Rituals do not save the soul
After a scathing description of the spiritual condition of the Gentile world, Paul turns to the Jews. His goal is to show that the need for a Savior is universal. This need exists for both the religious and the non-religious. His message applied to everyone—from Gentiles who graphically disobeyed God’s will by practicing blatant immorality to the religious Jews who hid their own sin behind external rites. Like Paul the Apostle, Jesus sought to expose the self-deception that often hides behind religious exteriors. A person can be very religious and understand what is right and wrong, but at the same time possess a heart with the same sinful passions as those he condemns. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that hatred is the seed of murder, lust the seed of adultery, and that outward forms of giving and prayer often become the seedbed for pride and arrogance (Matt. 5:27-6:6).
Paul shows here that many people embrace the false hope that holding onto religious beliefs and ritual practices is sufficient for salvation. Paul showed that the Gentiles, whom the Jews often saw as spiritually inferior, might be more acceptable to God than the Jews. He points out that uncircumcised Gentiles who obeyed their God-given consciences might actually have been more spiritually acceptable than the circumcised Israelites who knew the Bible.
We all should heed this truth. No ritual, religious belief system, or philosophy can produce salvation. Salvation is ultimately a gift of God from the Savior who died for the sins of us all—both the religious and the non-religious. All people are accountable for their response to the revelation of a supreme holy God written within us. All of us must answer to our God-given consciences. The test of a person’s true heart condition is revealed in his or her response to the offer of salvation by faith, through the grace we can each find through Christ. To deny our personal need for the Savior, graciously sent by God, is the greatest sin we can commit.
Created 7 months ago