Joke: Who was the first tennis player in the bible? Joseph because he served in Pharaoh’s court
In Romans 1, Paul addresses the Gentile believers at Rome and begins by explaining his mission, which was to preach the gospel to everyone. He concludes his explanation by saying, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16–17; cf. Habakkuk 2:4).
- Have you ever felt ashamed of the Gospel?
- Where does Jesus shynesses come from?
- Can you remember any periods where you didn’t share the Gospel boldly?
What do we mean by ashamed?
The word translated “ashamed” means “disgraced” or “personally humiliated.” A person “ashamed” in this way is like someone singled out for misplacing his confidence—he trusted in something, and that something let him down. The word can refer to being dishonored because of forming the wrong alliances. So, when Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, he is saying his confidence in the gospel is not misplaced. There is no disgrace in declaring it. Paul had given his life to proclaiming the truths that Jesus Himself had revealed to him (Acts 9:3–6; 2 Corinthians 12:2–4). He explained to the Romans why he did not believe that he had wrongly identified with Jesus and why proclaiming Jesus’ message was his life’s work.
To be “ashamed of the gospel” is to allow willful sin to take over our lives and not look back because who cares what God says (Matthew 3:8). To be “ashamed of the gospel” would be to stop trusting in God’s provision and guidance, instead indulging in the world’s pleasures and our own desires. To be “ashamed of the gospel” would mean that we no longer have confidence in an alliance with God and His truth (1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:11) and want to put as much distance between us and Him as possible.
Instead of turning to God, we would “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1). That is being ashamed of the gospel. That is not allowing God to show His true power through our lives because we have willingly cut Him off in favour of a sinful world.
How can I NOT “be ashamed of the gospel”?
Just as the Apostle Paul confidently put his everything (his whole life!) into Jesus Christ, so can we. We can confidently talk to others about our faith in God and the Bible because we can rest assured that an alliance with God is good and true (Romans 8:31-32). Romans 10:11 tells us, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Any embarrassment we might feel about sharing the gospel is from the enemy trying to mess us up—not because God is untrustworthy.
We don’t have to fear God letting us down or changing (2 Peter 1:21; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). What was true about God thousands of years ago is still true today, and we can trust that to stay the same. The offer of salvation that was presented to humankind in the first century continues to be available to every man, woman, and child today (Acts 2:39; John 17:20).
To be “unashamed” of the gospel means that we not only speak this truth, but we also live it out in our lives. We can trust God and His Word for our daily activities and decisions. When we look at Paul’s life, we discover that his words and actions aligned with his faith in Jesus Christ. He did not preach one thing, then go out and live a different way. Even when he struggled with temptations and sin (Romans 7:14-25) and a “thorn” in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), he continued to stay true to his alliance with God’s truth (Acts 20:19; Acts 28:31). Allow your faith to permeate your life to the point where the people you meet will see the difference in you and think, “There’s something different about that person… I wonder who they’ve been hanging out with?”
Where is the application?
The application can extend to us as well. Just as Paul placed his confidence in the gospel of Christ, so can we. We can proclaim with boldness the truths that God has revealed in His Word, with no fear that our confidence is misplaced. “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11; cf. Isaiah 28:16). We can rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture never changes (2 Peter 1:21; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). What was true thousands of years ago is still true. The offer of salvation that was presented to people of the first century is still open to us (Acts 2:39; John 17:20).
To live unashamed of the gospel means we proclaim it, but it also means we apply it to our lives and show we believe it. Paul’s life choices supported his message. He did not preach one thing and live another. We are “ashamed of the gospel” when we allow sin in our lives to go unchecked (Matthew 3:8). When we indulge in worldliness and carnal desires or blatantly disobey scriptural standards, we indicate that we lack confidence in our own message (1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:11). When we “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1), we are being ashamed of the gospel. We are not allowing its truth to penetrate our lives so that others see its changing power. To live unashamed of the gospel means that we, like Paul, allow it to dominate our lives to the extent that everyone within our sphere of influence can see that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).