Friday 09 March 2012

Bible Book:

"What then? Are we any better off? No, not all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: 'There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God." (vv. 9-11)

Romans 2:25 - 3:18 Friday 9 March 2012


The argument begun yesterday at Romans2:12, opposing the idea that just by being Jewish meant youwere right with God, is furthered in the passage today.Circumcision was instituted by God as a sign of the binding promisewith Abraham. It was for all Abraham's male descendants. Othercultures also used circumcision, but for the Jews it signified arelationship with God and that Israel was set apart for God. It wasa sign that had come to be understood as a physical guarantee of aright standing with God. Yet in itself circumcision is an outwardmark that is also personal and private. Only the man themself orthe person's most intimate would be aware of the sign of their bondto God. In a similar way Paul argues that true circumcision (ie thesign of your bond to God) is also hidden; it is spiritual and amatter of the heart. This was an often repeated theme among OldTestament prophets, that for the rite to have any meaning it mustinclude a circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Paul starts with a list of the advantages of being a Jew in chapter3 verse 2, but does not seem to get past point one as it leads himin to the rest of the letter! The "oracles of God", meaning thescriptural writings that the Jews had, were seen by Paul as a bigadvantage for the Jews in their knowledge of God.

In verse 4 Paul quotes Psalm51:4 to show that punishment of wrongdoing highlightedGod's holy character. However he slams the possible twisting of hiswords by some, saying this would promoting more wrongdoing. ForPaul the end of glorifying God could never justify doing any kindof wrong.

Paul completes his damning assessment of the state of humans with aseries of quotes from Hebrew Scripture in verses 10-18. These areput together to support the case powerfully, that no one, eitherJew or non-Jew had any claim to being right with God, because ofthe pervasive and insidious nature of sin in human lives.

To Ponder

What outward marks do you have or wear that aremeaningful to you? Does it help to have the outward symbol?Why?

To what extent can the goal of doing good toprotect or even liberate people justify using means that may beterrible in their consequences?

Are you ever complacent about sin in yourlife?

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