In this chapter, Paul is using a form of dialogue that engages a fictitious opponent in dialogue. The “you” he is referring to is a hypothetical Jew. At least that’s what the small sentence at the bottom of my Bible page told me this morning. I feel a little in over my head being in Romans, and just want to emphasize that obviously we are not scholars. I glean information from my different commentaries, my smarty pants husband and other random thoughts sloshing around in my head and by the grace of God himself, type them up into (what I hope are) congruent paragraphs. We started this blog because we love the Bible, love to write, and hey, love a social platform, not because we think we are smarter than you. If you are well-informed on one of the books we’re going through, or a particular chapter, email us! We love hearing from you guys and love having guest bloggers. So, keep that disclaimer in mind as we sort through Paul’s masterpiece and some of the strongest theology topics in the Bible over the course of this book.
Chapter 2 is great at busting down religion that the Jews are clinging to. Verses 12-29 probably dropped a lot of jaws and turned a lot of stomachs back then. Honestly, it turns mine. My tendency to rely on religiosity, performance and spiritual background is not pleasing to God. The Jews are God’s people and he came to them first. At the time, some Jews believed that simply (easy for me to say) being circumcised protected them from God’s wrath. They were special. They knew Scripture, they rattled off verses and memorized every rule in the book. Jesus comes and says “I don’t care about that, I care about your heart.” It’s not Jews vs. Gentiles anymore. The gospel is equally available to everyone and it is now being broken down to obedient hearts vs. prideful hearts. This means for us it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been going to church, how often you read the Bible, how many verses you’ve memorized or how many Bible studies you attend. The one whom God will praise is the one who serves the Lord from a heart of obedience.
Francis Chan has a convicting perspective on what he calls ‘spiritual gluttony’ in his most recent book, You & Me Forever. He points out that these days, Christian culture has more resources than ever. Every pastor has a published book you can track down (or four), we can stream podcasts from anywhere, anytime and we join five Bible studies. We are constantly binging on information on how to have a relationship with God and I’m not convinced we’re getting any better at it.
God’s not asking you to just consume him, but obey him. This is not daunting! It is freeing and exciting. It knocks religious shaming down and raises up humble, unqualified followers of God who want to walk in his ways.
Read verses 21-27 again. Paul’s words are a scathing criticism on hypocrisy. Do you struggle with this?