Notes on Romans 1-7: Part 1

Romans 1-7
Joshua goes farther than Romans. In Romans you get death with Christ and life with Him, but not resurrection. That would be the door of union. When you get resurrection with Christ fully carried out, you get union. But when you get union you get nothing of justification, for, as in Ephesians, there is a new creation, and God has not to justify His own work at all. You have all the privileges of those who belong to the new creation with all its duties too. But in Rom. 1 get sinners, and they want justifying. We learn the double character of justification—the clearing of man from the sins of the old Adam, and the putting him in a new place before God.
In this Epistle we find these two things are treated quite distinctly. In chapter 1 you have the ground that calls for this justification in the fact that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. It is not here a question of governmental wrath with the people as of old, but now God being revealed, man must be fit for His presence, and so all that is contrary to that is judged. We have already sinned, and come short of the glory of God—a peculiar way of putting it, because, even if we were loving like saints, it would still be true that we come short of the glory of God. But why say “come short of glory,” to a sinner? If you do not come up to what God is as revealed, you won't do.
Now the whole dealing of Christianity with us is just based on that. If you cannot walk in the light as God is in the light, you must be cast out. This was always true, but now it is revealed. God is no longer hidden behind a veil, but He is revealed as He is, and if you are unable to stand there, you cannot stand at all. Therefore it is, that justification now is equal to this. We are made meet to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” A man's being born again does not make his conscience meet for that. His being quickened makes him feel the need of it. If I could abstract my new nature from my old, and so stand only in that, all well. But man has been brought in guilty before God, so that another thing is required, and that is justification.
The first subject of the gospel is the person of the Lord Himself, before you have anything done for us— “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (chap. 1:3); not—concerning “us.” Too often the claim of Christ's person is lost in the thought of the individual being forgiven. I get two things in the person of Christ which clear up the gospel to me. First, I get cleared of the notion of promises which, indeed, are precious things to Help along afterward—for Christ in the accomplishment of promise, “made of the seed of David” to fulfill the promise— “We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the father, God hath fulfilled the same” (Acts 13:32, 3332And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (Acts 13:32‑33)). The second point is that He is the Son of God, and I see here the power that has overcome death (ver. 4). I have a life according to this holiness of God which we must meet, and this same life in resurrection. And Paul calls this the gospel. This is the primary subject of the gospel. I get here, too, the righteousness of God revealed in it (ver. 17). In the opening of the Epistle you get what we have been saying; and now Paul says he is not ashamed of this gospel (ver. 16), and the following verse closes the introduction.
Now the apostle goes on to lay the ground why it must be a “righteousness of God,” because there was not any of man whatever. He starts with this, that the righteousness of God is revealed to faith. I am so bold in this for God's righteousness is now revealed in the gospel, and God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Here is a holy God perfectly revealed, and He cannot have sin in His presence. Well, alas! I have no righteousness. What then am I to do? (Observe, there is a difference between holiness and righteousness. Holiness is connected more with God's nature, whilst righteousness has its connection rather with judgment of man). There is no answer but “righteousness of God revealed to faith.”
(To be continued)