Paul opens the chapter by expressing his sincere love and concern for his people, Israel, because they did not believe Jesus.
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
v. 1-5 (NASB)
That’s a powerful statement Paul made. He truly had the love of Christ in him to say he’d take Israel’s place and be cut off from Christ if it would save them. That’s humbling to me. I have to look at my own heart. Is my heart really filled with the love of Christ that I would desire to give up my salvation to save others? I can honestly say my heart is not completely filled with His love.
So how do we sincerely love like Christ? What hinders our hearts from being filled with the fullness of His love? First Timothy 1:5 provides us with the answer:
“Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love (agape), which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith.”
(AMP, emphasis mine)
We are called to agape love. Agape love is God’s unconditional love. Romans 5:5 says that the love(agape) of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. That agape love that God has poured into our hearts can only spring out from us when our hearts are pure, our consciences are clear, and our faith is in Him.
We are often misled to believe that to love is to do good deeds. But Paul said, “If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). True agape love only comes through faith, completely believing and surrendering to God and His Word. Faith must come first. Faith will then lead us to action and produce the good works (James 2:18). When our complete faith is in Christ, He purifies our hearts and cleanses our consciences so that His love can flow freely through us.
…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:14 (NASB)
In the rest of chapter 9, Paul explains how Israel tried to pursue righteousness through works, instead of by faith.
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 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.”
v. 30-33 (NASB)
They were God’s chosen people, yet they rejected the One God sent to save them, Jesus. Paul expresses, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (v. 6-8, NASB).
The promise He made to Abraham and his descendants were not made to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual seed, those who would put their faith in Christ. It all comes down to faith. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we do, if our faith is not in Him we cannot be filled with His love.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
We praise You for Your agape love displayed through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Fill our hearts with Christ’s love. Cleanse our hearts of any unbelief and help us completely surrender our hearts to You. Purify our hearts from evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, for these are the things which defile us (Matthew 15:19-20, KJV). Remove everything that is hindering Your love from springing out from our hearts.
In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:9-12 (NIV)
How did God speak to you through Romans 9? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others?
*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 10. Have a blessed week allowing God to purify your heart!