The book of Romans is called by many the “Magna Carta” (Great Charter) of Christianity, and rightly so. Authored by the Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, it is a heavily theological work, building on the solid foundation that is the truth of Jesus Christ, using the themes of sin, God’s salvation, Christian growth and maturity, God’s sovereignty and Christian service.

There are three types of people:

1) The Rebellious
-Read about them in Chapter 1, verses 18-32.

2) The Respectable
-Read about them in Chapter 2, verses 1-16.

3) The Religious
-Read about them in Chapter 2, verses 17-29

In a recent Bible study in the book of Romans, taught at my church, the focus was on Chapter 2, verses 17-29, and the theme was “Why Religion Can’t Save You”, focusing on those who are “religious”.

To say it was an eye-opener was putting it mildly.

Do you know a “religious” person, or are you a “religious” person? By this question, I do not mean do you know a person, or are you a person, of true faith. I mean do you know someone, or are you a person, fitting one or more of the following eight characteristics:

1) Do you depend on a label?
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; (Romans 2:17)
-Please understand that “Jew” translates to ‘a praiser of God’. Praising God is a good thing; please do not misunderstand. The issue is do you depend on praising God as something that makes you unique and that defines your faith for you?

2) Do you rely on rules and regulations?
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; (Romans 2:17)
-Do you depend on your religious background/heritage as the “pedigree” of your faith? Do you abide by a rigid set of rules and regulations to justify yourself before God, and/or fulfill a religious “obligation”?

3) Do you claim a “special relationship” with God?
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; (Romans 2:17)
-Do you brag about a “special relationship” with God as a result of your ethnic or religious background, or as a result of your own powers of discernment? Do you know what no one else knows about God?

4) Do you claim to have a “pipeline” to God?
if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; (Romans 2:18)
-Do you claim to know the will of God, or approve of something you consider to be superior to what others believe because it is rules and regulations that you approve of?

5) Do you maintain a high moral standard for the wrong reason?
if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law;
(Romans 2:18)
-Do you enforce a high moral standard because you believe by that alone you will make yourself worthy of God, because you are “superior” to others around you? Do you say, “Thank God I’m not like him!”?

6) Do you have a condescending attitude toward others?
if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – (Romans 2:19-20)
-Have you convinced yourself, by your training in rules and regulations, or through your own arguments, that you are so much better in moral behavior than others around you that you can function as their guide through the morass of life that you have so thoroughly understood and now walk above? Do you “know it all”?

7) Does your “walk” not match your “talk”?
you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? (Romans 2:21-23)
-Do you say and believe “A”, but do (and believe by doing) “B”? This is a more than adequate description of hypocrisy… which is ‘enough said’.

8) Do you rely on external rituals and symbols?
Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 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.
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:25-29)
-Reliance on external rituals and symbols, with or without a commitment, is worthless because there is no relationship… along the same lines, commitment is absent unless there is a shared relationship between two beings capable of the free exchange of love.

In Romans Chapter 2, with the verses described above, the Apostle Paul completely demolished the claim of any Jew to the effect that he or she had a special relationship to God that made them superior to anyone else due to their having the Law… but Paul was speaking of anyone else as well. A Christian can read the above verses, remembering that the word ‘Jew’ translates as ‘a praiser of God’, and come away convicted in his or her heart that what they thought was faith as a living relationship with God was nothing more than a meaningless adherence to labels, rules, regulations, high moral attitudes, condescension and hypocritical behaviors that have nothing at all to do with a right relationship to God.

So what is the point of this post?

The point of this post is two-fold: 1) “religion” is not going to save anyone, and 2) the world has enough (if not too many) “religious” people.

There are two guidelines for the Christian here…

1) You are not called to make anyone “religious”.

2) You are called to share Jesus Christ with others.
-Please note that this does not mean hitting people over the head with the Bible!

There might be some degree of confusion regarding just exactly how to share Jesus Christ with others, especially those who might not be readily open to that. So right up front, forget smothering people with scripture and dogma and rules and regulations, and forget telling people that they must repent or go to hell. Up front… and simply put… tell your story of your walk with the Lord. All people everywhere came, in the very beginning, from strong oral traditions; before there was the written word, people actually told stories as a way of passing along knowledge and experience. People love stories, and no matter where anyone may be in his or her faith, they all have two ears and the capacity to listen.

In the Gospels, Jesus Christ did not directly quote scripture to anyone with whom He had a direct conversation, with the exceptions of His rebukes of Satan when He was being tempted in the desert before He undertook His public ministry, and His rebukes of the unbelieving Pharisees. Instead, what Jesus Christ did was to establish relationships with the people He came into contact with, and the most important thing that He did when He related to them was this:

He met people where they were.

Jesus did not care what station in life people occupied. He talked to rulers and priests and the very rich and powerful, as well as thieves, prostitutes, the destitute, blind, crippled and possessed, and the generally despised and looked-down-upon of society. Jesus understood that no one could change until they had Him in their lives, but to get them to that point of belief, faith and thereafter transformation, He had to accept them as they were. In His  humility, by His willing acceptance of people, He not only met them where they were, but transformed them as well. When you get to know someone through a relationship that is one of willing giving and loving, it is natural to respond in the same way, and people from every walk of life were changed in ways that even they themselves could not even have begun to imagine.

This did not happen only when Jesus Christ walked among us… it continues to happen to this very day. This is the enduring power of Jesus Christ: the relationship that He has with the people that He loves. His love, and His power to change lives, is what the Christian believer is called upon to share with others.

Don’t talk about “religion”… talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ, and share what He has done for you.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

About On A Journey

It's About Jesus!!
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