Romans 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Here Paul is stating the overarching theme of the whole letter to the Romans. There is obviously a little difficulty in translating one expression in this verse. Where the NIV says “by faith from first to last,” and gives “from faith to faith” as an alternate translation in a footnote, the Japanese says, “starts in faith and continues in faith.” We are never more at risk to the devil’s wiles than when our faith wavers, not so much in strength as in what we are trusting. When we are walking in total dependence on God, we are righteous indeed. However, as soon as we think, “I’ve got this,” we are in grave danger, as Paul pointed out to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 10:12) We also tend to trust things like organizations, or even our own pedigree. I was hardly righteous when I thought I was in good shape because my parents were missionaries. We can’t depend on the faith of someone else, no matter how connected to them we might be. However, when our faith really is in Jesus Christ the Lord, we are made to be the very righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) This really is a very deep subject, which is why Romans is the most “theological” of Paul’s letters. In the process, Paul recorded some of the most glorious truths in the whole Bible, giving shape to the foundation of our faith, and we have every reason to be deeply grateful.
I’m not sure I would say Romans is my favorite book in the New Testament, but it’s certainly not at the bottom of the list! Romans 8 is Cathy’s favorite chapter in the whole Bible. As I read Romans, and specifically, read portions of it each day for the next several days, I need to focus on what God is saying to me personally now, not relying on past insight or “standard interpretation.” I am not to put my faith in the words themselves, but in the Lord who speaks them to me. That can be a tricky point at times. I am to walk in the obedience that comes from love, (John 14:15) knowing that my righteousness comes not from what I do but from the One whom I serve, so that He may receive all the glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s a very basic point, but if the foundation is weak, everything can crumble. Help me indeed walk in obedient trust all the time, taking my eyes off of myself and keeping them on Jesus, (Hebrews 12:2) so that I may not be deceived by the devil or anything else. Thank You. Praise God!