Summary: This message opens up Paul’s spirtual mindset in refuting the religous self confident Jews. He explain despite the Law despite the covenant of circumcision how they too have fallen short of Gods standards in a game of spot the difference.
Romans 2:17 -3:8 Spot the difference
• Have you ever played spot the difference? You can usually spot the difference quite easily because all the differences are on the outside but when it comes to our standing before God, it is a little bit harder to spot the difference because the difference is on the inside and not always seen on the outside.
Well Paul In this passage moves on like a crafted lawyer with his brief TO SPOT THE DIFFERENCE between a Religious hypocrite and a person with a relationship with God. He wants to confirm to the religious JEW that all humanity is total depraved and under Gods Judgement. Paul has already referred to the Gentile world Rom.1 1- 18 and its total depravity he then moves on to explain that even the critical moralizers are without excuse and will too come under the inevitable judgement of God Rom 2:1-16. And now he turns his attention to his own countrymen the self confident Jewish people Rom: 17-29: then refuting their objections 3:1-8.
This isn’t going to be easy because the JEW considers himself different to everybody else, and it’s usually the JEW who go around spotting the differences.
The Jews were indeed a privileged people who had been given the revelation of God through Moses they had received (The law - Torah) and the Jews had also received covenant promises from God through Abraham These promises were: Many descendants would come from Abraham, many nations would be blessed through them, God would maintain the covenant and a promised land would be their inheritance.
The sign of that covenant was (circumcision) Gen 17:1 -12 this meant that they belonged to God this is what set Jews apart from their neighbours God had made an everlasting covenant with them yet God did require from them complete obedience to Him through the law.
V17 Now you who call yourself a Jew.....
You can imagine them saying, “ after all God has chosen us as his special people, we have the law in our possession given to us at mount Sinai it is our shield and we have this special relationship with God are you saying we are no better than the Gentiles?” They must of laughed at Paul, yet Paul continues
1. V17 – 24. Spot the difference no1. "Do you Practice what you preach?"
Here Paul gives a scalding critic to those who are supposed to lead others v19 -20 yet they have failed to practice what they preach v21 although they know Gods will they have failed to practice it... HE BRINGS THE LAW INTO PLAY v21-23. V24 The answer is a resounding no they are guilty because they have refused to live by their beliefs this of course is called hypocrisy.
C. S. Lewis explains the conflict in The Four Loves, “Anyone who has ever taught or attempted to lead others knows the tendency in all of us toward exaggerating our depth of character while treating leniently our flaws. The Bible calls this tendency hypocrisy. We consciously or subconsciously put forward a better image of ourselves than really exists. The outward appearance of our character and the inner reality (that only God, we, and perhaps our family members know) do not match up.
That was the case here these Jew they had put forward a better image of themselves than what was really existing they were teaching others about the law yet weren’t following it themselves Jesus had harsh words for them in Matt 23: 2, 27 read: Condemns the religious leaders. If the truth be known many Christians can be like it too.
• Have you ever stood behind those old fashioned Seaside Picture boards? Where you put your head into a picture body it reminds me that the picture of who we project of ourselves and who we are behind it are often two different people. In reality many people put up a façade, simply jump through the religious hoops when needed but in reality are we practicing what we preach?
• Francis Bacon said, “.It is not what men eat but what they digest that makes them strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; not what we preach but what we practice that makes us Christians.”
Paul says these Jews had brought dishonor upon God v24.. His name is blasphemed among the gentiles God …
What do others see you doing outside of here? Is it honoring to God? Or is it a contradiction? Can you Spot the difference… make no mistake they will spot the difference also. What are others going to think about God from watching your life?
2. V25 -29 Spot the difference no 2 Its not external rites that count but internal experience.