Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: The final purpose of divine revelation is not to give us a way to exalt ourselves above others; it is, rather, to fill our lives with the joy of life.
Introduction: In our studies over the last three weeks, we have looked into Paul's opening statement as he turned his attention specifically to those whose "self-concept" was filled with issues of superiority over others. In the light of his claim that men have an irresistible destiny with the judgment of the Judge of All the Earth, he turned his attention to those who felt the most comfortable in light of that destiny. Comfort in the light of that destiny is no small matter, and those who have it also have a desperate need to be sure that their comfort has a legitimate foundation. Paul claimed that those who "called themselves Jews" had a three-fold foundation: they fell back upon their physical heritage as the children of "Judah"; they fell back upon their possession of a divine revelation; and they fell back upon their solid conviction that they had a connection to the Most High God. Their "problem", as Paul is going to reveal it, was that these things were all deceptions generated by the Law of Sin in their members as it took a thing that was fundamentally true and twisted it by the insertion of a false motive so that it was no longer true.
Part of the revelation of the twistedness has to do with the superiority complex that is inherent in the "Jewish" mindset. A person who has a genuine foundation for comfort in the face of judgment will also have a "humility complex". Anyone with a "superiority complex" is only revealing how far removed from God the heart of that person really is. Thus, Paul begins to reveal the superiority complex that is involved as we move into Romans 2:18.
February 22, 2005
- I. The General "Impressions".
- A. Every self-established category for the "Jew" is highly desired by the ego-motivated.
- B. Every self-established category for the Jew's "objects" is derogatory for the ego-motivated.
- C. Thus, the general impression is that there is a significant level of self-established superiority within the mindset.
- II. The Basis of the Superiority Complex.
- A. Is revealed by 1 Corinthians 8:1..."knowledge puffeth up" when unaccompanied by love.
- B. Is addressed by Paul under the general category of "being instructed by the Law".
- 1. In 2:17 Paul claimed that the Jews "rested" upon the Law.
- 2. That he refers to that issue both in 2:18 and in 2:20 means that he is returning to the fundamental issue for the soul of man: whether he can "rest" in the face of divine investigation, or not.
- a. This is a tacit admission that, with fallen man, the "soul" has more dominance over man than either the body or the spirit.
- b. For the body of man, or for the spirit of man, to have any rest, the "soul" must be at rest.
- 3. That he refers to "instruction by the Law" as the foundations of "rest" means that the Law is generally acknowledged by the Jews to be their greatest possession.
- a. The only way the soul can be at rest is for it to be informed as to the future and for that information to be comforting.
- b. The only way the information can be comforting is if it provides an escape from the condemnation of God.
- 4. That this instruction has led to a superiority complex signals the fact that the true impact of the Law has been replaced by a deceptive lie.
- a. This means that the "instruction" is twisted by a false impression of the purpose of the Law.
- b. The false impression has resulted in the problem: the superiority complex.
- III. The Expression of the Superiority Complex.
- A. Begins with the smug assumption that the self-proclaimed "Jew" knows what God really desires.
- 1. The claim is "I know the will".
- a. The claim is interesting because it consists of "an intimate experience".
- b. It is also interesting because it consists of an intimate experience of "the will".
- 1) The word "will" is best understood as "desire" -- the longing of the heart.
- 2) The claim is of an experience of the true heart of God...what He longs for as opposed to what He decrees because He has determined to tolerate evil for a season.
- a) There is no contradiction here.
- b) What God longs for, He will have --- through the processes He has decreed, even though there are things in the processes that are contrary to the longing.
- 2. The implication is "I have escaped the judgment because I know the will".
- a. Technically, if a person has really entered into an intimate knowledge of the true heart of God, he will escape the judgment.
- 1) Jesus' words "Depart from Me; I never knew you" mean that He only rejects those with whom He never shared His heart.
- 2) Anyone with whom Jesus has shared His heart will be welcomed by Him as the "friend" he is. [Note John 2:23-24 on this point: the same word is used of the many and of Jesus -- they "believed on Him" but He did not "commit" to them.]
- b. But the "Jew" who claimed to have entered into an intimate relationship with the God so that he knew the God's true heart was completely deceived by reason of his lust to be superior to others and, thus, was more like a rapist than a lover (seeing the word "knowing" in terms of the "pregnancy" that can result from such "knowledge").
- B. Is enhanced by the blind "approval of the excellent things".
- 1. To "approve the excellent things" is, on the face of it, a commendable action.
- a. The "approval" means that it has been subjected to scrutiny and has passed "muster".
- b. The "excellent things" are those things "worth carrying".
- c. Philippians 1:9-10 make this "approval" a good thing.
- 2. The problem for those with a superiority complex is that it is their "approval" that makes a thing "excellent" rather than the "excellence" producing the "approval".
- a. The Jewish approach to the Law was decidedly not looking into it to find out what is "excellent".
- b. The Jewish approach was the imposition of what was deemed "excellent" upon the words of the Law so that its true meaning was obscured.