17 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.
I remember visiting a church in Europe and going to a Sunday service.
The building itself was ancient, rich with heritage and steeped in history.
The service itself was in English but might as well have been in another language. For me as a Christian, it was so hard to follow. The rites and rituals were unexplained, and I could see that I wasn’t the only person who was struggling. Clearly there were a bunch of visitors who wanted to go to church in this amazing building but didn’t know how to interface with the rules and processes of the service.
Then, at the end of the service, that was it. The person who led the service went out a little door near the front of the church and closed it behind him. He didn’t interact with the people at all.
I wonder if this is a bit like what the non-jewish people in the early Christian church experienced.
And Paul here seems to be addressing the Jewish Christians to get them to realise that they need to stop being so proud of their religiosity. He doesn’t hold back either!
I need to be careful here, because there is a streak in me that can be like these early Christian Jews. It’s way too easy for me to get caught up in the modern laws of being a Christian.How to act and how to vote and what to believe about certain political issues… all of which might be right, but if I don’t do it in a loving way, and a way that helps new believers, then I’m just as sinful in my pride as a non-believer!
Lord keep me humble as I strive to always please you in my words and my actions.
Written by Ps Justin Ware