Friday, July 1, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 3, 2016

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(Privilege and responsibility)
(Romans 2:17-29)

   In Romans 2:17-29, Paul takes a look at the basis for which first-century Jews claimed spiritual superiority over Gentiles in those days. He shows how both, Jews and Gentiles, as human beings, break the law of GOD, and also how the claim of superiority by the Jews amounts only to an expression of “raw pride” and “unwitting ignorance” on their part. 
    To the Jews, an announcement such as this must have been quite stunning and hard to hear and accept, in those days. They were absolutely certain that GOD regarded them with “special immunity from the fallout of sin favor” simply because of their national origin, or descent from Abraham.
    Remember Abraham is the towering figure to which the Jews traced their origins as GOD’s chosen people. They saw it as a “privilege” to be born Jewish, but never did quite grasp the “responsibility”, in being the “light to the world”, that their Jewish birthright carried with it. They never really, as a nation, accepted the charge that they were to show the world, through their behavior, that Christianity, or the GODly concept before Christianity existed (the Old Testament), really does produce the best men and women.
    Here Paul shows how a relationship with GOD requires an “inner spiritual circumcision of the heart”, not just the outward, physical act of the circumcision of the male’s genital, to be a member of GOD’s covenant community. Paul reminded them that “circumcision” only meant something, if they obeyed GOD’s laws. However, if they didn’t obey GOD’s laws, they were no better off spiritually than the “uncircumcised” Gentile pagans who lived among and around them. In fact, Paul insists that they were not true Jews, unless their hearts were right with GOD (v.29), and here he suggests that an uncircumcised Gentile, who kept GOD’s laws, was much better off than a circumcised Jew who didn’t (v.27).
    In the Greek, the word Paul uses for “praise” in verse 29 is “epainos” (ep-ahee-nos), and it is “a laudable or commendable thing”. Here Paul is saying that, only GOD determines the righteousness of mankind, for it is not a power that given over to man himself. And GOD’s promises are not just to people of a certain race, or to people who bear a certain mark on their bodies, but rather, HIS promises are to those who believe HIM, and exemplify it through their lifestyles and behavior. In other words, it is not a matter of pedigree, but rather, it is a matter of character.
    We must be right with GOD in our living, regardless, of our race. Jews and Gentiles, in order to please GOD, must act like Christians, in both their private, and public life, at all times. Remember, the real mark of your relationship with GOD is on the inside. It is a “circumcision of the heart”, that is performed by the HOLY SPIRIT, that sets a person apart from this world.
    Our moral nature is the only thing that will ever testify about us to GOD, and our acts are the only real measure of our morality. And when our personal history judges us, it will be looking to see if we were, in our lifetimes, rightly related to CHRIST, rightly related to each other as Christians, and, rightly related to the world which we seek to save from damnation (John 15:1-16:4).
    We should pray daily that we will be able, at all times, to show proper reverence for CHRIST, proper love for your fellowman, and maintain the desire and strength, through CHRIST, to not lose our hearts (minds) to people and things of this world, but instead, worship only GOD, the CREATOR of all people, and all things.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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