The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles
17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, 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 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, ìDo not commit adultery,î do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For ìthe name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,î as it is written.
Circumcision of No Avail
25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code 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 of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
When God judges all people, no one will be spared. For those who are born “Jews”, they are born into the ethnic culture of Judaism, or into an Israeli family, but they are not spared anymore than someone who is born into a pagan family. While there are some benefits (which we’ll get into in the next chapter), there is no assurance of salvation because you were blessed enough to be born into a family of Jews. You will be judged, as all other men are judged, by your works before the Lord. Verses 21-23 cover the major tenets of the ten commandments, showing how people, even the Jewish religious leaders, are guilty before God. The Jews in the time that this letter was written, and, for the most part, even today, were placing their faith for justification before God in the fact that they were born into a Jewish family and the males would stand and be proud that they have been circumcised as a sign of Abraham’s promise. We’re going to go into detail on this when we get into Chapter 4. The problem with placing your faith in things you cannot control is that you didn’t have anything to do with it. I see this as I do paedobaptism: Of what benefit is it for the child who is born into a family and who is then baptized without their consent? Does this mean that someone is more blessed because they are born into a family where the Lord is preached rightly, and where God is elevated? Look at the young man who killed two staff at a Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, CO, then went to a well known church in Colorado Springs and killed two more people. He was born to a “deeply religious” family who raised him according to their beliefs and values yet even he went on to fail to believe in what he was told and became another statistic in the long line of people who are false converts who end up making Christians as a whole look bad by their actions. I’d venture to say that in every church there are as many as 50% or more false converts depending on the content of what is taught. There are those who come for the “Jesus patch” so they can feel religious, there are those who come to feel more “spiritual” or who do it because they think that’s what a (mother/father/new parent/newlywed/etc…) does, or because they think that it’s what they did when they were young and it made them feel better so they do it now to gain a new “sense of purpose” or “security”. Ultimately, all of those who are just along for the ride will be banished to Hell, right along with those who openly blaspheme the name of God. That’s why Paul told the Corinthian believers that they should examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, to see if they are qualified based on God’s standard (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paedobaptism, family or country of birth, etc, are all things that are done to us and not things that we can give up willingly to God. God does not look at the sacrifices of our flesh but at the sacrifice in our hearts – that we cut ourselves off from the things that we deeply desire but keep us from a deeper relationship with Him. God looks at the intentions of our heart as we turn to Him and pray that He would continue to shape our lives daily so that we may be conformed to His image, instead of the image of the world around us. It doesn’t matter which religion you are affiliated with if you turn your life over to Christ and spend your days focused on growing in holiness and seeking to serve God with all your heart, mind, and strength. It is in those people that God will place honor. It is to those whom God will say “well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).