Renewal of the Heart
As you read, ask God to help you to see where your behavior doesn’t live up to his hopes for you.
Read Romans 2:17-29
 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God;  if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law;  if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark,  an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-  you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”  Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.  So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?  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.  A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  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. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat challenge is Paul presenting his readers here?
My friend confessed she does not place Christian stickers on her car because then she would have to stop speeding! Her thinking surprised me. But she does sort of “get it.” To profess faith and live inappropriately is to harm God’s reputation, as Paul claims the Jews are doing here (24). Paul accuses the Jews of relying on their covenantal status before God while breaking the covenant with their behavior (17-24). Paul’s teaching would have shocked his readers. The Jews assumed their status secured their salvation. God’s primary concern is actually the heart or “inner life.” A transformed heart is the real work of the Spirit (29). It is the making of true believers. But God can expect that when the heart has been transformed, so will behavior. Actions reflect our heart. Our challenge under the new covenant is to give witness to our authentic faith and changed hearts. Through Jesus we are saved. But how we evidence the gospel through our lives concerns God. One day we will answer to him. Meanwhile the Spirit comes alongside with wisdom, courage and strength for the asking. There really is no excuse. In reality, stickers or not, my friend needs to slow down!
What decisions and activities await you through the next day? Consider how your renewed heart can inform those.
Gracious Lord Jesus, continue Your loving, kind work in me to enable me to live a truly transformed life.
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