Lord, help me to come to You in full assurance of faith, and to trust Your help for all that I will face today.
Read ROMANS 2:17–29
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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In what does our confidence of salvation lie? If it is external things, we are deluded. True salvation is a matter of the heart, the inward reality of faith and trust in God.
I teach the Bible each week in a local prison. Some of the prisoners have a great understanding of the Scriptures and were once in Christian ministry, but they are in prison because some of their behavior was criminal. There was a disconnection between what they professed and how they lived. This is also true of many Christians who are not incarcerated—we may glory in our status as Christians and count that as the same as active righteousness. Paul continues to try to get his compatriots to realize this—both those Jews who have become Christians and any hearers who haven’t yet taken that step.
Paul knows that breaking through layers of prejudice, nationalism and self-deception means that he needs to use many different styles of speech. In this section he goes back to the pattern of the opening verses of this chapter and again addresses a typical individual. As he works through some of the laws in the Ten Commandments, he may have been thinking of the way Jesus extended the reach of the commandments to inward sins (cf. Matt. 5), but it is also likely that he knew people who sinned in this way. While Paul is focusing here on Jewish attitudes, we should respond by examining our own lives.
How does all this relate to the Spanish mission? Will the Roman church really support Paul’s journey to evangelize people they considered to be “barbarians” if its varied members are still vying to assert their own superiority? Paul wants Jewish Christians to realize that, in Christ, Gentiles may become fulfillers of the Law and it is the circumcision of the heart that is more important than any fleshly one (cf. Jer. 31:33; Col 2:11–14). It is God’s verdict on us that is important.
Are there attitudes you have that hinder your faith-sharing? What are they and how can you deal with them?
Heavenly Father, forgive me for my self-justifying ways. Help me to face my deep-rooted sins, take ownership of them and release them to Your forgiving grace.