Greetings of peace,

Have you ever noticed that when a person buys a pet then he/she puts the pet into a cage? It is because the person is the owner of the pet, the person has the right entirely to release or to keep, agonize or even kill it.

It cannot be denied that all praises, songs and testimonies are directed to the Lord because of His mercy, greatness, help, protection and so on. But have we ever thought that God imprisoned us in disobedience and under the power of sin as written in Romans 11:32 (NRSV)  "For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all." continued with Galatians 3:22, Galatians 3:22 (NRSV)  "But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

It is quite weird that we exalt God because of His goodness but the above verse clearly said that He 'purposely' imprisoned us in disobedience that to any direction we go and anything we do in our life, marriage, family, work, or godliness are always crashed with disobedience. What is the consequence? We are under the power of sin; therefore, nobody is right, all have committed sin and lost the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). Be watchful, if we say we are not sinful, we deceive ourselves and righteousness is not in us (I John 1:8) then we easily accuse others of committing mistakes.

Generally, reference books or philosophy gives good advice but why God purposely inserted the verse above that sounds weird? Let us learn further about it.

"For God has imprisoned all in disobedience" (Romans 11:32)
This verse is referred to the Romans. When actually disobedience started and who disobeyed? It happened because of the behavior of our ancestors, Adam and Eve. Everything was created well in the beginning by God (Genesis 1 - 2) but after man fell into sin (Genesis 3), God imprisoned them in disobedience.

Notice this, Adam (although Eve made mistake first, husband and wife is one and the husband is responsible fully) only disobeyed once but resulted in fatal mistake - sin entered and death spread to all man (Romans 5:12). Since then, man tries to seek for salvation but not returning to God who gave life; on the contrary, they keep getting farther from God by worshipping His creations as rock, thunder, fish, bird, and so on.


a disobedient husband will affect the wife to disobey; if both are disobedient, their children will also disobey God.

However, we must not take only parts of Bible verses as an absolute truth but we must read the entire Bible to avoid having self righteous to corner others. Why did God imprison people in disobedience? The end of the sentence in the verse says that He can show His mercy to all of them.


a defendant is imprisoned and the prosecutor demanded death penalty because it was proven that the defendant had committed an extra ordinary crime but the judge decided to free the defendant.

How would the reaction of the defendant or the prosecutor be? Isn't the devil, the accuser, accuse us (the criminal) before God - the fair Judge; Psalm 7:12a - night and day (Revelation 12:10b)? Even though the devil had lose and been thrown to earth, he does not stay quiet but try to look for the believers to disobey God.

How will our (defendant) reaction be for being freed from all punishment of sin because of God's mercy? We surely will always remember His gift that we cannot render, for the rest of our lives and endlessly be grateful to Him. It is obvious now, by His mercy/grace, our sins are forgiven that we utter confession to glorify God. Therefore, our hearts must be cleansed' first so that from our mouth we confess that we need Jesus, our Savior. Do not glorify the Lord with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him (Isaiah 29:13)!

Do you still remember about the devil who accused Job who was godly, honest, fearful of God and stayed away from evil, by saying that it was because God had protected him and his treasure? (Job 1:9-10)? With God's permission, the devil tested Job entirely: all of his children died, his treasure was gone, also his health went worse with the purpose that Job disobeyed then disown God. It was true that Job loved his family and was generous but through the test, Job confessed that he did not know God before, he only heard about Him from others (Job 42:5).

Implication: the good deeds that we have done do not guarantee that we truly know the Lord. That is why we need to know Him to understand entirely that whatever we do is merely because of His grace. The more our sins are forgiven, the greater of His grace is applied for us and the greater deeds of love we will do as thanksgiving to Him (compare Luke 7:47).

Why did Apostle Paul remind the Romans about the mercy of God? So that they as Gentiles (wild branches) would not be arrogant after obtaining salvation because the Jews (real branches) were stumbled and rejected by the Lord (Romans 11:15-20). If the Jews repented, they will be re-grafted to the true olive tree that is Jesus.

Application: we, the Gentiles, are as wild branches - our thoughts, words, and deed are wild, not in good order/discipline - grafted to the true olive tree that is Jesus because of His mercy as the Jewish are not willing to be organized/disciplined that they are broken and become dry. Actually, wild branches are no good at all even if grafted to the real tree, it could be that the real tree might be polluted and become wild.

Wonderfully, we who used to be wild are changed to be in good order as the Lord is. But, if we confess' that we have received Jesus but are still wild, it is not the Lord's fault, it is we, ourselves who were unwilling to unite to receive the substances of the food of the Word of God who is able to change the wildness of our thoughts to be the thoughts of Jesus, the wildness of our words to bring blessings, etc.
Therefore do not be arrogant, instead remain in His mercy (Romans 11:22b) because:

Who knows the thoughts of the Lord (Romans 11:34a)?

The ones who know our thoughts are ourselves and the Lord. That was why David pleaded, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts."  (Psalms 139:23)

The Lord knows exactly our thoughts, not to judge us but to straighten our bended way of thinking or if we are out of the track of truth. On the contrary, do we know the thoughts of God? Philippians 2:5 says, "Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus." The thought of Jesus is equal to the Father's and we have the Spirit of God to know His thought (I Corinthians 2:16) that is the thought to unite not to think of self interests (compare Philippians 2:3-4).

Who has become His counselor (Romans 11:34b)?

Jesus came as the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:5) and no one can give the appropriate advice other than Him. We must be careful in receiving others' advice. For example: King Ahazia, 42 years old, took his mother's advice, Athalia, who was the descendant of Ahab to do wickedly that God only gave him the chance to rule for one year only (II Chronicles 22:2-4).

Is there anyone who ever gives something to Him that He must repay it? (Romans 11:35)
Actually God is able to give wealth, health, power and so on as experienced by Job and He has the right to take back His own. We cannot control Him including the tithes owned by Him. Do not return tithes with the motivation to receive blessings in fold because we misunderstand Malachi 3:10!

Is it true that we give our time and our lives entirely to the Lord? Jesus is the good Shepherd who has given His life for His sheep (John 10:11). He gave His whole life not only for His sheep (the Jews) but also the other sheep (the Gentiles). His Father loves Him for He gave His life for them that He actually had the right to take it back (John 10:17); that is why He died and resurrected.

What should we be proud of the things we have? Isn't all our physical blessings (wealth, health, intelligence, power, ability, etc.) that we have is a gift from Him? If we realize this, offering (money, time, energy, ideas, etc.) and our ministry are our confession that all things are from Him, by Him and to Him that others may testify that salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ, not by seeing how great our ofering or service is to the church.

"The Scripture had imprisoned all things under the power of sin" referred to the Galatians.

The Galatians firstly received Jesus with faith and welcomed apostle Paul who was sick, just like welcoming an angel even as welcoming Christ Jesus Himself (Galatians 4:13-14) but eventually they disliked him because they had received the other gospel (Galatians 1:6). Apostle Paul preached the word of God assertively and refused to compromise.

Pay attention to this, if we do not love the true Word of God, we must love other gospels that twist the gospel of Jesus. Therefore, if we do not love the crucified Jesus, we will love other Jesus.
Apostle Paul admitted that the Law made sin live (Romans 7:9) because he understood there were commands and prohibitions. His heart cried before accepting Jesus because he knew and memorized the Law but when he was facing problems, he fell although he had tried to be a godly Pharisee and got a great Theological degree. He was overpowered by sin and sold under the power of sin that everything he did was just evil even though his heart wanted to do good. (vv. 14-20)

Implication: a person who is not (willing) receiving Jesus will continue to cry in weakness, neither does he appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus which actually applies globally and eternally.
Actually, our lives is limited although God's love is endless. While we are still alive, have the faith in Christ Jesus and hold on to the promise of salvation and His forgiveness to receive eternal life. Believe in the Word of God and serve Him not because of our own goodness but because of the life changed by the work of His Word.


we often make a feeling of unworthy for being sinful as an excuse for not serving the Lord. Isn't that kind of attitude equal as harassing the sacrifice of Jesus and relying on our own strength? Remember, do not serve the Lord only as religious obligation but because of the blood of Jesus that has sanctified our conscience from dead works (Hebrews 9:14).

It is necessary to be known that many people follow Jesus because their stomach are satisfied but then leave Him when He speaks about the cross (John 6:26, 51-58, 60, 66).
Introspection: what tiding is delivered in church pulpit? Is it the tiding of the cross as the foundation to be released from sin or it speaks about Jesus who promises wealth and prosperity? Is it the Holy Spirit (God Himself) who controls us or the other spirit that causes schism?

Related to the word imprisoned', God heard the cry of the Israelites who suffered from being imprisoned for 430 years in the land of Egypt. God wanted to release them from the slavery of the Egyptian and told them through Moses to keep an unblemished one-year old lamb for 14 days then slaughter it at twilight and its blood was to be put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses (Exodus 12:5-6). It was proven that the Israelites, who were imprisoned and colonized by the Egyptian, were then released by the imprisoned lamb. Since then, it was commemorated as the Passover.

Application: we are imprisoned by disobedience and the power of sin to experience freedom from the unblemished Lamb of God - Jesus - who was imprisoned' to be crucified. His sacrifice is irreplaceable by anyone and anything! To what extent do we appreciate His sacrifice? Do not glorify Him only because of the blessings He gave but because our sins have been forgiven by Him! It is true that other religions teach to do goodness, but salvation is only in Jesus (Acts 4:12).

The sacrifice of Jesus is the foundation of our salvation, never forget it! If the foundation (salvation) is destroyed, what could be done by the righteous (Psalms 11:3)? In other words, if we are successful to be great famous people and have high position at church, but we abandon the sacrifice of Jesus, we will not obtain salvation.

The Bible openly reveals our mistakes, yet gives us solutions. So, we should be willing to be corrected, to be repaired that we no longer be imprisoned in disobedience or the power of sin but we are freed by Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross. Amen.

Transalator: Samuel Sirait
Editor        : Interpreter Team

Sunday, Lemah Putro,  January 24, 2016 Rev. Paulus Budiono


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