This evening I’ve been trying to get into the aforementioned passage and what Paul is saying in this part of his argument to the Romans. Last week at FOCUS we looked at the righteousness of God’s judgement, for it is based on truth (2.2), and it’s impartiality for Jew and for Gentile.
Now, in 2.17 onwards Paul addresses Jews specifically, and begins with (v. 17-20) a towering resume ready to topple at any moment: relying on the law, boasting in God, knowing his will, approving the excellent, instructed by the law, guiding the blind, light to those darkness, instructing the fools, teaching the law, possessing the truth… and then verse 21: ‘you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?’. Ka-boom!
Actually these people who boast in the law dishonour God by breaking the law (v. 23). Paul quotes Isaiah’s cry (Is. 52.5), instead of being a light to the nations as was the command of Gen 12, the Jews have caused God’s name to be blasphemed.
It seems they’ve missed the point in circumcision and that’s why Paul flags it up. It’s value lies in obedience to the law, but if there is disobedience then circumcision may as well be uncircumcision. And v. 26 strikes at the heart of Jewish pride – the uncircumcised is in exactly the same position.
Enough for one night, but a timely reminder that outward religion is no replacement for Christ’s mercy. Church appearance and good form at CU will not mean a jot when one disobeys the law, when one suppresses the truth.
God, bless us with humility to see our own condition, and to abandon pride. Cover me I pray!