17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to 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 infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth… (Click HERE to read the rest of the passage)
There was one word in this passage that stuck out to me. It was mentioned 9 different times. It is easy to overlook but it seemed to me to be the key to the passage. It was the little word that has HUGE implications: the word “if.”
Here is a one sentence summation of what I think Paul was saying: IF you do all the right things and even have the right “look”, it doesn’t matter IF you do not know the right person.
Now admittedly he did not mention Jesus in this passage. He is building his case in these early chapters of the need for the Savior and Jesus is very much on Paul’s mind if not on the page he is writing.
So here is my paraphrase of what Paul is saying in a 21st century, American, North Durham, baptist context:
If you go to church every Sunday, and give your money, and read your Bible, and pray, and take notes on the sermon, and memorize portions of Scripture, and go on mission trips, and help with the Toy Drive, and donate time and money to the Durham Rescue Mission, and have a child that you sponsor in Haiti, and have a cross that you wear, and own Christian tee shirts, and listen to K-Love, and regularly read this blog – but don’t know Jesus, then all of that is of no value. It only has value if you know Him.
It is always good to make sure that we know why we are doing what we are doing. If you do all that stuff to earn God’s favor then you are in trouble because you can’t do enough. If you do all that stuff because you love Jesus and want to know Him better then you understand the gospel. Just make sure that you never put the cart before the horse.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 3:1-8
Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-7