Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Romans 2

READ: Romans 2
In this chapter, the Apostle Paul picks up the very same mantle that Jesus carried before the Pharisees: Do not remove the speck in your brother's eye until the log in your own is out! This is not an excuse to fail to admonish others (Romans 15:14), but a reminder that we must purify ourselves before we can be taken seriously. As he hammers this point, Paul makes one of the macro points of the New Testament: Jew and Gentile are the same. God doesn't care what color you are, what country you were born in or if you were raised in church. We shouldn't either. The only thing we have a right to recognize is those who now profess faith in Christ. That is the only distinction between people in this world for us.

Paul also looks at a major objection to any faith that proclaims a "one way to God. "What about those who don't hear? " Everyone hears, the apostle tells us. The supremacy of the Lord is inscribed deep in the hearts of men and the faith in Him has always been an option. Those who have heard, Paul tells us, have a greater responsibility: they must accept it for what it is to reap its benefits. Then why evangelize? Why not make it easier for people? The answer to that is complex - at the very least analyzing the advantages of a concrete understanding - but the simple truth is that it takes the wrong attitude. We too often reduce Christianity as a way to die. If we are to really embrace life for its fullest benefits, Christianity is the only way to live! When walking in the ways and praise of the Lord of Hosts, this life is infinitely better, before we even consider Heaven and Hell. But because everything proclaims God, we cannot say God predestined some people for Hell. Each made a choice. We can cry "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Or we can whisper "Lord, please remember me in your kingdom," but we cannot remain silent.
The Law of Moses, we go on to read, was a perfect rule of conduct which can still educate us today. But if we violate this code once (and we have), the circumcision of the Law becomes uncircumcision. The Law as a means of salvation would be valid only if man were perfect (Ecclesiastes 10:1), which Paul makes clear we are not. Because our body will sin - we need a circumcision deeper than our body. The circumcision of the soul. Chapter 3 will really tell us how; I hope to see you back here tomorrow.
(1) Read through verse 24 again. Are your sins causing people to blaspheme God?
(2) Are you guilty of moralizing your faith by heeding the letter of the law rather than its spirit? What can you do to change this?
(3) Verses 21 and 22 describes hypocrisy with five unique verbs: teach, preach, say, abhor and boast. Do you commit hypocrisy by hating certain sins while practicing only minor variants (idols versus failing to tithe and thereby making something else a financial idol (v 22 and Malachi 3:8-10)? Or do you commit hypocrisy in some more tangible way?
(4) Are you a Christian inwardly or just outwardly? Are you baptized in body but not in heart?
(5) Is your faith just fire insurance? Or is it really a way to live?
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