Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Notes on Romans--Part Thirteen

Here is my translation of Chapter 2:
Now some of you may be smugly looking down at others but you are just as bad because you do the same things! While you are pointing your finger at them you actually condemn yourself. You too are without excuse! Know that God is just and, as such, will punish ANYONE who continues to sin.
Do you really think that God will condemn others for these actions but ignore them when you do them? Don't you realize how kind, tolerant and patient God is with you as well? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind He has been in giving you time to turn away from your sins? No, because you are stubborn and black hearted you are just asking for judgment on the day you stand before the just God of the World who will acquit or condemn everyone according to the life they have lived. He will grant eternal life to those who persistently do what is right in the hope of eternal life and He will condemn those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and who do what is evil. For those who persistently sin, Jew or Gentile, there will be horror and disaster but there will be glory, honor and peace from God for all who do what is right--for the Jew first and then for all others. For God does not show favoritism.
God will destroy the Gentiles who continue to sin even though they never had God's written law and He will destroy the Jews who continue to sin for they have God's written law. Understand something, it is not merely knowing God's written law but obeying them that places one in right relationship with Him. You see, when Gentiles, who do not have or know the Bible, instinctively obey the commandments found in it, then they show that in their hearts they know what is right and what is wrong. They show the world that God's ways are written within them and their own conscience guides them. You can count on this--the day will come when God, through King Jesus, will judge EVERYONE's secret life. This is the message I preach.
If you are a Jew and are relying on God's written law as a sign of your special relationship with God then you brag that all is well between you and God. Now, you know right from wrong because you have been taught His ways. You are convinced that you are "a guide for the blind" and a lighthouse for all those lost at sea without God. You believe you can teach the ignorant children of the world the ways of God because you are certain that in God's written law you have complete knowledge and truth.
Well, if you are convinced that you can teach others then you had better start with yourself! You tell others not to steal but have you ever stolen anything? You say it is wrong to cheat on your spouse but have you ever done it? You condemn other religions but have you ever committed idolatry? You are so proud of knowing God's written commandments but then you spit in His face by breaking them! No wonder the Bible says the "world dishonors God because of you!"
The Jewish ceremony of circumcision is worth something only if you obey God's ways. If you don't obey God's commandments then you are no better than an uncircumcised Gentile. But if the Gentiles obey God's Word won't God save them? In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who obey God's written commandments will be much better off then than you circumcised Jews who know the law like the back of your hand but don't obey it.
Listen, you are not a member of the people of God just because who you were born to or because you were circumcised as a child. No, a true member of the people of God is one whose heart longs after God. True circumcision is not cutting the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit and whoever has undergone that change seeks praise from God not from people.