Wednesday June 30, 2021
Heavenly Father – help me start today with a clear heart and a clear mind ready to receive your word in a brand new way today. Amen.
The Jews and the Law
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 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. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 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.
There isn’t a more ugly form of pride than spiritual pride. In the passage today, Paul continues to reframe the understanding of God’s gift of salvation as something for all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. Many of the Jewish people believed that their salvation was guaranteed because they were a descendant of Abraham, which they proved by circumcision. However, the Jews needed the righteousness of God as much as the Gentiles did. A ritual, such as circumcision or baptism doesn’t save anyone. These are outward signs of an inward grace, made evident to all. The inward grace is “a matter of the heart, by the Spirit” (v.29). When the Spirit moves in our hearts, the praiseworthy evidence is the fruit produced in our lives. Paul reminds the Romans that these outward signs of religion earn us praises by men, but our righteousness with God is done in our hearts.
Spend some time today prayerfully considering:
Where do I see signs of spiritual pride in my own thoughts and actions recently?
Where have I sought praise from people for my spiritual practices instead of acting according to the Spirit, with a focus only on God?
What visible fruit has God produced in my life as a result of my inward obedience to him? (Think Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.)
Lord, these are your words. This is our story. Help me live in a way that honors you today and everyday. Amen.
The First 15
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