEW better, their sin revived, and when they did NOT repent, THEY DIED!
And so God saved them out of Egypt, because He loved Israel. And He put up with their stubbornness for awhile. But when they arrived at the promised land, and after all of the unbelievable miracles they had seen – water flowing from a rock, the Red Sea parting, the top of Mt. Sinai on fire, and at the time they were eating bread that fell from the SKY(!), and after all of that and much more, these people came up to the promised land and got scared and said “God brought us here to kill us!” And then tried to stone Moses.
At that point, God got fed up. He said that they had tempted him ten times, they had seen all the miracles He had done, and they KNEW BETTER! And so in a manner of speaking, their grace ran out, and they died in the wilderness, because their sin revived by knowing the good, and doing it not! And the point is, that their grace did NOT give them license to sin!
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
The angels which sinned God has reserved for judgment – they haven’t gotten away with anything, their judgment is coming, and they WILL pay for what they’ve done! They didn’t have license to sin! They didn’t get away with anything!
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Sodom wasn’t wiped out for their first sin. They had sinned many times, and God hadn’t destroyed them. God overlooked their sins for a long time. How could He have done this? Why, because there was no sin where there was no law!
And then one day, God was talking to Abraham, and He said that He had heard bad things about Sodom and Gomorrah, and He was going to go down and look at it and make an example of them.
Genesis 18:20-21 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
And so God had Sodom under grace. Their sins were not being imputed to them because of their ignorance. And He went down and looked at them and saw that what He’d heard was true. And He took away their grace and they all died.
Remember, these are examples that Jude is giving to fulfill the purpose of this book which is to disprove the lies these men were saying about grace and to prove that grace does not last forever and that above all, it is not license to sin.
Jude 1:8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
These filthy dreamers who had crept into the first century church and who had destroyed much of what the Apostles had built with their lies about grace, were defiling the flesh, despising dominion, and speaking evil of dignities, or a better translation would be “speaking evil of glorious things”
They defiled the flesh by breaking the laws. The laws of God prevent the flesh from being defiled, and to defile it, the laws must be broken. They do this because they are FREE, or so they think, to break the law! GRACE covers any sins they might commit, after all!
They DESPISE dominion, they will NOT be governed by God, or His Law, because they are FREE from law, free to make their OWN destinies! And they speak evil of glorious things.
Romans 1:21-25 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD INTO A LIE, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
These are the same men, who “defile their flesh”, despised the dominion of God, and CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD INTO A LIE! They had once known God, and had fallen away and corrupted the truth into a lie that THEY were more comfortable with, that allowed them to keep their SIN AND have God pay for their sins through Grace at the same time!!
Jude 1:9-10 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
These men KNEW NATURALLY certain things, and certain laws. Even an animal knows certain laws. Any beast knows you aren’t supposed to steal its food, or commit adultery with ITS mate!
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
All men know at least a few right things, and in those few things that these men knew, they corrupt themselves and break even those few laws that they KNOW are wrong!
Jude 1:11,14-15 Woe unto them! … And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
The point of all this, the whole book, is that you’re not going to get away with anything. Ungodly men have said a lot of wrong things, and may have convinced many people that they are right, but God is going to come back and show them that if you think Grace is covering your sins that you know about, and that God understands… well… God DOES understand. He understands perfectly. And God will let you do almost anything that you want to do – for now. But there will come a time when you will be called to pay for what you’ve done. To make an account of every idle word spoken, actually.
Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
These men teach that it’s OK to break the commandments. That God understands because of grace. But one of the first things that Christ, Himself said
Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
These are the words of Christ He didn’t teach that law was done away. In fact, backing up to
Matthew 5:17-18 THINK NOT that I am come to DESTROY THE LAW, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
And what to men think to day? That He came to destroy the law and the prophets! That it was nailed to the cross and is passed away and is all gone now, replaced by the law of Grace! But Christ said that not one comma or a dot over an i would pass from the law until ALL was fulfilled!
So no, Grace does NOT cover wilfull sin, and it is NOT license or payment for breaking the law when you know about it. And this unlocks the book of Romans. Go back and read it through, with the idea that Grace is nothing more than the overlooking of Sin. Sins of which you are not aware. You will see that Romans, from start to finish, makes sense now. You will see that verses that were always muddy and complicated are now clear to you. For example,
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Why is that? Simply because where there was more sin, there needed to be more Grace to cover it!
Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
So does all this mean that we should continue sinning willfully? That’s what the world says – that we should continue in sin, breaking the law, that Grace may abound! After all, you don’t have to keep that musty old law anymore. But Paul says..
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. …
So now, read this book of Romans all the way through with that definition of Grace, and look and see if you don’t understand Romans the way it was meant to be understood. And see if that doesn’t make a cohesive whole out of the scripture, and unlock the most complicated book ever written.