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.”
As previously mentioned, Paul was really stepping on some toes. The Jews understood their privileged position; they knew that God had given the Law to them.
When we read the word “law” it didn’t mean 613 rules that were found in the Torah. It was much more than that. The Law was the written and oral collections of foundational teachings that were given to Israel; the Law reflected the reality of God’s orderly universe. In the Law, the content of God’s character is revealed that enables one to follow easily in obedience. It is this obedience that shapes us and restores us.
This was the privilege that Israel had in relying on the Law. But rather than see it as a privilege to share with others, some Jews would wear their privileged position as a badge of honor; something they would boast about with pride. In fact, they knew the Law so well that they knew how to excuse their own actions while condemning others. Rather than see the Law as a guide for living according to God’s will, these Jews began to follow it as legalistic minimum requirements. “Follow these rules. Do this. Don’t do that. All will be right.” This attitude led many of them to feel they were immune from God’s judgement. It gave them an air of superiority.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to want to follow processes…a simple 1-2-3 type of process. If you do this, then this will happen. For example, you want to lose weight; well, eat less. I have a propensity to want this same thing in my spiritual life as well. If you want to grow in Christ-likeness, then engage in the spiritual disciplines. The problem for me is that I can end up focusing on the process and not the intended goal of focusing on Christ. Maybe you can relate.
Take these devotions as an example… I write them about three weeks before you get them. I understand the value the devos have for me as I write them and read them each week with you. If I’m going to grow in Christ-likeness, then I’ve got to make sure I’m turning my attention to Him. The devotionals give me that opportunity to focus my attention on Him. So, you’ve probably noticed the devotions have a pattern to them. Each week the beginning and ending of the devotions are the same.
Once we started doing the devotions, they became a regular part of my routine. They had an impact on me spiritually. They helped to focus my attention on Christ, for which I was grateful. But now as time has gone on, I’ve noticed that I’ve been skipping right over the prayer at the beginning and end of each day and getting right to, what I considered to be, “the meat”. Yes, I know…I write them and I want to help folks grow in their walk and I’m skipping over critical parts. How foolish of me! Truth be told, it’s probably the beginning and ending prayer that contains the meat of the devo! I share this with you because I want to be transparent with you. We all have to battle against allowing our spiritual disciplines to become just another thing we do.
You see, the devos had become routine. I thought, “Yeah, I know what that says, but let me get to something new.” This was a dangerous place for me to be. I was standing on the slippery slope of going through the motions that can lead to legalism that can lead to sin. I don’t want that and I know that’s not what you want for yourselves either.
My point is this: We, like the Jews Paul wrote about, can easily see our spiritual disciplines as the minimum requirement for us to do. We tend to make them into a checklist…just do this and all will be right. Rather than seeing them as a privilege, we see them as a list of rules and miss the opportunity to be shaped into the likeness of Christ. We can, if we’re not careful, become prideful in all the things were doing- reading our bible, having a daily quiet time, memorizing scripture, faithfully attending Church, and on and on- yet miss growing in Christ-likeness because we’re focusing on external things and not internal.
*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.