God and the Religious

Date Preached: October 28, 2018
Topics: exposition
Scripture: Romans 2:17-29
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs


Why do we need this gospel which grants us the “righteousness of God?” Well, that’s the question that Paul spends the next portion of his letter answering. From Romans 1:18 all the way up to Romans 3:20, Paul explains why everyone needs the gospel. In Romans 1:18-32, we looked at why the irreligious and Gentile pagan need the gospel. Last Sunday in Romans 2:1-16, we discussed why the moral, self-righteous need the gospel. Today, we’ll be looking at Romans 2:17-29 in a message we’ve entitled, “God and the Religious,” discussing why the outwardly religious, whether it’s Judaism or Christianity or any other religion, will not make us right with God. The religious need the gospel!

We live in the middle of the Bible Belt. I thought about titling this sermon, “God and the Bible Belt.” Because people who live in the Bible Belt need the gospel. Just because you’re an flag-flying, BBQ-eating, church-going, American, that doesn’t mean you’re right with God. True Christianity is not about religion, but a relationship. Outward religion does not please God. In Romans 2:17-29, the apostle Paul told the Jews that their outward religion would not make them righteous before God. We can recognize that outward religion will not make us righteous before God.


Below is an automated transcript of the message:

Thanks for listening to the podcast from gary combs and the preaching team at wilson community church in wilson, north carolina. Check us out on the web at wccnc.org for more and now here’s the sermon.

All right. Good morning, church. Good to see all of you here this morning we are in the book of romans we’ve been studying verse by verse through the book of romans these past few weeks we are in week four, and that puts us towards the end of chapter two today

we’ve entitled this series righteousness revealed, and we captured that theme from the apostle paul, who wrote this letter to the church at rome, and he describes it in verses sixteen and seventeen of chapter one his theme for writing, he says, for i’m not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of god for salvation to everyone who believes to the jew first, and also to the greek, for in it the gospel the righteousness of god is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written, the righteous too shall live by faith.

So paul wrote the book of romans, so that we might know the gospel, and so that the righteousness of god, as it’s revealed in the gospel might be ours, might be given to us. Then he spends from verse eighteen of chapter one all the way to verse twenty of chapter three outlining why we need this righteousness what is it about humanity that we have this need? And so he goes through different people groups, if you will. And so in the latter part of chapter one eighteen through thirty two, he talks about gentile pagans who have never heard of god in terms of written revelation. But they have the natural revelation of creation that creation itself implies, proclaims that there is a creator and so we talked about why they need the gospel and then at chapter two verses one to sixteen.

Last week we talked about how the moralist, the person who is a legalist who’s attempting to please god through being a good person, why that person will not be successful without the gospel, why that person needs the gospel. And now today we’ll be talking about the religious person now for paul he’s addressing this to the jew and he’s saying being jewish, being religious will not be enough. You need the gospel so that’s where we’re at today as we look at this today and i titled this god in the religious i played with the idea of titling it god and the bible belt, because that’s, you know, we’re like on the buckle of the bible belt here. It’s been called the bible belt because christianity has been so present in this part of the south. But that, actually i have a theory about that. I think that we’ve been so churched in the bible belt that we’ve been inoculated with, a weaker version of christianity that called churchianity . And because we’ve been inoculated with churchianity it makes us resistant to christianity, which is something altogether different. It’s, not religion, it’s relationship.

my desire today as I preach this sermon is that we might tear down churchianity we might tear down your religion and my religion and replace it with the firm foundation of jesus that’s my desire today as i preach in chapter two seventeen through twenty nine now, because paul rights this primarily to a jewish audience now he’s saying here’s, why the jew needs the gospel.

I feel i must take a small moment here and just pray for those people in pittsburgh, pennsylvania who lost eleven loved ones on the sabbath yesterday on the shabbat a shooter came in and during their sabbath services at the tree of life, synagogue in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, and shot and killed eleven jewish worshipers As I preach today in paul, who loved the jews? He was jewish background himself, and he loved the jews. I want to make sure that we’re not saying here Paul, go get the jews that’s not what we’re going to be doing. You’ll see in just a minute, but also want to make sure that we’re praying for that congregation , that synagogue and the city of pittsburgh, right? Now that christ would be exalted so let’s, pray

lord, we do pray for the families of those eleven souls who were killed. And lord, we pray for our country, for that city pittsburgh, but also our whole country where we see this terrorism, this brokeness this divide where we are deluded into thinking that violence or politics or religion will solve our problems when we have a heart problem, what we need is christ. And so i pray for that synagogue i pray that they would find comfort. But more than that i pray that they would find the messiah jesus christ. And i pray for the city of pittsburgh, that as people question and ask, how do we stop this? That they would recognize that it’s in us, it’s in human nature, and we need christ, and i pray our nation would turn to christ. But let it start with us in this room, that we would put away religiosity and put on relationship in jesus. May it be so. And all of god’s people said, amen.

So paul in Romans 2:17 through 29 he’s talking now to why religious people need the gospel here he’s talking to the jews and he says, listen,your religion, your outward religion will not be sufficient to make you righteous before god. In other words, it will not make you right with god and we could recognize this. Religious efforts will not make us righteous. It will not make us right with god.

As we look at the text, the text will reveal, i think three reasons why this is so three reasons why that our outward religion will not redeem us will not save us will not make us righteous. So let’s, look at the text Romans chapter 2 starting at verse seventeen. But if you call yourself a jew and you rely on the law and boast in god and know His will and approve what is excellent because you are instructed from the law. And if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind alike, to those who are in darkness, and instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth you then who teach others? Do you teach yourself while you preach against stealing, do you? Steal you say that one must not commit adultery. Do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols? Do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor god by breaking the law, for it is written, the name of god is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you for circumcision indeed is a value if you obey the law. But if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law well, not his uncircumcision be regarded a circumcision. Then he was physically uncircumcised, but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision, but break the law or no one is a jew who is merely one outwardly. Nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart by the spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not for man, but from god. This is god’s word.

We’re listening as we go through this for paul’s three reasons why our outward religion will not make us righteous before god. Here is he first reason, because religious identity will not save. Your religious identity will not save you now. Paul begins like this. So you call yourself a jew. Now that doesn’t trigger us. We’re not jewish. Maybe someone in the room is jewish background, but i’m not aware if you are. But let me make this. Let me put this so that we feel what they must have felt when they read this. So you call yourself a christian. Oh, now we know how it feels, right? Because a statement like that immediately question’s whether or not you are really a Christian. so you call yourself you think you’re a real jew, so you think you’re a real christian. Immediately you’re thinking this person’s get ready to tell me that the way i live and the way i am behaving is not going to line up right? Just that question power, it just pops, doesn’t it?

You call yourself a christian, you call yourself that was the sense of that, you’re claiming this identity. Well, i joined the church. I went to membership class. They gave me a certificate, right, and they said, i need to be baptized, so went down there and got wet. I did that, and on sundays i go. I do this lord’s supper thing and listen, those are great things they are good things, but if you think that saves if you think that identity is safe well, i’m a baptist. No, i’m a catholic, mama. I’m a presbyterian. No, i’m a methodist. Well, i’m listen. Theologically speaking, i’m looking for a reform church. I’m a calvinist. Well, i’m not i need a church. It’s got more free will in it so i need…

Let me tell you something your religious denomination that you identify with your theological position that you identify with will not save you. This is what paul is saying. So you call yourself (fill in the blank) that won’t save you. He gives eight verbs to describe the jewish religious position and how they hold this identity. Notice how they hold it these eight verbs first, as they call themselves so it’s a self proclaimed identity you call yourself and then it says and rely on the law and say, rely on the lord then say, rely on the messiah jesus, they rely on the that’s, the reliance, the third verb boasts they’re prideful in the fact that they’re god’s chosen people. Hey, look, we’re chosen by god, but you’re not.

You know, we’re sitting here. We’re going, hey, but wait a minute now, gary, I am a flag waving, barbecue eating, church going american. So would that make you saved ? That might be your identity. Maybe your pride. You boast in that. But you’re one of the seventeen percent on planet earth that were fortunate enough to be born in america. Land of the free home of the brave. It’s not enough! You boasted that you know god bless america well, that’s. Wonderful but that’s not enough. You call yourself. You rely on the law. You’re boasting god and what’s number four know His will. we know what god’s will is.

By the way, i have people come to me all the time and go, you pray with me. I’m trying to discover god’s will for my life. And i hate to say this so flippantly but it’s, just true. Have you read the book? I mean like here’s god’s will read the book and say god. Now help me apply this to my life. god will not lead you contrary to his word. Read the book. But they got the books so they know His will.

Paul’s not saying these things aren’t good. They are good he’s not saying they’re not true. They are true. They do call themselves a jew. They do rely on the law, they are boasting, and god, they do know his will because he gave it to him. He wrote it down for them and and they approve what is excellent. In other words, they’re able to compare life and people to what it says who not approve of you. I disapprove of you approve of you, but i disapprove of you because they’ve got a standard, so they’re able to do that, okay?

And then he says, verse nineteen, you are sure that you’re a guide, so they have confidence. Hey, we’ve got the stuff, and so we’re able to guide other people. You poor blind people we can guide, you were like a light. You’re in the darkness we will instruct. I hear you’re the foolish. We’re a teacher. You’re like children. You see what paul is doing there. I’m just reading this. Some of you look at me like, are you calling me? Well, no, Paul is. I am just telling you what he said and that’s, how they viewed themselves. Hey, we got the book where the people of the book we know what’s, right from wrong, it’s all true, and they were supposed to be guides to the blind, he says.

Listen, this this is not going to save you these eight verbs that he uses to describe the person who identifies as a religious person, he’s not saying it’s bad he’s, just saying it won’t save you, it has no saving effect. What’s wrong with these eight descriptions, nothing, really, they are but this won’t save you. Call yourself a christian, join the church, memorize John 3:16.

I remember when I memorized John 3:16. When i was in the third grade two bible teachers used to come to our school monthly and they would teach part of the day they would bring these felt board things. Young people don’t know what i’m talking about. Older people know there was these things called felt boards. You could stick on the different bible figures, too, that i loved those felt board stories in the third grade, and then i found out they give out prizes. They would give up prizes for scripture memory, and i’m like, i’m on it. And so i got a pencil for memorizing John 3:16 for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. I was of the idea of the faster you said it, maybe get two pencils. Of course, i memorized it in king jimmy version, right? Because that’s, how I memorized everything in those that’s, how people did in those days. So i got a pencil, i lost the pencil a long time ago. I don’t no where, the pencil went but I still know the verse but memorizing the verse will not save you. Getting the pencil, will not save you. You must believe in the one that the verse talks about, you know, you understand what i’m saying i’m religious, i’m a christian, i’m a baptist. I’m WCC or whatever, it’s, not enough.

When jesus was talking to his jewish audience, especially those who were saying they were they were getting it, they were believing in him. But then when he said this, he blew some of them away, they turned away from him John chapter 8 he goes to them and he says to the jews who have believed him, if you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth, will set you free, and they were like, i got bummed out when he started talking about getting free, and they answered him, hey, wait a minute now we are the offspring of abraham, and we’ve never been enslaved anyone now see that’s a lot right there. They forgot all about egypt, hadn’t they ? They forgot all about egypt, and they forgot all about babylon, where they got enslaved part to that was that slavery to for the jews, they forgot about it. And that way you never were. What are you talking about? And there were jews. We’ve never been slaves, so they’re offended so then he says to him, hey, anyone who who sins is a slave to sin and you are sin slaves. So you’re in slavery, but, you know, maybe you’ll be free. But by the way, your father’s, not abraham, you’re claiming your fathers abraham, but actually your father’s, the devil, who is the father of lies and murder, and that’s, why you want to kill me? I said, who do you think you are? You like, thirty, some years old, and you’re talking like abraham, like, like you know him, and he goes, to tell you the truth, before abraham was i am, and i am in hebrew , is Yahweh. I am that i am, he says, for abraham was, i’m god that’s what he said.

They took up stones to stone him, and he walked through their mitts because it was not yet His time. Jesus says to them your outward religion, your claim of being abraham’s children will not set you free from sin. You need the truth. And i’m the truth. You need me and they rejected him. Paul understood that religious identity will not make us righteous. He loves the jew, he’s jewish himself. He loves them. You know, when he planted the church at Philipii, they planted it so that they were saved by grace through faith. And so they had faith. But then the Judaizers followed behind him there the Judaizers were people who claimed to be Christian that came out of jerusalem. But they would follow paul around and try to convince the early gentile converts to christ that they had to become jewish in order to be saved.

And so they would say to him, you need to be circumcised. You need to follow the kosher laws, the jewish dietary laws. Now i like kosher dill pickles I could be jewish on those pickles, but then they won’t let you have barbecue. So that blows it up for me right there. So yes. On the pickles? No, on the barbecue. Okay, i’m not gonna be jewish, i guess. But that’s what they’re saying, they were coming there and saying you have to follow these dietary laws. You have to be circumcised. You have to do this. And paul was angry by this. And he writes to the church of philipii to correct this. And he says if anyone thinks he has a reason for confidence in the flesh in other words, if you want to brag about jewish resumes, check this out. I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of israel, of the tribe of benjamin, a hebrew of hebrews as to the law a Pharisee as to zeal a persecutor of the church as to righteousness under the law blameless. My resume is better than your resume. And he didn’t list all the rest of stuff he could have said. And i graduated from hebrew harvard under the great professor gama lee el. He could have just kept on. He had a superior Jewish resume. But then he says this whatever gain i had i counted it as loss for the sake of christ indeed. I count, everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing christ jesus, my lord, for his sake, i have suffered the loss of all things, and i count them as rubbish in order that i might gain christ and be found in him not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in christ, the righteousness from god, that depends on faith, he said. I exchanged my religious identity because it did not make me righteous I exchanged it for christ, who by faith in him, i’ve received the right right appraisal and approval of god.

Only christ will save you Your religious identity will not save you that’s the first here’s the second reason that your religious your outward religion will not save Here’s the second, because you’re religious code will not save you your religious code will not save. now we’re looking at verse twenty one Paul’s used four rhetorical questions and he’s gonna let the holy spirit apply to. But these rhetorical questions are a powerful way of getting people to think about things rather than telling them what you think they are. You ask a question, let them work it out. And in greek literature, this is called a diatribe. Paul’s, obviously a student of greek literature, he’s a well educated man. And even though he claimed not to be a great orator, he certainly is a great author, a great writer inspired by the holy spirit.

When the holy spirit took hold of paul, he took hold of a pin that he could write large and bold and clear, so use these for rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions point to an answer now, these rhetorical questions the first one begs a negative response and the next three beg a positive response, let me show you what i mean.

Verse twenty one. Okay, so your teachers, you, then who teach others, okay, your teachers, do you teach yourself your teachers, you know, everything, you know the law. I’m not gonna argue with you about all that you do, in fact, have everything god gave you among all people on planet earth, you’ve been blessed the most, and that truth us. If that was true of the jew, isn’t it even more true of us today? Oh, my goodness, we’ve been blessed, but do we teach ourselves here’s The answer to that question? This question begs this answer. No, we don’t. We know better than we do. So what’s, the spirits say to us, youhypocrite, you hypocrite!

Paul’s , pointing this out, he’s holding up a mirror, using questions as his diagnostic device. This is his spiritual ultrasound, exposing the heart. You’re a hypocrite. Then, he says. Yes, this question, he says. While you preach against stealing, do you steal? Yes, we do. We do still. And don’t you all look at me like you calling us thieves? I’m telling you, i’m having to order those WCC pens like by the case. Come on now, a lot of them disappearing. Listen, if you are an employee at a company, and you show up five minutes late. But you still mark your time card on time. You’re a thief, If you stop working at midday and hide from your boss and still expect to get paid in full, you’re a thief. I told you last week about me stealing that juicy fruit gum. So, you know, i’m a thief. I started out early. I stole that from the supermarket at age. 4 i thought i got away with it, but i didn’t.

What’s the third question. You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery now? It’s, starting to sound familiar, sounds familiar here, because the answer is yes, that’s. The rhetorical question begs that response. Yes, i do commit adultery in, and the jews jews were. So listen, you want to catch them committing adultery. But jesus ruined that for all of us, because this starts to look like the sermon on the mount where jesus says was he say, you look at this. Look at this in the book of Matthew chapter, 5 he says. You’ve heard it said, you shall not commit adultery, but i say that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Wow, he just ruined that one, so i could check that one off. No, if you had lust in your heart you have committed adultery, there’s , others, he says the same day you’ve heard it said, thou shall not commit murder, but i say, if you call your brother raka, which is aramaic for empty head, stupid dummy, now kids don’t go home and say, pastor Gary said it now i can say it, no. If you call your brother that you committed murder is what jesus says, because you’ve destroyed their identity with your tongue, and you have an attitude. You have a murderous attitude. He just ruined it for all of us didn’t, because i was hoping god was grading on a curve. Weren’t you like? I got most of them right? I didn’t kill anybody. Yeah I got two brothers and a sister younger. Maybe I committed murder multiple times a day, yeah. Well, you have to do is ask my little brothers. They will say, yes, he was a terrorist.

the fourth question is, you know about idols, he says , you know you have idols and you’re against idolatry, but you robbed temples. Now this one is obscure when i had to look this one up because, like, what in the world are you telling l me about here, paul, you call the jews temple robbers what’s that about then i’m reminded of Deuteronomy chapter seven whereas they were going into the promised land, god forbade them robbing temples. You don’t do it. He forbade them. You go look it up seven twenty five, twenty six if you have time, Deauteronomy seven twenty five he gave the command don’t rob temples. when they destroyed the city of jericho, he robs some stuff and put it under his tent and idolatry. It was discovered in the house of israel and they would say, oh, we don’t believe in those gods we just like the gold Warn them.

See here’s the problem? No. If you break one of the ten commandments if you break one law, you’ve broken the whole. You see, the thing about god’s law is it’s whole it’s not a list like we think it’s a list, but it’s a whole that when god gave it to moses, he wrote it on two tablets, and it’s got this sense of wholeness. And so james says it like this in James chapter, 2 he says, for the person who keeps all of the laws, except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of god’s laws, there went the curve. That’s not going grade by the curve. He’s not gonna grade by, how compared to you? Because maybe i’m doing better than some of you, like, i’m better than those other christians. I do this, this and this. I don’t do that so god, maybe is not grading on the curve, but he’s going to do it based on how i compare, doesn’t he?

Hey , he compares us to jesus. Jesus was perfect and sinless. And our code will not save us because we can’t keep our code. I know the ten commandments. I have memorized them. I did as a child, but have been unable to keep them. Why is this is? This is the problem that we have. And so if you break one, you’ve broken them all, and then verse twenty for you has this statement. Well, actually, in twenty three he summarizes the four questions you boast in law, but you dishonor god but breaking the law that’s, the summary of the four rhetorical questions, and then he really drives a nail in deep and he says, for as it is written, the name of god is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you he’s, quoting Ezekiel 36:22 it says. Thus, says the lord god, it is not for your sake oh, house of israel, that i am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. In other words, i gave you the law. I gave you the prophets i made you blessed. I gave you the land so that you would be a light to the end times, but instead you’ve caused the gentiles to profane my name because of your hypocrisy.

Okay, those Jews now let’s, talk about us. Those christians are there people where you work in your neighborhood school, you attend who have rejected christ because you’re going around saying i’m a christian and they don’t want what they see because you’re a hypocrite. That’s what paul says you have caused the nations to profane my name because of your hypocrisy going around being a goody two shoes like that’s going to save people know be real be authentic. Stop trying to say i live by a code and i’ve got this identity and start telling him like a beggar who knows where the bread line is to another begger. Listen, i’m a beggar, too. You’re a beggar. I know where the bread of life is i’m no better than you, but i know where jesus is. Do you know jesus? I gotta introduce you to jesus. See that doesn’t make you come across like you’re better than everybody see that’s the problem, isn’t it?

This religiosity makes us come across like we’re superior like we’re gods. Look, we’re teachers we must come across as those who love jesus and that we need jesus. You see the law cannot save. We skip ahead in Romans for a moment, chapter, 8 he says, for what the law, i could not do that. It was weak through the flesh, in other words, the flesh. This body can’t keep the law, so the law can’t make us keep it there laws printed on signs on the highways, says speed limit, fifty five, but that sign does not make me keep it. Now there are these people and cars with lights on top, that try to make me keep it. But if i don’t see any of them anywhere around that starts looking more like a suggestion than a law. Because of my flesh. Laws don’t keep themselves. They just tell you, what’s, right, that’s. What paul is , saying he was weak through the flash, what the law cannot do, god did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin. He condemns sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled

In other words, jesus kept it, and then he took our death. Hey, says that the righteous requirement that all might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, so that when we receive christ spirit, god now lives. Christ lives within us. And now we want to do what is right. But we’re not saved because we do what is right. The result of being saved is that we want to do what is right. No one has ever been able to keep the law . But jesus. No one’s ever been good enough, but jesus was and his gospel exposes our need. We can never keep the law, but we can receive jesus, who did keep the law

Here’s the final reason. Religious identity, religious code will not save you. Neither will religious rituals. Religious rituals will not save we are at verse twenty five, verse twenty five to twenty nine. There’s going to be a young person who leaves here today, and they’re going to say to their mother, mom, pastor gary said, that word circumcision a lot. That happened to me a few weeks ago in chapter one I had a mother come to me and say that her daughter on the way home, says, mama, pastor gary said sex a lot, and then the mother did know what to say. So she said, i know. Because paul was talking about it now, he’s talking about this a lot? What is this it’s, a ritual it’s, a mark of judaism, it’s an entry point, an initiation an initiation rite that marks that you’re a member of the tribe of abraham. And it began in the book of genesis. It literally means to cut around in the greek.

The word circumcision means to cut around and it comes it’s connected to the word covenant in the hebrew word covenant means to cut. We still use it today. Metaphorically, we say i’m going to cut a deal. Well, that comes from the bible that it’s this idea of covenant we’re going to have a contract. We’re going to cut a deal. abraham was committed by god. I want you to cut these animals and he told him which animals and then i want you to pass through them. I’m going to pass through them and we’re going to have a covenant. We’re going to cut a deal. Me and you, abraham. God made a covenant with abraham. And then he said, i want you to have a mark of the covenant upon your body and every male child i want to have the mark. I want them to have the cut of the covenant. This is circumcision.

So in Genesis 17:10 he says, this is my covenant with you and your descendants. After you the covenant you are to keep every male among you shall be circumcised. Okay, so that covenant and circumcision go together. So that’s the mark of judaism that moses was reminded of this by god. And he wrote it into the leviticus laws that god had put it in the law.

So in Leviticus 12:3 it says on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. So now it’s got a day that’s supposed to happen. And then we see when we read the gospels, we see that jesus on the eighth day according to the law, mary and joseph took him so he was circumcised on the eighth day because jesus kept every law and even his parents, that god gave him to parents who were faithful, so that they kept the law for him when he couldn’t , because god chose them to raise him up. It’s a beautiful thing. He kept the law because we can’t. And this mark of circumcision is a religious ritual, but it’s in the flesh, its outward, its physical.

But now paul begins to work it out, and he says this he says for it to have any value. Verse twenty five you have to obey the law. It’s a mark of the covenant, that you are a jew. But it means he’s made a covenant with me, that you’re going to keep the law. If you don’t keep the law, your outward circumcision, your physical becomes uncircumcised. In other words, it says if you were never circumcised, so that outward ritual then loses its meaning because there’s no obedience. And then he uses something that just had to just blow him away. Because he says so if a man who is uncircumcised so a jew to a gentile, gentile who’s not physically circumcised that’s what he’s talking about so if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law well, not his uncircumcision be regarded a circumcision he’s not talking about physical now now he’s talking about spiritually if they keep the law if they are obedient to the law isn’t a gentile more jewish than you are. Who? I like the way that sounds.

I’ve been to the middle east many times and ever since my freshman year of college, when god gave me a roommate from iran, i’ve had a heart for people who are islamic he was an islamic, he was Bahai the people who follow religions that will not lead them to god because all paths do not lead to god. There is only one path, one truth and that’s jesus, he says, i am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the father except by me and so my roommate i think, is who God gave me to break my heart for religious muslims and others.

Did you know that they pray five times a day? You go to a middle eastern country and they’ve got these minarets all over the place. They have loudspeakers in him and you’ll hear the first one at 5am in the morning what in the world i have my alarm said at seven something’s going on and you look out the window and you see people headed toward prayer rooms five times a day. They have prayer rugs. On the rug it shows which way north is. They have a compass built in some of prayer rugs with compasses so they can aim it at mecca and pray towards mecca. Yeah, five times a day, my roommate Merigan He was up at five a m in the morning. I just met the guy i’m laying in bed. And and i hear something that is not arabic. It’s Farsi, persian. You know, i just know a couple of words, you know, they say salaam like everybody else , but they have a different language. They don’t speak arabic in iran, they speak persian Farsi.

He was sitting on the floor in the lotus position with a book between his feet rocking back and forth at five am. i started getting up and reading the bible when he was doing that because i started feeling he seems more serious about his faith in me. This what paul saying, you know, there’s gentiles out there, they’re trying harder than you, he’s. Not saying it’s going to work for him, he’s. Just saying, if that’s, what, you’re basing it on it’s? Not good enough.

They’re people way more religious than us. We think we’ve done well. If we make it to church two out of four sundays a month. Forget five times a day. I mean, when i was growing up, my mama would take us to church on Sunday morning, sunday night wednesday night, plus, she was in a quartet gospel quartet. So every time there was a singing, i don’t know what daddy is doing with the church, so that was friday night, saturday nights. I mean, sunday afternoon, i certainly thought, man, i know where i’m going, because i go to church all the time, i figured heaven was going be like church. I didn’t know what is going to be like. I’m still not clear on what it is, but i thought, church, i’m churched, so i’m saved, but being church doesn’t make you saved.

Keeping religious rituals doesn’t make you saved. Baptisim won’t wash away your sins. Baptism does not wash away your sins. The blood of christ washes away your sins when you receive him, and you accept that it was his blood that paid the price of your sins that saves you. Baptism is an outward sign. Not an inward change, an inward commitment, it’s, an outward sign. This this ring on my finger did not make me married. You could buy one just like it, or you, can go to, a bubble gum machine and get a plastic version. It will not make you married. You must say i do and so should she. They both must say, i do, then you put on the rings, right. Outward sign, not an inward commitment, the lord’s supper will not save you. Bread and welch’s grape juice will not save you.

But if you’ve received christ and you recognize that his body was broken for you for your sins and his blood was shed for you. So that when you come to it, your heart has been changed. It has meaning because what you say about circumcision because verse twenty five circumcision indeed is a value he is not saying it’s not good he’s just saying it’s. Good if you obey, if you have a heart of obedience it’s good! And then he begins. He gets down in there and describes in verse twenty eight and twenty nine for no one is a jew who is merely one outwardly.

Remember what jesus said in Matthew 23 woe to you scribes and pharisees hypocrites for you are like white washed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness this so you also outwardly appear righteous to others. But with then you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Yeah that’s jesus that’s how he feels about outward religion we must change and only god can change us on the inside. It’s a matter of the heart.

Look, what do deuteronomy says about the heart? The lord god will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you can love the lord your god, with all your heart, all your soul now, and that you may live and it’s not look at verse twenty nine. But a jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart. The circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh. If i do that, i’ll die if i get in there with a scalpel. Well, i can’t do that. I can’t get a new heart. What’d you say? But the jews went in really in circumcision is a matter of the heart by the spirit. The spirit does it not by the letter of the law, the law can’t do it what the law could not do God has done, and so the spirit cuts away.

Circumcision is the old heart cutting away the flash, the hard callous, so that the heart is new. It wants to please god, and only the spirit can do this Colossians 2 “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of god, who raised him from the dead.”

So now the rituals have meaning, because you have a new heart, so we baptize not because it saves people, but because god jesus told us to do it make disciples baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and the holy spirit. So they believed that by being baptized it shows that they have been initiated into the family of god. It’s, a mark of entry to identify with Christ’s death burial and resurrection. He says, do this in remembrance of me. So we do it. And we remember jesus. This has no saving value effect. But it points to the reality that we are saved by his body and his blood. And so the ritual has meaning. It has value because there’s an inward heart change.

Are you all still here? So as it turns out, Paul was addressing the jew because that’s who he had aheart for and who he was concerned for. But god has put in front of me, you and you. You don’t have the jewish background. You have this bible belt background. And you? I have been deceived. \ it’s enough and it’s not church attendance is not enough checking off the box and memorizing John 3:16 it’s. Not enough i take the lord’s supper every sunday. It’s. Not enough. I was baptized it is not enough.there’s only one that’s. Enough that’s! Christ! You know christ it’s, not your religion. Do you know? Christ, it’s. A relationship. You know. Jesus, we need the spirit to circumcise the heart. Religious rituals will not save religious codes. Religious identities will not save jesus saves.Do you know christ? Would you put away your religion, your judgmentalism and your dependence on outward things would you surrender your heart to christ?

Let’s Pray lord, thank you for christ. Thank you for jesus. Thank you that he has done all that is necessary that we might be saved. I pray for the person in the room right now. You came in today thinking you’re good enough thinking that church was enough, whatever your motivations were. But maybe today the holy spirit has stripped the scales from your eyes so that you actually see that only christ will save. Do you know him? Do you know him right now? As your lord and savior? You can pray right now with me. What matters is your faith. Do you believe what you’re praying? Pray with me believing dear lord jesus, i’m a sinner. I need a savior i believe you died on the cross that you rose from the grave that you live today i believe it would you be my lord and savior? Would you come into my life and forgive me of my sins and give me your righteousness so that i’m right with the father i believe in you, i trust you, make me a child of god, my friend. If you’re praying that prayer right now, right where you are, he will save you, that’s. Why i came there’s, no religion that will save you, but christ, we’ll save you, make you right. Others were here this morning, and you’ve received christ, but you’ve fallen into this trap of checking the boxes, rule keeping, comparing yourself to others, and it makes hypocrites of us all. Would you surrender that right now? Say, lord, i want to be the real deal. I want to be authentic, lord, help me to stop being judgmental, i want to be like, you, jesus, and i want to love that person that is far from god, at my workplace, at my school, in my neighborhood, and my family, make me like jesus, cut away this old heart and renew your heart of love in me in christ’s name. Amen.