Jewels from Romans #15

Romans 10:1-3

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

In Romans chapters 9-11, Paul writes concerning the spiritual state of the Jewish people. Even though we know Paul primarily as the Apostle to the Gentiles, we find that his heart still longs for the salvation of his Jewish brothers. In Romans 10:2, Paul describes the Jewish people as having a zeal for God, but that this zeal is not properly directed according to the knowledge of the truth. “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (ESV) This lack of knowledge is manifested in two ways according to Romans 10:3. “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (ESV) First, we see that they were not able to grasp that following the Law could never result in the righteousness that God required. Paul tells us in Romans 4:13 “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” (ESV) Second, we see that they worked to establish their own standard of righteousness. That is why we read such statements in the Bible as Matthew 23:4, where Jesus says of the scribes and Pharisees “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (ESV)

I believe that we have this same problem within the broad community which calls itself Christianity today, although it is manifested in a completely different way than the error of the Jews in the first century. Today, there are a lot of people who obviously have a zeal for God, but this zeal is not according to knowledge. And being ignorant of what God requires for righteousness, these people have invented their own methods for the worship of God which have no basis in the Bible. I am thinking of many different things at this point, many of which have been written about in other posts here on the “Berean Wife” website. I am thinking of Rick Pino and the youth at his events dancing in bare feet swinging their socks over their heads. There is a lot of zeal for God there, but it is not according to knowledge. I am thinking about the antics of the counterfeit revival of Todd Bentley. I am thinking about prayer-walking, and taize, and labyrinth-walking. I am thinking about the homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson praying at the inauguration of a United States President, I am thinking about much of the Contemporary Christian Music scene. We recently made the switch to digital TV here at our house, not that we watch that much TV anyway. Now we get five channels of religious broadcasting from a local station. There is one channel that looks exactly like the MTV which I grew up on, except for the small MTV logo in the corner of the screen. These people may have a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.

But I am also thinking about another group of people. These are the people who are all around me every Sunday at church. People who think that they are living a Christian life, but have left out Jesus Christ. These people have turned away from the righteousness which God requires in order to practice their own brand of Christianity which involves programs, Oprah Winfrey, correcting social ills, and worrying over having a democratic President. Or perhaps they are doing nothing at all except for showing up at church for an hour on most Sunday mornings (when there is nothing better to do, and the weather isn’t too bad). These people too may exhibit a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.

Allow me to share a fictional story which makes the point right well. The condition of the “Christian” community today is like a husband who has just finished reading a book on marriage. This book has given him 100 ideas on how to please his wife. So he commences to do all 100 things at the same time: he brushes his teeth more often, takes a shower, trims his fingernails, goes out to buy her flowers, and also chocolates, then he does the laundry, makes the bed, reads to the kids, mows the lawn, gets the oil changed in her car. This goes on for hours, and then for days, then for weeks. But, all the while, this guy’s wife is standing in the middle of the living room, saying “All I really want is for you to pay attention to me.” We’ve treated Jesus Christ this same way. We are so busy for Him, that we’ve forgotten how to worship him. We need to hear the words that Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10:41-42 “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (ESV)

By Berean Husband


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