Sermon – “I Am Not Ashamed!” Romans 1:16
The Silent Holocron dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday. Since Stephen has been grossly negligent in posting his sermons, the next few will be “catch-up” posts until we get to Romans 1:26-27 or thereabouts, where Stephen is currently located.
Romans 1:16 — For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
In this verse, Paul is boldly declaring his pride for the Gospel. Yes, pride. Pride, for the wrong reasons, is a bad thing. But it is never wrong to be proud of what God has done in bringing Himself glory. Pride in what God has done, with the proper attitude, ought to make us praise Him and give thanks to Him.
And Paul undoubtedly has a proper attitude about his pride in the Gospel. He is not embarrassed by the Gospel; rather, Romans 1:8 shows us that instead he is thankful for it! Indeed, as we can see from the previous verse (v. 15), the Gospel gives him energy. Remember, he was eager to preach the Gospel!
Ashamed of the Gospel?
- To be embarrassed by it.
- To be unwilling to do something because of fear about it.
- To be upset by it.
- To feel guilty about it.
Furthermore, this brings us to two kinds of shame: “good” shame and “bad” shame.
“Good” shame is when:
- We feel guilty about something we have done.
- We feel embarrassed about our actions.
- We are humiliated or humbled because of something we have done.
- We feel responsible for our actions.
Why is this called “good” shame? Because “good” shame can lead us to repentance. When in the presence of the Gospel, this is called “being convicted of sin (John 16:7-11).” “Good” shame is when the Holy Spirit makes clear to us that our sin is abhorrent to a holy God. This is one aspect of “the fear of the Lord.” When we know that our actions are wrong, we ought to feel guilty. We ought to feel embarrassed. We ought to feel some degree of humiliation or experience some degree of humbling. And we most certainly ought to feel responsible! It is the proper response to the knowledge that an action one has committed is wrong. Pay very close attention to this concept. Paul will then show its exact opposite later in this chapter.
Bad shame is when:
- We become afraid of something/someone.
- We become embarrassed by something or someone and refuse to be involved.
- We try to hide our involvement from other people.
Why is this called “bad” shame? Let me draw this out a little bit. “Bad” shame contains all the elements of “good” shame. The person experiencing “bad” shame certainly feels guilty, embarrassed, humiliated or humbled, and responsible. The problem arises when a person responds to the shame inappropriately. One’s shame then becomes “bad” because the purpose of shame is turned in on the one experiencing it. Instead of repenting, one runs from it! “Bad” shame, then, is simply a person hiding from the truth. One is attempting to avoid the consequences of one’s knowingly wrong actions. Why do you think that some people who have lived exemplary lives have those lives unraveled in a moment, when some past indiscretion — and a single, momentary indiscretion at that — suddenly surfaces and catches up to them? Because instead of repenting of their sin, asking forgiveness, and/or accepting the consequences, they became afraid. Maybe they feared what they would lose. Maybe they feared the opinion of others. So they hid their involvement.
Another example is glaringly obvious from many of our Deaf brothers and sisters. In some families all over the globe, deafness is an embarrassment. Some parents of Deaf children go to incredible lengths to hide a child’s deafness or “correct” it. They will spend an absurd amount of money on surgeries, technology, and speech therapy to make their children “hearing.” Others go another direction — they neglect the child. I have been told that is not unusual in other countries to find lots of Deaf children abandoned or in orphanages. The parents have refused to become involved with their child. Here in America, that takes on a different form — the parent becomes embarrassed not just at the child’s deafness, but at their seeming inability to provide what the child needs. The child is either ignored or sent off to a residential school for the Deaf. That is not a shot at our Deaf schools, just a simple statement of fact. Some parents will send their Deaf child to a Deaf school simply because they don’t want to or think that they cannot provide for the unique needs of a Deaf child. Having the child away at school brings momentary relief their embarrassment.
Once again, please understand, this is not a shot at parents of Deaf children nor at our Deaf schools, but a simple statement of fact. There are indeed some parents like this, and there are plenty of Deaf people whose stories contain heartbreaking accounts of parental neglect and abandonment.
But in all, there is only one proper response to both forms of shame:
Let me start by asking a question: What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is:
- Jesus was sent to Earth to give eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16)
- Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
- Only those who believe in Him will be saved (John 3:16, Rom. 10:9)
- If we believe in our hearts and confess that we trust Him, we will be saved (Rom. 10:9-10)
Yes, the Gospel really is that simple. And the Gospel is powerful.
The Power of God for Salvation!
The Gospel is God’s power revealed. This is a truth that we cannot afford to deny. Many people have foolishly made careers out of doing this very thing. Quite frankly, Paul has some choice words for them later in this chapter.
The Gospel is, quite simply, more powerful than our sin. It is more powerful than our shame. Through the Gospel, God can (and has for all eternity) destroyed our sin and shame! For those who believe, their sin has been destroyed on the cross. For those who die refusing Christ, they and their sin are eternally destroyed in hell.
The Gospel itself is powerful! Why is the Gospel powerful? Besides the fact that the Gospel is the very words of God, it is the means by which the Holy Spirit brings a person to faith. No person can ever be brought to faith in Christ unless the Gospel is preached to them in some way, shape, or form. We don’t ever come to Christ just thinking about the thickness of a certain brand of toilet paper (though I’m sure some creative genius could come up with a tract about it). We come to Christ through the Gospel alone. It could be there in snippets or it could be there in the fullness of truth, but it is there. And the Holy Spirit uses what is exposed to a person to bring that person to faith.
And what a glorious movement that is! When the Holy Spirit works on a person who has heard the Gospel, “good” shame and “bad” shame is caused. It is worth noting that even if the Holy Spirit is not working to bring someone to faith, there is still a reaction. However, that reaction may or may not include good shame. Bad shame is much more likely. Further, a third reaction enters the picture — apathy. The person simply does not care. If a person is not marked by God for salvation, bad shame and apathy are the likely reactions to the Gospel. These are the kind of people who will go so far as to make entire careers out of trying to debunk the Bible, denigrating Christianity, “counter-evangelism,” and various other anti-religious activities. Thankfully, we do not know whom God has predestined to salvation. Our duty is simply to proclaim the Gospel to all, in the hope that each person has been marked out as Christ’s.
Because the Gospel causes these reactions in people, it is very clear that the Gospel will force us either to repent or to reject Christ. There is no middle ground! Even the Greeks who told Paul they would “think about it” (Acts 17:32) made a decision not to accept Jesus right that moment. That is rejection. The old Baptist evangelists are correct on one count — it is a horrible thing to leave a Gospel presentation without accepting Christ. You really could die in the next minute and end up spending eternity in hell.
The Gospel is how God saves people. Now, I’m going to say something serious and important. The Gospel is for God’s chosen people only. Who are the “chosen ones?” The chosen ones are not the Jews, not any longer. Some will take humongous issue with that statement. I might even get called anti-Semitic. But God’s people are not an ethnic race. God’s people are all those who believe in Him. All who believe in Christ are His. This is why Paul often says “to the Jew first and then to the Greek.” Paul will explain this concept more deeply later in Romans.
What does this mean? If you belong to God, then the Gospel is for you. Yes! For you! You don’t need to be ashamed anymore — if you believe in Jesus, your shame has been taken away and crucified on the cross! How do I know I belong to God? You know that you are His if you believe in Him and love His people. This is a repeated theme throughout the New Testament. Christians are marked by two things: their faith and love they have for their Savior and their love for each other.
However, if you do not believe, if you are ashamed of Jesus, the Gospel is not for you. Jesus stated in Luke 9:26 that “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (see also Mark 8:38).” He also elaborated in Matthew 10:32-33 that “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” It is a serious thing to reject the only name under heaven by which people can be saved. Which leads me to a final question:
Are You Ashamed of Jesus?
Well? Are you? Or do you belong to Him?
If you really believe you belong to Him, you are experiencing “good” shame. Repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus. If you are ashamed of Him, you are experiencing “bad” shame. Pray that God will grant you repentance from your shame and sin, that you may place your trust in Jesus. Believe in Him and you will be saved!