What difference, in a practical sense, does it make whether we understand the teaching of grace and righteousness in the book of Romans? If we have the knowledge and understanding, what difference should it make in how we live?
Grace and righteousness are important because they describe God’s character and what He desires we become. Grace is God’s gift of favor. Grace refers to favor that is not deserved. Grace is a gift because as sinful men and women we do not deserve favor or special treatment from a holy God whom we disobey and often ignore. Righteous is what believers in Jesus Christ become positionally because of His grace through faith. Righteousness is also what God wants believers to become practically.
Practical Issue #1
Each one of us was born spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-2) into this world. Our lives scream loudly that we are sinners because we sin (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:3). Yet, God in His mercy has offered us something we do not deserve – eternal spiritual life (Rom. 6:23). He is able to do this because Jesus Christ died for our sins (Eph. 5-7). Ephesians 2:8 says that by God’s grace through faith we are saved.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God . . . (NASB) Eph 2:8
We can be saved because of God’s grace and by His grace we are declared to be righteous. Like a judge, God has declared each believer to be perfect or holy.
. . . that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (NASB) Romans 10:9-10
As a result, God can then pour out His grace on us. The Holy Spirit says, grace super-abounds or reigns through righteousness.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ . . . but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NASB) Romans 5:17, 20-21
Practical Issue #2
Grace should help us understand God’s love for us. It reveals His love, mercy, and compassion to each of us. As a result, those who believe in Jesus have been declared righteous, holy individuals. Jesus came to make us righteous. He was born into this world to die for us. He humbled Himself when He took on human flesh. Imagine the Creator being willing to look like the creature. He planned His death. He suffered to die for us. He died for us! So should we be willing to sin?
Yes, because of His grace we are forgiven and yes we have been declared righteous. If God has done all of that for us, why shouldn’t Christians want to change? Shouldn’t Christians change? This is practical. If God wants us to be holy and that is why Jesus came and died, then why would we want to continue sinning? How one answers these questions reveals if one is really saved. Checkout these verses,
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:4-6 (NASB)
If you have become a Christian by His grace and are truly declared by God to be righteous, then you will want to please Him (1 Cor. 12:3; Rev. 2:4). If no desire exists to please God, then one should doubt that they are saved. Grace and righteousness should humble us. Grace and righteousness should move us. Grace and righteousness should make us want to please Him and flee sin! Now that is practical.