March 16, 2018

Perspective Is Everything

Romans 4:9–17

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Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

The Promise Realized Through Faith

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

In Context:

4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

Perspective Is Everything



Bio | Cindy Campion

Hello! I am Cindy Campion—wife of Brian; mom of Riley, Emerson, and Wyatt; and follower of Jesus.

I grew up going to church every time the doors were open. I saw my faith as a bunch of rules that I had to follow. I didn’t follow a lot of them, which left me filled with guilt and shame. I was desperately searching for purpose and security in my life, which was when I met Jesus. Once I experienced His grace, He redeemed and restored me to whom He created me to be. His grace really is amazing!

Central Truth

We are saved by grace through faith, not by obeying the law!

Devotional | Romans 4:9–17

I always have a “word of the year” in regard to my faith. It typically is a word that I want to focus more on throughout the year. For 2017, it was “perspective.” I have found that my...

I always have a “word of the year” in regard to my faith. It typically is a word that I want to focus more on throughout the year. For 2017, it was “perspective.” I have found that my perspective affects my thoughts and actions, which means my perspective should always be grounded in His truth.

I thought about the importance of perspective as I read these verses on circumcision and the law. Neither of them can save us, but sometimes we try to act like they can. There are things I do that I think earn my way to heaven. I create my own law for myself and others that I think should be followed to be a “real” Christian. I take Jesus’ grace out of the equation when I do this. I make it: Salvation = Grace + Works, which, of course, is wrong. My perspective on what it means to be saved needs to be changed: Salvation is by Grace Alone through Faith Alone.

Tim Keller says, "if you live by law, you can’t receive what’s promised (because you are trusting in your wages rather than receiving the gift)." (Romans 1-7 For You at 103) We want to be in good favor with Him instead of experiencing His love. We focus on what we do and not on what He has done for us! It is easier to live by a set of rules than rest in His grace. Rules tell us we are in control. Rest requires us to surrender our life to Him.

Here is where perspective comes in for me. There is a purpose for the law. It just doesn’t save us. We are saved by grace through faith, not by obeying the law. The law shows us where we fall short, but it also shows us how to live in order to be like the One who saved us by grace. Should we desire to obey the rules? Absolutely! But our desire should be from a heart that longs to want His best for our life.

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Discussion Questions

1. Circumcision is the physical sign of a spiritual reality. What is the “circumcision” in your life that you do but that doesn’t save you?

2. Do you have pride you need to repent of because you obey the law almost perfectly (or so you think)? Do you need to be reminded of God’s love and grace because you are overwhelmed with guilt from falling short?

3. If we love God, we should strive to obey His commands (see 1 John 5:3). What motivates you to obey God’s commands? Does your heart long to obey them because you don’t want to miss out on God’s best for your life, or do you obey just to check the box?

 

12 Comments available

Elizabeth Lariscy 6 months ago

Thank you for your joyful devo! I love your perspective! So well put! God bless!

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Hugh, I like Jer 29:11 but I like much more Jer 32:40

Jeremiah had a vision of good and bad figs earlier, God had plans for both, bad plans for the bad figs (people left in Jerusalem) and good plans for the good figs (even though it involved taking them away to Babylon. in the long run good plans). And unclear which applies today and how. But Jer 32:40 is stronger and applies to everyone in the new covenant. God will never turn from following you and put His spirit in you and you will never turn from following him

That is a guarantee of the New Covenant. Jer 32:40 Rom 4:16

Lindsey Driscoll 6 months ago

Cindy, thank you for leading us through God’s word today and this reminder: “It is easier to live by a set of rules than rest in His grace. Rules tell us we are in control. Rest requires us to surrender our life to Him.”

michele liu 6 months ago

Great devo, Cindy!

greg jones 6 months ago

“We want to be in good favor with Him instead of experiencing His love. We focus on what we do and not on what He has done for us!”

I think of that this way-Him being Him thru me, not me making Him out of me.

Your words are probably easier to understand. Great words today thank you for them.

Tom Liggitt 6 months ago

Great job Cindy! Great perspective!

Trey Collins 6 months ago

Hi Cindy, that’s a terrific explanation of the law as it regards to grace and Christian life. Great job!

Sharla Jo Meredith 6 months ago

Cindy, you wrote, “Rules tell us we are in control. Rest requires us to surrender our life to Him.” It points to the heart of the matter, trusting God & believing Who He is. Do I trust my Abba Father or slander His character? Will I surrender & rest in His love & grace or be motivated to keep rules for appearances & acceptance? One is a posture of humbled dependence (I am nothing without Him. He will not fail.) & the other a posture of fear-filled arrogance (I am able to do this on my own. I cannot fail.) Thank you for sharing.

Ray Bohlin 6 months ago

Thank you Cindy! I know I need constant reminders to trust in his grace and not on my own actions. I worked hard to be a “good boy” and stay out of trouble. That coverd a multiple of sins so I thought. God’s grace is all that is needed and all that matters. I appreciate the prayers of the JTJ family this week. I have another evolution debate Sunday at 11 am on Sunday, 3am Dallas time. My opponent is a philosopher whose research is about philosophical consequences of human evolution so there will be a lot of talk about bones and genes and chimps. I will preach at a church at 4 pm. “Why creation matters!” Busy weekend then back with Xian leaders on Monday.

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Part of the reason Romans gives for being by faith resting on grace is that it might be guaranteed. Rom 4:16 and that guarantee leads to other guarantees Heb 13:5, Eph 1:13, 1 John 5:1

We don’t always see it. Abraham was promised ‘the land’ by faith Rom 4:13 but in his life he had very little of it, maybe a burial plot. Nevertheless ‘he inherited the earth’ long term Acts 7:4-5 ‘Inheriting the earth’ is promised in the Sermon on the mount offered and also Ps 2:8, Ps 25:13 and Ps 37:9,11,22,29,34

Sue Bohlin 6 months ago

Ooooh, great devo, Cindy! This was so good: “Rules tell us we are in control. Rest requires us to surrender our life to Him.” I was reminded of the image of stepping onto an escalator, trusting/resting in it–surrendering to it!–to take us up to the next level rather than climbing a flight of stairs. It’s a picture of the faith life.

I also appreciated this: “There is a purpose for the law. It just doesn’t save us.” Like a doctor’s exam that leads to a diagnosis of disease but doesn’t treat it. I woke up super early this morning burdened to pray for my husband Ray battling an infection as he’s in Belarus battling spiritual darkness. The diagnosis of a serious infection doesn’t heal it, just as the Law doesn’t make anyone righteous.

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

Well done Cindy. My word of the year is patience. God has me, Amy and each of our three kids in our own major transitions. I want to know. I don’t want to wait.

Yet, God calls me to know Him, not always to know what His plans are for me, (Jeremiah 29:11). Even so, there are days that I feel, to quote a friend, like I am a cockroach being chased around the kitchen.

Another friend passed on this saying that helps me:

No God, No Peace. Know God, Know peace.

Q1 - My “circumcision” used to be building my church/spiritual resume. #filthyrags. I still am at risk for “checkbox”.

Q3 - My motivation to obedience comes from seeing what 55 years of disobedience got me. He shows me how obedience leads to crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.

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