Summary: God's people are those who trust Him for their righteousness and receive their praise from Him, not from man. The true Jew (from Judah- Praise) is one who is experiencing transformation from the inside out.
People of Praise
Intro: One of the lessons I’m beginning to learn in my life and ministry is that less can often be more. Less exercise can become more health problems. Less food can become more quality of life. Less is also more when life becomes too complicated and we try to please too many people. Less is more when we do so many things that we forget what is really important. Less is more when we get so focused on rules and regulations that we lose sight of what we were trying to accomplish in the first place.
-When it comes to religion, it is often true that less is more. We tend to complicate things. But we can find places in the Bible where it all boils down to one thing.
Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Luke 10:41- 42 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
-What really matters is our relationship with God. I like what Bill Hybels says about the difference between religion and Christianity. Religion is spelled “D-O.” Christianity is spelled, “D-O-N-E!” When it comes to our salvation, less is more, because Jesus already did everything that was needed when He died on the cross for our sins. We can’t add one thing to what He has done for us to earn His forgiveness or approval. That doesn’t mean that we should never do anything for the Lord. It just means that we shouldn’t try to earn our salvation by doing more and more. That work is done! Jesus did it! And when we simply receive what He did for us, we gain the applause of heaven.
-Our passage today deals with impressing God. What does it take to impress our mighty Creator? Theologian Charles Hodge wrote about the human tendency to compensate for wavering faith: “Whenever true religion declines [an active faith in Jesus], the disposition to lay undue stress on external rites is stressed.” Some of the Jews may have grown cold in their relationship with God and began to assume that their Jewishness was enough to give them an inside track with God. However, Paul, who was also a Jew, spoke plainly to them, showing them that it was the heart that really counted with God. The word “Jew” is derived from the name “Judah,” one of the sons of Jacob, and it means “praise.” God’s people, the Jews, were people of praise. They were to praise God from their hearts with their entire lives, and God’s blessing and approval (His praise) would rest on them.
-Maybe you’ve been trusting in good behavior or your compliance to the rules to keep you on God’s good side, but the important question is this: “How is your relationship with Jesus? Where is your heart?”
-Let’s take a look at the last half of Romans 2 and see what it really means to be true Jews – genuine People of Praise.
I. An Impressive Resume (Romans 2:17-20)
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to 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 infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—
-Right off, Paul addresses those Jews who have become filled with pride and arrogance over the fact that they are God’s chosen people – people of praise. So Paul goes over their resume to see what they are relying on for God’s approval.
-Now Jews have faced severe persecution all over the world often for no logical reason. They have faced an unnatural demonic hatred and scorn simply because they were God’s chosen people. And they’ve gotten it from every side. Many Christians have shown disdain for them, lumping them all together either as Christ-killers or legalistic Judaizers. Many Arabs and Muslims have shown hatred towards Jews tracing clear back to Isaac and Ishmael. So to avoid aligning ourselves with their enemies, let me just say that I love the Jewish people and I know God does. I am not anti-semitic, and Paul certainly wasn’t either. Paul was a Jew and was willing to be cursed by God if it meant the salvation of his fellow Jews. So, as Paul, the Jew, comes down hard on these Jewish believers, he was doing it to bring correction to their religious arrogance and to point them back to the cross of Jesus, where everybody (Jew and Gentile) stand in need of a Savior.