How Religion Falls Short of the Gospel

Dr. Steve Viars February 2, 2020 Romans 2:17-29
Outline

1. Promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures – v. 2

2. Jesus was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh – v. 3

3. Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead – v. 4a

4. According to the Holy Spirit of holiness

Romans 1:8-9 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you…

Romans 1:15-17 - So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

The immoral

they suppress the truth in unrighteousness – v. 18

they exchange the glory of the incorruptible for an image – v. 23

they exchange the truth of God for a lie – v. 25

they practice such things worthy of death…and give heaty approval to those who practice them – v. 32

The moralist

Judges those who immoral – v. 2:1

Practices the same things, just perhaps not to the same degree or in the same way – v. 2:2, 3

Thinks lightly of God’s kindness and tolerance and patience instead of letting the kindness of God lead them to repentance – v. 2:4

Their stubborn and unrepentant heart is storing up wrath for themselves in the day of the righteous judgment of God – v. 2:5

Fails to understand that there is no partiality with God – v. 2:11

3 fatal flaws of religiosity

I. Generates Pride that Elevates Self – vv. 17-20

A. Proud of their name

2:17a - But if you bear the name “Jew”…

“The name represented both their racial and religious heritage, and in their own minds it denoted their distinctiveness from all other peoples of the world.” John MacArthur, Commentary on Romans, Vol. 1, p. 148

B. Proud of possessing the law

2:17b - …and rely upon the law…

C. Brag about their relationship with God

2:17c - …and boast in God…

Luke 18:9-14 - And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

D. Know all the ways that others are wrong

2:18a - …know His will and approve the things that are essential…

E. Instructed out of the law - 2:18b

F. Confident that you can guide others

Romans 2:19-20 - …and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth…

“Paul is not saying there is anything wrong with being a Jew; with having and knowing and internalizing God’s law; with using his commands to make ethical decisions; and with seeking to share his ways with others. The problem is that “you rely…you brag” (v. 17). It is not the Jewishness, or the having of the law (far less the keeping of it) that is wring; it is their attitude to their nationality and morality. They are relying on it; making what is moral (good things) into a system of salvation. The content of the law is fine, but using the law as the way to eternal life leads only to death. There is not much difference between the words morality and moralism, but there is an eternal world of difference between making a good thing (morality) into your god (moralism).”

II. Produces Hypocrisy that Disgusts Rather than Authenticity that Draws – vv. 21-24

hypocrisy- “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.”

A. That focuses on the other person’s “speck” instead of your “log”

2:21a - …you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?

B. That doesn’t practice what it preaches

2:21b - You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?

Romans 2:22 - You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

“As you read your Bible day by day, do you apply the truth to yourself? What is your motive when you read the Bible? Is it just to have a knowledge of it so that you can show others how much you know, and argue with them, or are you applying the truth to yourselves?...As you read…say to yourself, ‘This is me! What is it saying about me? Allow the Scripture to search you, otherwise it can be dangerous. There is a sense in which the more you know of [the Bible], the more dangerous it is to you, if you do not apply it to yourself.’” D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Romans 2:1-3:20, pp. 147-49

C. That dishonors God

Romans 2:23 - You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

D. That causes others to blaspheme

Romans 2:24 - For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

“The fatal weakness of moralism is that it cannot protect or prevent the heart from sinning; all it can do is seek to hide that sin. Religiosity has no answer to, and no power to remove, selfishness, lust, envy, anger, pride, and anxiety. The crushing result of Christian moralism is that it dishonors God (v. 23). When religious people boast about their law-keeping while breaking the law, usually the only person who cannot see what they are doing is them. ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ (V. 24). This is a convicting principle. A life of religious legalism is always distasteful to those outside the faith. A moralist will be smug (they are good people); over-sensitive (their goodness is their righteousness, so must not be undermined); judgmental (they need to find others worse than them in order to be good); and anxious (have they done enough?).” Keller, Romans for You, p. 59

“The church of Jesus Christ is uniquely positioned, and uniquely responsible, to be a place where abuse in any form does not occur in the lives of our members--and if it ever does, where the abuse is handled quickly, wisely, and in a way that honors the Lord.”

III. Results in Superficiality that Fails to Reach the Heart – vv. 25-29

“No doubt this surgery was symbolic of the sinfulness of man that was passed from generation to generation. The very procreative organ needed to be cleansed of a covering. So man at the very center of his nature is sinful and needs cleansing of the heart. This graphic symbol of the need for removing sin became the sign of being a Jew.” John MacArthur, Romans, p. 159

A. Religious acts without righteous follow-up is powerless

Romans 2:25 - For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

B. Uncircumcised obedience is far superior to circumcised transgression

Romans 2:26 - So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

C. The gospel offers a circumcision of the heart

Romans 2:29 - But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Colossians 2:11 - …and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…

Isaiah 53:8 - He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

Mark 15:34 - At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Romans 2:29 - But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

- one of the games that my son the Bear and I like to play is electronic battleship…

- he and I team up and play against the computer and its almost a 50/50 split between the number of times we’ve won and the number of times the computer has…

- we’ve been playing that for years and its amazing how suspenseful it can be…

- the Bear especially likes any game or move that makes noise…and even more so if the noises sound like lasers or rockets or torpedoes or explosions…

- I assume everyone knows how electronic battleship works…you get your 5 ships set up the board – the opponent does the same…and then you start guessing target positions and you wait until you either hear a report of a miss…

- or far better – if you hear a kaboom….

- the bear really likes hearing the kabooms…

- that’s essentially what’s been happening in the book of Romans…

- of course, it’s not a game…it’s the most serious discussion you could have…

- but Paul began the book by describing the torpedo of the gospel?...

1. Promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures – v. 2

2. Jesus was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh – v. 3

3. Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead – v. 4a

4. According to the Holy Spirit of holiness

- all of this is incredibly good news – which is what the word “gospel” means – the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection and the free gift of salvation available through repenting and trusting in Him..

- and Paul explains in the first half of chapter 1 – that he was a recipient of the gospel…

- and many of his readers would have been familiar with that story…

- you talk about the gospel being the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes…

- you don’t have to look any further than the life of the apostle Paul to prove that point…

- from someone to go from literally being a zealous persecutor of the church to being one of its apostles…what an incredible transformation that was…

- then Paul says to his brothers and sisters at Rome…and that’s happened to you…

- Romans 1:8–9 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,

- so, this torpedo of the gospel radically changed Paul, and it radically changed the followers of Christ at Rome…

- Romans 1:15–17 - So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

- so, what’s it time to do now?...find some enemy ships…identify some false approaches to trying to be reconciled to God…

- wrong ideas about how to be prepared to meet him…

- and that’s what we’ve been seeing the last couple of weeks…false approaches to being reconciled to God being blown to smithereens by the power of the gospel…

- so, what was the first enemy ship in the second half of chapter 1?...

- The immoral…

- and how were such persons described?...

- they suppress the truth in unrighteousness – v. 18

- so even though God has revealed Himself in creation, in their consciences, in the gospel itself…

- these men and women don’t want to hear it…because they don’t want to admit their sin and submit themselves to a Lord and Savior…

- so the gracious wrath of God is revealed…which might sound odd – but God will go to great lengths to see men and women repent and believe…

- they exchange the glory of the incorruptible for an image – v. 23

- they exchange the truth of God for a lie – v. 25

- they practice such things worthy of death…and give heaty approval to those who practice them – v. 32

- Romans 1 is a stinging rebuke of those who choose to live in an immoral way…and Paul launches a gospel torpedo against that false system of belief and sinful approach to living…

- but then we turn the page to Romans chapter 2…and find another false ship on the horizon…you could call it…The moralist

- Judges those who immoral – v. 2:1

- Practices the same things, just perhaps not to the same degree or in the same way – v. 2:2, 3

- Thinks lightly of God’s kindness and tolerance and patience instead of letting the kindness of God lead them to repentance – v. 2:4

- Their stubborn and unrepentant heart is storing up wrath for themselves in the day of the righteous judgment of God – v. 2:5

- Fails to understand that there is no partiality with God – v. 2:11

- and what has to be done to any system that suggests a person can earn righteousness by their own deeds?...Kaboom…

- and the summary of what we’ve seen thus far is that gospel is mankind’s only hope because the immoral are lost…and the moral are lost as well…

- but there’s one more ship on the horizon…you could call it…the religious…

- and in some ways there’s overlap in these categories and in some ways there’s not…

- it’s possible to be moral – committed to some standard of right from wrong…without being religious…[you may know some people like that]…

- it’s possible to be religious – without having much of a commitment to moral living…

- then it’s possible to have some kind of amalgam, or combination, or deadly mixture…

- but it’s this third category to which Paul turns his attention now….and if you haven’t done so already, please open your Bible to Romans chapter 2…page ____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

Our theme this year is Celebrating God’s truth…and part of that emphasis is working our way through the book of Romans verse by verse…

- I’d like to challenge you this morning to find time at least once a week…to read through the book of Romans to the point to which our study has taken us thus far…obviously that assignment will take longer as we get deeper in the year…

- the goal is that you can talk your way through the logic of the entire book and if necessary, explain every verse…

- if the majority of the people who attend our church can do that by the end of this year, that will help us in the days to come in all sorts of ways…

- now you might say – what if I get stuck on a verse?...

- if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to purchase a study Bible…

- there are a lot of good ones out there – 2 that I really like are:

- The Crossway Study Bible

- The MacArthur Study Bible

- you also may want to purchase a commentary to help you through any touch verses…there are thousands of commentaries written on Romans…here are 3 to consider:

- Romans for You by Tim Keller – very brief, following the overall argument

- Romans by John MacArthur – by far my favorite commentator, great balance between attention to the language and argument without being wordy…

- Romans by Douglas Moo …longer but in many ways considered the gold standard for conservative scholars…

- the overall point is the value of every person in our church having a thorough working knowledge of this all-important book of God’s Word…

- you could summarize the second half of chapter 2 like this – How Religion Falls Woefully Short of the Gospel…it’s not just that the immoral are lost, or the moral are lost…but the religious are lost as well…let’s see how that’s true…

- read Romans 2:17-29

- so we’re talking about How Religion Falls Woefully Short of the Gospel…and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 fatal flaws of religiosity.

I. Generates Pride that Elevates Self – vv. 17-20

- did you notice the way Paul describes the religious Jewish persons in the early verses of our text?...and by the way, it is a very short walk from here to describing the potential religiosity of those who call themselves Christians…but let’s start with what was said to the original audience…

A. Proud of their name

- 2:17a – But if you bear the name “Jew”

I realize in our culture that might sound like some kind of derogatory racial slur—it certainly wasn’t to them…

- Jew was a shortened form of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Judah…along with being the name the entire southern kingdom when Israel divided after Solomon’s death…

- by NT times, it was the way all descendants of Abraham described themselves…

- “The name represented both their racial and religious heritage, and in their own minds it denoted their distinctiveness from all other peoples of the world” (John MacArthur, Commentary on Romans, Vol. 1, p. 148).

- so they were proud of this name…because they believed it gave them a special stand before God…they were better than others…

B. Proud of possessing the law

- 2:17b – and rely upon the law

- and you might say – that sounds like a good thing…

- not if the fact that you have God’s Word makes you proud…

- and that is the key idea through this entire part of the passage – religion makes you proud, the gospel makes you humble…

- for example, consider Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the Bible, written as an acrostic poem extolling the virtues of the Word of God…

- we don’t know for sure who wrote it, but assuming for the moment that it was King David…what is attitude toward the Scripture throughout the Psalm?...

- you would certainly say he loves it – he says that himself…or that it is his source of wisdom, and confidence, and strength, and much, much more…

- but you would never say that possessing the Bible has made him proud…

- yet some people use their knowledge of the Bible as a weapon…sometimes we see that in counseling where we teach a particular principle from Scripture and then the couple goes home and beats each other over the head with their new-found Bible verses all week…

- again – religion makes you proud, the gospel makes you humble…that’s what Paul is talking about here

C. Brag about their relationship with God

- 2:17c – and boast in God

- and please think about that in light of how they would relate to the other two categories of persons we saw earlier in Romans…

- a religious person who – in our culture – goes to church, or has the Bible, or even fulfills certain religious rituals…is going to look down his nose at the immoral person…or the moral yet irreligious person…

- I’m better than him…because I’m a Christian, I have the Bible, I know God…

- it’s like the parable some of us saw last week… Luke 18:9–14 - And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

- this attitude would absolutely destroy our church’s philosophy of ministry of community-based outreach ministry…

- we don’t think we’re inherently better than anyone…which is why it makes so much sense for us to have a counseling ministry and then invite those who are seeking help to also become part of our church…

- that’s why we have all these community ministries – and even residential programs for people who have been struggling with addictions, etc.…

- we’re not here to elevate ourselves…we’re here to elevate our Savior because we believe trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection was and is our only hope…

- that’s why one of our sayings around here – going all the way back to the Pastor Goode days is – the ground is very level at the cross…

D. Know all the ways that others are wrong

- 2:18a – know His will and approve the things that are essential

- the subsequent verses tell us where this has led them…not to a humble state of seeking to carefully apply it to themselves…but to judge others for not knowing or following it…

- religion makes you focus on the weaknesses of others…the gospel makes you focus on the weaknesses of yourself

E. Instructed out of the law

- 2:18b

- there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with that…or I’m not sure what we’re doing here this morning…

- unless the heart motivation is to consider how much better I am than someone else…or how I intend to arm myself with this new knowledge as an additional club over them…

F. Confident that you can guide others

- Romans 2:19–20 - and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

- perhaps this quote from Tim Keller summarizes the problem as succinctly as possible:

Paul is not saying there is anything wrong with being a Jew; with having and knowing and internalizing God’s law; with using his commands to make ethical decisions; and with seeking to share his ways with others. The problem is that “you rely…you brag” (v. 17). It is not the Jewishness, or the having of the law (far less the keeping of it) that is wring; it is their attitude to their nationality and morality. They are relying on it; making what is moral (good things) into a system of salvation. The content of the law is fine, but using the law as the way to eternal life leads only to death. There is not much difference between the words morality and moralism, but there is an eternal world of difference between making a good thing (morality) into your god (moralism).

- clearly here we are seeing people who share characteristics of both the second and third categories we’ve been studying…

- but the emphasis is always the same – any action that makes me believe I am better than someone and therefore not in need of a Savior myself is a deadly substitute for the gospel…

- this becomes a real challenge for parents…because on the one hand we are going to insist on certain religious behaviors for our children…

- we are going to operate our homes on biblical principles…

- we are going to attend church on the Lord’s day…

- we are going to pray together before meals and at other times…

- we are going to study God’s Word and on and on…

- but we don’t perform those kinds of religious activities to earn righteousness..

- we do it to soften our hearts to our need of a Savior…first by trusting him for salvation at a definite point in time which begins our Christian life because of the transforming power of the gospel…but then as a way of thinking each and every day…

- what we have in Christ and from Christ makes us humble not proud…

- these verses are somewhat haunting in light of the upcoming biblical counseling training conference…it boggles the mind that over 2000 people from around the world will be here in just over a week to receive training in this particular biblical philosophy of ministry…

- our hope and sincere prayer is that all of us – whether we are teaching a session or cleaning a bathroom or anywhere in-between – will seek to place the focus and glory on our resurrected Savior…

- we aren’t wanting to point others to a system of religion…but to the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ…religious activity alone is a woefully false substitute because it generates pride that elevates self…

II. Produces Hypocrisy that Disgusts Rather than Authenticity that Draws – vv. 21-24

- when we reach the middle of this passage, we begin to understand what else is wrong with all the activity Paul has just listed…

- it’s all about hypocrisy- “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.”

- and did you see how it’s described…

A. That focuses on the other person’s “speck” instead of your “log”

- alluding to what Jesus said about the speck and the log in the sermon on the Mount.

- 2:21a - you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?

- mere religion never gets around to personal application…because its too busy being proud of what it knows…

B. That doesn’t practice what it preaches

- 2:21b - …You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?

- it’s the same problem we saw earlier in chapter 2 between the way the person who’s moral treats the person who is immoral…

- “morality” and “mere religion” don’t have the power to make changes at the level of the heart…that’s where the subject of circumcision fits into this discussion, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves…he goes on to say…

- Romans 2:22 - You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

- and we’re not sure if Paul is speaking literally here or referring to sins of the heart…but either way, the point is very clear…religious activity alone will not save, and it will not sanctify…

- the great British preacher form the twentieth century D. Martyn Lloyd Jones said about this passage – “As you read your Bible day by day, do you apply the truth to yourself? What is your motive when you read the Bible? Is it just to have a knowledge of it so that you can show others how much you know, and argue with them, or are you applying the truth to yourselves?...As you read…say to yourself, ‘This is me! What is it saying about me? Allow the Scripture to search you, otherwise it can be dangerous. There is a sense in which the more you know of [the Bible], the more dangerous it is to you, if you do not apply it to yourself’” (Lloyd Jones, Romans 2:1-3:20, pp. 147-49).

- Paul goes on to explain that this kind of hypocrisy…

C. That dishonors God

- Romans 2:23 - You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

- what a haunting thought – that instead of religious activity giving others the right view of God – of glorifying Him, the underlying hypocrisy does the polar opposite…

D. That causes others to blaspheme

- Romans 2:24 - For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

- the children of Israel were to be a light to the nations…and had they allowed God’s Word to humble them…and lead them to repentance and a saving knowledge of Him…like Abraham who will be discussed a few chapter later – they could have been just that…a light among the Gentiles…

- but because they rested in their religion, and became self-righteous in themselves, the resultant hypocrisy disgusted others and gave them reason to blaspheme the God of heaven and earth…

- Tim Keller combined these last two categories of persons when he said…”The fatal weakness of moralism is that it cannot protect or prevent the heart from sinning; all it can do is seek to hide that sin. Religiosity has no answer to, and no power to remove, selfishness, lust, envy, anger, pride, and anxiety. The crushing result of Christian moralism is that it dishonors God (v. 23). When religious people boast about their law-keeping while breaking the law, usually the only person who cannot see what they are doing is them. ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’ (V. 24). This is a convicting principle. A life of religious legalism is always distasteful to those outside the faith. A moralist will be smug (they are good people); over-sensitive (their goodness is their righteousness, so must not be undermined); judgmental (they need to find others worse than them in order to be good); and anxious (have they done enough?). (Keller, Romans for You, p. 59).

- let me mention one very sobering contemporary application of what we’re studying in this passage…

- last year our pastors and deacons reviewed and updated our position on divorce and remarriage, especially as it relates to the topic of abuse…you can download that paper in its entirely from our church’s FB page if you would like to do so…

- the summary is that we understand the Scripture to teach that marriage is for life…which is why we encourage persons to be very careful about making such a commitment…

- we insist on very thorough pre-marriage counseling for every couple seeking to be married here

- and we spend significant time helping couples solve marriage problems through the power of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word so they can keep the vows they’ve made…

- however, Scripture is also very clear that there are two limited but important reasons for what we might term a biblical divorce…adultery according to Matthew 5 and 19, and desertion on the part of an unbelieving spouse according to 1 Corinthians 7…

- the question is – where does abuse fit into this discussion?...and this is not new thinking as much as it is clarifying and codifying what we believe about that terrible subject…

- the summary is that we believe The church of Jesus Christ is uniquely positioned, and uniquely responsible to be a place where abuse in any form does not occur in the lives of our members--and if it ever does, where the abuse is handled quickly, wisely, and in a way that honors the Lord.

- I’m using that word abuse in its broadest form…to describe any kind of child-abuse, sex abuse, spousal abuse that is either physical or even non-physical…but an attempt to use one’s power or position to harm or control others in a way that violates God’s Word…

- in light of the passage before us, we believe abuse is one of the highest forms of hypocrisy…and it needs to be called out, and rooted out in any form in a Christian home…

- as one of our deacons very simply but eloquently said – every person has the right to feel safe in their own home…

- so, this policy outlines the steps any one of our members should take if you believe you are being treated in an abusive fashion…

- if you have confronted the abuser (if it was safe and appropriate for you to do so)…it is proper and right for you to get others involved…

- contact your deacon…contact one of our pastors…and if you don’t feel like you can trust us for whatever reason…there is absolutely nothing wrong with calling a secular abuse hotline…

- and the process we will follow is to carefully listen to you, to go to great lengths to protect the one who is most vulnerable…and then if appropriate, to discipline the abusive spouse which frees you to seek a biblical divorce because such a person is clearly not pleased to dwell with you regardless of what he might say with his words…

- if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of our other staff or deacons…[repeat the guiding principle]…

- abuse is one of the highest forms of hypocrisy – and it is likely sign that a person has never truly been impacted by the transforming power of the gospel…and we as a church have the responsibility to clearly and comprehensively deal with this issue…

- this takes us logically to the way Paul ended this important section…

III. Results in Superficiality that Fails to Reach the Heart – vv. 25-29

- I realize the topic of circumcision might make some squeamish…but we don’t believe in skipping things from the Word of God…and in this case if we did – we would miss a very important spiritual truth…

- so as one of our men told me years ago when we were discussing the topic of music and worship – let’s not be afraid to be biblical…

- Circumcision was instituted all the way back in Genesis 17…John MacArthur summarizes it well… No doubt this surgery was symbolic of the sinfulness of man that was passed from generation to generation. The very procreative organ needed to be cleansed of a covering. So man at the very center of his nature is sinful and needs cleansing of the heart. This graphic symbol of the need for removing sin became the sign of being a Jew (John MacArthur, Romans, p. 159).

- and the problem was, as we’ve seen throughout the passage…religious people were satisfied with the behavior…than in what the action represented…Paul demolishes their self-righteousness with words that would have been stunning to them…

A. Religious acts without righteous follow-up is powerless.

- Romans 2:25 - For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

- and then the real shocker…

B. Uncircumcised obedience is far superior to circumcised transgression

- Romans 2:26 - So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

- he says the same thing again in verses 27 and 28…

- and the point is…

C. The gospel offers a circumcision of the heart

- Romans 2:29 - But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

- circumcision was part of the Abrahamic covenant…

- and just like often in the ancient near eastern world…an animal would be cut in two and the parties making the covenant would walk between them…or similar actions would be taken…

- and the idea was – if you break the covenant…this is what will happen to you…

- circumcision illustrates that in the most intimate way possible…

- yet, not a one of us could keep the covenant perfectly…

- we all deserve to be cut off from life, to be cut off from a relationship with a Holy God…and so do every one of our descendants who are procreated through us…

- unless we can find a Savior…who is willing to be cut off…in our place…

- that is the point of this incredible verse in God’s Word… Colossians 2:11 - and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;

- How so?...do you remember the words of Isaiah 53:8 - …He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

- and when did that occur?...on the cross…Mark 15:34 - At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

- our Savior who was willing to be cut off from the Father in our place…provides a kind of righteousness that allows us to enter a covenant relationship with God that transforms us at the level of the heart…

- do you realize what this means?...there is a sense in which every person who has admitted their sin and placed their faith and trust in Christ is a “Jew”…

- go back and read the final verse again - Romans 2:29 - But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

- the take-aways are everywhere, aren’t they?...

1. Paul has fired gospel torpedoes at the immoral, and the moral, and the religious…

- the Bear always loves it when we demolish the final ship…because the game always says…target neutralized, enemy fleet destroyed, congratulations admiral…

- friend – are you sure there has been a definite time in your life when you admitted you sin…and your inability to save yourself…and place your faith and trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ?....if not, why not embrace the gospel right now?...

2. Christian friend – are you preaching the gospel to yourself every day so your right religious activity results in humility instead of pride?…

3. Are you benefitting from the transformational work of the Holy Spirit that moves you away from hypocrisy to genuine change at the level of the heart

Conclusion – tell about Jeff Griggs getting up in the middle of the night and then coming back to his chair, not being able to find his oxygen tube, and going without oxygen for 2.5 hours because he didn’t want to turn on the light and possibly wake his wife Roseanne…

- that kind of authenticity only occurs through a gospel-saturated transformation of the heart…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video