Living Christian: Romans 5-8 Introduction

Sin, grace, Law and life  (click the arrow to listen)

At the end of Paul’s famous reflections on love in 1 Corinthians 13, there is this stupendous statement:
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
It can be helpful to view the book of Romans as divided into the three categories described here.

This series of reflections from the middle section of Romans will develop the theme of hope. This section is a famous exposition of how God intervenes in our hopelessness to lead us into life through the power of the Holy Spirit.


The first 4 chapters of Romans describe how, before God, we can be counted righteous by faith (righteous means doing the right thing according to God’s law). Doing the right thing before God means total obedience to His commandments. To understand what a demanding thing this is, we could imagine trying to be righteous by secular standards. It would mean obeying every single law and regulation, every single day, for the whole of your life. 

But being righteous by God’s standards is even more demanding and difficult. We learn in Romans how this is made possible by the power of faith through the Holy Spirit, because by our own best efforts we fail miserably. Furthermore, our hearts being changed in this way, we now want to do the right thing; not in order to earn favour with God, but to show grateful love to a merciful heavenly Father.

The section comprising Romans chapters 5-8 shows how we can overcome the obstacles which stop us from living in this newly acquired ‘righteousness by faith’. We do not achieve this by being religious. It is possible to be religious without putting our faith and trust in God. It is also possible to follow religious rituals, yet not have a changed heart. Our motivation for everything must be love. The practical demonstration of this love only works with faith (Galatians 5:6).

These central four chapters of Romans are one of the most important parts of the New Testament. We can helpfully divide them up into seven parts

1) Ch 5:1-11     Assurance of future glory
2) Ch 5:12-21   Basis for this assurance in the work of Christ
3) Ch 6:1-14    How God deals with the power of sin
4) Ch 6:15-23   How we respond to God’s delivering power
5) Ch 7:1-25    Delivered from the power of the Law
6) Ch 8:1-17    Living in the power of the Holy Spirit
7) Ch 8:18-39    Assurance of future glory

We will follow these sections in order with an interlude on sin, Law and grace.

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