It is worth noting that the New Covenant in Christ which Paul details in his letter to the Church at Rome is far more than a theological treatise on the Cross. Every chapter addresses some aspect of the ongoing conflict with a secular culture and the forces of evil which a believer faces in their Christian experience and which the covenant faithfulness of God effectively deals with.
We must not read The Epistle to the Romans as a Jewish argument against grace because it is every form of religious legalism against grace. There is often a struggle within the young believer whose whole life has been consumed with religious duty. As Paul affirmed, ritual and ceremony cannot save us. We need to be rescued from the evil we have unleashed upon ourselves and our descendants.
Sadly, some have become comfortably familiar with the prison cell they have made of their lives. Even with the chains removed and the doors off the hinges of this prison of an old life—a freedom Paul trumpeted for all by faith in Christ—their religious commitments deny them the joyous freedom that should be theirs as believers. Legalism replaces following Christ because following in His steps seems too mysterious, even though it is the most practical and reasonable lifestyle for a believer.
Some young believers are not yet aware of the transformation the Gospel is making within them. And if they are suspicious of the change, it often seems to conflict with everything they once knew and called morally acceptable and culturally right. Confused and ignorant of the possibilities that are theirs in Christ, the message of the Cross has become merely a religious status symbol or a ticket to heaven and not—as it must become—a transformation of the heart and life.
Some find grace too forgiving or somehow unfair or as a favor that in some sense always must be earned or paid back—like a debt. To some, nothing here seems reasonable. But for these very persons Christ did die! How to start a legitimate conversation with them that the Spirit can guide to bring them to the Savior is Paul’s burden to the Romans. God’s sense of reasonableness is a bit different. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” [ Romans 8:32].
We also must not shy away from Paul’s description of sin and final judgment. It is terrifyingly unreal to the average person whose life is comfortably simple and ethical. God’s wrath is a word deserving special attention. For Paul, this is part of the Gospel message and needs to be said. We would rather not, but this would then be a serious omission in the message of Mercy proclaimed from the Cross.
As you study Romans, when you read “The righteousness of God” read instead, “the covenant faithfulness of God.” It isn’t the same covenant God made with Abraham but it is the same covenant God who now covenants with us under the terms Jesus ratified at Calvary. We, as Abraham, go into covenant with God by faith. But when you read “faith” ask yourself if this should also mean our faithfulness, since “faith” and “faithfulness” are one and the same Biblical word.
May the Lord bless you as you spend time with Him in conversation while studying this inspired, and inspiring, Epistle.