Archive for June 24th, 2019

Romans 2:25-29

In Romans 2:25-29 Paul addresses some of the false assumptions in the spiritual arena.  The first had to do with the fact that Jews in that day believed that his circumcision guaranteed his salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost. Paul hits that thinking head on. “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.” Judgment is based on our obedience to the law – and nothing else. That’s how it was back in Paul’s day, and how it remains today. It’s why we’re all going to fall short and need Jesus.

Today many believe rituals, like baptism or the sacraments, might save the. It will not. “So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?”  Circumcision and baptism do about the same thing that a label on a can does. If the outer label doesn’t match with what is on the inside, something is wrong! If there are carrots inside the can, you can put a label that says “Peas” but it doesn’t change what is inside the can. Being born again changes what is inside the can, and then you can put the appropriate label on the outside. That label will be “Saved”.

Paul continues to try and drive home this point. “Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.” If a Gentile were to keep the righteous requirement of the law through his conscience, would he not be justified, instead of the circumcised Jewish man who did not keep the law? The point is emphasized: having the law or having a ceremony isn’t enough. God requires righteousness. We’re judged only on one thing – did we meet God’s standard?  To do so requires complete innocence from sin. And unfortunately that person doesn’t exist in any population. We are all sinners.

Paul gets to the heart of the matter – it isn’t about what we do outwardly but the condition of our heart. It’s what is inside that determines how we live and respond to God’s law. “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.” We’re going to stand before God and deal with His judgment. So we better prepare. Even if the world around us praises us for how we live and what we do, that won’t cut it. The evidence of our rightness with God is not contained in outward signs or works, and it is not assured because of our parentage. The evidence is found in the work of God in our heart which shows itself in fruit. “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with “Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment” that are worth noting:

  • God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2).
  • God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5).
  • God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6).
  • God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11).
  • God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13).
  • God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16).
  • God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29).
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