Message/Application: In Romans 2 Paul pulled away the crutches that we all use to prop up our own perceived righteousness. For the Jews it was circumcision and the law. They saw themselves as privileged and untouchable regardless of how they lived as long as they were circumcised. Paul called out their hypocrisy and the judgment that awaited them because they would quote the law at others while doing the very same things. They called uncircumcised people “unclean”, but Paul explains the purpose and intent that circumcision was supposed to have by introducing the idea of “circumcision of heart”. He told them that their circumcision had made them uncircumcised spiritually because they believed that as long as they physically and outwardly showed an appearance of obedience that their inward heart condition didn’t matter. Jesus called this out as well during his ministry written in Matthew 23 when he called the Scribes and Pharisees “whitewashed tombs who looked beautiful on the outside but were full of dead bones and everything unclean” inside. He reminded them that God’s kindness was intended to bring repentance, but because they were hardened and unrepentant, they were storing up wrath and judgment on themselves. In verse 6 he says God will repay each one according to his works. This scripture messes with a lot of people because out of context it appears that he is saying that our works secure our salvation. He is actually telling us that our works are the evidence that we have salvation. We don’t do good works to earn our salvation. Our salvation transforms us and good works are the result. He is not just speaking to the Jews. He is speaking to all of us using the Jews as an example. Modern day Christians hide behind the word “grace”. We love to talk about the benefits we receive by the blood of Jesus just like the Jews liked to talk about their privileges from being God’s circumcised, chosen people. As soon as we talk about the blood of Jesus continuously transforming the sin and disobedience out of our lives we get defensive. As Christians we aren’t required to be circumcised physically, we are required to be circumcised in heart. The physical act of cutting away flesh represents the spiritual cutting away of our flesh and our will. Jews were unable to fulfill the law but they hid behind the promise it came with. Christians are unable to be righteous on our own but we tend to hide behind the promise of grace. There should always be a tension between our understanding that we can’t earn salvation or righteousness, and the understanding that salvation is supposed to provoke such a dramatic change in us that we live in the fullest extent of righteousness. Not to earn it but to express it. Today I’m asking God to reveal the areas in my heart that are unsurrendered and rebellious toward him. The things I do that I excuse away because grace. Lord please forgive me for hiding behind the promise of grace to allow my control, sin and rebellion to continue.
Command: Don’t hide behind grace to allow sin and rebellion to continue.
Promise: Salvation and face to face relationship with God is our promise.
Warning: We have the same tendency to hide behind the promise as the Jews had.