If you’re over 30, knowing what you know about life and what is important to you now, consider what a conversation with your younger self might look like.
If you’re younger than 30, take a moment and think about what that conversation might look like for you. How would you respond to your older self if they were to tell you anything critical about what you’re doing right now?
Keep this in mind as you read and work through the passage; it’s quite possible Paul was talking to his younger self.
Our objective is twofold: First, it is to understand the importance of knowing God personally in a real and intimate way. We can’t do this by relying simply on a bunch of “spiritual” activities. Activity for activity’s sake is meaningless. Second, it is to understand that God has spoken personally to us in His written Word. His Word has the power to transform our life when we internalize it and apply it. We must understand that when we do what is in scripture, we are living in line with the truth of God and living a life in line with the reality of God. When this happens, it is a blessed life.
“17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know His will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth — 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’ 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”
Why do all people of all types need the gospel?
The people described in verses 17-29 assumed that they had a good relationship with God. What kinds of things did they depend on to give them that relationship?
Think back to Terry’s story about a couple that put all their trust in their relationship on the wedding rings… Why does this not work?
What were the two main sources of confidence the Jewish people had?
What is Paul trying to show his readers with the list of questions in verses 21-23?
What is the relationship between circumcision and keeping the law (v. 25-29)?
What does it mean to have a circumcised heart (v. 29)?
Sometimes the title “Christian” denotes merely a cultural heritage or a theological position, but for those who take the gospel seriously it means “Christ follower.” How do you see Paul clarifying this point in the above passage?
The Jews Paul was writing to had all sorts of misplaced confidence about their special relationship with God. What or whom have you been tempted to trust besides the grace of Jesus Christ alone?
There are many people who believe having a Bible in their home or in their uniform pocket will somehow protect them. How can we keep from falling into this trap?
Read James 1:22-25, “22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.”
How can we make James 1:22-25 a reality in our own lives?
How can we keep God’s word from becoming just another good luck charm that has no real affect in our lives?
How can we ensure His Word transforms us into the likeness of Christ?
How can “life in community” help move us in that direction?