Faith or Foolishness

Romans 1:1-17 (ESV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

We have been looking at holiness all this week, now Paul, in his epistle to the Romans speaks about faith. He quotes the prophet Habakkuk about living by faith. Later in the epistle, Paul goes so far as to say anything not done in faith is sin(chap. 14).

Faith and holiness go hand in hand. The only way we can be righteous (or holy) is relying upon the Holy Spirit, and living by Him. This can only be done by faith. In Hebrews 11:6 it states, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he is and that he rewards those who seek him.”

God is willing to meet us where we are, but does not want us to remain where we started. As we grow in His Spirit, we should also grow in faith, and in turn, holiness.

So how do we apply this to our daily lives? We must listen to the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit. Compare what we THINK we hear or understand against the known ORTHODOX understanding of the Holy Scriptures—I say ‘orthodox’ not meaning associated with the Greek or Russian Orthodox Churches, but rather that understanding that is common to most mainline Christian denominations and the biblical scholars—this will ensure that we are actually listening to God, not some other spirit. Paul tells us in other places to test all spirits to see if they are from God.

In one of his epistles, Paul commends the Bereans for not taking his word for the Gospel. He preached and they went home and checked what he claimed against the Scriptures—what we call the Old Testament—because that was all they had for Scriptures in the early days of the Church. The complete Bible we have today was not fully assembled and clarified until many years later.

Bottom line, we all have our inclinations when we are reading the Scriptures, but if what we think we understand conflicts with the ‘orthodox’ understanding, then we are probably wrong. Any one of us could be deceived by a lying spirit, if we do not check our understanding, and be willing to listen to others that are also on the same path, esp. those who are more spiritually mature than we are.

God does not call us to “blind faith,” He calls us to “reasoned faith.” If you seek to walk by the Spirit, you must ask yourself if what it seems like you are being prompted to do will bring glory to yourself, or to God? Will it please yourself, or others? Will it edify yourself, or God and His church? Will you get the glory and accolades, or will God?

by Virgil Stripes

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