Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14, NKJV)
Paul gave thanks for the faith of the Roman Christians: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8). Now, he briefly outlines why he was confident they would follow the instructions he gave them. Each of his reasons are expressions of their faith, and by them we are exhorted to follow their good examples. First, Paul had confidence in them because they were “full of goodness.” Their virtue was genuine, not pretended. Nor was their goodness partial. Their lives were filled up with goodness. Next, Paul had confidence in them because they were “filled with all knowledge” (Eph. 5:17-18). Their knowledge of God’s word filled every part of their being. It informed their faith, their hope, their motives, and their conduct (Jno. 8:31-32). Thirdly, Paul had confidence in them because they were “able also to admonish one another.” They were situated to effectively caution and reprove each other because of their goodness and knowledge of God’s word. Knowledge standing alone puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1). But, when coupled with goodness one is equipped to admonish and to be listened when that warning is needed. We enhance our ability and opportunity to help one another be faithful by maturing our faith in goodness, in knowledge, and in the ability to admonish others from God’s word.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:8–10, NKJV)
David’s life was in danger. King Saul was pursuing him, and when he fled to Gath of the Philistines, he had to pretend to be insane to escape threats on his life (1 Samuel 21:10-15). When we fall into trials we are tempted to accuse God. How is it that these perils did not shake David’s faith in God? Today’s passage shows us how David’s resolve was strengthened in the face of trials. First, he knew God blesses those who trust in Him (v. 8). David believed God’s word and promises. Trust in God overwhelms trials in this world. Second, David feared God (v. 9). Reverence for God, who provides and protects His people, keeps its focus on God in the day of calamity. Third, David continued to seek the Lord. God’s will and pleasure, not his own, ruled David’s life. Do not allow temptations and trials of life to diminish your faith. Like David, trust God, fear God and seek God. The Lord is good. He will bless and sustain His holy ones, for they rely on Him and see His goodness.
“(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),” (Ephesians 5:9, NKJV)
Goodness signifies an honorable moral constitution that is borne as the Spirit’s fruit in the life (Galatians 5:22). In the absolute sense, God alone is essentially and consummately good; we have all defiled goodness through sin (Matthew 19:17; Romans 3:12, 23). Yet, in Christ, goodness is revived (Romans 12:2). Moral goodness is to be the character and conduct of Christians. Barnabas, for example, was a “good man” (Acts 11:24). He was morally honorable, possessing a nobility of character that was beneficent and charitable toward others. Like the other essential qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, goodness is not restrained (“against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:23). It is not selfish and self-seeking in its treatment of others. Moral goodness not only enlivens one’s soul to develop the moral likeness of Christ, it seeks to relieve and refresh others with righteous examples and exhortations of truth. Moral goodness is not prudishness, it is honorable before God and among men. Goodness benefits one’s own soul, and the general welfare of others. Therefore, goodness compels us to “cling to what is good,” and to then “do good to all” (Romans 12:9; Galatians 6:10).
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8–10, NKJV)
Christians know that what pleases the Lord also brings joy and fulfillment in life. They “walk as children of light,” choosing the joy and confidence faithful living brings. You see, you do not have to sin in order to enjoy life. That is the devil’s lie. The path of sin may bring you momentary pleasure, but it always leads to spiritual darkness and eternal death. On the other hand, a life lived in goodness, righteousness and truth has God’s approval, and shows God’s light to the world. You get to choose whether to enjoy life in the joyful fulfillment of God’s approval, or to live in the darkness of sin and death. You must change your way of thinking in order to change from living in darkness to light. Faithful living results from transforming the way you think. Instead of thinking that sin is the way to happiness, think the way God thinks. Live in the light of truth, and show “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Nothing is more fulfilling and joyful than knowing God accepts you. That assurance is real to all who “walk as children of light.”
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:22–23, NKJV)
In considering the purposes of God that brought Gentiles into His kingdom while at the same rejecting unfaithful Jews, it is imperative that we recall God’s goodness and His severity. His goodness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). So does His severity (Heb. 10:26-31). It is altogether proper to use God’s punishment of sin as an incentive to be faithful to Him, because our God is a “consuming fire” against transgressors (Heb. 12:29). This verse tolls the death knell for the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. Those who do not “continue in His goodness” do not remain in His favor (“the soul who sins shall die,” Ezek. 18:20). God’s severity is impartially meted out against those who do evil (Rom. 2:9-11). God goodness is extended to and received by all who will “fear God and keep His commandments,” including Jews who “do not continue in unbelief” (Rom. 11:23). If Paul can use the goodness and the severity of God to urge people to follow Jesus, then we are confident we can, and should, do the same.
19 Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! 20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19–20, NKJV)
During His sermon on the mountain, Jesus taught us to lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). It is noteworthy that in today’s passage, the Lord God lays up the treasures of His goodness for those who fear Him and trust Him. God protects us from spiritual and eternal harm, from the “plots of men” who may even kill the body, but who cannot harm our soul (Matt. 10:28). Those who fear God and trust Him live faithful lives before friend and foe. The Lord shelters these from the strife that others speak – words designed to frighten, discourage and defeat us. We will trust in the Lord’s goodness, for it is great. He is our haven of safety against every evil.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:4–5, NKJV)
God is the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17). But one’s heart must be open to seeing and appreciating His gifts. When sin hardens the heart its eyes are closed to seeing God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, much less allowing these good things to stimulate repentance. Instead of laying up treasures in heaven, this hard, unthankful and unholy heart lays up treasures that will be repaid with wrath in the day of God’s righteous judgment. There will be no satisfaction on the day of judgment that “I did it my way,” when “your way” results in your eternal death. Today is the day to soften your heart toward God and be thankful for the many good gifts He gives you. Let these lead you to repentance so you can live in His blessings instead of being under His brooding wrath. May we never look with disgust upon the rich blessings of God.