If I know math, but don’t use that knowledge in my financial accounts, I’m going to find myself in a heap of trouble. For instance, I know I have $200 in my account, but instead of keeping my spending under that amount I choose to purchase a $300 item that I really want, I’m going to have to make up the difference sooner or later. I am pretending to be worth more financially than the actual reality.
A simplistic example, perhaps, but according to Paul, it is that simple. Pure knowledge can’t save you from having to pay what you owe. It take more: a heart full of the Holy Spirit obediently living in the truth of the Gospel message.
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.Romans 2:17-29, NLT
The Passion Translation gives this title to the above verses: “The Jewish Religion Will Not Save You.” Paul tells us that the church is not an exclusive country club, but an invitation to enter into a relationship with God.
Let’s chart the information in Paul’s letter under the following headings:
KNOWLEDGE. What good is knowledge if it isn’t put to use?
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. If how much we know about God doesn’t bring us into relationship with him, what does?
PRIDE. Proverbs 16:18 tells us: Pride goes before a fall.
ACTIONS. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Matthew 12:34
HEART TRANSFORMATION. Does knowledge change our hearts? If not, what does?
LEGALISM. We all know or know about people who have the legal skills to “get around the law.” They look for legal loopholes to satisfy the letter of the law, but not the intention.
HOLY SPIRIT. We live in New Testament times. As believers, we have experienced the Pentecost. The Holy Spirit lives in us.
WITNESS. What does my life tell others about what I believe and who I believe in?
Where are you on your Christian journey? The words we hear from God in these verses will provide directional signs for our next few steps. I’ll share mine tomorrow.
For the Bible Doodle for these verses, think about the variety of lights you could be: flashlight, floodlight, warm LED, pinpoint laser, lighthouse, yellow warning lights… Choose one to represent the way you are being called to shine in this stage of your life. Draw it or find a picture. Multiple time a day throughout this week, think of youself as this kind of light. Send me a picture: on comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.