Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in 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 little children, 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 boast in 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 So then, 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 person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”
Paul moves from addressing the critical moralizer in the previous passage and narrows his critique to his own Jewish people and their own self-confidence.
Paul’s words would have been a shock to them. They would’ve been indignant toward Paul for claiming what he did and asking the questions that he did in this passage. They would have thought something like, “We’re the insiders here Paul, how dare you treat us like the Gentiles who are the outsiders. Don’t you know we have the Law? We’ve been given insight into God’s word. We have circumcision as a sign that sets us apart and protects us from judgment.”
In essence, Paul’s response was to say, “Don’t assume you have a good relationship with God just because of your heritage. This is a misplaced confidence; you’re trusting in external things instead of trusting in the One who is able to save.”
Up to this point, Romans has read like an indictment of our current culture and worldview, even though it was written almost 2,000 years ago. Our passage today is no different.
Most in the United States would claim to be Christian; the same is true for the city of Wichita. Many of these would be the “religiously privileged” of today. Despite knowledge of God, they refuse to live by their beliefs. I can think back to my time in the Air Force and remember multiple conversations where someone would say with confidence something like, “Yeah I’m a Christian, I was baptized.” But, other than that statement, there seemed to be no evidence that they were a believer. I’m sure you can think of folks in your own life who live like this. They presume that they are saved because they said the right words or did the right kinds of things.
How good your church attendance is, how much you’ve given, how many times you’ve been baptized, how much you pray, or how spiritual you sound when you pray…doing these things won’t save us! They don’t make us right with God. Only belief in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins can make us right. It’s about what He has done for us, not what we’re doing for Him that makes us acceptable before God.
It’s easy for us to confuse the means from the end. Church attendance, baptism, quiet times, Bible reading and many other Christian disciplines are things that help us to grow; things that we should do if we’re to continue to grow in Christlikeness. However, we must never confuse these with acceptance from God. We must always remember that God’s grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians.