Paul explained how Abraham had been justified through grace. He then described blessings that come to those who are justified and taught that baptism symbolizes becoming dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Imagine that you are dying of thirst in a desert and that there is a bottle of water on top of a nearby hill. Which of the following options will save you?
Your belief that the water can save you.
Your effort to get to the water and drink it.
This scenario can help us understand Paul’s teachings in Romans 4–7 concerning how faith, works, and grace relate to the doctrine of justification.
Some of the Jewish Saints in Rome overemphasized the importance of their own efforts and of the law of Moses in being justified. How might some people today have a similar misunderstanding of justification?
Which of the three options in the scenario could represent the idea that we can be saved by our works? ____
Paul tried to correct this misunderstanding by reminding the Jews about the ancient patriarch Abraham, whom many Jews saw as being justified.
What was Abraham not justified by?
Remember that Paul taught that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even if we eventually obeyed the commandments perfectly, our past sins and transgressions would still disqualify us from being justified by the law of works. In other words, to be justified by the law of works would require us to never sin or even unknowingly break any of God’s laws.
In Romans 4:6–15 we learn that lineage and obedience to the law of Moses do not have the power to cleanse from sin.
Remember that grace refers to the blessings, mercy, help, and strength available to us because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. Refer to the scenario at the beginning of the lesson. Which of the three options could represent the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the grace of God? ____
Which option could represent our faith in Him? ____
If you were in that situation, could you be saved by your belief and efforts if there was no water at the top of the hill? How is the water in this scenario like the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the grace of God?
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught:
“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God [see Acts 20:28]. …
“Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father” (“The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 109–10).
Notice that while the scenario of needing water in the desert helps us understand how faith, works, and grace contribute to being justified, it does not illustrate all the ways we can receive the Savior’s grace. Jesus Christ not only provides the life-saving water that represents God’s grace, which justifies us and cleanses us from sin; He also enables us to have the faith and strength we need to obtain the water, or access God’s grace. We can be blessed by this grace before, during, and after we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and perform good works.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and quells [calms] the despair caused by sin; it also strengthens us to see, do, and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity” (“Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 47).
How does the Atonement and God’s grace help us exercise faith in Jesus Christ and do good works?
Some works we must do to show our faith in Christ and be justified through God’s grace include repenting of our sins, obeying the commandments, and receiving the saving ordinances of the gospel (see Moroni 10:32–33).
Imagine that two of your friends are arguing about how we can be “saved.” One friend says that all we need to do to be saved is express our belief in Jesus Christ. The other friend insists that our obedience to the commandments is what saves us. In your scripture study journal, write how you would explain the relationship of faith, works, and grace to your friends.
As recorded in Romans 5, Paul taught of the peace that comes to those who access God’s grace by faith in Jesus Christ (see verses 1–2). He further explained that the grace available to us because of Christ’s Atonement is more than sufficient to overcome the effects of the Fall.
Imagine that your friend is planning to eventually serve a mission but is currently making choices that oppose the Lord’s standards. When you express concern about your friend’s behavior, he says, “It is not a big deal. Because of the Atonement, I can always repent before I go on my mission.”
Ponder how you would respond to your friend. As you study Romans 6, look for why his attitude reveals a serious misunderstanding of the doctrine of grace.
Read Romans 6:1–6, 11–12, looking for how Paul’s teachings could correct your friend’s thinking.
In your own words, explain how Paul’s teachings in these verses could help your friend:
One truth we can learn from these verses is that baptism by immersion can symbolize our death to sin and newness of spiritual life.
The new spiritual life we begin when we are baptized includes receiving a remission of our sins and committing to obey God’s commandments. Those who break their baptismal covenant by purposely sinning with the intent to repent later are mocking the Savior’s Atonement and placing themselves in spiritual peril.
Who pays for an employee’s wages? Why does an employer not pay the wages of someone else’s employee?
Read Romans 6:13, and identify two “employers” or masters someone could yield to and serve. In this verse the word yield means to offer or give yourself to, and members refers to parts of the body and mind.
Wages of sin
Death as a wage of sin refers to “separation from God and His influences” and means “to die as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Death, Spiritual,” scriptures.lds.org).
Answer the following question in your scripture journal: How does yielding to a sin make us a servant to that sin?
Ponder instances when someone’s yielding to sin led to a loss of freedom.
Refer to the list you wrote under “God’s gifts” in the preceding chart. What are the benefits of serving righteousness rather than sin?
Write the following principle in your scripture study journal: If we yield ourselves to God, we can become free from sin and receive the gift of eternal life. Then answer the following questions:
In what ways can we yield ourselves to God?
In what ways have you experienced freedom from sin by yielding yourself to God?
In your scripture study journal, write a goal regarding how you will better yield yourself to God so that you might receive His grace in your life.
As recorded in Romans 7, Paul used the metaphor of marriage to teach that Church members had been freed from the law of Moses and joined to Christ. He also wrote about the struggle between the “flesh” (Romans 7:18), or physical appetites, and “the inward man” (Romans 7:22), or spirituality.
The Joseph Smith Translation of Romans 7:24–25 gives added insight into Paul’s powerful testimony as he witnesses that the flesh can be overcome:
“And if I subdue not the sin that is within me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 7:26–27 [in the Bible appendix]).
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Romans 4–7 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: