Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
Thesis: There is a confidence that absolutely destroys.
Introduction: As Paul turned his attention, in Romans 2:17-29, to the issues that particularly fit his kinsmen according to the flesh, he was turning his attention to the sigularly most difficult issue in the world: the problem of masked pride. That it is a problem of pride is without debate when one looks at the root: a man's confidence that his behavior will stand the scrutiny of God in light of the issue of the "secrets" (the motives) behind those actions. Only towering arrogance could make such a claim. That it is masked is also indisputable. Naked arrogance appeals to none because it is transparently "me-destructive". Thus, those whose souls are in terror of the scrutiny of God cannot embrace naked arrogance. It must be masked for the soul to rest.
This evening, as we pursue Paul's teaching of the "Jewish" condition, it will be helpful if we have it clearly in mind that the "Jewish condition" was one in which the "soul" was taking its rest under the "spirit's" assurances that it was capable of meeting the requirements of the justice of God. In this light, the fact that Paul broached the idea of "confidence" is perfectly understandable, for it is "confidence" that gives the "soul" rest. So, let's continue our look into the Gospel's implications for the deeply religious by a further consideration of the Jew's convictions.
March 1, 2005
- I. Some Theological Facts of Life.
- A. The Gospel is a subversion of every false religion in the world.
- B. The Gospel faces its most virulent opposition from those whose commitment to their religion is most profound.
- 1. Commitment involves "risk".
- 2. The greatest commitments always involve the greatest risks.
- 3. Those outside of Christ who see themselves as having the most to lose will always fight the hardest.
- a. The 'apathetic' do not fight because they have already been overwhelmed by their perception of the inevitability of their huge losses.
- b. But all others will fight to keep from losing...this the soul demands.
- II. The Jewish Resistance to the Gospel.
- A. Had some of its roots in their perceived superiority of knowledge.
- 1. Paul references the Jewish mindset in regard to the Law three times in the opening verses of this paragraph (2:17, 18 and 20).
- a. The first reference addresses the state of their souls.
- b. The second reference addresses the state of their consciences.
- c. The third reference addresses the state of their spirits.
- d. All of these references went a long way to lift the "Jew" above his fellows.
- 2. Paul's statement is that the "Jew" moved "naturally" to a self-perception of significant superiority over all others.
- a. The "Jew" considered himself an "Hadagon" -- a "sighted" guide of the "path" for any who were "blind".
- 1) Matthew 15:14; 23:16; 23:24; Acts 1:16 -- these are the only other references in the New Testament to "Hadagons"...none of which are positive.
- 2) The underlying assumption of this identity is "superiority of understanding".
- 3) There is only a half-step from a conviction of "superiority of understanding" to naked arrogance (which raises the question: what is it that keeps one from taking that half-step?).
- b. The "Jew" considered himself a "Phos" -- a "light-producer" for those who are in the dark.
- 1) Note the extreme care John took in John 1:8 to distance the notion of being an instrument of the faith of others from being the cause.
- 2) Note also the fact that believers are called "lights" with certain qualifications in Matthew 5:14, 16 and Acts 13:47 (those qualifications hinted at in Acts 26:23 and Paul's teaching on the ministry of the Spirit).
- c. The "Jew" considered himself a "Paideutas" -- a "corrector" of "fools".
- 1) Interestingly 2 Corinthians 12:6, 11 make it "foolish" to attempt to exalt oneself.
- 2) The automatic assumption of "correction" is, again, only a half-step from naked arrogance (which raises the question again: what is it that keeps one from taking that half-step?).
- d. The "Jew" considered himself a "Didaskalon" -- a "mind-molder" for those who are mentally undeveloped.
- 1) This characteristic is a revelation of the "Jewish flaw": it answers the question we have been asking about the "half-step".
- 2) The whole idea of "mind-molding" rests upon the assumption that men can be morally developed by knowledge.
- 3) This assumption rests upon another: that men are not fatally corrupted by Sin in dominion over them.
- B. Had its ultimate root in the Jewish commitment to being deemed "worthy" of God's rewards.
- 1. This is the "spirit's" non-negotiable.
- 2. Deeply religious man outside of Christ (and often even among believers) is invariably attempting to demonstrate his moral excellence above his fellows.
- III. The Non-Negotiable of the Gospel.
- A. The fundamental assumption of the Gospel is that man needs a Savior of the kind as revealed by Jesus the Christ.
- B. No man can be, or will be, saved by the Savior, who is unyielding in his self-righteousness.
- 1. Self-righteousness fundamentally denies man's neediness.
- 2. Self-righteousness fundamentally sponsors masked arrogance.
- 3. Self-righteousness has two roots: a belief in man's "free will" and a belief in the "superiority of those with knowledge".