23 December 2013
This meditation is based on Romans 2.
In this chapter, Paul strips out the filthy layers of self-righteousness the teachers of the law were wearing. Nowadays, a teacher of the law is anyone who goes around focusing on people's behavior; whether good or bad.
Layer #1 Let's first take the plank out of our own eye: Condemning others for their bad behavior just reveals our own faults. When we judge others and point out their sin, we are standing in self-righteousness. In other words, we are saying: "You are a sinner but I'm godly because I do what the law commands me to do." In reality, there is no one who can be justified by doing the works of the law. The truth is no one is able to keep the 613 commandments written in the old covenant. Let's take a look of what God thinks when we stand in self-righteousness and condemn other's behavior:
Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. 2 [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things. 3 And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His sentence and adverse verdict?
Layer #2 Humans can't save humans: Self-righteousness will not cause repentance. Telling people about their sin will not save anyone. Our knowledge of good and evil will not change people's heart or behavior. It takes the blood of a sinless man to do so. His kindness shown at the cross is what leads men to repentance. So if we are to say something let's talk about His work at the cross.
4 Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)?
Layer#3 Self-righteousness produces God's wrath and indignation: Did you know pretending to know the law and pretending to have the ability to keep it makes God angry? I can understand why He feels such indignation; He sent His beloved son to die for the sins of humanity yet we are haughty to say with our self-righteous attitude: "We don't need your righteousness God. We can do it on our own and we can teach others to do so." From the context of the first four verses, it is clear God's wrath is kindled against the self-righteous.
5 But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment (just doom) will be revealed.
Layer #4 Knowing the law is not enough, you must DO what it says! Previously, I mention there are 613 commandments written in the old covenant. Have you read them all? Have you read all the new commandments Jesus gave when he walked the earth? If so, have you been able to keep them all?
The law is extreme. It's merciless and God is not partial. Therefore, if we want to live by the law, we need to do EVERYTHING it says or we will perish. Thanks be to God for Christ our Saviour who gives us His righteousness so we can be be saved from his wrath.
11 For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another]. 12 All who have sinned without the Law will also perish without [regard to] the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law. 13 For it is not merely hearing the Law [read] that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified. 14 When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.
Layer #5 Your thoughts will also be judged: Perhaps, when Paul shared the previous verses, there were some who wanted to keep their layer of righteousness and dare to say: "I've kept all of what the law demands." Therefore, Paul goes on to say that to be declared righteous by the law we must not only do all of the commandments but our thoughts must be pure as well.
In the next verse, we will see how God strips out that layer of self-righteousness by saying: "Even if you think you keep the law externally, I will also judge your thoughts and intentions." In other words, we will also perish if our thoughts are not perfect.
16 On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to [g]the things which they conceal (their hidden thoughts).
Layer #6 One of your failures can make your good behavior worthless. If someone dares to say: "I keep all of the commandments and my thoughts are pure", then, that person must be sure to never to make a mistake. Because one mistake is enough to make the person a sinner.
25 Circumcision does indeed profit if you keep the Law; but if you habitually transgress the Law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Dear reader, if at this point you realize that there is no hope in your flesh, then Paul accomplished his mission to strip off your self-righteousness. Now you are ready to be dressed with the true righteousness that only comes by believing in Christ Jesus.