Summary: True religion isn't about external rituals, but it is about relationship and wholehearted devotion.

A. One day, many years ago, a well-respected British minister took the trolley early Monday morning from his home in the suburbs to the church in downtown London.

1. He paid the driver as he got on the trolley, and being pre-occupied with his busy schedule and the needs of his church he didn’t notice that the driver had given him too much change.

2. When he sat down in his seat he looked at the change and his first thought was, “My, how wonderfully God provides!”

3. But the longer he sat there, the less comfortable he became, because his conscience was registering a strong conviction.

4. As he walked to the trolley door and waited for it to open, he said to the driver, “When I gave you money for the trolley ride, you accidentally gave me too much change.”

5. The driver smiled and said, “It was no accident at all. You see, I was in attendance at your church yesterday and heard your sermon on integrity and hypocrisy. I just thought I’d put you to the test. Looks like you passed.”

B. Let’s begin with a question: Is there a difference between being “religious” and being “righteous”?

1. In other words, is there a difference between being “religious” and being “godly”?

2. Truthfully, the answer should be “no” – religious people should be righteous and godly people.

3. But unfortunately, for some people, the more religious they are, the less righteous or godly their lives.

4. The word “hypocrite” is one that aptly applies to a person who is living that way.

5. The 16th century French Renaissance philosopher, Michael De Montaigne (“Mon-tane”) wrote: “I find no quality so easy to counterfeit as religious devotion.”

6. I am sure that none of us here today want to fall into that category of hypocrite, and yet the more religious we claim to be the easier it is to end up falling into that category.

C. I have a popular little paperback in my library that was written in the late 1960’s called “How to Be a Christian Without Being Religious” written by Fritz Ridenour.

1. The book is actually a brief examination of Romans.

2. Fritz’s main intention is to show that being a Christian doesn’t mean becoming a fuddy-duddy, holier-than-thou religious person.

3. Nowhere in the Bible is that point made more powerfully than in the book of Romans.

4. And nowhere in Romans is that truth demonstrated more clearly than in our text for today.

D. Before we get into today’s text, let’s do a brief review, since it is has been a couple of weeks since we have been in our Romans series.

1. So far in our sermon series on Romans called “Pursuing Righteousness from God,” we have determined that Paul was writing the church in Rome to help them resolve a conflict between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

2. Part of the solution for that conflict is a proper understanding of salvation by grace through faith.

3. When a person is saved, they are brought into a state of justification because the righteousness of Christ is transferred into their spiritual account, so to speak.

4. No person is righteousness enough to save himself or herself – all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by grace because of the sacrifice of Christ.

5. But before Paul can drive home this truth of the good news of the gospel about salvation by grace through faith, he must first paint a picture of the bad news of the unrighteousness of all people.

6. So, in the early chapters of Romans, Paul labors to show the universal guilt of all mankind.

7. In succession, Paul takes up the case of various groups and show how each is truly guilty before God.

a. At the end of chapter 1, Paul revealed that the Gentiles are guilty.

b. In the first half of chapter 2, Paul revealed that the Moralists are guilty.

c. And here in the second half of chapter 2, Paul will reveal that the Jews are guilty.

E. This last group, the Jews were no doubt the toughest group for Paul to address. Why?

1. First, because they were so deeply devoted to their own religious heritage.

2. Second, because Paul himself was also Jewish – a descendant of Benjamin, a student of the great teacher Gamaliel, and a Pharisee.

3. Paul is certainly no anti-Semite and in later passages in Romans we will see Paul’s great desire for his own people, the Jews, to find the salvation that is only found in Jesus Christ.

4. The point of today’s section can be summarized in one simple sentence: Being a Jew is not a matter of racial heritage or religious ritual, but is instead a matter of the heart.

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