As we have moved through the book of Romans, we see how Paul is calling out Christians in Rome to not only hold on to their faith, but that faith was to be expressed to the outside world. What is the core system of belief that we are going to put our confidence in?
We have been justified by faith. Justified is a legal process to be given an innocent verdict in court. And to God, it is our faith in Jesus as our Savior, that God declares us right. That is our first image of standing, but we are asked to be more than a legal standing. The second standing is a peace with God. It is more than a good feeling, but it is a position of confidence knowing that we are in right relationship. And no longer are we standing before the judge, but we are standing with the judge. God has provided a table with a seat for each of us. And the peace is taking a seat at that table.
Jesus gives a parable of two men who goes to the temple. One a religious person and the other the tax collector. The religious person, a Pharisee, was said to have declare their own righteousness. But the tax collector was a hated individual in society. So what is the assumption by the listeners of this story? That the Pharisee was the good guy, and the tax collector was the bad guy. But the Pharisee prayed for himself, but the tax collector prayed for forgiveness from God. Jesus tells us that it was the tax collector who humbled himself, and left justified to God.
Paul says that at that point we will start to praise God in everything. Even in the suffering we give God glory. But what we find is that suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance can be defined as standing up under pressure. And it is something that doesn’t exist until we suffer. It is the suffering that produces perseverance. We can relate this to weight lifting. As you continue to lift, you find that your muscles are given strength to handle more. In the same way, suffering enhances our perseverance and strengthens our faith. So the progression we find is that as our perseverance grows, so to does our character. And as our character grows, so will our hope.
Hope is the confidence that God’s plan is in action. And hope does not lead us to shame because the Holy Spirit is living in us. God’s love is like water that fills every hole, every crevasse. It leaves no room for shame to get in between us and Him.
Will you bear up where you are? Will you trust that God will produce perseverance in suffering? Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with God’s love, and take a seat at the table He has prepared for you.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (ESV)
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (ESV)
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (ESV)
3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (ESV)
5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)