attention drawn to the Jews because of their unique position as a nation
and as ones who had much experience in the things of the Law of God and
so thought themselves sufficient.
AIM: That we
might despair of anything regarding personal credibility that is
separate from Christ no matter how religious and connected it might
dealt with the matter of universal sin in chapters 1 and 2, Paul turns
to a specific and unique case that would have been very personal to him
his people the Jews.
1. It is as this point that we might ask what
this has to do with us. The answer would be found in seeing the nature
of their sin and that it can occur in other situations as well.
The scriptures declare that no other nation ever had the privileges and
were taught as were the Jews and that causes certain claims to be
registered by them even today.
3. Yet, the message we would see in
this passage is that those things held to in the absence of true faith
in Christ our Lord provide only a veneer and fails on two counts: their
ability to live up to that which they claim as special favor and that
those even discover them they would seek to impress.
THESIS: The strictest of moral codes
and the most diligent pursuit of outward religion avails nothing where
such is not the product of a new heart and the putting away of the flesh
in repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. A profession heard (vv. 17-20)
1. While we read in the Old
Testament of the divine requirements for holy living and for passing of
these truths from generation to generation it is evident that those to
whom these things were given failed to live up to them.
2. It simply
became a badge of honor to them as a people notwithstanding that faith
was there in some.
3. Those things applied in a new heart rise to the
level of honoring God in the person who does them.
4. The claim made
and the manner of it reflect pride in human accomplishment
knew the Law well and manifested a semblance of honor to it and proudly
2) They understood, at least outwardly, in that much is easily
related to life
3) They believed the instruction of the Gentiles was
for them to do (it is evident that many made this claim when they
witnessed the operations of the Gospel and perhaps others felt they
should be reverenced for their knowledge and heritage.
4) After all
they had been taught and were strictly teaching the same rituals and
laws to their children certainly a good example in that regard.
But, in fact, they professed in outward action what they did no profess
5. Such are they who think themselves superior because of
heritage, knowledge, or station.
6. Paul may have referenced to
converted Jews who were reluctant to depart from their past religion
and/or thought themselves to be superior Christians because of those
II. A provocation discovered (vv. 21-24)
1. The Jews
had a long history of being in violation of the very things they
professed to teach in the Law. This then was the challenge of Paul here
and it is that to which we can bear witness in other venues.
who aspire to greatness in the eyes of men, for any reason, will often
fall into the very things they preach We have had some brought to our
attention in modern times.
2) In the absence of a living relationship
to Christ rationalization becomes a fatal deception.
stating it explicitly, Paul points to national pride and the thought
that simply being Jews and possessing the knowledge was sufficient.
4) The things here called out are things that Christ had exposed in the
Sermon on the Mount as being sins of the heart.
2. The world outside
of the grace of God is constantly looking for justification apart from
Christ and they often find it in observing the lives of the religious
1) Certain behaviors are quickly recognized as
inconsistent and become causes to condone other things in themselves.
2) The vilest of sinners can spot a hypocrite and feel vindicated.
The most important thing to realize is that such behaviors fosters the
blaspheming of the Name of God in the world.
III. A profound
truth revealed (vv. 25-29)
1. Ritual circumcision is often mentioned
as a distinguishing factor between Jews and Gentiles.
1) It was a
sign given to Abraham that signified the putting away of the flesh.
2) It became a point of proud distinction with the Jews
2. Paul turns
the thoughts to fact that neither avails apart from truly keeping the
Law as a matter of eternal life rather than a fair show in the flesh.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature. Galatians 6:15.
3. The things
addressed here would equally apply to any outward form of religion that
lacked the true elements of love, faith, and hope in Christ.
Gill wrote: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly,
Who has an
internal work of grace upon his soul: who has not only an outward name,
but an inward nature; not the law of God in the hand, but in the heart;
not an external righteousness only, but internal holiness; and who is
not a mere outward court worshipper, but a worshipper of God in spirit
and in truth.
5. The true putting off of the flesh is that which
occurs when Godly sorrow leads to repentance.