Week 2 - Romans 2:17-29

Romans 2:17-29 (NIV)

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

A Matter of the Heart

Paul turns his attention from the moral elite to the religious elite, specifically the Jewish Christians who thought themselves superior because of their possession of the law.  Spiritual advantages are genuinely good things, but they cannot save you. God is not interested in outward things alone – church membership, stewardship, serving – but rather in what is inside a person.  1Samuel 16:7 says that people look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. Paul challenges these Jewish believers that their heritage, knowledge of the law and even their ability to follow the law is not what aligns them with the gospel.  God sees their heart and the object of their faith. If their faith is in anything other than the death and resurrection of Jesus, they are no better than the outwardly rebellious or inwardly self-righteous. God judges according to truth and not according to appearances.  This levels the playing field. All of humanity is a candidate for God’s grace, a candidate to be His image bearer and spread the rule and reign of King Jesus.         

Questions

  1. According to verse 24, why is it important that every area of our life be submitted to Jesus’ rule and reign?

  2. What spiritual advantages has God given you?  Will you pray that God would use these as a catalyst for your faith and not a catalyst for pride?