Sovereign Lord, I’m thankful that You are with me each day. I trust for whatever lies ahead.
The Jews and the Law
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[b] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. Romans 2:17-29
In a selfie-saturated culture, we can become obsessed with the perfect ‘outer’ life of others. But God is interested in our inner life.
Sometimes we find ourselves measuring ourselves against others – and for some of us, ‘doing the right thing’ or ‘sticking to the rules’ means we feel both safe and superior to others. In this passage, Paul continues his focus on Jewish believers in Rome, warning them against a sense of superiority because of a strict observance of Torah (vs 17,18) or a reliance on circumcision (v 25). For Jews, circumcision was a sign of not only their privileges as the chosen people, but also their ’apartness.’
Here is the great leveler of the Christian faith – Paul points out that the Jewish believers are no better off than their Gentile counterparts because they have failed to obey the law (vs 21–24). And circumcision or no circumcision has no cash value in God’s economy (v 25). In reality, we are all in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. The provision of the Holy Spirit changes everything. The Spirit creates the true ’Jew,’ that is the true person of God, because the Spirit ensures a lasting circumcision ‘of the heart’ (v 29). Old Testament passages reflect the same idea (see Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 11:19).
Christ’s sacrificial death and the gift of the Holy Spirit means that we can all be part of the people of God. We now live ‘by the Spirit’. Pray that God will fill you with his Spirit.
Holy Spirit, my Counselor, thank You for enabling me to take my sins and failures to the cross. I praise You that my sins are forgiven, forgotten, forever.