The Jews and The Law (Day 5)

Read Romans 2:17-29
   Paul explained to the Jews that they needed to teach themselves, not others, by their law. They knew the law so well that they had learned how to excuse their own actions while criticizing others. But the law is more than a set of rules: it is a guideline for living according to God’s will. It is also a reminder that we cannot please God without a proper relationship with Him. As Jesus pointed out, withholding what rightfully belongs to someone else is stealing (Mark 7), and anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his eyes has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5). Before we accuse others, we must look at ourselves and see if sin, in any form, exists within us.
   If you claim to be one of God’s people, your life should reflect what God is like. When you disobey God, you dishonor His name. People may even blaspheme or profane God’s name because of you. What do people think about God as they watch your life?
   Paul argues that all stand guilty before God. After the fate of the unbelieving, pagan Gentiles, he moves to admonish God’s people. Despite their knowledge of God’s will, they were guilty because they, too, refuse to live by it. Those of us who have grown up in Christian families may know what God’s Word says. But Paul says that if we do not live up to what we know, we are no better off than the heathen.
   These verses are a scathing criticism of hypocrisy. It is much easier to tell others how to behave than to behave properly ourselves. It is easier to say the right words than to allow them to take root in our own life. Do you ever advise others to do something you are unwilling to do yourself? Make sure that your actions match your words.
   To be a Jew meant you were in God’s family, an heir to all His promises. Yet Paul made it clear that membership in God’s family is based on internal, not external, qualities. All whose hearts are right with God are God’s real family (Galatians 3). Attending church or being baptized, confirmed, or accepted for membership is not enough, just as submitting to circumcision was not enough for the Jews. God desires our heartfelt devotion and obedience (Deuteronomy 10; Jeremiah 4).

   Circumcision refers to the sign of God’s special covenant with His people. Submitting to this rite was required for all Jewish males (Genesis 17). According to Paul, being a circumcised Jew meant nothing if the person didn’t obey God’s laws. On the other hand, the uncircumcised Gentiles would receive God’s love and approval if they kept God’s law. Paul goes on to explain that a true Jew, one who pleases God, is not someone who has been circumcised but someone whose heart is right with God and obeys Him.