Monday, March 1, 2021

Adult Bible Study on Romans 2:17-29

Romans 2:17-29

 (New International Version)


Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”


25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.


28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.



How would you summarize verses 17-24?


The gist seems to be “Don’t be a hypocrite.” If you know something is wrong, don’t do it.


Paul’s examples are stealing, committing adultery, robbing the temples of idols. The chances are that you don’t do those things, but maybe you commit a lesser sin related to these major ones. Maybe it’s cheating on your time card at your work, or telling off-color jokes, or watching movies with sex scenes, or investing money in businesses that don’t deal in God-honoring products.


Whatever sin we might commit, we know it’s wrong, and we’re being hypocritical if we continue in it.



What motives might someone have for acting hypocritically?


We don’t want to give up our sin completely

We want to fit in with others

We haven’t yet realized something is wrong



What is the result when unbelievers see us acting hypocritically?


Verse 26 tells us they blaspheme God. Unbelievers do not respect believers who act contrary to their beliefs. This isn’t the result we’re looking for when we do what we know we shouldn’t, but we need to understand that when we claim the name of Christian, we are representing Jesus and His Father to the world. Our sinful and hypocritical actions do not only reflect poorly on us but also on Them.



When we act hypocritically in front of someone, what can we do to redeem the message of Christ in their eyes?


This is actually a great opportunity to show humility and what the Gospel is all about. Admit that you sinned and that the Spirit convicted you of it. Communicate that you’ve repented and that God has forgiven you. Ensure them that you’re going to try harder to live out your faith in a more authentic manner.


If acting hypocritically made them lose respect for you and the God you claim to serve, this is sure to go a long way toward giving them the right idea of what a Christian is and how God deals with us.



Paul was speaking to Jewish Christians in the Roman church in this chapter. Circumcision was the male Jew’s initiation into the Jewish faith. From eight days old onward, he was to be raised observing the covenant his people had with God. What is our initiation into the Christian faith?


We might have a couple of initiations, depending on your understanding and tradition. Perhaps your initiation into the faith was when you said the “Sinners’ Prayer,” or when you were Dedicated, or Baptized, or Confirmed, or took your First Communion. Maybe it was when the Holy Spirit entered you or when you Recommitted your life to Christ.



Does Paul say circumcision has any value?


Circumcision has value if Jewish people keep the Law (verse 25) and as long as it’s not merely outward and physical (verse 28).


There’s nothing wrong with circumcision or our rites of initiation. In many cases, God commands us to observe those sacraments and actions. They can be very meaningful to us and aid in our growth as a Christian.



What takes value away from circumcision and, by extension, our rites of initiation?


Paul says that if Jews break the Law, it’s as if they’re not circumcised (verses 25-27). They can’t be part of the covenant people if they don’t observe the entire covenant. Their one-time rite of initiation means nothing if they don’t follow through with it.


It’s the same with us. Saying a prayer or being baptized or having a spiritual experience will do us no good in the end if we don’t continue in the faith.



What is more important than circumcision?


People who follow the Law but aren’t circumcised are better than those who are circumcised and don’t follow the Law (verse 27). We might say that people who follow Jesus but don’t engage in all the same rites we do are better than people who have gone through all the correct rites but don’t live in obedience.


A change of heart by the Spirit is really what God is looking for (verse 29). When we allow the Spirit to change our hearts, we will want to be obedient.



What to DO after reading this passage

Ask the Spirit to show you in what ways you’re being hypocritical, then ask Him to change your heart on those issues.




Do you have another insight into this passage? Please share below!





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