For the last few weeks we have been looking at change.  And much of this has been on individual change.  God’s change in us is a work in progress.  We apply the standard of God’s word, we find where we don’t line up, correction is applied, and we continue to work to be more in line with Him.  So keep with you as you continue to grow.

So we now begin to move into a different type of change.  We are going to look into how the world is changing, and how Jesus was the answer to the fallen world that was true then as it is today.  We are going to look at Romans.  We are not going to be looking verse-by-verse, but instead principle-by-principle.  We will see Paul unpacking the truth of Jesus and the freedom from our sin that He provides.

We will first look in the Old Testament back in the days of King David.   describes the “Men of Issachar”.  When you study the background of these men, they are described as men who had wisdom of the world around them.  Not just the knowledge, but in addition they knew how to apply that knowledge to the situations around them.

We then move forward to .  Jesus describes how to use wisdom to work with the world around you.  Part of the Jewish teaching did say that you are to love their neighbor and hate your enemy.  But Jewish people would have a hard time determining who their neighbor was.  But Jesus rebuked this thought and told them to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.  He acknowledges that there are enemies, but how we interact with them was drastically different.  His reasons are that we are to long to be like God.  We are to not reflect the love of the world, but reflect the love of God who shines truth and life over everyone.

But further refines the description of love.  For it isn’t how the world describes love.  For even the most lost will pronounce love to one another.  But love is to be described from God.  God is the guidepost.  He is the definer of our love, truth, and identity. We are living in a world that struggles with identity outside of God.  God wants us to find our identity in the truth of God and salvation through Jesus.  Absent of God’s identity, we see the confusion we do around us. So in Jesus calls us to be perfect, just as God is perfect.  This is to say we are to be complete in our life, identity, and love because we find the foundation of those areas in God.

We are in the throws of a culture that is rejecting God at the most fundamental levels.  Paul speaks of this in Romans with similar issues happening then.  As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  We all struggle with sin.  We are all at risk of contributing to societies turn away from God.  So we need to refocus on Jesus.

We welcome you to read through Romans as we begin this study.  We want God to shape us into the person He wants us to be.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

32 Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command. (ESV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (ESV)

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (ESV)

48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (ESV)