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God's Righteousness and Human Responsibility (Romans 9:19-33)

Romans 9:19–33 - 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ” 26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” 29 And just as Isaiah foretold, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.” 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, Paul anticipates and responds to questions about God’s judgments (vv. 19-21). He makes clear the Lord of creation owes no explanation for His plans to show mercy or bring justice. All deserve condemnation, yet God patiently endures those destined for destruction in their rejection of Him in order to reveal His glory and make the riches of His mercy known to people like us who place our faith in Jesus (vv. 22-29). This was God’s plan to shower grace on those who trust Christ whether Jews or Gentiles. While the Jews tried pursuing righteousness through rule-keeping, people of all nations found favor with God by through faith (vv. 30-33). In simplicity we see that submitting to God’s authority and relying on what Jesus accomplished are what make one right with the Creator. How can I apply Romans 9:19-33 to my life? Today, Paul deals with profound issues of God's sovereignty and humanity's responsibility. More importantly for our daily lives, this passage also has intensely practical application for how we ought to live in light of biblical truths. Paul aims to humble any readers who may be pridefully questioning God's ways or plans. He makes clear we have absolutely no standing to critique the work of our Creator. Rather than making demands of the Lord of the universe, we should respond in wisdom, gratitude and obedience when shown His kindness, justice, and glory. While His judgments await those who reject Him’- vessels of wrath, we know that righteousness before God comes through Christ alone. So, with humility, let us seek to apply by His Spirit the clear principles from this passage relevant to our walk with Jesus today. Here are some basic truths that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Humble Yourself Before God's Sovereign Plan (vv. 19-21): In these verses, Paul addresses the objection some had regarding God's sovereign plan. They asked, "Why does He still find fault?". Paul makes clear we have no right to question the Lord in such a way. As fallen humanity, we deserve only wrath. Yet through Christ, God mercifully offers salvation by grace to all who believe. Despite our inability to fully grasp God's infinitely wise ways, we must trust His perfectly loving plans. When saved, we become part of the corporate body of Christ which Scripture says is predestined for eternal spiritual blessings. Our response should not be critique of the all-knowing Judge but humility and gratitude that He saw fit through Jesus to redeem all who place saving faith in Him. As recipients of unmerited favor, we must surrender control rather than self-righteously challenge His supreme ways which far surpass our logic. Living humbly means admitting our limitations, rejecting prideful doubts, and accepting God's sovereign authority over all things (Isaiah 40:13‐14, Isaiah 55:8‐9, Proverbs 3:5-6).

Food for Thought: What areas of your life do you need to surrender to God's control rather than demanding your own way? Why is humility before God the proper response for believers in light of His sovereign plan?

  1. Don't Put God's Patience to The Test (vv. 22-29): Here, Paul speaks of God enduring vessels of wrath with patience. We see from places like Jeremiah 18 that the Lord is slow to anger, giving people time to turn from sin so that He can bless them. However, we must not presume upon God's patience and mercy, taking it for granted. Indeed, while He is slow to anger, His judgment will come in the proper time. Those of us who have received His grace and forgiveness as believers should have a healthy fear of testing the limits of Divine forbearance. We must avoid persistently willful sin, repent of ongoing disobedience, turn from lifestyles opposed to His ways, and walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Though we can have confidence in our eternal security if we are in Christ, that is no license to sin. Let us approach each day in humility, trusting in the power of the indwelling Spirit to lead us into righteousness rather than walking arrogantly according to the flesh and hardening our own hearts (Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 103:8-10, Revelation 2:20-23).

Food for Thought: Do you regularly reflect on the seriousness of continuing in unrepentant sin as a believer? Why or why not? What are some positive steps you can take this week to walk more closely with Christ and avoid testing God's patience?

  1. Pursue Righteousness by Faith Not Works (vv. 30-33): In these concluding verses, Paul draws a sharp contrast between the Gentiles who pursued righteousness by faith alone and the Jews who sought righteousness by diligently keeping the law through their own effort. This reminds us of a key truth - right standing before God cannot be earned by our good deeds; it is only received as an undeserved gift by those who trust in Christ’s finished work. However, this does not mean obedience is not required for believers. As recipients of such rich mercy, our heart’s desire should be to passionately pursue righteous living with the help of the Holy Spirit within us. But we must guard against drifting into self-reliance, as if we can manufacture holiness by keeping external rules while our hearts remain unchanged. Lasting transformation comes when we routinely deny ungodliness through relying on our death and resurrection with Jesus (Galatians 2:16, Romans 6:5-7, Titus 3:5-8).

Food for Thought: Do you spend more effort trying to behave righteously or connecting with Christ? Why? How can we ensure spiritual disciplines and good deeds flow from genuine faith rather than self-effort? In closing, by applying the wisdom in Romans 9, we can live our daily lives in line with God's truth. We should humble ourselves before God's sovereign plan rather than questioning the Almighty. Though He patiently shows mercy, we must not continually test the limits of His forbearance. And we pursue righteousness not through our own effort but solely by trusting in the accomplished work of Jesus on the cross. When we walk by faith according to these principles revealed in Scripture, we can know the blessing of God who preeminently loved us enough to adopt us into His family through the blood of His Son. May we strongly grasp these simple truths so evident in this passage. As we are increasingly conformed to Christ’s ways, our thoughts, words and deeds will bring glory to our gracious Heavenly Father. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would continually grow humility within me so I avoid calling into question Your perfectly wise plans. Show me more of who You are so I may walk in reverent awe of Your sovereignty. Work by Your Spirit to produce gratitude in my heart for sending Jesus to rescue me from the judgment I justly deserved. Lead me to repentance whenever sins entangle me rather than relying on Your endless power. I want to grow closer to You by faith, through the inner working of Your Spirit. I pray You would engrave these clear truths from Your Word upon my heart. Enable me to trust fully in what Christ accomplished to make me righteous once and for all. Guard me against vainly striving to prove myself holy by my own strength. As I apply these basic principles from Scripture, make my thoughts, words and actions glorify You. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 9:30 – “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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