The Way - Day 109 (Romans 2)

Daily Reading:
Romans 2
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
The opening of Romans presents a striking picture of our need for God's grace. Underline all words or phrases in chapters 1 & 2 that describe who you are apart from Christ. Now go back and circle all words or phrases that describe God's character and His work to draw you to Him in repentance. What is the takeaway?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 37:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 15:16-17
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:45-46
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 2 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Romans 2:1-16
After a brief greeting to the Christians in Rome (1:1-15), Paul goes right into explaining the necessity of righteousness for a man to have a relationship with God (1:16-17), but the problem is that mankind is totally depraved (morally evil and corrupt) by nature. The extent of his corruption is extreme and leads an individual far from God (1:18-32), ultimately resulting in death which is God's required payment for sin (Romans 6:23). Those who sin must be punished by death - no exceptions. However, Paul writes to the Romans about the good news, particularly that Jesus Christ, God's Son, was sent to earth in order to pay the penalty for man's sin by dying in his place. Man needed righteousness to avoid death but could never meet that standard, so God the Father sent His holy and righteous Son to trade his righteousness for man's sin. Jesus Christ was put to death in order to give men life (Romans 5:18-20) and those who, by faith, accept His sacrifice will be granted a righteous standing before God. This is the good news, but Paul is building an argument that most men, even though God has provided a clear witness of the good news (1:18-23), reject God's offer for salvation through Jesus Christ. Man's love for sin oftentimes keeps him from embracing the mercy and forgiveness of God.

Since Paul has made it clear that men have willingly chosen to reject the truth, he now addresses those who believe they are religious especially compared to others. Paul writes, "You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (2:1). Paul was probably sending this warning especially to the Jews who would read this letter because they would have a tendency to view themselves as more righteous than the pagans Paul had described in Romans 1. The Jews may have been tempted to hide behind their "religion" and sit in judgment of others who they deemed less righteous than themselves. Paul was quick to say that judging another for sin is a dangerous thing because usually the accuser is also guilty of committing the same sins, maybe not outwardly but inwardly (2:2-4). It is beneficial to remember what James writes to those who thought their sin was not that significant, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).

Those who would read Paul's letter must understand that they are all equally under God's wrath for their sin and disobedience which stems from a hard and unrepentant heart (2:5). And being guilty of sin is sure to bring the "righteous judgment of God, who will render to each according to his deeds..." (2:6). Those who by faith have accepted the righteousness of Jesus Christ will enter eternal life, but those who have been self-seeking and follow unrighteousness will experience judgment (2:7-10). So what is God's judgment? His judgment is two-fold: immediate consequences for sin and future, eternal consequences for those who reject the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ (hell).

Paul then helps his readers see that God's judgment is not partial (2:11). The issue for judgment does not rest in nationality or religion, but in a person's response to the good news that Jesus Christ offers salvation to all who will repent. Even though the law of Moses was not given to the Gentiles, they were still responsible to respond to the truth which had been revealed through creation and God's divine attributes (2:12a; see also 1:19-20). The Jews, however, had received God's law and were of greater responsibility to obey its moral requirements and would be judged accordingly (2:12b). In case anyone thought they had an excuse to escape God's judgment, Paul declared that the knowledge of right and wrong are written not only in word, but also on the heart of all men (2:13-16).

Most people consider themselves good people, but good is never equal to righteous and those who have broken God's law, even in one place, are guilty of failing to love God or others which Jesus declared as the greatest commandments (James 2:10; Matthew 22:34-40). Furthermore, disobedience to God's law brings judgment on the sinner (immediate and eternal), so the first step in receiving forgiveness is to confess your sin to God. Paul will eventually write, "...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).

Romans 2:17-29
Paul has begun his letter to the Christians at Rome by describing God's wrath on the unrighteousness of men. Although Paul had written a meaningful greeting to the churches at Rome (1:1-15), he was also writing with the intent of providing further teaching regarding their faith in Jesus Christ and this teaching must begin with sin's offense to God. He was not sending this letter to them as a condemnation, but so they could have a fuller understanding of sin and salvation. Knowing his readers would be both Jew and Gentile, he wrote addressing the sinfulness of every man (2:8) and their willing disobedience to God's truth, whether it be revealed through the witness of creation (1:19-20a), God's known attributes (1:20b-21), the law of Moses (2:12), or the witness of the heart (2:15). All of these things provide revelation to the sinner about God's truth, man's sinfulness, and ultimately God's justified punishment of the sinner (2:1-16). Since man will face judgment by God, he needs a payment for sin and God provided that payment through the death of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, those who, by faith, will trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sin will be granted forgiveness and righteousness on the basis of their repentance and God's mercy (1:16-17). So what is the problem? Why don't men repent and turn to God for mercy? The answer is clear - men love sin more than they love God (1:18-32).

Paul now focuses his attention specifically on the Jews who are reading this letter. He writes, "You are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes [Gentile converts to Judaism], having the form of knowledge and truth in the law" (2:17-20). Since the Jews were God's chosen people and the recipients of the law, they viewed themselves as superior to all others (Gentiles and pagans). Following this extensive list of these "good deeds" performed by the Jews, Paul asks them a few indicting questions, "You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal...You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples [seizing idols in pagan temples only to sell them for profit]? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?" (2:22-23). Paul's train of thought here is very clear. The Jews were teaching things that they themselves were not obeying, exposing the true condition of their heart.

Apparently, the Jews relied heavily on the fact that they had been circumcised, since this act was representative of the cleansing of sin (from its source) and their special relationship with God (see Genesis 17:10-14). However, Paul informs them that circumcision is only beneficial if there is an ongoing obedience to the law. Continually breaking God's commands proves that their circumcision was simply an outward ritual without having any effect on the heart (2:25). True repentance of sin leads to life change and the deeds of the Jews were proving otherwise.

Continuing with this illustration of circumcision, Paul explains a couple things about the true meaning of being circumcised. First, an uncircumcised Gentile who keeps the law is considered circumcised; in other words, a believing Gentile who repents of sin and turns to God is regarded in the same way as a believing Jew (2:26). Secondly, Paul teaches that an uncircumcised Gentile who believes and obeys is a shame to the Jew who has had many advantages of knowing God, yet rejects Him (2:27). Last, Paul teaches his readers that the outward action of circumcision does not make one a Jew, but rather an inward circumcision of the heart (2:28-29). Circumcision only matters when it is accompanied by a life which has been turned from sin unto God. Paul emphasizes this reality by writing, "He is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter [of the law]; whose praise is not from men but from God" (2:29). Being saved from the power and penalty of sin is not the result of human effort or following man-made rituals, but rather a work by God's Spirit who brings conviction of sin and life change.

Dear God, help me to see that my outward actions cannot gain favor with You, but only repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ.