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Romans 2 –  BereanNation.com

Romans 2

Before I get into what I have to say, I want to give a short explanation of how we got here. In Romans 1, Paul introduces himself, his credentials, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and why we need it, before beginning to detail human depravity. This week, we’re going to see more of that.

Before I get into what I have to say, I want to give a short explanation of how we got here.  In Romans 1, Paul introduces himself, his credentials, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and why we need it, before beginning to detail human depravity. This week, we’re going to see more of that.  I will explain.

I broke the chapter down this way.

KV 11:  There is no partiality with God

1-11:  Righteous judgement from an impartial God

12-16:  Saved by grace, judged by works

17-29:  A True Jew is one inwardly, not outwardly

KV 11:  There is no partiality with God

What does this mean, that there is no impartiality with God?  It literally means that God does not play favourites.  All people are the same before God for the purposes of judgement.  That is a frightening concept, because it means that there will BE a judgement.  Last time, we saw that humanity is naturally depraved and unable to do any real good at all, least of all anything that would earn salvation.  That’s why Paul explained the Gospel is necessary.  Because we could do nothing for ourselves, Almighty God, in the form of God the Son, became Human to live a perfect life by God’s grace, and then gave up that life as a willing sacrifice so that all those who will believe in Him will be saved from the wrath of God which Paul also mentions.  Because of that impartiality, it means that everyone will face God the Judge without exception, and it will likely be the first truly fair judgement we have ever seen.  I think most if not all of us will be surprised with its results, too, but that isn’t a subject for this evening, but another time.  Someone might have to remind me for that. [chuckle]

The certainty of that judgement will leave us all to respond in our own ways to it – some will seek the Lord and be saved, some will not.  In any event, as it says in the Westminster Confession of Faith, no “violence [will be] offered to the will of the creatures.”  All will be raised to their eternal destiny, whether that be in fire, or with Jesus Christ forever.  The same set of values and principles will be applied to those being judged.  All will face the same judge.  The same method will be used with all.  The same requirements will be expected.  And God has even written down the names of those that will be with His Son forever – the elect souls written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  All of this depravity being described notwithstanding, all of the redeemed sinners will become eternal saints – from before the foundation of the world, which we will encounter in chapter 8 (as well as Ephesians 1).  Let’s get into the chapter as we like to do here, one verse at a time.

1-11:  Righteous judgement from an impartial God

This should make us think very carefully about our response to the Judge, should it not?  (It does me!)  He is the creator of the universe?  And whatever I have “created,” it pales in comparison with He who can call everything out of nothing.  Paul wrote these things to shake those Jewish individuals from their blind complacency about being the people of God.  Although he doesn’t actually address the subject head on until chapter 9 (and then does so through chapter 11), there were Jewish people that felt they already had a lock on God’s salvation because of two things – 1) They were genetic descendants of Abraham, and 2) the sign of circumcision that set them apart as God’s people.  This was why they argued with the Gentile believers vehemently – they wanted to see them saved too!  But as Paul will explain, statute and ceremony have no bearing on one’s salvation in the New Covenant.

1:  Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

  1. We start our chapter analysis with everyone’s favourite word – “therefore.”  What do we do when we see the word “therefore?”  Why, we see what it’s there for!  The conclusion that is being drawn from all the previous logic from chapter one is summarized here.  In my thinking, we have seen this text before from a different source.  Matt. 7:1-5 reads, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  The point of this passage isn’t to not make judgements, it is to make righteous judgements with clear eyes, and that is apparently not being done by Jewish believers in Rome that are pushing for Gentile males to be circumcised.  Paul is saying the same thing Jesus did.

2:  And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.

  1. Paul here, is reinforcing the meaning – there is such a thing as correct judgement, and it always is in relation to the Word of God.  It is also telling us that the judgement of God WILL FALL on practitioners of unrighteousness.

3:  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

  1. Here is a solid principle to lay hold of here, beloved.  Hypocrites will be judged for these things and will not escape either.  Paul is going to go into detail later with examples, so I’ll say more when we get there.

4:  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

  1. Here Paul is revealing something I think it is critical to understand.  Who here has wished that time should be no more and that they should be with Christ at some point, while in despair of some kind over some thing? Show of hands.  Well, I have – but I’m still here.  Why do you think that is?  This verse answers that question.  It is because of the tolerance [self-restraint] and patience of God, because his kindness [longsuffering; yes, GOD is longsuffering] leads us to repentance.  ALL of us.  And friends, I’m not trying to be clever here, but some of us, like me, are kind of slow about realizing this.  We ought not to take this lightly.  You’ve had opportunity – how about letting others come to repentance as well?
  2. So that grouchy deacon that is contrary about everything that the Deacon’s Board discusses, and is as abrasive as can be about it, and pushes his way into the Pastor’s office several times per week whether the Pastor has time or not – do they not deserve all the patience, and longsuffering and tolerance that the Lord sees fit to show them?  You better believe he does.
  3. Or how about sister Better-Than-You in the front row to the left of the front platform?  The one that always has her nose turned up and never has anything nice to say about anyone?  God sees fit to show His own self-restraint and longsuffering to her – should we not also?  And should we not learn to address these situations in a godly and biblical manner?  You bet your nose we should.

5:  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

  1. This is telling me that if you remain unrepentant and stubborn and stiff-necked about these individuals and you are not willing to deal with it through the mechanisms that Jesus Christ installed in His church, you ALSO are storing up God’s wrath in your own hypocrisy.  God’s judgement is coming.  Repent.

6:  who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

  1. I’ve come to realize that we are indeed saved by grace – but that God judges us according to our deeds.  All of us – sinner and saint alike.  We will all face the same judgement.  Some will have unredeemable deeds because of a lack of grace in regeneration.  Some will have nothing but bad deeds – but because Jesus has redeemed them and they have therefore repented of those deeds – will still be accepted in the beloved.

7:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

  1. See what I mean here.  Those who persevere during the trials and do the right thing – that is repent and believe – are seeking for that eternal glory and reward.

8:  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

  1. Those who have “selfish ambition” [Gk., contentious, factious; those who are inclined to political intrigue perhaps] and DO NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, instead opting for something other than the truth, will gain only wrath and indignation from God.
  2. Now that’s interesting.  It seems that your attitude and behind that your motivation really do matter here.  Do you have faith or unbelief?

9:  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

  1. Do I really need to explain this?  If your attitude is poor, so will be your reward.

10:  but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

  1. If your attitude is good, so will be your reward.  And your cultural identity does not matter.  Neither does your ethnicity, and although it is not stated here, I bet neither does your economic status, your employment status, or your sexual identity of male or female.  (I need to mention that Scripture only deals with binary sexual identities, and that restricts me to deal only with those.)  It really does not matter who you are – it matters what you believe, and what and who you obey.  Why?

11:  For there is no partiality with God.

  1. See?  If God is showing EVERYONE self-restraint and the utmost of patient longsuffering (because we all must offend Him every day at times), we also need to do the same for each other.  Besides, I would be being less than honest if I didn’t admit to you now that I am far from being impartial.
  2. Yes, friends, I like some people better than others – and that should not surprise any of you – because YOU DO TOO!  I like Dan, Alex, Jason, and Debbie for example, but I MARRIED Susan.  That should tell you right away that I like her better than them.  
  3. God the Father is not like that.  He loves all of His people the same way – as His own sons and daughters.  Jesus, God the Son, died for all of us equally if we will believe Him that He did so for us.
  4. The Holy Spirit took up residence without exception in every real Christian, no matter who, what colour, what economic status, or whatever.  He moved in because He was sent to do so.
  5. God loves all unbelievers the same way – giving them maximum patience and self-restraint until it is time to do otherwise and resolve the kingdom that His Son initiated the first time He was here. 
  6. There is NO partiality with God, and no one can earn it, because no one can bribe God.

Yes, beloved, there will be righteous judgement from a righteous God, and no one will be able to accuse Him of being unfair, petty, or a mismanaging moron to His face like some do now.  Doctor Richard Dawkins and his ilk come to mind. When we all stand before God, we will see nothing but a fair and impartial Judge.

12-16:  Saved by grace, judged by works

We introduced this around verse 6.  God saves people by grace, but judges everyone by works.  What does that mean?  Think of Isaiah 64:6b where it says, “And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…”  That’s actually worse than most people think.  Literally it says that “all of our righteousnesses are like used menstrual rags.”  That’s an icky picture, is it not?  There is literally not one act or thought or word that can gain favour with our impartial Judge.  Anything we do is tainted with sin, and sin offends God.  God has already judged those deeds of ours and it had only one sentence – death, with accompanying suffering in Hell for eternity.  That is why He must save us Himself – and He has done so by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, found in the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone.

12:  For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

  1. What is this verse ultimately talking about?  There are certain things that transcend all cultures and peoples as to what is right and wrong, have you noticed?  It is generally agreed that the killing of another human being outside of a war or a state-sanctioned taking of an individual life for enforcement purposes is wrong.  We call it murder.  Murder, should it be committed in any time or place or culture, will be punished by God, whether you agree with me or not.
  2. The “Law” being mentioned here is none other than the Mosaic Law, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, and faithfully transmitted by Moses to God’s people – twice.  This is a specific reference to “the people of God,” or Israel, if you will, the Jews (a shortened reference to the house of Judah in my understanding).  
  3. What God has said here is if you are a Jew and you sin under the Law, or if you are a Gentile and have sinned without reference to this Mosaic Law, you will still be punished, and punished by the same holy and righteous standard of the One Judge.

13:  or it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

  1. Paul now turns his logic to those who are justified, or “made right” before God, here in this sentence.  Hearing (and one could extend that to “knowing” in my thinking) the Law is not enough.  The person who is justified before God under the Law is one who does, or literally, performs the Law. 
  2. Notice here that Paul is dismantling the Jewish confidence of salvation here.  He is saying that the Law is not the main point, it is obedience.  King Saul in 1 Sam. 15 had just defeated the Amalekites in battle, but had not completely slaughtered everyone as God had said.  I’m not going to go into why that had to be done at this moment.  Samuel showed up to confront Saul.  Saul, without Samuel saying anything, said to him (v.13), “Blessed are you of the Lord.  I have carried out the command of the Lord.”  Samuel simply asks, “Then what is this bleating I hear in my ears?” (v.14)   
  3. When God says something, no matter what it is, if HE said it, we must do it.  Saul had not eradicated all living things as God had said.  In fact, he hadn’t even tried.  Rather, he took all the women and children as slaves, and all the livestock as booty for his men.  What was wrong with that?  God had said to destroy them all, regardless of how that may sound to us.  He had reasons that we will not go into for the moment.  This action is the stated reason that God revoked the kingship from Saul and gave it to David.  What was the principle stated?  Verse 22 reads, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”
  4. The Law must be obeyed.  If you will not obey His command, that’s your choice, but it bears a heavy penalty.  Also, there is no quid tres, that is no third option.  Partial obedience is still disobedience to the whole command.

14:  For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

  1. God is simply saying through Paul here that He has placed this “law” in the hearts of everyone, and even if He didn’t reveal it to them specifically because they were not His chosen people Israel, they still understood it and even obeyed it.

15:  in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

  1. See?  The Law is in their hearts, their conscience bears witness to the action, and their own thoughts either accuse them of wrong, or defend them for justifying action.  Paul is speaking here in generalities.  It works this way in everyone.  It is one of the reasons, for example, that Atheists get touchy whenever someone tries to introduce the concept of sin into the conversation.  That is an example of their thoughts accusing them, and they display it as contrary argument.  On the other hand, if you speak about the concept of sin with a true Christian, they will simply acknowledge that they could do nothing against it, and then probably launch into a doxology of praise to Jesus Christ, as Paul did last chapter.

16:  on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

  1. Some observations here:  First, the coming judgement of God and His wrathful destruction of everything wicked IS coming – it is a certainty.  
  2. Second, that coming and certain judgement of wrath should be a component of the Gospel we preach.  It was for Paul – the phrase “according to my gospel” indicates this.
  3. Third, the secrets of men are not a secret to God.  Things done in a dark corner and hidden from the eyes of everyone were not hidden from our almighty and omnipresent God.  He sees all, and will judge impartially with all the evidence at hand, not with what the corrupt legal system will allow to be seen.  God is Judge, yes, but for our purposes here, He is also the jury, the deciding body that will determine guilt or innocence, and the executioner, the one that will carry out the judgement.
  4. There will be a day coming.  Be ready.  Repent and believe the gospel.

We have all met people in our travels through life that love to identify as Christians, but it is very clear from their lifestyle choices that their belief in a sovereign God is questionable at best.  Jesus said you would be able to recognize His children by their fruits, and Paul list those off in Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  If someone is not consistently growing in their display of these things, this may be a sign that they are not truly his – and I am not saying that, Jesus is (see Matt. 7:15-18).

The application that Paul is making here, and that I am extrapolating from his words are to make sure that YOU do not fall into the category of the ones that produce bad fruits.  If with an honest look at your life you see a lot of rotten works, then you can turn to Jesus Christ.  Call on Him!  He will NOT cast out anyone that calls on Him.  That is one of the ways that you can know you are truly His – that your heart stirs toward Him at the preaching of that gospel.  

17-29:  A True Jew is one inwardly, not outwardly

You have heard me mention the phrase “real Christian” or “true Christian” or some variation on that phrase to indicate real believers in Jesus, because we know of the phenomenon of false converts.  To some, this is mystifying to the point of brain malfunction apparently, and we need to take a look at what constitutes a “real believer” here.  Paul in this next passage refers to them as “true Jews,” a phrase indicating God’s chosen people, sometimes referred to as “the elect.”  

Paul is explaining here that what the national Jew depends on for salvation has no salvific value, that is, it cannot save them.  There is no salvation in ritual, or covenantal sign, no rite of passage, nor in supposed holy location or relic.  He is, one piece at a time, dismantling their religion, their system of rites and rules that govern their behaviour in order to leave them no alternative but to turn to the Messiah (or to turn away entirely).  Let’s see.

17:  But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,

  1. Paul begins his address to the Jew in the congregation.  The very first point of attack he has is their reliance on the Law as a reason to boast in God.  For the Jew, this is the God-given Mosaic Law, a covenant with God. Sadly for the Jew, it was broken long before Paul’s day.

18:  and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,

  1. Paul continues his address.  The “Jew” knows His will!  This may be a believing Jew!  They approve essential things, and they take instruction from the Law, which is contained in summary form in our Scriptures as the Book of Deuteronomy.  

19:  and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

  1. This is a nod at what the call of God to the Israelites should have been.  God had delivered them out of Egypt (a type in Scripture of the world), and set them up as a priestly people that could approach the throne of God to make atonement (types of Christ – in fact, they were called messiahs as a part of the job title) for the sins of the people.  The people were to show the nations that came to them how to approach God and even to make sacrificial atonement for them if asked.  They were to teach the ways of God to the nations.  Paul is specifically calling this out in his address to the Jewish believers sitting in the congregation that would have been listening to this letter.

20:  a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

  1. Paul details all of what they are called to (and isn’t this what Christians, especially the Pastors and Elders, are called to today).  I certainly recognize the job description.

21:  you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?

  1. After all the positional description is given, Paul asks the operative question.  Anyone want to take a guess as to what that is?
  2. My take is this:  Are you a hypocrite?  Do you subscribe to the phrase, “Do what I say, not what I do?”  If you do, you may be a hypocrite.

22:  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

  1. Note here that Paul is using a Law-based gospel approach.  Some of you here have heard me do this when I share the gospel, or when I preach to the congregation.  This is where I get it.  That’s just a handful on purpose, as it were.
  2. In this verse, Paul uses the adultery example.  This is one that Jesus said had an even deeper meaning – Jesus said that to look at another person with lust in your heart was committing adultery in our hearts already.  Which one of us hasn’t done that at some point?
  3. Idolatry can take many forms.  Did you know that your favorite activity could become your idol?  I have spoken to actual believers that take off Sundays from church during NFL football playoffs.  None of those brothers had a very solid walk with Christ, and ultimately their love for their idol pulled them away from Christ.  Hockey is like that here in Canada sometimes.  I’ve caught members of our congregation listening to the playoffs when their team was involved.  I’ve even been involved in it, to my shame.
  4. My point here, is that we preach against these things every time we get a chance.  Or we prioritize other things with higher priority than God and His glory.  And we still call ourselves Christians.
  5. Could I be called a Christian/If everybody knew/my secret thoughts and feelings/in everything I do?/Or could they see the likeness of Christ in me each day/and could they hear Him speaking in every word I say?  Good questions from former recording artist and  now reformed Baptist pastor, Steve Camp.  Or do we want to continue to live as hypocrites?  Personally, I’m convicted and I want to be done with that.

23:  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

  1. Think about this.  Through your own hypocrisy, are you harming the very testimony that you say you stand for?  Or do you have to go to that place at that mall every Wednesday, or I’ll miss playing sim-golf with my friends?  (Yes, Wednesday evening was once-upon-a-time, my favourite activity.  My back went out, or I would doubtless still be spending a portion of my income on it.
  2. What things practically apply to you?  It will be different for everyone.  Television can be.  Internet time can be.  Not all idolatrous activity is at first glance bad.  Over time, however, it can become so, and you will know it when you start to choose it over the things of the Lord.  What greater dishonour can there be than to choose anything over the Lord Jesus Christ and His weekly appointments like the Prayer Meeting or the Bible Study?  I’m not talking about things that occasionally come up (like bad weather, we do live in Canada).  We know when these things will occur, because they are scheduled events.  Or should I stay home and wash my hair?

24:  For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written.

  1. You will recall that the Jew who places their trust in the Law and other things like being a child of Abraham or being circumcised is the actual target audience.  I was just making some practical applications that need to be thought about today.
  2. Now – how would you like it if someone said that verse (Isa. 52:5) about you?  I’m pretty sure I would be ashamed if it were anywhere close to true in my case.

25:  For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

  1. Paul is now highlighting something with which he is very familiar by now.  He wrote an entire letter, and it was an angry and pointed letter, to the churches of Galatia, which is actually where we started our study of the Pauline letters as you may recall.
  2. Sure, you can be circumcised – if you want to practice the whole Law (and there are some impossible commands in it I think – I can’t name them, but Dr. Sproul was insistent that there are, so I’ll take his word for it here).  But if you transgress one little part of that body of Laws, and there are 613 of them, your circumcision becomes worthless.  Paul says it becomes uncircumcision – you become one of those filthy goyim like the Philistines that always sought to destroy Israel.  Ew.

26:  So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

  1. Paul is saying here that circumcision is not the point.  Keeping the requirements of the Law is the point.  Notice Paul’s chosen phrasing?  It is not “Keeping the Law.”  The Pharisees did that, and it did them no good.  Paul said, “keeping the requirements of the Law,” which is a keeping of what the Law means, not what some body of tradition says it means.  
  2. This isn’t really part of the textual analysis, but it needs to be said.  As long as you are relying on someone else’s “interpretation” [for lack of a better word] of Scripture and not doing your own work, you are not really studying scripture.  I think this is where a lot of what is called “higher textual criticism” comes from, and most if not all of that is bunk and the gateway to liberal and powerless theology.  We’ve even seen it here in multiple guest speakers over the last decade.  Thankfully, we don’t see it a great deal anymore.  We believe that we are not “keeping the Law,” but instead “keeping the requirements of the Law,” which all revolves around loving one’s neighbour as we love ourselves, and not confined to rituals and rites.  As Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:6c, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

27:  And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?

  1. You see, the matter of what is right and what is wrong to God is the real issue.  You know how we say the second question of a Chapter summary should not be, “What does it mean to ME?”  It is like that – what any given text means to you is not relevant to the question.  God means what He says.  We did not ask what do you think about what God means when He says, rather we ask what did GOD mean when God says.  This Paul tells Timothy, is called “accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15b)
  2. It is not the one that hears the word of God only, it is the one that DOES what the Word says. (See v.13.)

28:  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.

  1. I wish we had the time to break this apart and really study this verse.  I’ll do my best for you in the time we have left.  We have to consider what the word “Jew” actually is intended by God to mean.  The unsatisfying and short version of it is that it is the title of all those that rightly claim to be the “seed of Abraham,” or what the NASB refers to as the descendants of Abraham.  There is value in tracing how they got to that term, and the historical things that are recorded in Scripture to see it, So I will start you off on your own study.  Start with Genesis 15, where God makes the covenant with Abraham.  Trace that phrase seed or children or descendants of Abraham through a concordance.  Look up those references and see if you can’t trace the name they put to it and why.  Bonus point for you if you can fit it into the larger story arc of the “seed of the woman.”
  2. We would also need to study the rite of circumcision and what it means, and where it started.  Interestingly, it also starts with Abraham in Genesis 15, so I’ll leave you to it.
  3. The entire point here is that the term for “descendant of Abraham” is NOT a physical term.  It is a spiritual one.  Abraham is the “father of the Faithful,” and if you are really a follower of Jesus that title applies to YOU, spiritually.  I have no part of my ancestry that has intermarried with any stock of Israel (not that such would be a bad thing).  Yet Scripture tells me that I am a descendant of Abraham if I will faithfully believe that Jesus died for me and that God raised Him from the dead, which I do.  That is not a genetic characteristic that can be passed down through family ties.

29:  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

  1. Remember, the target audience is the Jew sitting in the pew, in Rome as it were.  What Paul is saying here is that Christianity is not a religion of outward ceremony or ritual, using circumcision as an example.  It is not your manhood that needs to be unobstructed, rather it is your heart.  It is not the letter of the Law that needs to be observed, rather it is the Spirit of God moving in that heart that needs to be heeded.  It is not the praise of men for how well you know the Law or perform the ceremony or ritual, rather it is how well you please God with your obedience to His will.

With the religion of Judaism so dismantled and corrected by Paul, that Hebrew of Hebrews, the Pharisee, the former persecutor of the church, how could anyone simply sit there and say things like, “you have to be circumcised to be saved?”  Paul has taken the time to show everyone, particularly the Jew siting there trying to follow Jesus Messiah, that Judaism ultimately holds no answers, and in fact no help at all for those seeking to be right with God, who is coming in His wrath to destroy everything that has the stink of evil and unrighteousness and ungodliness.  

There will be no bribing that impartial Judge.  We will either be saved by His grace or judged by Him for our own works, which Isaiah told us were like “used menstrual rags.”  Only those that realize that Christ came to change us by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as communicated to us in the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone, and take up that gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ (see Eph. 2:8, 9) will know that inner change that Paul speaks of at the end of the chapter.  Christianity is not a religion of outward profession, but of inward confession.  It is our hearts that God is after, and it is by following what the Holy Spirit instructs us that we shall please God, which is the main point.

I was once told that the main point of being a Christian was to serve the church in humility, and for a time, I actually believed that.  However, I have come to see that is a false focus on which to build.  The main point of being a Christian is rather to serve the Lord.  That CAN include serving the church, but it encompasses so much more.  In our service of our Messiah, God the Son, we not only serve the Lord, and by His grace the church, but we also serve through Him the truth.  If we cannot stand in a place where hypocrisy no longer has hold on our lives, if we tell people not to perform certain actions, and yet we participate in those self-same actions, are we really Christians at all?  I am not sure we are.

Brother Steve Camp said it this way:  “Could I be called a Christian/And believe not His holy word/If I take Him as my saviour/And refuse Him as my Lord/If I could not love the outcast/And am not burdened for the Lost/If I fail to deny myself/And Each day take up my cross…

To be all He’s commanded/To do all that He says/To be His true disciple/And place no confidence in the flesh/To glory in Christ Jesus/It’s He who justifies…/To find your life you lose it/To live, you first must die/Let every man examine his own life/Could I be called a Christian?

This amazing song, written by a reformed Baptist pastor, tells it like it is.  Our decisions and choices will be reflected in the reality we choose from the point of regeneration, or New Birth if you want the biblical term.  These choices will clearly define what we truly believe for us clearer than any work we could ever perform, any prayer we could pray, any mercy we could extend to the lowest outcast.  So Christian – examine yourself to see if you are truly “in the faith.”

That’s chapter 2!

Next time, chapter 3.

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