For the shortest version with just verses & pictures go to: Short Romans Puzzle
This is a deeper look at the background used to develope The Romans Puzzle (Romans Road -maturity check)
I initially wrote this while I was waiting for one of the surgeries on my spine (around March 2016) but felt the need to revisit it and clarify a few things.
Studying the Word of God has been such a big help for me mentally spiritually and even physically, to get through the pain I’m trying to endure.
After looking at “The Romans Road” (a list of verses that take the reader through the book of Romans verifying the need for salvation & how to obtain it)
This blog post is similar in nature but more along the lines of after you’ve received Salvation and walking on a road toward sanctification.
I call this “The Romans Puzzle”
A glance at the bigger picture cantains highlighted verses from Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the book of Romans.
I noted that some Christians (those who have accepted Christ) are living in the state of being Ro. 5 describes, acknowledging The dilemma-
Romans 5 Portion: You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. Romans 5:12-14, 20-21 MSG
-This was just the first part of many puzzle pieces we encounter in our active walk with Christ.
The next big puzzle piece is in Ro. 6. Some Christians may find themselves in this stage of development with their Heavenly Father, not fully aware of the change that took place when the accept Christ’s Lordship and still focused on The Wages of the Dilemma-
Romans 6 Portion:
(Specifically just Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…” However that verse doesn’t stop there is helps us see that we are no longer working for those wages. We are given a gift from God.) This portion takes us further in our relationship with God and explains the bigger pictire of who we are to be, because we’ve come into a relationship that is set apart, dedicated & sanctified for and by Christ Himself…
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country. Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life , eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:1-3, 6-23 MSG
That is just the 2nd piece of this puzzle but already we are seeing a bigger pucture come together.
Now, other Christians are stuck in a state of being that is described in Romans 7. We all, at different times in our walk with God, find ourselves doing what is against our new nature in Christ and the very thing we want & should be doing, well…we just are not doing. We may find ourselves not “being” who Christ wants us to be. This next puzzle piece represents “Fighting the Dilemma”-
Romans 7 Portion: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, WAGING WAR against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:15-25 NIV
This puzzle piece is perhaps the hardest one to find & put into place; however, when we realize we have to fully rely on God as our higher power and that there is nothing good in & of ourselves real sanctification takes place.
Now for the 4th and final piece. Romans chapter 8 brings us a deeper understanding to this section of this puzzling new life, Conquering The Dilemma-
Romans 8 Portion: With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what HE is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?
When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life.
With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent.
There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life.
God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.
The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.
After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. Romans 8:1-21, 26-30 MSG
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31-37 NIV
And now all 4 pieces of our puzzle are in place. If we were to turn this puzzle over and look at the back we’d see on big perfect picture of Jesus.
Today, in this post I placed 4 large chapters into place, completing a puzzle.
Praise God, what ever Chapter of Romans we find that describes us we can put all the pieces together and now actively be described as more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as different Soil represents People’s soul in the parable Jesus told in Matt. 13, so also these 4 chapters in Romans represent maturity levels of people who have accepted Christ and let His Word grow in their hearts.
Ro. 5 needing to be saved & being “saved” (the dilemma)
Ro. 6 the wages of the dilemma
Ro. 7 fighting the dilemma
Ro. 8 conquering the dilemma
I did another post on this “Romans Puzzle” in which I explain how to do a short object lesson with these 4 chapter. For that go to: How to- The Romans Puzzle
In that post I attempt to describe a very animated message literally involving a huge jigsaw puzzle.
For the shortest version with just verses & pictures go to: Short Romans Puzzle
Here is a video of me doing The Romans Puzzle with 3 of my daughters:
-In Christ, Beetle