The book of Romans provides clear information and instruction on sin and the sinful nature of humankind. This paper attempts to derive from the book of Romans the effects of sin and the means by which God extends His grace to forgive us, namely through justification, sanctification, and glorification.
Effects of Sin
Romans teaches that there are numerous effects of sin. In Romans 1:20, Paul clearly lays out a fundamental truth, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature.” This argues that God’s existence is made known unto every man. Paul teaches in Romans 3:9-19 that no one is righteous, but that all of mankind is under the power of sin. Romans 6:23 states that the “wages of sin is death.” Since the Fall, all mankind has been affected by sin. Sin brings condemnation, but thankfully, God, through His amazing love, offers grace to all who accept Him by faith. Everyone is a sinner, and Paul is quick to emphasize our need for righteousness intervention. Romans teaches that sin’s effect on humankind is first and foremost death, both physical and spiritual. Sin also enslaves, as portrayed in Romans 6:16. When sin gets out of control, man becomes sin’s slave, and becomes ensnared in its evilness. Romans also teaches in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned; the only perfect man was Jesus. Sin separates us from God and from the blessings, plans, and purposes that He has for us. So how does one know how to quit sinning? Romans 3:20 states, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin,” meaning that we know when we sin by the law. God’s law convicts us of our sin.
Forgiveness of Sin
Because God has allowed for us to be made aware of our sin, we are also convicted of our sin. From conviction stems repentance. After Paul lays out the sinful nature of humanity in Romans, he then transitions into an explanation of how sinners can find forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone. Despite falling short of the glory of God, Paul teaches that God sent His perfect and holy Son to be made as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Paul continuously reinstates the word faith. He does this to remind readers that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works, and not by sacrifices, but by believing in faith. There are three major terms that should be discussed in order to fully understand God’s salvation plan.
Romans 3:21-26 lays out a concise description of the action of salvation. It says that Jesus was sent as the ultimate sacrifice, and that we, as sinners, “are justified freely by His grace” through His sacrifice. Justification simply means to declare righteous. This occurs at the moment of salvation, that exact moment that you repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Savior. This truth clearly defines that we have a changed status, per say. Although we still fall short of God’s glory, we no longer are condemned, but rather are forgiven. As one source explains, “[the word] ‘imputation’ is used to designate the way in which the believer is perfectly righteous.” The imputation of righteousness not only declares the believer righteous in God’s eyes, but it also allows for the believer to commune with the righteous God.
Sanctification, at its simplest definition is twofold. First, sanctification implies that we, as born again Christians, are made into a new image, after the image of God, and second, that we are enabled to die unto sin and live unto righteousness. One source suggests that sanctification is as much of a distinct work of God as wisdom, righteousness, and redemption, as eluded to by Paul in1 Corinthians 1:30. The author goes on further to suggest that Christians have gotten it all wrong on the topic of sanctification. He says that sanctification is not growth in grace, as many perceive. Sanctification is a work of God alone, and if we were to take it upon ourselves to grow in grace, we would be taking matters into our own hands. He says that this is a dangerous place to be and that Satan delights in this attempt, because it is a path that does not lead to holiness, but it leads to an unattainable attempt to reach holiness, making our powers equal with God’s. Sanctification, as presented in Romans, is the impartation of God’s righteousness, as opposed to the imputation of God’s righteousness, as is for justification. As Towns and Gutierrez point out, this sanctification process is a process of progressive conformation, or “progressive holiness.” It is where believers are set free from a life of sin, and is being sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul teaches throughout Romans many doctrinal pieces that are key to understanding the salvation process. While there are many more to discuss, these major ones serve to assist a believer in understanding the process of salvation. Again, Salvation is only possible through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ because of the substitutionary death He paid in our place, and if we believe and repent, we can live a life of fullness in communion with our heavenly Father.