Week 2, Day 4
READ: Romans 2
BACKGROUND: This is a heavy chapter, full of Paul’s regular run-on sentences. I’m not going to be able to cover all the questions you might have in this small space, but please feel free to ask in the comments section about anything in here that you’d like more clarity on.
6 – The same idea/phrase is found in Psalm 62:12, Proverbs 24:12, & Matthew 16:27.
7 – Good works are good, but good works do not save us.
12 – Paul is saying that those who don’t know God’s law will be judged differently than those who do. But we will all face judgment for the things we’ve done and the offenses we have all committed against God’s holiness.
14 – This is a cool verse. Paul is saying that in every human, whether they know God or not, there is a Divine spark and conscience that leads us to do good and act morally even if we don’t fully understand it or, for that matter, pay attention to it.
25-28 – Paul is writing to Jews to tell them circumcision doesn’t save. Basically the message is: Just because you were born into it and your parents had faith and you went through the religious rituals when you were young doesn’t, by any measure, mean that you are saved and right before God.
29 – The phrase “by the Spirit” is key here. It reminds us who is really accomplishing things in our lives – that it is not by our own power or our own giftedness but by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
THINK: I recently heard author and pastor Francis Chan give this illustration and it struck me as I applied it both to my life as a parent and my life as a Christ-follower. Here’s my personalized version of it: If I ask Jimmy to go and clean up his room, what exactly is it that I expect him to do? The really simple, obvious answer is that I expect him to walk to his room, pick up his toys and his books, make his bed and actually clean his room. And the simple answer is the correct one. When I ask my son to clean his room I have an expectation that he will do just that.
But what would happen if, like 15 years from now when Jimmy is a teenager and is old enough to understand exactly what I mean and what I expect, I asked Jimmy to go and clean his room and he responded “Wow! You bet! That sounds awesome!” but when I went to check he hadn’t done anything. I’d probably be bothered by his inaction, and I’d confront him. And what if he then said, “Dad, it was so great what you said that I just memorized it. I know it by heart. ‘Jimmy, can you go clean up your room?’ See, I memorized it. I even memorized it in multiple languages so I can share your words cross-culturally. In Spanish, it’s ¿Diego, puede ir a limpiar su habitación? Oh, I’ve also invited some friends over and we’re gonna do a study on your words. We’re really gonna try to learn a lot about them and we’ll try to dissect the grammar and the perlocutionary intent so that we fully understand the phrase ‘Jimmy, can you go clean up your room?’” That all sounds super nice – real warm and fuzzy and respectful. But at the end of the day none of it matters if he never gets around to actually putting the words in to practice and cleaning his room.
This is what Paul is driving at in Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
We hear God’s word and his law all the time. We hear it at church and in small groups and house groups. We read the Bible and read through Thoughin2 or some other devotional literature. But do we actually do what it says? We know exactly who God is calling us to be – our failures in this life are not often a matter of a lack of knowledge. But do we allow that knowledge to so penetrate and define our lives that our actions reflect it? Many of us are wet sponges – we’ve been soaking up a lot of truth. Are we willing to be wrung out in order to spread that truth to the world?
ASK: When I think about my walk with God right now would I characterize myself as more of a hearer of the word or a doer? What are some practical ways in which I can put my faith into action this week?