Summary: Religion is about a relationship, not adhering to a set of rules and placing our confidence in them or anything else.
Grace And False Assurances
I. The Jews False Assurance
A. Have you ever received false assurances?
1. Imagine the child who receives false assurances from the parent who does not have custody but only visitation rights.
2. Dad promises to pick them up at a certain time or take them to a particular place but makes a habit of calling with excuses as to why he can’t follow through.
3. I recall the time my Dad and all the other ministers in his Association decided to change insurance groups for one who made a better offer than that offered through the Southern Baptist Convention.
4. While the monthly premium was lower, it did not take them long to discover they had been duped.
5. How many have purchased insurance policies with supposedly great benefits only to be pointed to the fine print when the money is needed.
6. Or suppose you visit an antique store in search of a cameo. The dealer had one, assured you it was genuine, and you purchased it for a significant sum of money. Later, you decided to sell it, so you took it to an expert appraiser who unfortunately informed you it was only costume jewelry and worth only a fraction of what you paid for it.
B. The greatest false assurance would be thinking we had salvation but then discovering what we depended on was of no value to affect it.
1. Many Jews found themselves in this very position, and Paul now takes the opportunity to warn them about trusting in uncertain things. They assumed they were Paul’s greatest friends, but now he begins to turn the tables on them and will demonstrate they are as equally wicked as the pagan Gentiles.
2. Early Christians had some of the same misunderstandings as the Jews. Many still held the philosophy that one had to become a Jew in order to be a Christian. The first church-wide Council dealt with this very matter (Acts 15:1-35). Were the Jewish laws incumbent on the Gentiles?
3. The series of phrases Paul uses would readily help the Jews know he was referring to them, but at the same time were designed to make them contemplate why they were not living up to what a Jew was supposed to be. (Paul will later explain what a true Jews is)
4. Paul was certainly not denigrating the Jewish race. He and Jesus belonged to it.
5. What were some of the false assurances they relied on? Obedience to God’s law, their heritage as his chosen people, and special knowledge of God’s law and truth.
6. The first problem encountered is the impossibility to perfectly obey God’s law which would be necessary for it to affect salvation.
7. The rich young religious leader who once approached Jesus asking what he had to do to inherit eternal life reflected a similar misunderstanding.
8. When Jesus rattled off half of the Ten Commandments, the young man proudly-and probably sincerely, proclaimed he had obeyed them. What he failed to realize was there was a spirit of the law at stake in addition to the letter.
9. Though he may have outwardly obeyed them-which is doubtful, he certainly had disobeyed them inwardly.
10. In fact, Jesus’ instruction for him to sell all he had and follow him produced an inner spirit that was in disobedience to the law.
11. One command stated a person was to have no other gods before God, but this young man-based on his resulting actions, had placed riches before God.
12. His leaving proved he had an inner conflict with God’s law.
13. Jesus also dealt with the spirit of the law in his “You have heard it said, but I say” proclamations.
14. According to the religious leader’s interpretation of the law, not committing adultery meant not involving oneself in the actual act. Jesus however said that looking at a woman with lust made one guilty. (Matthew 5:28)
15. So Paul destroys the Jews dependence on God’s law for salvation and eternal security.
16. Many Jews also depended on their heritage as God’s chosen people.
17. As such, they viewed themselves as guides to the blind and a light for those who were walking in spiritual darkness.
18. Interestingly, that was God’s plan for them. He called Abraham from a pagan culture and led him to a land of promise.
19. The Promised Land was not a place God planned to put him and his descendants because of the godly people living there.
20. The land of Canaan was filled with a hodgepodge of pagan people who worshipped their gods in a variety of ways-the sexual aspect having a great influence on their worship. Through intercourse with temple prostitutes, they believed their crops would produce. Baal was a fertility god as was his female counterpart.