Have you ever met people who thought they were better than others? Well, we as Christians know that is a bad attitude to have. No one is better than anyone else. We are all the same before God. He judges Jews and Gentiles alike-impartially and righteously-on the basis of their levels of understanding of his law. That is what Paul is saying in Romans 2:12-24.
The Jews had the truth of God’s law. The problem was what they did or did not do with it. Just because we know God’s will does not mean we have made a decision or chosen a specific path. For example, the Jews had a treasure trove of truth because they were God’s chosen people, but they were blind to God’s promises, especially the ones that were being fulfilled before their eyes. Their blindness hindered their ability to be spiritual guide to the nations.
The Jews had a “holier than thou” attitude because they were God’s chosen people. It’s no wonder that they were hated by the Gentiles, and it’s no wonder that the Gentiles hated the God of the Jews. It’s also not surprising that the apostle Paul had a scathing denunciation of the Gentiles. The Jews failed to “practice what they preached.” They did not practice the law they proclaimed, so they faced God’s judgment. God exiled the Jews, which only added to the hatred the Gentiles had.
The Jews didn’t realize that they needed to become like children so they could learn what they needed to learn in order to teach people who were spiritually immature. The law was true, but it was only a symbolic image of knowledge. It had little or no substance, so it could not be obeyed perfectly.
The Jews’ profession of the law was not consistent with their practices. This caused some of the Gentiles to hate God and his word. The same view is held by many people today. They see Christians, especially ministers, who talk of living a good Christian life but who do not actually live good Christian lives. We have examples of preachers who talk of how Christians are to live humble lives of service but at the same time live lavish lifestyles that are often financed by donations to their ministries. It is no wonder that some non-believers have negative attitudes toward Christianity. We as Christians have to practice what we preach in order to win lost souls for Christ.
This is one of the clear expectations God has for us. All of these expectations can be summed up in two words-our conscience. It’s only as good as the knowledge that programs its voice. In the case of a Christian, that knowledge comes from God’s Word as written in the Bible. God has programmed his moral code into the heart of every man and woman. We are born with it. When our actions or thoughts violate that code, the conscience responds by sending a “no” message to the brain. On the other hand, when the act or thought goes along with the preprogrammed moral code, the conscience says, “go.”
In the same way that some people of privilege abuse it, there are also people who rise above their lack of privilege. Paul speaks of Gentiles who were never given the privilege of knowing God’s law but who were so sensitive to what they knew of God that their consciences were keen, alert and in touch with reality.
A righteous person is a person who is in right standing with God. A righteous person has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour. A righteous person seeks to obey God and yield to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness means a person wants what is right according to the word of God. He or she wants to see God’s truth and God’s will established on the earth.
One of the greatest dangers facing Christians is the temptation to teach God’s word without applying it to their own lives. This happens for different reasons. Some Christians teach simply for the gaining of more and more knowledge. Teaching God’s word to others without personally seeking to please Him may allow us to appear as spiritual towards others, but in reality our hearts will become hardened in disobedience. In addition, this kind of teaching can only result in mere human understanding because God’s word remains powerless in our lives.
God’s word is alive in the Bible. If we allow it, it will speak personally to us and transform our hearts, minds and lives. As his words penetrate our souls, we will truly become available to God. We will be Kingdom builders…and all because we allowed God’s word to work in us.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013)
- Dr. Harold Sala, “Interpreting Genesis.” Retrieved from www.guidelines.org
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “Effective Prayers.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
- Briscoe, D.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2005)