ROMANS:ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
God condemns the self-righteous
Jerry A. Collins
o Does a religious person get a break with God?
o Can I earn my way into God’s favor?
o What constitutes spiritual success in eyes of God?
Growing up in my hometown neighborhood, my friend, Brad Clark, always assumed a superior attitude toward the rest of us. His family drove ford automobiles and they were superior to the Chevy’s we drove. Their house and yard was superior to ours and anyone else’s because of how well-kept it was. Their bikes, their sandbox, their ice rink, their seawall, their stuff was always superior. None of us could ever measure up to their privileged position. According to our passage, a group of people assumed the same kind of thing about themselves. They assumed a superior attitude over others because of their privileged position before God. They were the Jews Paul was writing about in Romans 2. They did have legitimate advantages over Gentiles and he enumerates them here. But their boasting about this and their hypocrisy offset these advantages. Their privileged position before God is no guarantee that they will remain that way without trust and obedience toward God. The Jews assumed their status with God in two ways. They had the advantage of being given the Law of Moses (17-24) and the rite of circumcision (25-29). Self-righteous people assume that they have an advantage with God that others do not possess. But is this true?
1. THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS ARE CONDEMNED BECAUSE OF THEIR HYPOCRISY 17-24
In the case of the Jews their
possession of the Law was not sufficient grounds of acceptance before God.
Evidently, these self-righteous Jews were referred to as the ones who were
passing judgment on others from verse 1. There he had not specified them by
name but now he does! They have condemned themselves he says in verse 1. But how? He lists a handful of ways they were hypocritical.
Here is the basis of their boasting and also of their hypocrisy. People enjoy
boasting about their supposed privileged status before God. Today they may
measure that status by the baptism they have received. Or possibly the good
works they have done. Or the money they have given. For these Jews it included: (1)
Reliance on the Law 17. They had placed the confidence and security of
acceptance before God in the fact that God gave the Law to them. They assumed
this fact proved they were on good terms with God. 3 purposes of the Law:
First, to establish a relationship between God and His people. Law was not for
salvation since salvation for Israelites preceded the Law (Abe Gen15;
Israelites Ex 14). But God’s people prone to wander so God provided sacrificial
system as means to repent and remain in fellowship. Second,
2. SELF-RIGHTEOUS PRIDE IN SYMBOL OF RELA WITH GOD INSUFFICIENT WITH GOD 25ff
Next to Law of Moses Jews boasted in their rite of circumcision vs 25. First, it is only profitable for doers of the Law not all Jews. We could substitute baptism, confirmation, church membership where people rest upon these rites as a sign that they belong to God! A Jewish lawbreaker stands before God as unbeliever. The Jewish rite of circumcision counts for nothing. Second, the opposite is also true. If, true for sake of argument, one uncircumcised keeps law reckoned by God as circumcised vs 26. Third, Gentiles who obey this Law condemns Jew despite his having both the letter of the Law and rite of circumcision vs 27. The conclusion is 28-29—God say that no possession or religious rite makes you a Jew. One becomes a Jew when his heart is changed like with Abe and Jacob. What makes you part of Abraham’s blessed family is not the culture from which you came, the ritual thru which you have gone, the ancestry from which your born but fact that you know Jesus Christ (Gal 3:29). This true Jew receives his praise not from men, as the Pharisees had, but from God who sees peoples inward natures and discerns their true heart condition.
1. There is no significance in any mechanical act. God looks only at the heart, the attitude, the motive. Man wants to view the act. God views the heart.
2. Watch out for inconsistencies in your life between what you know is true and where you may not be living that way. Don’t give up here. You may have to fite all way to grave. Some sin like that but don’t quit.
3. Do what is closest to heart of God not what you can get away with.