Scripture Reading: Romans 2:12-29
“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)
I have just returned from another trip to Israel. Every time I go I learn so much more about our Jewish heritage. We must always remember that our Christian faith came out of Judaism. The earliest Christians were Jews. We Gentiles were engrafted into God’s covenant at the time of the New Testament era. When Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, he addressed both Jews and Gentiles. The second chapter of this epistle is written primarily to Jews. Paul had a very special place in his heart for the Jewish people. In fact, he devotes three more chapters (chapters 9-11) to an explanation the place of the Jews in God’s redemptive plan.
In the second chapter, Paul knew that many of the Jews in Rome were trusting in their own efforts to keep the Law as a means of salvation. The Jews looked down on the Gentiles because they did not have a formal code of law. Paul is telling these Jews that though the Gentiles do not have the formal written laws of the Old Testament, they have still sinned against God and they will perish (face the judgment of God) because of their sinful condition. The Jews, on the other hand, may have the Law but the problem is that they do not consistently obey the Law. They they will be judged by the standards of the law — “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law” (v. 23).
The Jews did not understand the gospel. They failed to see that their inability to keep the law was condemning them. No ordinary human being can ever fully obey the Law. In fact, the law shows us and them our need for a Savior. We can never gain God’s approval and acceptance by attempting to earn salvation by obeying the Law. It is simply impossible — “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).
Today our churches are full of people who are still trusting in their religious and moral efforts to save themselves. Religion is about man’s attempt to earn God’s favor through moral and religious acts. This leads to pride and to self-righteousness. We must recognize how bad off we really are — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Many religious people have a hard time admitting that they are failures and sinners in the sight of God.
People need to be changed from the inside out. Paul emphasized this fact to the Jews — “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God” (v. 29). God alone by HIs Spirit is able to circumcise our hearts. Salvation is a gift from God and not a result of our own feeble efforts to earn God’s love and favor — “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Lord God, forgive me when I forget the gospel and resort to my feeble efforts to earn Your love and favor. Forgive me of my self-righteousness and pride in my religious and moral behavior. I know that my salvation is fully the product of Your gracious work through Your Son Jesus Christ. But I confess that I too often forget this fact and go to my default mode — my self-righteousness and pride in my religion. I have nothing to boast of, for Christ paid it all for me.
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