Reflections of the Heart {Romans 2}

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By Becky Bramlett Austin

In this 2nd chapter of Romans, Paul really packs a punch.  He asks some heart probing questions that are very relevant today.  His opening statements are aimed to get us to take a hard look at ourselves, especially when we are passing judgement on others. 
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (V1)
Have you ever heard the saying " When you point a finger at another, you have 3 pointing back at you."?  

God wants us to realize that we are all equally guilty.  Knowledge of God's Word should not cause us to point fingers of condemnation at others but rather, cause us to be very grateful for the grace he offered through Jesus that allows us to be forgiven and made righteous. 
“Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (V 3-4) 

Matthew Henry's comments: What method God takes to bring sinners to repentance. He leads them, not drives them like beasts, allures them; and it is goodness that leads, bands of love. The consideration of the goodness of God, his common goodness to all, should be effectual to bring us all to repentance". 

Next Paul talks about the Law and how it is not enough to be knowledgeable of the Law by studying the scripture.  What truly matters is how well we exercise and apply the Law. “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (V13)  As for those who lack the formal teaching, God expects that there is a basic moral understanding of right and wrong that should prick the conscience of all men. “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them." ( v15). As for those who outwardly and publicly put  on a good show, Paul says God is not fooled for there will come a day when " God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus". (v16)

I'm sure you've heard the common saying that "actions speak louder than words"  and that the most effective teacher teaches through example. Paul emphasizes these concepts as well: “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?” (v21) He goes on to give other examples meant to probe us to think about if our knowledge is put into practice. God does not want us to be all talk and boasting without a true lived out change of heart. 

Now don't let the emphasis on applying the Law cause you to think that we are to earn our salvation for as we continue into Romans, Paul makes it clear that we can not earn our way into righteous standing with God. We are not capable of perfectly keeping the Law. But, what Paul is teaching is that the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives should be causing genuine heart changing effects that are evident in our daily lived out lives.  The Jews got caught up on outward signs of being dedicated to God such as circumcision. Paul boldly declares that God doesn't care about outward show but He knows who is dedicated to Him because He knows the inward condition of the heart. “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (v28-29)

Did these questions and teachings of Paul cause you to look at yourself in the mirror?  Did you look deeper than just the outward reflection?  Did you look where God looks...deep into the inner places of your heart?  Ask yourself: Is my heart self- seeking and people pleasing or is my heart dedicated to God?

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