If you call yourself Christian, live a Christian life
Romans 2:17-29 (Pastor Heo)
The Jews and the Law
2:17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
With this “if” – there are many in this passage – Paul is directly addressing the Jews (this is clear from verse 22, 24, 28, 29).
Do you remember last week’s “part two”? We saw that ALL human beings are sinners – including you and me. We saw a terrible list of sins. At that time, the Jews did not agree that they were involved in this picture – they thought they were “special” and this only applied to the Gentiles. That’s why chapter 2 is needed to point out their error.
That’s also why WE need this chapter 2. If we think “this only applied to the Jews in the 1st century”, then we are also the “Jews” about whom this is written. We need to see ourselves in this passage – as in a mirror. “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that we might have encouragement and hope.”
With this story, we need to reread it with US in the middle – as a reminder of who we are, and must be.
Part 1 = our identity and status
17 Now you, if you call yourself a [Christian]; if you rely on the [Word of God] and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the [Word of God];
At that time, 2000 years ago there were only 2 kinds of human beings: Jews / Gentiles – there was no between. Jews = not Gentiles and vice versa. Gentile literally means “non-Jew.”
Today, there is no division between Jews and Gentiles (Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all free in Christ.”). So, what is the division in the eyes of God today? Again, 2 kinds of humans: Christian / non-Christian
Which are you?
If you are Christian, you are not non-Christian, and vice versa. If you claim to be Christian, why don’t you live up to this name and title?
- Christ + ian = Christ + “belonging to”
- Music + ian = Music + “belonging to”
So, Christian = Christ follower, slave, servant, ambassador, etc. So, this person puts Christ FIRST in all areas of his/her life.
- The word “Christian” is a public name, a common noun – all believers are given this name publicly and equally. This is a public name and common noun.
- Yet, at the same time, this is also a personal name and a proper noun. That’s why it’s always written with a Capital C.
At least we have 2 personal names: Heo Jaebum, Christian or Aaron, Christian
At the same time, this is a title that shows our identity and purpose in this world. Remember that “Christian” is the most beautiful and influential name / title in this world.
If you claim yourself to be Christian, you must live a Christian life. A Christian is someone who puts Christ FIRST in all areas of his life.
Part 2 = a reminder of our position and mission
19 *if* you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—
- 2 Cor 4:4 “Satan is the god of this age – he has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel and the glory of Christ.”
- Ps 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”
- Jesus (to those who don’t believe in him): “You belong to your father, the devil.”
- So the blind = those who don’t know Christ,
- the foolish = those who try to deny what is undeniable (the existence of God) – because they don’t want to be accountable before God
This means we have a mission (there is only one mission – from generation to generation) – continually, God calls his people, but the mission is only ONE:
- Genesis – Abraham: “I will bless you, so that you’ll be a blessing – and all people on earth will be blessed through you”
- Exodus 19:5-6 – God rescued Israel from Egypt “If you obey me fully, you will be my treasured possession and a holy nation” – but they disobeyed, so have failed up to now, but one day they will rise up again (Romans: “All Israel will be saved”)
- Today – 1 Peter 2:9 “You are a holy and chosen nation, a royal priesthood, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his glorious light.”
If you are a Christian, you are called to call others, blessed to bless others, saved to help save others.
Part 3 = reminder of our privilege and responsibility
21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
Remember: “With great privilege comes great responsibility”
We have privilege to teach the blind, foolish, and infant, so we also have more responsibility to do so.
Yes, Jesus, our teacher, bore all punishment on his body and he is calling us as teachers in this world.
“I’m a teacher in this world.”
- James 3:1 “Teachers will be judged more strictly.”
- KJV “Teachers shall receive the greater condemnation.”
In the eyes of man, we may not “steal” or “commit adultery” or “rob temples” or “dishonor God”, but what about in the eyes of God?
What is stealing, adultery, robbing temples, dishonoring God in HIS eyes?
- Stealing = using anything provided by God against the will of God (we brought nothing into this world, so we also will take nothing out – so we have no ownership, only stewardship (managership))
- Adultery = look lustfully = adultery in your heart. I cannot see you heart, just your outward appearance. But God can see all – the outer and the inner
- Robbing God = not giving tithes and offerings – Malachi “Bring the WHOLE tithe into the house of God, or you are robbing me.”
- Dishonoring God = disobeying the Word of God
Part 4 = reminder of our challenge and warning
24 As it is written: “God’s name is *blasphemed* among the Gentiles because of you.” [Isaiah, Ezekiel quoted]
Those who glory in God’s Law and brag about their relationship with God, but then go out and break that Law, they bring God’s name into disrepute (dishonor) before the Gentiles.
They were chosen to be a blessing to other nations, but they misunderstood this, so they were divided into 2 nations (North/South) – one was conquered by the Assyrians, one conquered by the Babylonians, and both cursed and dishonored God’s name because of the Jews.
Remember, “Christian” is the most beautiful title in the world. Remember the name “God” is never cursed among unbelievers because of other unbelievers. BUT it will be cursed among unbelievers because of Christians.
Look at the Presidents of the world. When the President does something wrong, people curse that President (CEO/professor/etc) only. But when a Christian does something wrong, people condemn not only that Christian, but also GOD.
From God’s perspective, from the eternal perspective, the term “Christian” is more important and influential than even “President” – either positively or negatively.
If you are Christian, please BE Christian all the time.
Part 5 = reminder of symbol and the meaning it represents
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised [water baptism]. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 **The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who**, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
In Genesis 15, Abraham was declared righteous by his faith at 87 years old – then at the age of 99, he was circumcised. This is clear that his circumcision had NOTHING to do with his salvation. So, then why circumcise? This was a sign, a seal, that Abraham belonged to God, and a reminder that God had given him a promise and he would KEEP it.
In church today, we have only 2 outward sacraments:
- Water baptism,
- and communion.
Both of these are very meaningful.
- Water baptism = an outward symbol of an inward reality (that we have salvation in Christ)
- Communion = a reminder of the promise that God made and will keep (Christ died on the cross for my sin, and rose again from the grave for my sin, and future life and glorification)
So, remember these as reminders of an inward reality.
Part 6 = final encouragement and challenge
28 A person is not a [Christian] who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a [Christian] who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
Confess one lifestyle, but live a different one, claiming a symbol, but violating its reality and meaning – these are unacceptable by God. God is not deceived by our outward “performance” – he is not moved, touched, by our outward “show.” Rather, he looks at your INWARD attitude.
Please SHOW you inward reality by putting Christ first in all aspects of your life.
If you claim to be Christian, prove it by you life.
“I’m Christian!” – Then BE Christian