Romans Chapter 2
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Question: As Paul shows the path of deterioration in Romans 1:18-32 for those that would deny God, those who wanted nothing to do with God, who were hedonist "being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;" and although they knew the right thing to do they instead decided to do wicked things, despicable things, pathetic things, wretched things, and not only do they do them, they happily approve of others when they do those same crimes. Does anyone you know of come to mind? This could be individuals, groups, maybe even corporations? What was your reaction to what Paul said about them when he wrote the wrath of God is being revealed against such men as these? What are your thoughts on the gunman, Stephen Paddock when he shot up those hundred of people and killed 59 at the country harvest festival in Las Vegas?


I picture Romans Chapter 1 - 3 almost taking place in a large group setting with men of all types, backgrounds, and denominations present with Paul preaching in the middle of the room. In chapter 1:18-32 Paul hits hard those that are pleasure seeking hedonists who want nothing to do with God. He reverberates scripture such as Proverbs 14:14, 22:8 when he says to them "you wanted nothing to do with God nor His righteous commands; you've made your bed, now you're going to lie in it!" (see 1:32,25,27). Some of us, happy to not be at the wrong end of Paul's wagging finger, look at each other, eyebrows lowered, nodding in agreement, elbowing each other as we point to the hedonists saying among ourselves "they'll get what they have coming to them". Maybe we'll even give a shout out to Paul to back him up "there's a special place in Hell reserved for people like that!" As we start to stand and applaud Paul, happy that God is going to stick it to these reprobates. We give one more shout out to Paul, "we stand with you Paul, us decent folk agree, string up those porn peddlers!" Paul then turns his gaze toward us as if he's looking right through us. For a second we pause, thinking maybe he's going to commend us, after all, we're nowhere near as bad as them. Then Paul's eyebrows lower, he looks at us without blinking and says:


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. - Romans 2:1


"Woah!" we think. I must be reading this wrong. Paul must still mean the hedonist but why is he looking at me? Then Paul continues walking toward you, directly toward you without pause nor straying from his path.


And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 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? - Romans 2:2-3


Leaning back, looking away, we struggle to regain our stance, and then looking back at the hedonists, this time we point to one specifically hoping it will recapture Paul's attention and with disdain in our voice we say "I'm nowhere near as bad as that man! c'mon Paul, look at what he has done!" We posture and proclaim "Yuuuuckkkk" as we wave our own finger in the air pointing vigorously up to the sky as if someone up there had agreed with us. Paul continues without wavering.


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? - Romans 2:4


I'll stop there but I wanted for a second to put you in this scene from the perspective of whom Paul is now addressing. That is, the Judgmentalist. The judgmentalist has an interesting disposition. They love to monitor others and compare themselves. They are pretentious finger pointers who exhaust their efforts in finding faults in others who do not take the time to examine their own. They hold a "I may be bad, but I'm better than them" self view. Because of their diligence to watch what's going on over the fence when the police show up they offer the verdict before the facts in order to save the police time in their investigation. They are often embittered and detest anyone enjoying or benefiting from grace. For some biblical examples of this see Matthew 20:10-12, Luke 15:25-30.


Now back to Romans 12:1


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. - Romans 2:1


There's an age old school yard saying that rings true on all ends of the spectrum. Whether sharing in suffering or evil it still remains true "It takes one to know one". Have you notice that often when we judge we declare to know what the other person was thinking? "I know what you were thinking" we say. How can that be unless we ourselves have the same mindset? When we catch children younger than us in sin, do we not understand what they are plotting because we are more experienced than they? When we say to the child "you're going to go to hell for lying" are we not condemning ourselves since we're ourselves are liars too? Anytime we declare what someone "deserves" we essentially are declaring what we deserve since we are guilty of the same thing. Paul here is in perfect agreement with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5:


“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. - Matthew 7:1-5


I like what Max Lucado wrote in his book In the Grip of Grace. "The key word here is judges. It's one thing to have an opinion. It's quite another to pass a verdict. It's one thing to have a conviction; it's another to convict the person." It's one thing to be disgusted or repulsed by the acts of sin but it's another entirely to claim that you are superior or that any person is beyond the grace of God (no one is).


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


Man isn't omnipotent, we don't know all the facts, whether it be the entirety of the circumstances or the intent of another person's heart. Therefore it's impossible for us to make an accurate assessment and subsequent judgement. Even if we have all the facts we are still sinners and would then filter our judgement according to our own fallen nature.


When I was in elementary school I was very difficult. The teachers had a lot of trials having endured me, I offer no excuse. One day though, one day when we were jogging around the track at Fairview I came across a fence board that had nails sticking out of it. My thought was to pick it up and throw it over the fence so nobody stepped on it. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to rid of it because the moment the playground teacher saw Ryan with armed with a 2x4 with nails sticking out of it she stopped me before I could start, what seemed to her as my hate crime against other 4th graders. She called my parents and I was suspended. Now in her defense, she had experience with me to draw from, but the fact of the matter is, she couldn't judge the intent of my heart. Only God is capable of doing that (and He does, Prov. 16:2, Jer. 17:10). God is the only one who is omnipotent and holy, that is, He is all-knowing and untainted so He is the only one who has all the information and because of His perfect character and righteous disposition He is perfectly just in His judgement and vindicated when He sentences. I've often heard people say "only God can judge me!" My reply to such a person is "and that doesn't scare you???". God in making his wrath revealed against ungodliness and unrighteousness should scare us.


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? - Romans 2:3


It's an interesting thing that the moment we enter a state of judgement against the act of someone else we are then professing that we know that act is wrong. When we take the judgement seat on a situation we are declaring that in this judgement we know what is right and what is wrong. In John 9:41 Jesus told the Pharisees "since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." Think about that. Remember Romans 1:20 "they are without excuse". Now we are "without excuse" when we do the same or similar things as they. I say similar because while we may not have committed an act exactly as those we are judging, we are guilty of similar ones. We judge a driver going down the road for breaking the law, yet we ourselves probably break the law when we drive on a regular basis (there are so many rules that govern it after all). We judge a person who almost kills us on the road because they were looking at their phone, do we not also look at our phone when we're driving? "Oh but Ryan I'm good at it when I do it". Looking at your phone, whether you are good at it or not is still breaking the law, it's breaking the rules that was set forth by the same governing authority who granted you the privilege to drive as long as you obey them. David, a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22) didn't escape this snare:


Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said,

“There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.
“The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.
“But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb
Which he bought and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom,
And was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;
Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. - 2 Samuel 12:1-9


Question: Did the crime is Nathan's story to David match the crime that David actually did as seen in verse 9?


You see, if we change the circumstances slightly you will find, as David did here, that we are guilty of the very same thing that our righteous indignation was bringing a scathing judgement against. Therefore we are inexcusable when we judge others. As we saw with David here, the story with the parable that Nathan shared with him and what David actually did were actually different circumstances. However what happened in the heart of David and the heart of the man in the parable was the same. Realizing this broke David. God doesn't merely consider the circumstances, which is all that mere man can judge, but God who knows the thoughts and intents of man examines him at a heart level.


But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7


“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds. - Jeremiah 17:10


This is why I could be guilty of murder without ever touching another person. For that matter I could also be guilty of adultery without ever fornicating.


15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. - 1 John 3:15


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5:27-28


Sometimes it can be a good self examination of our heart to investigate the shows we watch. If we are drawn toward drama, violence, murder, adultery in movies and shows, if those things, rather than disgust us, repulse us, repel us, instead give us pleasure, than it may be an indicator of what's going on inside. If in our hearts we derive pleasure from those things, than we are guilty at a heart level, even having not committed the outward act.


Man cannot see these things and therefore our judgement of one another is faulty. God who searches the hearts and knows all things (John 21:17) accurately assesses and therefore accurately judges.


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? - Romans 2:4


When you're wondering how to act toward someone ask yourself this, what if Jesus acted toward you with the same regard. I was convicted this week when I was handling a difficult individual, a client of ours who was, in error, blaming me for their self made problems. This has been a repeated pattern with this particular client where they were upset with me because of their ignorance. And now, today, after concluding that maybe keeping this individual on was more trouble than it's worth I said to my wife as I vented, "just one more time and I'm gonna be tempted to send this guy packing!" (as I told her just how I would present that to them). When I said that I watched her heart break. This surprised me; I expected vindication. You see this client had been with us for some time and I remember when I met them (him and his wife) he mentioned a previous I.T. firm dropped them for unknown reasons. This client never gave us grief about paying, even for the extra time they take when they are being difficult. Almost every time we meet up he often apologizes for being "a dummy" with this stuff. Puzzled at my wife's reaction, though not right away but a few minutes later I asked her about it, how I noticed her heart breaking when I told her I was tempted to send the client packing and she said in that moment she was picturing this difficult client of ours high and dry with nobody to help them. Maybe nobody else who would stick it out with them because they are difficult. "Oh man, I thought to myself, I'm pretty sure that's how I should feel". Then for some reason my self-torturing heart asked this of myself, what if Jesus regarded me the same way I was regarding this client. What if Jesus sent me packing when I'm difficult reasoning to Himself that I'm more trouble than I'm worth. Oh thank God He doesn't! Where sin increases grace abounds all the more(Rom. 5:20); thank God His ways are not our ways! (Isa. 55:7-8). You see, in that moment I was considering lightly the riches of Christ's "kindness and tolerance and patience", forgetting how He dealt with me so kindly that led me to repentance. I lost sight of the huge debt forgiven me while I demanded what was due me from this client (see also Matthew 18:23-35). (and this client pays for my time, how am I gonna handle a stranger when they wrong me???) Oh God, let me never lose sight of what you've done for me nor take lightly your riches in grace (Eph. 2:7), kindness, tolerance, and patience (see also Eph. 1:7, 2:7, 1 Tim. 1:14, Titus 3:6, 2 Cor. 9:8). I'm heart broken.


"the kindness of God leads you to repentance". The law only kills (2 Cor. 3:6, 7, 9). The ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:8) gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). The law only applies externally and operates through the strength of man in his flesh (Rom. 8:3) which as we know, except for Christ, failed miserably (Rom. 3:23) and for all those that failed, even a little (James 2:10), for them it results in death (Rom. 6:23). God, in letting us know what He expects of us in the law (Matt. 5:48, 1 Peter 1:16) was done so in love, for we wouldn't have known about sin if it wasn't for the law (Rom. 7:7) and we would have still perished in our sin without the law (Rom. 2:12). Now, beyond the kindness shown in the law, God, in his riches of kindness, not only came and paid for our violation of the law in full (2 Cor. 5:21) but fulfilled the law on our behalf (Matt. 5:17), and offers us His Spirit to accomplish in us what we cannot. And He does all this and offers it free to us! (Rom. 6:23). Furthermore, in His kindness He leads us, even us who rebel against Him, to repentance so that we may live!


And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; - John 16:8

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. - John 1:9

32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” - John 12:32

51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. - Acts 7:51


"always resisting the Holy Spirit". It's not as if God, in His mercy and grace didn't try. Not only has He made Himself clearly known to everyone, but in His riches of mercy and grace (Eph. 2:4, 7) and "tolerance and patience," (Rom. 2:4) He keeps pursuing! We really will have no excuse (Rom. 1:20).


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, - Romans 2:5


"day of wrath". Judgement at the end of time in contrast to the judgement spoken of in the last half of Romans 1 (v18-32). Unlike that spoken of in Romans 1, when this day comes, there is no recovery. Notice who it is that is storing up the wrath for this day.


Question: What is repentance? It means to change one's mind and turn to God (Acts 26:20). How is repentance linked with salvation? Acts 2:36 speaks of one changing their mind about Jesus Christ, to recognize that He is indeed "Lord and Christ". Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.


The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9

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who will render to each person according to his deeds: - Romans 2:6


Now here is a merit system we understand. Do good, get rewarded, do bad, get punished. In verse 5 Paul speaks of a "day of wrath". This is what is famously known as judgement day (Matt. 16:27).


10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,

As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. - Romans 14:10-12


This will be a day where we give an account of ourselves to God whereas even the thoughts and intentions of our heart are laid bare before Him (Heb. 4:12-13).


Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. - 1 Corinthians 4:5


Nothing gets missed, no sin gets overlooked. As we read in verse 3, the judgement of God is inescapable. Do not mistake the patience of God as if God somehow is letting people slip by with evil. Rather, He is patient toward us wishing all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Many count the long-suffering of God as weakness or slowness when it's not and therefore are not sobered up by this truth. Exodus 34:7 makes it clear that God will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Some mistake the patience of God even worse, they see it as approval. They see a lack of punishment and equate it with having approval for the things they do; this is not the case. When judgement day comes, God who is omnipotent and holy will on this day exercise, or carry out, His judgement according to what each individual deserves and His wrath will rightly fall upon them that do evil in His sight (Rom. 2:2). This is a very real day that very really is coming. On this day, people will be judged and recompensed in one of two ways (Matt. 25:46). Paul lays that out for us in the next two verses.


to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. - Romans 2:7-8


 God is slow to anger (Exo. 34:7) He does not want to destroy you. If God only wanted to destroy you then we'd have no verse 7, we'd only have verse 8 written here. While verse 8 shows God is holy and hates sin, verse 7 shows God delights in what is good! (Psalm 33:5, Hosea 6:6, Prov. 11:1, 11:20, 12:22, Jer. 9:24).


24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. - Jeremiah 9:24


God's heart is warmed by exercising lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness. God delights in these things on the earth! When God watches the T.V. show of earth, because there is no evil in His heart He desires no drama. He doesn't want violence, betrayal, or hatred in His favorite T.V. show. Rather, God delights when people do good to one another in unfailing love (Mic. 7:18), when businesses deal honestly with people (Prov. 11:1), with people who are blameless in their walk and perversity is absent (Prov. 11:20), always speaking in truth and dealing faithfully with one another (Prov. 12:22), and things like these are His delight (see also Psa. 33:5, 37:23, Hos. 6:6, Zeph 3:17, 1 Pet. 5:7, Eph. 2:4).


In God's eyes, (if I may give a crude analogy from my fallen nature) our daily commutes would be one where everyone gave preference to one another on the road. When we're driving we'd always give one another plenty of room and we'd be watching as we go down the road to see if there's an opportunity to show love and patience toward another. Someone would put on their blinker and rather than cram together to not yield we'd actually be thinking of the person long before they put on their blinker, ready to yield or perhaps, just leaving room there all the time just in case they need to get over. When someone broke down along side the road everyone in the area would stop and pull over and any share that person's burden (1 Cor. 12:26). People could walk if they wanted to, it would be perfectly safe for them to do so, but nobody would be lacking and therefore forced to walk. Every stop light would be an opportunity for cars next to each other to roll down their windows and truly inquire of one another as to how they are doing. If you saw someone texting while driving your heart would fill with compassion that something has happened in their life that's causing them to have to multitask as they drive (1 Cor. 13:7). When it comes to parking there would be no handicap marked spots. Why? Because every able-bodied person who parked there would have considered that potential need and therefore left the closer spots available. There would be no strategic (double) parking as everyone would be respectable of each other's cars. If someone accidentally backed into your car in the parking lot, they would wait for you to come out, eager to make amends. When you came out you would see the one who desired to make amends surrounded by others who witnessed what happened consoling him and your first thought, as you dropped your groceries, would be to run to them and console them as well. One who happens to be a mechanic already dove underneath while an auto-body tech is telling you how he wants to use this opportunity to make your car even better than it was before. Because everyone deals justly you unwaiveringly know their intents are only good, you feel the same about the young child who is walking toward you carrying the groceries you dropped, while there's a store clerk following him bringing a new carton of eggs for you. Doors wouldn't have locks, parking lots wouldn't have surveillance cameras, the sound of a horn would make our hearts warm as every time we heard it it meant "thank you".


Question: Why does God hate evil?


For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You. - Psalm 5:4


To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. - Psalm 92:15


This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. - 1 John 1:5


Answer: God hates evil because it's contrary to His nature, not only that, it hinders love, righteousness, and justice, and it harbors separation, hate and hostility, all of which are contrary to God's nature, to what God delights in. God's nature is one of pure holiness, without blemish of any kind (Psalm 89:35, 92:15, Rom. 9:14, 1 John 1:5, John 14:30). And therefore His attitude toward sin comes with strong feelings of disgust, and utter dislike. Isaiah 1:6 describes sin as putrefying sores, in Psalm 38:4 it's a heavy burden, Titus 1:15, 2 Cor. 7:1 it's called defiling filth. A binding debt in Matt. 6:12-15, darkness in 1 John 1:6, and a scarlet stain in Isaiah 1:18.


In my story above, remember the little boy carrying the groceries? He wanted to help but he was neither a mechanic, nor an auto-body technician. When he saw you drop your groceries his heart, having already been moved with compassion, couldn't help but to help you in any way he could. Now imagine if... (I'm sorry for this) imagine if that boy then was struck across the face by his father because his father wanted to leave and that little boy wasn't paying attention to him because he wanted to help you. How does that make you feel? I hope it makes you respond with disgust and utter dislike. It should be no surprise then, that if we being evil feel this way, how much more God who has no darkness at all? God "who will render to each person according to his deeds." Now, if in your indignation you confront that father and that father breaks down weeping, though having difficulty articulating it through the tears he's fully articulating to you that what he did was wrong... how does your heart respond? Perhaps with compassion, maybe with just less indignation. But you see, we're evil by nature. How does God respond? God's heart melts (Luke 18:13-14, Luke 15:20). In our last article we discussed Nathan confronting David. Psalm 51 was specifically written in regards to that very event. In verse 17 he writes:


17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. - Psalm 51:17


Repentance is a big deal to God! Actually, it's a big deal to everyone in heaven!


I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. - Luke 15:7 (see also. 15:10).


What is that father never repents? God is patient, as we discussed, He wishes all come to repentance, but what if we never repent? What if the father in my story who stuck his kid in the face never feels remorse but in his own mind finds a way to justify what he's doing and continues along that path? Should God allow such a person to get away with it? Absolutely not, and He doesn't.


There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, - Romans 2:9


I used an extreme example of the father striking his compassionate son across the face so our hearts would hopefully be moved. I needed to do so because we are not sensitive to what we, in our fallen nature, would label "lesser sins". However, God, in whom there is no darkness, by contrast, is extremely sensitive to all evil and hates it on all levels. God who is perfectly pure and without blemish perfectly hates sin. God in whom there is no darkness, cannot then tolerate any darkness.


Question: How can God be completely intolerant of sin and yet show tolerance toward us who are sinners?


10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 2:10


Now on the contrary, because God delights in righteousness, He is ready to bestow glory and honor and peace on everyone who does good. Notice the contrast in verse 7 and 8 and now in 9 and 10. To the person who does good, glory, honor, immortality, peace, equaling eternal life. To the person who does evil, tribulation, distress, wrath and indignation, equaling eternal separation.


These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,- 2 Thessalonians 1:9


Hell is likened here to eternal separation from the presence of the Lord. What then is heaven?


17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. - Romans 14:17


Great consequences or great rewards. To those who's records show sin, their sins will be dealt with accordingly. To those who persevere in doing good, unfathomable rewards (1 Cor. 2:9).


11 For there is no partiality with God. - Romans 2:11


God doesn't play favorites. You are just as important to God as anyone else in the whole world. God loves you supremely. People will often ask pastors or men who they consider "closer to God" to pray for them because they feel such a person is favored more by God. This is not so. God will receive you as quickly as he'll receive me. Men love to elevate other men, but God is no respecter of persons. You are important to God and God's gospel is no less (or more) applicable to you than it is to anyone.


34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. - Acts 10:34-35


 "the Jew first and also of the Greek" (v9 & v10). The Jews were given the oracles (or laws) of God and because they had more revelation they also had more responsibility (Rom. 3:2). The greater the light, the greater the responsibility. The same is true of us. Having knowledge of right and wrong brings a responsibility to be obedient to the truth we know. This applies to us as Christians as well (2 Peter 2:21). As Christians we have the gospel and therefore a call to the "obedience of faith" as Paul mentioned in both his opening and closing verses of Romans.

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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; - Romans 2:12


Question: What does Paul mean when he speaks of the law? What is the law?


We spoke about this in an earlier article but "The Law" is the expression of God's character resulting in decrees or rules men are required to follow. God, motivated by love, instructs His people in ways of wisdom and knowledge. Much like rules we set for our children, God's law was given for our good, its regulations, both positive and negative were intended for our protection and prosperity.


"The Law" when it's called that in the bible refers to rules or commandments given to men in one of three ways. The first is the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. The second is the Torah which is the Hebrew word for "Law". The Torah, while referring to the law also refers to the first 5 books of the bible in which not only the Ten Commandments are found in, but the 613 Mosaic laws as well (or law of Moses). Lastly there is the Tanakh, or as Christians view it, the old testament. Because the laws of God stem from the character of God, His laws (or rules) are simply a byproduct of His character and therefore when God speaks of what men should do, it is not merely a suggestion. Therefore the law in this regard encompasses more than the Mosaic law but encompasses what was written in the book of the Prophets as well. In 1 Corinthians 14:21 Paul referenced Isaiah 28:11 as being from "the Law". To sum up, the law then is a set of rules derived from the perfect and omnipotent God, who in His goodness decreed the way men and women ought to conduct themselves. Jesus said the entirety of all these rules that are found in the Law and the Prophets depend on two all encompassing commandments.


36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:36-40


When you read through the Mosaic law you can see the intent of the Ten Commandments woven through them. Now, in light of this revelation, when you read the whole law, including the Ten Commandments and the Prophets, you can see these two commandments not only woven throughout but as their foundation.


As parents when we set rules for our children we usually set forth penalties that are incurred if those rules are broken. Sometimes we even give rewards if those rules are followed. However, most of the time the reward to the child is that which is derived from keeping the rule. For example, a rule of "don't do drugs" is instantly rewarding to the child because they don't kill brain cells... not to mention the myriad of other consequences that can result from being under the influence. I remember when I worked at the PD and did my first tour of the jail, the sheriff said that 80% of everyone that's in there wouldn't be in there if it wasn't for something they did while under the influence. In other words, they may have not done what they did if drugs weren't involved.


Question: If we love our children and our children continually break the rules, what do we do? We up the consequences. Why do we up the consequences?


Because we want to encourage them to follow the rules in the strongest way we know how. Fear. In Exodus 19:18-19, just before giving the Ten Commandments for the Israelites to follow God descended on Mount Sinai in fire and the mountain billowed smoke like a furnace. At the same time the mountain quaked violently and there was what sounded like a trumpet growing louder and louder and when God spoke with Moses it came with the power of thunder and the Israelites observed all this from where they were camped at the base of the mountain. Moses returned from God to the Israelites at the base of the mountain, delivered to them the commandments of God, and there reply was this.


18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” - Exodus 20:18-20


In 2001 there was much quarreling in the U.S. But when the twin towers were hit on 9/11 the nation did something that I had never seen before. They sobered up, gathered together and joined in a National Prayer Service. The president lead us, as a nation, in prayer to God. It's not that the towers being hit were a good thing, I'm not saying that, I'm just observing that fear drove the nation to collectively, though briefly, seek the Lord.


Punishment then has behind it the intent to provoke someone to good (Rom. 7:12). The greater the concern we have for a child in an area the more we want to motivate them to stay clear (Gen. 2:17). In society we do something similar. If a person murders another and the judge, in delivering a harsh sentence, did so to make an example of them, he essentially is trying to instill fear, to shake those who may consider doing the same crime to be fearful in doing it or else face the consequences.


This brings me to my next question. What is sin? At it's simplistic definition, sin is when man acts in opposition to the way they ought to according to God.


Coming full circle back to Romans is it possible to act in opposition to what God wants even if you don't know what God wants? Yes it is. Romans 2:12 then Paul is arguing that a person who commits sin whether they know it's sin will still incur consequences. For example, if there are two children in a house and one is taught not to touch the fireplace when there's a fire but the other was never taught that. Will they not both incur consequences if they touch the fireplace?


As we discussed previously God cannot look upon sin, nor does He tolerate sin, not even in the least (James 2:10). God doesn't want any man to die but rather that they repent and live (Eze. 18:23, 32, 33:11). If a person has sin in their life even without knowledge of sin, they will still perish as is the consequence of sin (Rom. 6:21, 23). Those however who knew what they should or shouldn't do but acted disobediently, they will suffer additional consequence according to the law (2 Peter 2:21). The one who knew the right thing to do and chose not too, he will face a greater consequence since he knew the right thing to do and chose not too. How many times have we heard parents say (or maybe we said to ourselves) "you knew better!".


13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. - Romans 2:13


Having knowledge of the law and being aware of what is required of a person does not in that knowledge justify someone before God. Rather it's those that are doers who always keep the entire law (Gal 3:10) who are justified before God, and as we'll see in the next verses this applies even to those who haven't been educated on the law.


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, 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, - Romans 2:14-15


This rules out anyone who would like to use the excuse "I didn't know". Before I was a Christian I remember things I did that I knew were wrong even with nobody was telling me they were. I didn't need a law to tell me murder was wrong or that stealing was wrong. I also knew the right things to do such as loving my neighbor, thus I was showing the law "instinctively" written on my heart. Paul is saying here that anyone who does instinctively the things of the law, even not knowing or having the law, become a law to themselves. In other words, morality. Morality exist in every human though some have a seared conscience (literally "cauterized" and rendered insensitive). We are born with a conscience and know right from wrong though as we grow up that understanding is swayed and shaped by those around us (1 Cor. 15:33). In having a conscience, knowing right from wrong, our thoughts then, much like the law, judge our actions as right or wrong before ourselves. If you, like me, understand this, you've likely accused yourself of violating what you knew to be the right thing to do. In that moment I've became a law to myself and found myself in violation. If you feel the same, know that you're not alone. No man has always done what even himself knows is the right thing to do (Rom. 3:9-18).


16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. - Romans 2:16


In our last study we spoke of judgment day. Before that we spoke about God looking at the inner man. Here Paul is making it clear that God will judge even the secrets of men. Our own conscience will defend or else accuse us before God. Think about it. If we've ever judged someone else... and we ourselves violate the same thing, need God do anything else but point that out? In that moment we are disqualified by our own conscience. There's not a person on earth who hasn't been convicted by their own conscience. God who judges the secrets of men... will revisit that violation on judgment day.


10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. - 2 Corinthians 5:10


On judgment day, when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, unlike human courts, we will not get to use the excuse "Oh God, but that wasn't what I was thinking". I like how Chuck Smith puts it, "Hey Gabriel, project on the screen what they were thinking when they were doing that".


"according to my gospel". The word gospel literally means "good news", we're headed there. What we've read so far, while it may not seem like it yet, is part of that good news. We'll learn as we continue into the rest of this chapter and into the next that we're all disqualified because of our disobedience to what we knew to be the right thing to do.

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17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, - Romans 2:17-20


Paul, having just hammered the hedonist and the judgmentalist now focuses on the legalist. This one hits home with me, repeatedly unfortunately. However, I'm not alone. I think it hit home with Paul too. After all, Paul himself was a Jew. In all regards both as a Christian and as a Hebrew Paul had more reason to boast in his accomplishments (2 Cor. 11:21-29) or put pride in his pedigree (Phil 3:3-6). Paul, I suspect when writing this, reflected on his former ways often. Paul knew how a self-righteous Jew thought. In other letters from Paul (see verses in last sentence) he often would elaborate on his former ways but with the intention of correcting the recipients as he himself was corrected. And we know by Romans 9:1-3 Paul is addressing these Jews from a standpoint of God-filled love which may contribute (2 Pet. 1:20-21, 2 Tim. 3:16-17)  to the motivation behind establishing them (and us) in these seven pillars before he tears them down. Not in the hopes of destroying them, but in hopes of destroying their legalistic mindset which is keeping them enslaved on the path of destruction (Gal. 5:4-6). Take a look at these seven pillars.

1.) "you bear the name "Jew" (v17)

2.) "rely upon the Law" (v17)

3.) "boast in God" (v17)

4.) "know His will" (v18)

5.) "approve the things that are essential" (v18)

6.) "are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature" (v19-20)

7.) "having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth" (v20).


Question: Could these verses, these pillars, apply to Christians? In other words, could Christians succumb to having the same mindset of the Jews? Absolutely, and they do, both in Paul's day (See entire book of Galatians, even Peter faltered [vv12-14], not to mention many, many other verses addressing legalism) and today Christians are no exception. So what is legalism?


Legalism is relying on one's own efforts through a system of rules and regulations in achieving both salvation and spiritual growth (known as sanctification). The Tenth Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines legalism as "strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious moral code." Paul was establishing the pillars, or moral codes, in which many of the Jews relied upon for their entry into God's kingdom (before he tears them down, as we'll get into). Christians easily gravitate toward the same pit. While we put our faith in Christ who by His grace accomplishes these things in our life (Gal. 2:16, Eph. 2:8-9, Phil. 1:6, Gal. 3:3) but through our natural tendency and paying attention to false teachers and doctrine (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1) we easily succumb to the same mindset. Peter himself, the same Peter who preached against such things in Acts 15:10 also fell back into this rut (Gal. 2:11-14).


Question: What are some of the "pillars" or "religious moral codes" we as Christians live by today that perhaps subconsciously (or even consciously) cling to as our justification or way of meriting God's favor? Obviously as Christians we put our faith in Christ and declare God's favor is undeserved (grace). And as a Christian and therefore knowing this is the correct answer, you may be surprised at how sneaky legalism is and how it has crept into our church and maybe even your personal walk with God. So, here are some symptoms of the legalistic mindset.


1.) Unhealthy merit based mindset. God says in Isaiah 30:18 that He longs to be gracious to us and to have compassion on us. He is a loving Father and takes Joy in lavishing His grace on us (Heb. 12:2, Isa. 53:10). Yet many Christians who don't have or hold to a correct view of God's unconditional love feel they must earn it. Their view of God is similar to the Prodigal's, though God is hugging them and kissing them, and preparing a party in their honor, because they in no way deserve it, they in no way enjoy it. Like the Prodigal, they just want to get their penance speech out (Luke 15:21). Legalist love penance.

2.) Lack of true joy. In Romans 14:17 Paul writes "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". John 15:11 Jesus states He wants our joy to be made full. Paul said the letter of the law kills (2 Cor. 3:6) but the Spirit gives life. Having a performance or merit based mindset before God is only ever depressing, that is if it's seen accurately in lieu of the true requirements of the Law. Some who are misguided may feel puffed up, but such men have failed to take a serious look at what God truly required of them (Matt. 5:48, 1 Peter 1:16). As long as our Joy is tied to our merits, and not to the merits of Christ (Matt. 5:17, John 19:30) it will be just as absent as our merit based approval from God (Gal. 2:16, Rom. 3:20).

3.) No real victory over sin. All Christians have the flesh and it's accompanying fleshly desires (Rom. 7:14-25, Eph. 4:22) but a person who has difficulty receiving God's grace is having difficulty receiving the only solution to their problem. Such a person, instead of walking in the Spirit (which is only by way of grace) continues to do so in the flesh and never has a real victory. Of such a method in Col. 2:23 Paul writes "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

4.) A critical, unloving attitude toward others. People who's tank is not filled up by God's grace cannot in turn give grace to others. The man who hid the talent given him from the master did so because he viewed the Master "to be a hard man..." (Matt. 25:24). Jesus made it clear him who is forgiven much loves much. Let me say this, nobody is forgiven little (Luke 7:40-43, spec. 47, cf James 2:10). As we come to understand and lay hold of how much we are loved by God and how marvelously we've been forgiven we respond in loving much (John 14:15). This was the contrast between Peter the legalist who in his flesh did not act with love toward Christ (Luke 7:44-46) and the woman who embraced the grace of God who was even delighted to clean the feet of Jesus with her hair (Luke 7:44-50). Because legalist have not let God's forgiveness have it's work in their heart, but rather harbor merit based living, they in turn are critical toward others in this same legalistic spirit. When you see a Christian being hateful toward Muslims, atheists, liberals, or homosexuals, you have just identified a legalistic spirit.

5.) A sectarian attitude toward other Christians. People who don't understand God's grace believe they have a corner on truth and therefore they cannot accept the fact that the Holy Spirit might be moving in others who don't conform to their standards. They are quick to argue biblical matters. Remember the Pharisees who condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath? (Mark. 3:1-6).

6.) Obsessive, excessive focus on outward standards. Some Christians and churches, much like the Pharisees (who in Matt. 23:24 Jesus said would strain a gnat and swallow a camel) make a big todo about trivial matters and neglect the more important things. Martha and Mary are a great example of this. Both loved by God, Martha would be distracted by her sense of duty (Luke 10:40) and miss "the good part" as Jesus put it in Luke 10:42. Martha even lashed out at Mary for not also worrying about the same things she was. Jesus declared to Martha (and us) that Mary, who was simply sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to all that He had to say "has chosen the good part" (v42) which He declared "shall not be taken away from her". Doing nothing and enjoying Jesus... that's a legalist dream but not reality. That is however the reality of a grace-filled Christian.

7.) Little or no assurance of salvation. People with a legalistic mindset often doubt their salvation because they tie it in with their own obedience rather than Christ's obedience (Phil. 2:8). When you receive the grace of God and the spirit of adoption as sons and daughters, the Bible says your heart will cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Rom. 8:15). Because the legalist filters everything through that which is merit based, he concludes that statements of Christ such as "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5) must have a merit based clause to them somewhere. Therefore they don't cling to such verses or they cling to them with great reservation.

8.) Bondage to religious tradition. Jesus made it clear He came to put new wine in new wineskins. In otherwords, He was not bringing a new way to fix the old system but rather a new Way (John 14:6) and a new system (Eph. 2:8-9). Many Christians unfortunately use the new testament to reinvent the old religious system. Sure they don't use the Mosaic Law, but they invent in their minds, or in their churches, new laws according to new testament verses. Completely missing the grace filled references they latch on to verses like Matthew 5:48 which says "Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" and therefore they try harder, not realizing this was intended to make known to them they can never try hard enough, as many verse point out (Jam. 2:10, Gal 5:3). This was the very purpose of the old law, and I'm convinced the purpose behind Jesus saying this in Matthew 5:48. So that those things will act as a tutor to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24, Rom. 8:3). Not to change out one burdensome yoke for another burdensome yoke but to change out the old burdensome yoke for the one Jesus is offering which gives rest to our souls! (Matt. 11:28-30). 2 Cor. 3:17 says "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!"


You know what I've never found? A person who relies on moral code meeting their own moral code. In other words, a person who holds himself and others to strict standards who also meets those standards; which by failing to do so is by biblical definition, hypocrisy (see Matthew 7:1-5 which is very applicable here). Often, I've observed the best thing for a legalist is to be caught according to their legalism which is why I'm thankful that Paul and God is not pulling any punches. Pushing them to the full extent of legalism yields better success than trying to pull them out of it. It actually becomes more valuable to them to be obviously ensnared by their own vices. So that the tutor of the law can have is effect (Gal. 3:24). When someone is preaching moral code rather than Christ I like to ask them how they are doing with that in their own life. I don't do this to frustrate them but with the hopes it will help them see the futility of it. Unfortunately heavy doses is usually required in order to brake the bondage of legalism, or in keeping with our analogy, to tear down it's pillars. Now listen as Paul destroys his chance of getting the "Rabbi of the year" award (see also Gal. 1:10).


21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.- Romans 2:21-24


Legalist like to polish a turd. Paul here is exposing the stench underneath. Jesus did in like fashion when He called the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs" who "on the outside appear beautiful, but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matt. 23:27). Jesus then and Paul now are both speaking from love (Mark 3:5,  Luke 13:34, Rom. 9:2-3) when they expose the true state of these men. If we don't first learn we are sick, then we don't seek out the Physician (Mark. 2:17).


"You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?" Paul, and God, is appealing on all fronts. This is a very ingenious way to address those in violation here, to lovingly and therefore soberingly expose them. I'm quite impressed. Paul here didn't follow suit and say something like "you who teach not to worship idols do you worship idols," which they being Jews would easily deny as they did not directly. However Paul ties in the first two commandments in the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20:3-6 which state "You shall have no other gods before Me" and "You shall not make for yourself an idol...You shall not worship or serve them". In just a few words Paul points out how they were holding back that which belonged to God. In doing so, they were essentially robbing the temple and therefore putting themselves before God. They made themselves an idol. They put themselves before God. As Philippians 3:19 states, they were making appetite their God.


23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written. - Romans 2:23-24


Christians, specifically legalists, are guilty of the same. We teach others what is wrong and right, then we ourselves violate those standards we impose on others. When we do that, we essentially give non-believers cause to discredit Christians which be definition is "a follower of Christ" and by association we give them cause to discredit Christ. The Jews here were doing likewise. Don't let this combo escape your notice in verse 23. They were boasting in the Law and at the same time breaking the Law they boasted in. Tell me, as a Christian, have you ever held a "Christian" standard among people that you yourself also broke? I've often heard Christians introduce themselves to another with a disclaimer that they are "a poor example of a Christian". So apparently I'm not the only one. You see, it's not merely breaking the law that dishonors God, it's boasting in it combined with breaking it. If we only were breaking the law we would dishonor ourselves. So careful when you boast.


Question: Is it possible to be a sinner and still honor God? If so, then how? Well lets look at what Paul says in regards to boasting.


30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. - 2 Corinthians 11:30


And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9


Tell me this. Is Christ more attractive to a non-believer when we boast about what is right and wrong and ourselves are found in violation, or if we boast about our weaknesses, that is, our failure to do what is right, and then Christ Himself is seen doing in us what we ourselves cannot and could not accomplish? Which of those glorifies God? When we boast about our weaknesses and make known to the world our shortcomings weak as we are in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), we are only telling them what they already know (people are observant) and have experienced in their own life. But when we are willing to acknowledge our shortcomings before one another then God is glorified by His work in us in His changing, fixing, repairing, and making new and making right that which we could not. This is why Paul wants to tear down legalism, in order to bring about in the legalist's life what God and only God can do. It's only when we acknowledge our weaknesses and therefore our debt, that people get to see our Redeemer.

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Question: What is a covenant? A covenant is much different than a contract whereas a contract, if one party doesn't hold up their side of the contract the entire thing is nullified. A covenant is one or more parties make promises to another that they will keep regardless if the other side holds to theirs. This means when someone makes a covenant, they are promising they will keep their side of the covenant (period). When God makes a covenant then, God who always keeps His word and is always found true to His own character, keeps His covenants because He is God. Even if man doesn't hold up his side God remains faithful.


13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. - 2 Timothy 2:13


God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. - 1 Corinthians 1:9


19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? - Numbers 23:19


What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! - Romans 3:3-4a


Now that we've established what a covenant is, let's continue our study in Romans.


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. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 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? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 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. - Romans 2:25-29


Did you know circumcision is mentioned nearly 100 times in the bible? If you consider just the natural side of it then seems a bit absurd to have it be such a largely brought up topic of the bible. Well, circumcision to the Jews meant something far more than just the removal of skin. It was a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and Abraham, that God would miraculously remove the reproach of Abraham (signified by the removing of skin, see also Joshua 5:9) and make him who was past the age of having children (99 years old, Gen 17:1) a father of innumerable offspring (Gen. 12:1-3). Furthermore, at the time of this covenant it's important to note this is when God changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). Every man in Abraham's family was commanded thereafter to be circumcised and any that did not were declaring said person was outside of God's covenant. This explains why God was angry when Moses failed to circumcise his son (Exo. 4:24-26). So why circumcision? Because the promise had to do reproduction and the physical lineage of Abraham's descendants. Because the covenant had to do with reproduction produced by sexual relations, the sign also had to do with that as well. This shouldn't be odd to us, though through our culture it is. But God invented sex, He designed it to be a wholesome event that He even desires to bless. Thus circumcision was a sign and reminder to both the men and their wives that any offspring in Abraham's lineage were a blessing from God and that all of Israel owed their existence to God.


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. - Romans 2:25


These men unfortunately took circumcision, which was meant as a sign, and made it in their minds a right-of-passage. They took what was meant to be symbolic and applied far more attributes to it while neglecting the weightier provisions of the law (Matt. 23:23). Because this (circumcision, which was considered a right of passage) was a large problem for the early church it's no surprise it's largely brought up in scripture. Furthermore, as is all of God's word, it's still applicable today. Maybe not with circumcision so much, but with other so called signs. Some in the world will do the same with baptism. If you ask them if they have faith in Christ they respond by saying they were baptized at such and such age. They are viewing being baptized as a right-of-passage when it was only intended as symbolism. Paul here is debunking such symbolism as being tickets into heaven. He explains that symbolisms are just that, symbolic, giving illustration to something else, in this case, being faithful in keeping the law. And if that something else is missing, i.e. someone breaks one of the commandments, the symbolism that was intended to show they were in keeping with the law means nothing.


26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? - Romans 2:26


Paul is showing that the qualifiers, or the "ticket" is not that which is seen outwardly which is merely symbolism but that if such a person meets that which is actually the "ticket" inwardly, God, even without the symbolism of circumcision will regard such a person as if he was of the covenant that circumcision was suppose to represent.


Imagine if mine and Jamie's marriage was entirely summed up by the wedding rings we wore? Instead of giving credit to God and His love we point to our ring as the all powerful force behind our marriage? Ridiculous right? What if, when we had disputes, instead of turning to God, we put the ring on a pedestal and prayed to it. I am being ridiculous but to illustrate a point. What if I became a horrible husband who failed to provide for Jamie and care for her needs. What if worse than that I began abusing her to the point of her breaking and saying to me "You're horrible to me, you do not love me nor are you devoted to me, you are not the husband I married". How do you suppose it would go if I countered "Jamie, I've wore this ring flawlessly our entire marriage, not once have I forsaken it, how can you say I'm horrible???" Jamie wouldn't accept such a defense and neither does God.


Circumcision, baptism, and a wedding ring were intended to be a symbol, nothing more. If Jamie and I lost our rings we'd be bummed but our marriage wouldn't be over. When we hang a cross in our church we do not take pride in the cross itself. How morbid is that, to take pride in a torture device... It's what the cross symbolizes, it reminds us of what Jesus Christ accomplished on it on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 12:2). When we display a cross we are doing it in remembrance of Jesus and His accomplishment on our behalf. Communion is the same. 1 Cor. 11:26 says that as often as we take communion we are proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes. Communion doesn't save, but when we take communion we are doing it in remembrance of Him who does! Communion is a reminder that it's not whether or not we are worthy but rather a reminder that it's Jesus, and His accomplishments which made us right with God. When we take communion we declare that Jesus successfully atoned for our sins.


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? - Romans 2:27


Circumcision makes a person no more a Jew than wearing military identification tags (dog tags) makes one a Navy Seal. If my friends who know me saw me one day with military identification tags classifying me with such an esteemed position, they'd laugh and ask me how much I paid for those. If a civilian just met me, maybe I could convince them (though with the shape I'm in probably not). If a real Navy Seal sat next to me on a plane as I'm sitting there with my fancy dog tags and digital camo he'd be busting my balls (pun intended) before we even landed and rightfully so since he himself is worthy to carry such a title having gone through and met all the requirements of such an esteemed position and I have not. The Jews took pride in being called a Jew and in the outward symbol of circumcision.


28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. - Romans 2:28


What if the Navy Seal didn't bust my chops but instead let me continue pretending? The plane landed and he, playing along, ushered me onto the same lay-over flight as him... I was just interested in the military discount and a few in just a short matter of time I'm heading to somewhere that's going to be bad news for me and everyone around me. I believe it's for this same reason that Paul is busting the chops of his fellow kinsmen. What person, if they are loving, would let another pretend they are something when they are not, knowing that such misplaced self perception would lead them to destruction? In my case I knew I wasn't a Navy Seal but Jews thought their pedigree was all that's needed. If a gentile thinks baptism will get them into heaven, I'm doing them no favor by allowing them to believe that.


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. - Romans 2:29


It's not circumcision, baptism, checking a box on a form that says 'Christian', it's not having a cross neckless, it's not knowledge of scripture or right and wrong, it's not having Christian parents or being raised in the church. It's entirely the Father God's will, by the Spirit, in the seed of Abraham, that is Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16), who inwardly makes one a covenant child of God.


39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; - John 5:39


There's a good reason that Paul concludes with showing the correct way is only done "by the Spirit". This is the new covenant which brings about the circumcision of the heart that Paul is speaking of. This new covenant was spoken of by the old testament prophets.


31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” - Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see also in Hebrews 8:6-13).


19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. - Ezekiel 11:19-20


Don't let this one fact escape you. God and God alone saves (Eph. 2:8-9) and sanctifies (Gal. 3:3). Christ and His work on the cross is the new covenant mentioned in the old testament.


20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. - Luke 22:20


Only a person who has the Holy Spirit has life. Only a person who has received the sacrifice of Jesus as atonement for their sins has entered the new covenant. This is the very thing we are symbolizing when we take communion (Luke 22:19-20). However, if we take communion without having receiving Jesus, than communion, like outward circumcision, means nothing.


Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. - John 3:5


However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. - Romans 8:9


12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. - 1 John 5:12


  So how does a person receive so wonderful a treasure and what's the cost to us?


13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” - Luke 11:13


23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23


Everything you need to be right with God, to grow in God, to be transformed and be presented complete in Christ is completely done by God and amazingly it's available to us free for the asking. This is why we trust in God; it's only God who can, in us, accomplish what we cannot: Righteousness! (2 Cor. 5:21) Victory over sin! (Gal. 5:16) Eternal life! (Rom. 6:23) To be made children of God! (1 John 3:1).


For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:3-4


See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. - 1 John 3:1


Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. - 2 Corinthians 3:4-6


This is not done by us, it is done by God. While we are benefactors of this unfathomable (1 Cor. 13:12, Rom. 11:33) gift we are not the ones who earn it, nor accomplish it in our lives. Christ earned it, and it is, as Paul put it, by the Spirit that God accomplishes in us so great a heart's desire of His! (Isa. 30:18, 53:10, Luke 12:32, Heb. 12:2, John 3:16, Mic. 7:18, Luke 13:34, 19:41, to name a few).


13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14



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