Romans 1:17-32

Living by faith. Condemnation of the unrighteous.

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17For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, "The righteous by faith will live." (Romans 1:17—NET)
Let's take a moment to remember how someone becomes righteous in the first place—by faith—before we discuss what it means to ""live by faith." In chapter 3, which we will examine later, this is stated explicitly: "For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28—NET)."

It is further shown that justification is solely a matter of faith. There is no role for work in it.

Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16—NIV)

The verse that follows makes a clear distinction between faith and works:

And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6—NET)

Thus, we have established that salvation is entirely based on faith and not at all on good deeds. The life you live after being saved is also by faith and in no way is it based on works, which is a startling truth that few Christians are willing to accept. Given that the only action you can take that pleases God is your belief in His Son, you cannot and should not gauge the nature of your relationship with God by any actions you may perform for Him. That is what it is to live by faith.


18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 19because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:18-22—NET)

Paul then described every kind of human vice from verses 23 to 32.

23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 29They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:23-32—NET)

When reading this passage, readers almost instantly assume that Paul is not speaking to the Christians who are listening to his message and who are seated in front of a podium that is broadcasting a message of condemnation to the unbelievers outside the church. that only unbelievers are subject to all of these sins. Nothing could be further from the truth.

9What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 10just as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one, 11there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:9-11)

22… For there is no distinction, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:22-23—NET)

“There is no distinction, for all have sinned”. Even if your particular sin is not mentioned in verses 23 through 32, you are nonetheless among the worst sinners there are.

In a few weeks, when we come to chapter 3, we’ll discuss this subject once more. However, we don’t need to go very far to disprove this widespread sense of superiority. When we get to the beginning of Romans 2 on Sunday, we’ll find a mirror that will push us to see ourselves for who we truly are.

Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. (Romans 2:1)

God’s wrath is consequently directed at the entire human race, including you, who hold such high regard for yourself.

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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