During his last stay in Corinth, Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome, Italy, a place he had not yet visited in person. This letter lays out the basics of the Christian faith, and its implications for Jews & Gentiles. It is, in effect, the gospel, or the good news about Jesus, according to Paul (296).
Paul reminded his readers that all people are separated from God by our natural inclination to sin, or to resist the rule of God over our lives.
We often like to pretend that God isn’t real, but the evidence of creation should convince us that God is real. Yet we all – both Jews & Gentiles — tend always to worship the creature (ie, ourselves) instead of the creator (ie, God). And we cannot fix this; we do not have the power to save ourselves from this self-inflicted condition of being separated from God.
So, in our natural state, we are all walking on the broad way that leads to hell.
Paul emphasizes repeatedly that, in our natural rejection of God, we are destined for eternal suffering in hell, which is ultimate separation from God.
The good news is that – despite our sins — God still loves us & still wants us to be reconciled to him. God wants each person he has created to experience eternal joy in heaven, in ultimate communion with God.
In the person & work of Jesus, God has made a way for this reconciliation to occur. Jesus died in our place, to pay the penalty for our sins, thereby satisfying the holy wrath of God against our sins.
In the person & work of Jesus, our sinful flesh has been put to death, and our spirits have been raised to new life. Whereas we once lived as slaves of our flesh, we can now live as slaves of God’s spirit. When we believe that, when we trust Jesus to make that happen every day, then we have entered into the narrow way that leads to heaven.
We can stay on that narrow way, says Paul, because God’s Spirit fills & guides the lives of all who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us live righteously, in the narrow way marked out for us by the life & ministry of Jesus. For Christians, being narrow-minded in this way is a good thing.
As long as we live here on this earth, our tendency to sin – mainly by worshiping ourselves instead of God – remains. But God’s Spirit gives us the power to overcome our sinful tendencies. Nothing can ever separate us from God, as long as we are following the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.
(296) Romans 1-8