Summary: A major problem in our world today is religion. In fact, lots of people are turned off to God because of religion. Many people will not consider the claims of Christ because of religion. Religion is a problem.
Religion Is Not Enough
17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,
18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,
19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,
21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?
22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?
24 For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written.
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you apractice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 aSo if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
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.
A major problem in our world today is religion. In fact, lots of people are turned off to God because of religion. Many people will not consider the claims of Christ because of religion. Religion is a problem.
The problem is not simply because some people who profess to be religious show the world by their actions that they are in reality hypocrites. That certainly is an unfortunate reality. The problem is not even because of the evil things people do in the name of religion. These are really symptoms of the problem. The problem of religion is religion itself. What we must understand is that religion can actually encourage people to live lives of hypocrisy. It's easy to be religious. But religion is not enough.
Thus far in the book of Romans, Paul has been dealing with people who reject God. Now he turns his attention to religious people. These are not people who reject God. On the contrary, these are people who affirm God, accept God's word, and participate in the rights and rituals of the church. These are people who openly identify with God and His Commandments. The shocking thing about them, however, is that they are lost. They are religious, but lost!
As we shall see, this is the very situation that exists in much of the world today. In fact, in many Bible-believing, evangelical, Christian churches we find many people who are religious, but lost. We may be religious, but you must understand that religion will never get you into Heaven. Religion is not enough - never was, never will be.
In our text, Paul exposes the fallacy of trusting in religion. He is speaking to the Jews, who were the primary beneficiaries of the true word of God. God had revealed Himself to the Jews. They were His people. The Jews of this passage compare to any who trust in religion today. By understanding the mistakes they were making, we can then judge whether we are making those same mistakes ourselves. The real question you must ask yourself is this: "Are you trusting in religion or in Christ?"
Why is religion a chief enemy of Christianity? That statement may sound strange to you. Doesn't the Bible itself speak about "true religion" in the book of James? It certainly does. But that is precisely the point. The reason why the Bible must speak of "true religion" is because of the danger of "false religion." And I am willing to go so far as to say that almost all of what passes for religion in our day is false religion. Because of that, it is far more profitable to cease to use the term for the real thing. What the Bible calls "true religion" is in reality a relationship with the living God. Religion has been defined by some as man's attempt to be pleasing to God. On the other hand, the Bible teaches that we can never make ourselves pleasing to God by our own efforts. Therefore, religion becomes my effort to earn my salvation. Therein lies the problem.