You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?
In Romans 2, Paul listed several excuses that religious people use to say, “I do not need Jesus Christ.” One excuse religious people use is this: “Look at my biblical knowledge.” But Paul said that knowledge alone is not good enough. He wrote to the Jews: “If you bear the name ‘Jew’ and rely upon the Law and boast in God . . .” (2:17). The Jews believe that everybody else might need to know Christ as Savior, but not them. Jews believe they have a special relationship with God that automatically makes them right with God.
Paul alluded to that in Romans 3:1: “Then what advantage has the Jew?” If Jews are not automatically saved, then what advantage is there to being a Jew? Paul answered in verse 2, “Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” The Jewish people were entrusted with God’s Word. But the reason they were entrusted with God’s Word was not just so they could share it with others, but so that they might obey it themselves.
Romans 2:18-24 says, “[Those of you who have been] instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written.”
The Jews had fallen into a trap that many of us have fallen into as well. We equate knowing God’s Word with doing God’s Word. They are not the same thing. In Paul’s day, the Jewish rabbis said, “It is impossible to obey God’s law completely, so all you have to do is know it.” We laugh at that, but don’t we make the same mistake today as Christians? We equate biblical knowledge with obedience. We think, “As long as I believe that this book is the inerrant Word of God, then I am okay with God.” Let me burst your bubble. You get absolutely no credit with God for believing the right thing. You believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God–you do not get a check mark for that. All you get credit for as a Christian is how you obey God.
Do not misunderstand–beliefs and knowledge are important. It is impossible to obey that which you do not know, but unfortunately you can know a lot of things that you do not obey. The Bible says that it is not our knowledge of God’s Word but our obedience of God’s Word that makes a difference. The Jew said, “Look at my biblical knowledge.” Paul said, “That is not enough.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How to Be a Christian without Being Religious” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.