Read - Romans 2:17-24
Message - Alan Burke
As Paul continues he now turns his attention to the Jews’, but this isn’t Mr average that he is speaking about, rather he is making the example of those who had a deficient understanding of what God had done in covenanting Himself to His people. The issue was that there was a generally held believe among the Jews in Paul’s day that your salvation was pretty much guaranteed because of who you were, because you were part of God’s covenant people. Like if you Da was a police man, assuming that that would be enough to make sure that you never got in trouble with the law, or that you were alright because your Da was such and such and such and he could pull a few strings and get you out of trouble.
So you thought you were alright because of who you were, or rather who your Da was, or family, you were a Jew part of the people of God so you were fine. Then on top of that the the law and circumcision, you were given God’s word and the sign of his promise but there was a problem with that. In reality when one understands the law that was given to Moses rightly, then there comes a knowledge that the law and circumcision will do nothing for you, what you need is a saviour. The Jews were in a sense no different from the Gentiles for they needed a saviour just as much. Yes the Jews were God’s people, they had a special place in salvation history, they had been given the law but they relied on it, they bragged about their so called relationship with God, rather than allowing the law to confront them with the reality of their sinfulness and how they needed a Messiah, for they just as we all do fall short of the standard that the Lord expects, the being perfect righteousness. Paul makes the point that the Jews were good at telling other people how to live, but ultimately they failed to see the implications for their own lives. Now remember this isn’t every Jew that Paul speaks of here, but he is making a point, of those who preach against stealing and steal, who say people shouldn’t commit adultery and commit adultery, who abhor idiot and rob temples, who brag about the law and dishonour God by breaking it. Yet there is a sense in here, while every Jew was not guilty of acting out these these things and breaking the law of God by their actions, they all each one left them in shatters as we all also do.
Remember the words of Jesus on the sermon on the mount where He reveals the intention and the scope of the Law, how He challenges His hearers about what they had made the law correcting their misunderstandings, how the law was suppose to reveal their sin but they had made it a crutch on which to support their sin. There in the sermon on the mouth in Matthew 5 He addressed murder, anger, adultery, lust, all of it to make the point that the issue is the heart of the individual as much as the action. The reformer John Calvin in his commentary in this passage is insightful on these verses, because he draws a line from those whom Paul spoke of, ie the Jews to us, saying “we are here warned, not to flatter ourselves when we have performed only some portions of the law, … while we care not to drive away and to eradicate the sinfulness that lies hidden in our hearts” (paraphrased for readability). As God’s people today we need to avoid the trap of judging ourselves against what is socially acceptable to those around us than the word of God, instead we need to turn for our sin and when we judge ourselves against the perfect righteousness that God demands then we know just how good the good news of the gospel is for we have one who achieved that righteousness for us, Jesus Christ.
Q104 What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
In the fourth petition, (which is, Give us this day our daily bread, (Matt. 6:11)) we pray, That of God’ s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them. (Prov. 30:8–9, Gen. 28:20, 1 Tim. 4:4–5)