In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul was explaining why he so actively and assertively shared the story of Jesus. He wrote, “I feel I am under some a sort of universal obligation. I owe something to everybody, whether you are a cultured Greek or an ignorant savage. It doesn’t matter. That is why I want, as far as my ability will carry me, to preach the Gospel to you who live in Rome as well.” Then he goes on to explain:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation from His wrath and punishment to everyone who believes in Christ as Savior, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith disclosed in a way that awakens more faith. As it is written and forever remains written, “The righteous will live by his faith in the true God.” (Romans 1:16–17, Habakkuk 2:4)
Wow! Impressive. Can any of you make that same claim? Now, here’s the thing. He says that he is not “ashamed” of the gospel. The Greek word used is “epaischunoma,” and it essentially refers to someone who was being disgraced or personally humiliated. Think of a person who publically stood up for their friend, who was later found to be a massive fraud. Suddenly, the revelation destroyed their reputation and respectability. Their opinion was once trusted, and suddenly no one will rely on him.
That is what Paul meant. He had gone out bragging about Jesus, and he knew he would never be ashamed of what he said. The Apostle of our Lord had complete confidence in the story of Jesus’ sacrifice. Paul had given his life to proclaim the truths that Jesus Himself had revealed to him and he did all he could to explain this to everyone who would listen.
You and I can be like this, you know? The same way that Paul put all of his confidence in the gospel, so can we. We can boldly proclaim the truths that God has revealed in His Word. “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” We can bask in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit never changes. If it was true thousands of years ago, it is still true, today. The offer of salvation that was presented in the first century is still open to us. And for that, we can rejoice!
If we are going to live unashamed of the gospel, it means that we are willing to proclaim it, but it also means that we apply it to our lives. Paul certainly did this. His life supported his message. You can never excuse him of preaching one thing and living another. Nope. What he taught, is what he lived. Now we can understand why so many modern-day preachers are falling by the wayside and being enslaved by their many sins.
When we secretly allow sin in out lives and refuse to confess it, it proves that we are “ashamed of the gospel.” When we openly (and often, proudly) disobey scriptural standards, we are also indicating that we have no confidence in our message. When we “follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers” (Psalm 1:1), we are obviously ashamed of the gospel. We are not allowing its truth to penetrate our lives so that others see its power. When we are not ashamed of the gospel, it means that we are allowing it to dominate our lives so much so, that everyone can see that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
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