(Rom. 1:16, 17)
No matter how good our lives are, none can escape the constant reminders of sin. Inevitably, happiness is interrupted by sickness, death, disaster. On a personal level, feelings of spiritual security are often challenged by memories of past sins and, even worse, by the urge to sin again.
A person living in sin, in unrighteousness, is merely a walking corpse just waiting for the day when the last breath exits his body. When Paul assesses the human condition, he cries out in desperation, Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:24, NKJV). This is a cry for liberation from unrighteousness. Paul quickly realizes that deliverance comes through Jesus (Rom. 7:25).
This is the gospel. The good news is that we who have been trapped in bodies of unrighteousness can be covered with the righteousness of Christ. The gospel is the guarantee that we can escape the condemnation of the law because we now possess the righteousness that the law promotes (Rom. 8:1).
When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, the story of Jesus’ death was still being circulated throughout the empire. Those who had heard were fully aware that the way He had died was scandalous. People whose loved ones had been executed on the cross were often left to a life of shame. However, Paul and countless other Christians understood that Christ’s shameful death was the most powerful event in human history. That is why Paul declares, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16, author’s translation). And the heart of that gospel is the great promise that in the end, death will not have the final say and that those saved by Jesus will live forever in a new earth.
Many people believe that life is meaningless because it always ends in death. So, nothing we do will matter in the long run. It’s hard to argue with that logic, isn’t it? If everything we have ever done and every person we have ever influenced will all forever be lost and forgotten, what can life mean?