Self Deceived Religious Hypocrites
The false hope that many place in simply verbally agreeing with and defending certain facts about God is exposed here as a serious self-delusion. To illustrate this point Paul uses the example of Jews who highly elevated themselves above the Gentiles simply because the scriptures were given through the Jewish nation as a sacred trust from God.
Here, Paul exposes the wholesale disregard many of his fellow Israelites—people who have been given the scriptures—have for obedience to those scriptures. If nothing else, he says, they could at least keep the scriptures’ true intent by humbly acknowledging humanity’s need for forgiveness through God’s grace. Instead, their behavior proves that a disregard for God’s Word has taken root within their hearts (2:17-25).
Paul goes on to expose the irrational belief of those who disobey God’s Word yet feel just before God simply because they point out what is wrong in others. Some even went so far as to believe that their wrong deeds were good because they provided a living example of sin. It is amazing how foolish we can become in building our false premises to justify ourselves (3:5-8). Paul contrasts this manipulation and falsehood on the part of religious people with sincere Gentiles who have pursued truth at any cost (2:26-29).
Paul points to Gentiles who have found the provision of God in Christ. As a result they are transformed by God who is enabling them, by His Spirit, to live in obedience to His will. Being born again by the Holy Spirit, Paul says, is the true mark, i.e. the circumcision of the inner being that makes a true Jew.
Here, Paul relates something that was very close to his own spiritual journey. He lived on both sides of this issue. We must remember that before he encountered Christ, Paul felt he was a blameless man in God’s eyes. He was so passionate for the traditions of Judaism that in his desire to defend them he went so far as to torture, kill, and imprison Christians. His “definition” of scripture made hating, beating, and killing Christians a virtue.
The true condition of our hearts before God is an issue for us all. Our willingness to face our own versions of religious self-deception is vital. We must then accept the universal need for a heart transformation if we are ever going to live in harmony with God. Religious rituals and failed efforts at building a case for our self-righteousness will never bring us to God.
Created 6 months ago