Review: Chapter 1 tells us the Gospel is the free gift of a righteous life in Christ—Receive it or suffer God’s wrath. Chapter 2:1-11 tells us that this new life should be marked by change, and we are called to judge ourselves whether or not we are participating in the Gospel. As this change occurs, we have great hope to share! (Remember Proverbs 24:11-12)
**If I am not sharing my hope in the riches of Christ’s kindness, tolerance and patience, perhaps I am not sharing in his invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature--His grace to overcome my old life and share in the new. ** This awesome gift is for all who will believe, Jew and Gentile alike. Remember, all humans were made in God’s image and likeness, sharing in His glory, but they exchanged that glory for what was not truly life (1:21-23).
The rest of Chapter 2 addresses Jew and Gentiles in relation to the Law of God given to Israel. The verses just prior contrast those doing “evil” and those doing “good.” The evil ones are those participating in everything described in chapter 1 OR sharing the gospel message for their own gain (“selfishly ambitious” vs. 8). God is not looking for those who look religious, but for those who truly do “good.” The “good” is living the righteous life of Christ by faith (1:17). That includes abstaining from former life and sharing the hope of the new.
The Law gives knowledge of Christ to all through their conscience
vs. 12-13…Whether or not one has the Law does not affect God’s judgment for sin. Only those who do the Law are justified—whether or not they have explicitly heard it. Remember, God has made Himself known through His creation and in our own consciences.
vs. 14-16…God will judge everyone by the standard of Christ Jesus Himself who has made himself known to people through their consciences. God has written the work of the Law in all peoples’ hearts. The “work of the Law” is to show a man he has the wrong type of life. “Doing instinctively the things of the law” is an extension of recognizing God’s character through His creation. Those whose thoughts will accuse them (vs. 15) are those who continue to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (chapter 1). They don’t want to change the way they are living. Those whose thoughts will defend them are those who want a change of life in Christ. When the day of judgment comes, all will be held to the standard of Christ Jesus—his righteousness—even though some will have not known Him by name (the same as not having the Law). (See Eccl. 3:11-15…God’s Son has always been known, and He made us to seek Him. Heb. 13:8)
Be careful of hypocrisy
vs. 17-24…A series of rhetorical questions. Through their breaking the Law, the Jews show they truly do not have anything to boast about. God is clearly showing them the spiritual nature of the Law (knowing His will, approving the essential things, having the “embodiment of knowledge and truth”), yet they are not keeping it. In fact, if they are relying on the Law in vain because they are dishonoring God. They are not truly receiving the new life He has for them in Christ. They are also ruining their witness to the rest of the world. This is the opposite of the “good” discussed earlier in chapter 2. Also, many of them were indeed “selfishly ambitious.” They have missed the spiritual matters of the law (See Matthew 23:23).
—vs. 24 quotes Isaiah 52:5. In the context (Isaiah 52:1-5), the prophet is recounting the peoples’ afflictions in slavery and captivity. Whenever God’s people mixed with nations of the world, they would take on their idolatrous and ungodly behavior. However, after these verses in Isaiah, the LORD promises that He will redeem His people once for all “that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God…” “…Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see and what they had not heard the will understand” (vs. 6-15). In other words, all people of the earth will know what Israel knows and be able to enter God’s presence just the same (the sprinkling of blood).
Paul’s commentary on this verse is that all now have free, open access to God if they will simply leave their worldly, natural lives. To call ourselves Christians and take on worldly patterns of behavior is hypocrisy! That is the old life we must leave behind.
Cut off the useless flesh—our nature—by the power of the Spirit
25…Physical circumcision is actually uncircumcision if the Law is transgressed
26…uncircumcised who keeps the Law is counted regarded as circumcised
27…the latter will judge the former—BY THE LIFE HE LIVES—by way of contrast, not judgmental behavior
28-29…true Jews are those who, by the power of the Spirit, put their flesh to death. These are those who seek praise from God, not men.
The establishment of Christ’s new covenant is the fulfillment of all God’s covenant promises:
The question of all this is, “Do I seek my praise from God or men?” If I seek praise from God, it will be shown in my behavior. I will recognize my need for a new life, understanding the spiritual nature of all God has said. He is not asking us to perform for Him, like the Jews thought. That leads only to hypocrisy and judgment by God.
THOSE WHO SEEK PRAISE FROM GOD PUT THEIR FLESH TO DEATH.
If we are truly seeking praise from God, we will not lift up ourselves or any other person. Rather, we will be putting our own flesh to death. Like the Jews did, are we as Christians boasting in our spiritual practices? If I put too much weight on my own performance, I am probably thinking lightly of God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience (2:4).
God has called a people for Himself among Jews and Gentiles to be a light to all nations. Let’s see that we are living holy lives by the power of His Spirit.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!