Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Righteous Judgment of God (Part 5)

Disclaimer - I worked for over an hour to correct the formatting. I then uploaded and this is what I got. I give up. I am sorry if you can't or don't read this.

SERMON:             GM15-065

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained &           Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (July 19, 2015)

SECTION:          The Perversion of Righteousness (Romans 1:18-3:20)

SUBTITLE:        The Righteous Judgment of God (Part 5)

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 2:25-29

SUBJECT:          The symbol of circumcision

SUMMARY:       The profit that is derived from circumcision is through obedience                                since circumcision is an inward reality given by the HS rather than                                 an outward mark on the flesh made by man.

SCHEME:           To inform my people that religious symbolism does not save
 TITLE:      The Righteous Judgment of God (Part 5)

TEXT:       Romans 2:24-29


“For circumcision is profitable if you do the law, but if you transgress the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. Therefore, if the uncircumcised keep the righteousness of the law, will not is uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And shall not the uncircumcised by nature fulfill the law, judge you through the letter and circumcision transgress the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision of the flesh. But he is a Jew hiddenly and circumcision is of the heart in Spirit, not in letter, whose praise is not of men but of God.” (GDM)

THEME:    The Jews misunderstood their symbol of circumcision
THRUST:  by thinking that the outward mark of the flesh would justify them
TRUTH:    The Jews misunderstood their symbol of circumcision because they                         thought they would be justified because of the outward mark on their                    flesh


1A     The Sinful Heathen (1:18-32)
2A     The Sinful Hebrews (2:1-3:8)

          1B     The Judgment of God Declared (2:1-16)

                   1C     The Jews deserved the judgment of God (2:1-5)
                   2C     The Jews determined the judgment of God (2:6-10)
                   3C     The Jews doomed by the judgment of God (2:12-16)

          2B     The Judgment of God Discussed (2:17-29)

                   1C     The Jews Misunderstood their status (2:17-24)

                   2C     The Jews Misunderstood their symbol (2:25-29)

                             1D     …obligation without obedience (vs 25)

                                      1E     Obedience renders profit
                                      2E     Disobedience realizes penalty

                             2D     …religion without reality (26-27)

                                      1E     blurs the official line
                                      2E     burns the offending losers

                             3D     …conviction without clarity (28-29)

                                      1E     lack of clarity concerning outward appearance
                                      2E     lack of clarity concerning inward approval 

The Righteous Judgment of God
Romans 2:25-29 * (Part 5)
A.      Introduction

          "A Misunderstanding"

          "A couple was dressed and ready to go out for the evening. They turned on a                  night light, turned the answering machine on the phone line, covered their pet                parakeet and put the cat in the backyard.
          They phoned the local cab company and requested a taxi. The taxi arrived and                the couple opened the front door to leave their house. The cat they had put out              into the yard scoots back into the house.

          They don't want the cat shut in the house because she always tries to eat the bird.           The wife goes out to the taxi while the husband goes inside to get the cat. The                cat runs upstairs, the man in hot pursuit.

          Waiting in the cab, the wife doesn't want the driver to know the house will be           empty for the night. She explains to the taxi driver that her husband will be out           soon. "He's just going upstairs to say good-bye to my mother."

          A few minutes later, the husband gets into the cab. "Sorry I took so long," he                 says  as they drive away. "She was hiding under the bed. I had to poke her with a           coat hanger to get her to come out! She tried to take off so I grabbed her by the            neck. Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me. But it            worked. I hauled her downstairs and threw her out into the back yard!"
The cabdriver hit a parked car...”
What have you misunderstood in the past? What cost or price did you pay for that misunderstanding? I remind you that misunderstandings can lead to some very expensive or painful consequences.

Today, I want to remind you outward symbols of faith have no value if they are not accompanied by an obedience derived from genuine faith. 

B.        Sub-Introduction

          Announce the Text: Our text for today is Romans 2:25-29. Please take your bibles and turn there.     


           Last week we continued to look at the fact that the Jews were as guilty of sin as           the Gentiles. You remember the case Paul built against the Gentiles in chapter               one, particularly in vss. 18-32. The Gentiles were guilty of sin and are judged by           God.

          Paul built a strong and solid case against the Gentiles that resulted in the much           warranted and deserved judgment of God on the Gentiles.

          Paul is now building a case against the Jews. He is demonstrating that they too           have sinned egregiously against God and that they are deserving of the same           judgment as the Gentiles.

          Last week we saw how Paul demonstrated that the Jews were under God’s           judgment because they misunderstood their status as Jews, as God’ people. We           saw from vss. 17-24 that the Jews had misunderstood at least four (4) things           concerning their status.

·        They relied on their relationship.  The Jews were relying on their relationship with God rather than relying on God Himself. The Jews took great pride in being Jews. The name represented their heritage all the way back to Abraham through Isaac. Their relationship was a badge of honor. The trouble however lays in the fact that without obedience to the God of that relationship, there was no justification in merely being a Jew.

·        They rested on their resources. The Jews rested in the fact that God had given them and no one else his law. Possessing the law, knowing the law, and even loving the law was not enough. Justification would only come to the ones who perfectly obeyed the law.

                   Not only did they rest on the law they boasted of their relationship with                         God.  they felt superior to others because God had chosen them but by their                   disobedience they disrespected the God they were boasting of.

·        They reneged on their responsibilities. The Jews had a world-wide commission and ministry, particularly to the Gentile Nations. They were to be a guide to those who were blind, a light to those who sat in darkness, they were to be instructors of those who were foolish, or apart from God, and they were to teach the immature. They Jews failed to carry out their responsibilities.

·        They rejected their reality. In other words, the Jews failed to live up to what God had designed for them. So Paul exposed their inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Paul demonstrated that they failed to be and do what God had designed. They chose to hear and to have instead. So Paul says to them, you are under the wrath of God and you will deserve to be judged because you are:

o   Sanctimonious – they were play-acting, pretending, merely religious
o   Stealers – thieves stealing from God, Gentiles, and themselves
o   Sexual – they were guilty of adultery
o   Sacrilegious – they hated idols but used them and profited from them
o   Scoffers – They boast in God but they hypocritically broke the law

So, using the literary style called a diatribe, Paul anticipated their many objections by addressing rhetorical questions from an imaginary opponent. Paul made the case that they Jews were guilty and deserving judgment because they misunderstood their status as Jews.

This next section will demonstrate that they Jews deserve the same judgment as the Gentiles because they misunderstood their symbol.

Background to the Text:

Preview – Our text this morning divides itself into three (3) parts; vss. 25-29 establishes the fact that the Jews misunderstood their symbol.

And so, we have to ask ourselves, “How did the Jews misunderstand their symbol?”

The text describes three means by which the Jews misunderstood their symbol:

          …by keeping their obligation without obedience; by keeping their religion           without reality, and by keeping their conviction without clarity.

Repeat CPS – Today I want to remind you that Symbols will not justify sinners         

[This brings us to our section, vss. 25-29. In this section Paul informs his readers that…]

                   2C     The Jews Misunderstood their symbol (vss. 25-29)

                             We have been looking at Paul’s argument of the utter futility of the                                 Jews relying on their knowledge of the law. Paul vividly                                                demonstrates the absolute hypocrisy of the Jews. As a matter of fact                               this may be the most descriptive and devastating exposures of                                         hypocrisy ever given.

                             Hypocrisy is probably one of the most subtle and destructive sins                                   that can beset us. No wonder the Bible warns us frequently and                                       repeatedly to be aware of it.

                             “…he began to say to His disciples…, ‘Beware of the leaven of the                                       Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1, NKJV)

                             Then we have numerous warnings, exhortations, and challenges:

For example:

                             “…and why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do                              not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3, NKJV)

                             “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I                                 say?” (Luke 6:46, NKJV)

                             Beginning in verse 25 Paul lays out his final argument. Paul attacks                                what can be called the last line of defense. Paul has attacked from                                   the beginning of the chapter and now the Jews have been pushed                                     back to their final ground and that is circumcision.

                             The Jews are convinced that circumcision was something that Paul                                   could not knock down. There are at least two (2) good reasons to                                     believe this:

·        The sign or symbol of circumcision was given to the Jews alone. No other nation had been given this symbol or badge.

·        Circumcision was older than the law. The law was given through Moses, but circumcision was given to Abraham.

                             The Jews would say – this symbol is indestructible, how can you                                   say that we are under the wrath of God and subject to His judgment?

                             Their argument would be:

·        Would God create us as a nation for Himself and then judge that creation?

·        Could God actually be angry at His own people?

·        Would God who set us apart as a separate and peculiar nation treat us the same way He would treat the Gentile nations?

                             Circumcision was part of the covenant that God had made with                                            Abraham in Genesis 17.

“And God said to Abraham: ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you…And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Genesis 17:9-14, NKJV)
                             Circumcision was important to the Jews! How important had it                                            become? Let me give you a couple of examples of just important                                       circumcision was to the Jews:

                             “And anyone who is born whose own flesh is not circumcised on                                  the eighth day is not from the sons of the covenant which the Lord                             made  for Abraham since (he is) from the children of destruction.                                And there is therefore no sign upon him so that he might belong to                              the Lord because (he is destined) to be destroyed and annihilated                                 from the earth and to be uprooted from the earth because he has                                broken the covenant of the Lord our God. (Jubilee 15:26)

·        That eventually came down to say by the time of Christ, that no circumcised Jew will over go to Gehenna, or the lake of fire.

·        Rabbi Menachem said, “Our Rabbis have said that no circumcised man will see Hell.”

·        Another Rabbi taught, “Circumcision saves from hell.”

·        The Midrash reads, “God swore to Abraham that no one who was circumcised should be sent to hell.”

·        As a matter of fact, I have already shared with you that the Jews taught at this time, that Abraham himself sat at the gates of hell and if any circumcised Jew inadvertently came down the path towards hell, Abraham would turn that Jew around and set him on the right path.

So let’s look let’s look then at how the Jews misunderstood their God-given symbol. We see that they misunderstood their symbol first of all by maintaining…

                             1D     …an obligation without obedience (vs. 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.”

                                      There is some value or profit to this God-given symbol. But the                                                 Jews forgot that it is…                              

                                      1E     Obedience renders profit

                                                First of all – we have to ask ourselves what specific                                                     profit Paul is arguing against. Circumcision                                                                       demonstrates that you are God’s people.

                                                There must be some means by which circumcision                                                            protects a Jew from the wrath of God.                                   

                                                Second of all, we have to ask this question, especially in                                                  the light of Paul’s question in 3:1, “…or what is the                                                        profit of circumcision…”

                                                Thirdly, we see that the profit is derived from obeying                                                 the law of God. Of course, we know in retrospect that                                                 this obedience is a perfect conformity to the letter of the                                                   law.

                                                The standard then for the opportunity of deriving any                                                       and all profit from circumcision would be absolute                                                           perfect of the law.

So, the Jews maintained their obligation to circumcise their male children trusting in their actions to reap spiritual profit. But they forgot that the obligation was only profitable with obedience. They forgot that…

                                      2E     Disobedience results in penalty

                                                “…but if you are a breaker of the law, your                                                                  circumcision has become uncircumcision.”
                                                Circumcision is a sign or symbol that you belong to God.
                                                But only if you also remember that there is a condition.                                                 You must keep the law, you must obey it perfectly,                                                         completely, or thoroughly. You must remember that you                                                  are a holy people because God is holy

                                                To understand this you have to think like the first century                                                 Jew. Paul said if you break or fail to keep the law then                                                     your symbol, your circumcision is considered to be void,                                                  or really non-existent, Paul says it has become                                                                   uncircumcision.

                                                Now, think about it! To be uncircumcised was to be like                                                  a Gentile.
                                                Being uncircumcised placed you outside of the covenant,                                                 therefore you were outside of the family of God. You                                                       would no longer be a part of the people of God.

                                                As a matter of fact that if a Jew broke any portion of the l                                                 aw then the symbol of circumcision could not God from                                                 treaty the offending Jew as a sinner. Not only it could it                                                   no prevent a Jew from being treated as a sinner but it                                               could not stop God from treating the offending Jew as if                                                 he had ever been circumcised.

So, first of all there was a great profit if one kept the law perfectly, and second there was a great penalty if one did not keep the law perfectly. But the main idea in verse 25 is that the Jews trusted in and relied on an obligation imposed on them by God without any obedience on their part. How do we know this? By the time Christ is on the scene, He makes this observation:

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and in vain the worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9, NKJV)

So the Jews misunderstood their symbol by maintaining an obligation without obedience. Secondly, the Jews misunderstood their symbol by attempting…

                             2D     …religion without reality (26-27)

                                      “Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous                                            requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be                                                          counted as circumcision?”

                                      The religious person usually feels that he/she has a special                                          standing before God because he/she believes that they are                                            religious. In other words, they believe that the keep the                                                   ordinances, or rites, or rituals of his or her religion perfectly.

                                      Paul with show that mere religion without the reality of God                                                 behind it only…

                                      1E     blurs the official line

                                                By this I mean that if a religious person void of the Spirit                                                 of God disobeys the clear teaching of the Scriptures,                                                         he/she is in effect canceling everything that he/she says                                                   his/her religion stands for or means.

                                                And on the other hand, if a non-religious (non-                                                             circumcised person) has a heart that is in a right                                                           relationship with God and is obedient, appreciating what                                                 their religion stands for does that make the individual                                                   circumcised?

                                                Now the line is blurred. Others looking on can no longer                                                  tell where the line of right and wrong is, where what                                                        pleases God and what doesn’t please God is seen.

                                                If circumcision does not save but obedience to the law                                                 saves then a Gentile who has never been circumcised can                                                 be saved if he can perfectly keep the law.

                                                There is a fine line between religious activity and the                                                    reality of having the indwelling HS enable a genuine                                                     believer to obey God’s directives.
                                      2E     burns the offending losers

                                                “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?

                                                The idea that the righteous would one day sit in judgment                                 over unrighteous people was not new. Jews believed for                                                   centuries that the Jews would sit as righteous judges over                                                 unrighteous Gentiles.

                                                Now Paul turns the tables. He says, doesn’t fit God’s                                                 character that those who are not circumcised, i.e. the                                                    Gentiles, that if they obey God won’t they be a judge                                                   over you  even though you have the law of God and the                                                   symbol from God?

Remember this idea is not brand new with Paul. Remember what Jesus said?

“The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the end of the earth to hear the Wisdom of Solomon and indeed a great than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:41-42, NKJV)

Who or what where the Ninevites? They were Gentiles. What was the Queen of the south? A Gentile.

                                                Not only is the lines blurred when people are religious                                                 without any supporting reality, but the losers are burned                                                    by the winners. The righteous will judge the unrighteous.                              Some Gentiles will judge some Jews.

It is not clear from Scripture if there is an actual day, time, or place where Gentiles take up the position as judges. That role is God’s who delegated it to Christ. It seems that the testimony of the Ninevites and the Queen of the south will be convicting and judgmental by their very presence at the time this generation of Jews will be judged and condemned. We have to be care trying to be hard core at this point.

But Charles Hodge wrote, Whenever true religion declines, the disposition to lay undo stress on external rites is stressed. The Jews when they lost their spirituality supposed that circumcision had the power to save them. Apostasy always moves the religious focus from the inward to the outward, from humble obedience to empty formality.”

So, see when the Jews blurred the official line of redemption and spirituality it resulted in the burning of the losers as those who will be judged by their own law and symbol because they relied on religion without any supporting reality.

So, the Jews misunderstood their symbol by attempting to maintain an obligation without obedience, and when they practiced religion without spiritual reality.

Finally, the Jews misunderstood their symbol when they attempted to maintain…

                             3D     …conviction without clarity (28-29)

                                      These are some wonderful verses. They convey some very                                           wonderful and valuable truth. First, they clearly explain why                                           circumcision does not guarantee salvation. Second, they clearly                                       explain why the lack of circumcision does not prevent                                                     salvation.

                                      God’s verdict is based on “works” these works reveal the secret                                       things of the heart. In reality they reveal the inner reality of a                                           person’s heart relationship to God not a symbol that only                                                 involves the flesh.
                                      Paul makes his final point, he drives home the last nail of his                                            argument that circumcision without perfect heart obedience will                                 not justify the Jews.

                                      We see his argument as we look at the Jews…                       

                                      1E     lack of clarity concerning outward appearance

                                                “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is                                                            circumcision that which is outward in the flesh…”

                                                The basic contrast in this verse is inner and outer. It is a                                                    contrast of what can be seen with the human eye and                                                        what can only be seen by God.

                                                A true Jew is not one who merely and only has been                                                    circumcised on the outside. Paul also states that true                                                    circumcision is not actually what is done to the flesh.

                                                The Jews who are reading this apparently did not have a                                                    real sense of clarity concerning the physical act of                                                            circumcision that was seen in the outward appearance on                                             the flesh. The Jews thought the physical symbol was                                                        sufficient.

Not only did the Jews lack clarity concerning things of the outward appearance they also were guilty of a…

                                      2E     lack of clarity concerning inward approval

                                                “…but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and                                                                circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the                                                 letter; who praise is not from men but from God.”

                                                They didn’t know that there was a spiritual circumcision                                                  of the heart behind and supporting the physical 
                                                 circumcision that was seen on the outside.

                                                But they should have known it. This should not have                                                   been a surprise to be shocking to them. They had and                                                 read Deut 10:16, Jere 4:4, Deut 30:6. These scriptures                                                 dealt with the heart and with the circumcision of the                                                     heart.
                                                They should have known that a true Jew, one accepted by                                            God was a Jew that had a new heart, he had undergone a                                                  circumcision of his heart by the HS and not just a                                                            physical circumcision prescribed by the law.

                                                Here in verse 29, in the last clause, we see that God                                                      approves the heart and what is inside but man’s approval                                                of the flesh and what is outside does not receive the                                                          approval of God. Men might approve but God does not                                                    approve.

                                                The true Jew, the true worshipper of God is accepted and                                                  praised by God not by men. This praise is probably the                                                   praise that God will honor his people with on the last                                                   day.

There is one thing that you need to keep dead set center in your mind as we close out this section - Paul is still pressing his main point home. He is still driving hard to achieve his specific goal and that is to convict the Jews of their sin.

Paul only reason to bring in the uncircumcised Gentiles is to further push the Jews to repent of their sin and to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. By demonstrating that the Gentiles who believe and obey have the HS of God and are the real or true Jews is to provoke the Jews to jealousy and bring them into the full blessings of the new covenant.         

Symbols will not justify sinners.

 [What do you say that we wrap this up?]


The Application for North Kelso Baptist Church:
The Jews had been given a unique symbol. This symbol demonstrated that they belong to God as a distinct and peculiar people. Their symbol included specific benefits and blessings. But it was not a magic potion nor a “get out of jail card.” This symbol of circumcision implied a genuine relationship with God.
But the Jews failed to seek and maintain that relationship through obedience and reliance upon God. They placed their confidence in circumcision. God will judge them even though they misunderstood their symbol.
The Jews had built a false wall of security that enabled them to believe that they would always be exempt from the judgment of God. They misunderstood their status as God’s people and they misunderstood their symbol that identified them as God’s people.
Before you criticize or condemn the Jews, let me ask you once more, what false sense of security are you depending on? What are you relying on instead of relying on God?  
Paul’s goal was to expose that false wall of security in order for the Jews to quit relying on it so that they might rely on God himself as God always intended.
Today I want to motivate you to examine your own status & symbol with God and make sure you are relying on Him and not self or any ritualistic symbol.

Let’s pray! J

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Thanks for a great post Gregg, Wonderful to read.