Main point summary
You dishonor/blaspheme God when you boast in the law (or teach the law) and then go on to disobey it because your relationship with God is a matter of who you are, not merely what you say.
But if you call yourself a Jew
and d rely on the law
and boast in God
and know his will
and approve what is excellent,
because you are instructed from the law;
and if you are sure that you yourself are e a guide to the blind,
a light to those who are in darkness,
an instructor of the foolish,
a teacher of children,
having in the law f the embodiment of g knowledge and truth—
h you then who teach others,
do you not teach yourself?
While you preach against stealing,
do you steal?
You who say that one must not commit adultery,
do you commit adultery?
You who abhor idols,
do you i rob temples?
You who j boast in the law k dishonor God
by breaking the law.
For, l as it is written,
“The name of God is blasphemed m among the Gentiles because of you.”
For circumcision indeed is of value
n if you obey the law,
but if you break the law,
your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
So, if o a man who is uncircumcised keeps p the precepts of the law,
will not his uncircumcision be regarded 1 as circumcision?
Then he who is physically 1 uncircumcised
but keeps the law
q will condemn you who have r the written code 2 and circumcision
but break the law.
For s no one is a Jew t who is merely one outwardly,
nor is circumcision outward and physical.
But a Jew is one u inwardly,
and v circumcision is a matter of the heart,
by the Spirit,
not by the letter.
w His praise is not from man
but from God.
Motivation : our praise is from God! Meditate on this: I don't need praise from others because (unbelievably) God rejoices in, exults over (praises?!) his genuine children.
Meditations/Observations : Who are you? This passage forces you to have to answer this question honestly. "I'm a Christian," I say. Well, let's tease that out in Paul's argument. "If you call yourself a Christian, and rely on God's Word, and boast in your relationship with God, and know his will..." What does my life actually look like? Paul's argument in this passage is that being a Jew is not merely one outwardly. The same goes for being a Christian. Being a Christian is not merely about having professed the name of Christ at one time or another, about being a part of the visible community of God's people. It's not about having grown up in a Christian family or attending a Christian church. Being a Christian is internal. "No one is a Christian who is merely one outwardly (or merely because they say so)...But being a Christian is inward, a matter of the heart." Does my life reflect the life of a Christian? Do I teach others to love their spouses and then fail to love my own? Do I encourage others to be faithful parents and then go on to parent my own out of anger/frustration/selfishness? Do I encourage others to use their bodies to glorify God and then fail to steward my own health? Do I judge others for their outward sins while secretly hiding my own? I should not place my faith in the fact that at one time in the distant past I professed the name of Christ. Who am I now? Where is my heart? Am I living a life of repentance and faith in Jesus, a life filled with evident fruit? Or am I depending on some connection to spiritual people or spiritual words or spiritual knowledge to be made right with God? These two are very different and have very different ends. Central verse : 23 - "You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law." The greater my evident passion for God's Word, the greater the dishonor to God when I break the law. God is dishonored by those who claim to name his name and then go on to live like those who don't. Illustration : Kasey. I worked with him for a couple years. He grew up in a Christ-professing home. His mom was incredibly strict, taking her children to church regularly and working to keep them out of trouble with lots of rules. Then she had an affair. It devastated Kasey and he hardened towards Jesus. "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Kasey was hard to the gospel and constantly tried to "push my buttons" to see if I was genuine in my faith. He viewed Christians as hypocrites because of his family. He softened towards me over time, but it took over a year for this to happen. This does not mean there is no hope for those who sin. Rather, it means that they need grace just as much as everyone else. Their trust should not be in the loudness with which they proclaim God's Word. Their faith should not be in the strength of their verbal communication to others, or their position. Everyone is in need of the same grace from God to trust in Christ by faith, from the heart. High View of God's Word - For those of us who have a high view of God's Word, this exhortation should hit the hardest. Life by the Book. We love to claim that what we do is based on God's Word. How about my life? What about in private? How about when no one is watching? How about when tensions and pressures build? How about when following Jesus in inconvenient? Application : Motivation : our praise is from God! Meditate on this: I don't need praise from others because (unbelievably) God rejoices in, exults over (praises?!), delights in his genuine children. What is my motivation for doing what I do? My focus so often is on other people. I serve God because it makes me look good. I talk a good talk because it puts me in good standing or makes me feel better about myself when I compare myself with others (based on externals only). When I do this, I'm seeking the praise of man, looking for praise based on what man can see on the outside. But this passage is about what's going on in my heart. A true follower of God is one inwardly . The praise he seeks is not the praise of man but the praise of God. This should motivate and energize me in my daily, sacrificial service to my family, church, and unbelieving friends. My praise is not from man but from God. This is somewhat hard to understand, but v29 makes it clear: God is pleased by (and praises?!) those who serve him genuinely from the heart (2 Cor 10:18; 1 Thess 2:4; Gal 1:10). The Spirit : circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit. My heart is circumcised by the Spirit. Circumcision has always been more than just a physical act. Jeremiah prophesied that God's people needed their hearts to be circumcised (Jer 4:4; cf. Deut 10:16). When I am dishonoring God by boasting in the law and yet breaking the law, I need the Spirit to circumcise my heart. When I am deceiving myself by hearing God's word and failing to do it, I need the Spirit to be at work in my heart. I need to beg the Spirit of God regularly to do His work in my heart: cutting away at my sinful fleshly desires/motivations and replacing them with a heart soft to receive God's Word by the Spirit. God, be at work in my heart by the Spirit. Circumcise my heart. Rip away my sinful flesh. If you don't do this, I am hopeless. Help me depend on you, moment by moment, in Jesus' name. Amen.