Making God Look Bad (Rom 2:17-29)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – December 6, 2009
“MAKING GOD LOOK BAD”
(Romans 2:17-29)

Intro … This morning in preparation for a time of soul-searching, life-renewing communion with Christ, I would draw your attention to what I’m calling …

A HORRIBLE INDICTMENT …

(It’s the indictment the Apostle Paul leveled against the self-righteous Jews of his day – Jews who felt that being God’s Chosen People and knowing the law was enough, Jews who felt that they had a special relationship with God that trumped everything else, Jews who felt superior to all other men, Jews who taught and preached that superiority, Jews who, by their haughtiness and carelessness regularly violated the very law that they professed to cherish.)

Here’s what Paul said to them …

“God’s NAME is BLASPHEMED … because of YOU.”
(Romans 2:24)

In other words …
“People think BADLY of God because they ASSOCIATE Him with you.”

Could any more terrible indictment be brought against anyone?
“The more people get to know you, the less they think of your God.”

You claim that your God provides peace and joy and yet they see you fret and stew like everyone else. You claim that your God forgives sin and yet they find
in you a most unforgiving heart. You claim that your God is even now preparing for you a heavenly home and yet you live like this life is all that matters. You claim that your God takes sin very seriously and yet you tolerate all kinds of misbehavior and seem to be little affected by it. You claim that Jesus is the only answer and yet you seem to be forever scrambling to find satisfaction.

Like Doctor Phil – the watching world would say – “So how’s that working for you?” – meaning, it’s obvious that it’s not working very well and no thinking person would want to try what you’re demonstrating.

How sad when the person drawing that conclusion is your best friend or a co-worker or your spouse or your child or grandchild …

“The more I get to know you, the less I think of your God.”
“The more I think about the fact that you claim to be a Christian, the less I want to be one.”

Is that not the last thing that we would ever want to hear anyone say?
Is that not however something that could today be said about many?

What causes that to happen – How can a genuine believer keep that from happening?

As we approach this time of communion with Christ, consider with me why Paul brought such an indictment against the self-righteous Jews of his day.

Here’s my answer in a nutshell …

They were living a LIFE that was only HALF-BAKED because
they possessed a FAITH that was only SKIN-DEEP.

Two parts to that answer:

They were living a Life that was only Half-Baked; that is …

* They failed to PRACTICE what they PREACHED. (vs. 21)

“you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law,
do you dishonor God by breaking the law?”

They were only “half-baked”… they professed but they didn’t perform.

A “Half-Baked Potato” is hard and unappetizing;
A “Half-Baked Pizza” is gooey and unappealing;
A “Half-Baked Chicken” is rubbery and unhealthy; and
“Half-Baked Christianity” is unattractive and generally repulsive!

Something that is “Half-Baked” possesses all the proper ingredients but has had insufficient contact with the flame.
And so we come to the second part of this answer: They possessed a Faith that was only Skin-Deep, that is …

* Their HEARTS had never been REACHED. (vss. 28-29)

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely
outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision
is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.
Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”

Circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant – a physical indicator that a man was one of God’s Chosen People. But if the man’s heart was not in tune with GOD, circumcision was no more than a physical anomaly .

Paul was not making anything up here … the studious Jew had long known this to be true. Moses (the lawgiver himself) had written these words to the early Israelites (Deuteronomy 10:16) …

“Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and be stiff-necked no longer.”

Earlier in that same chapter (verse 12) Moses had written …

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Jesus once said of the Jews of his day (Mark 7:6) …

“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”

The heart’s the thing … God wants the heart; for He knows that if He has the heart, then He on His way to having the whole man.

But hearts are fickle things – hearts can cool, hearts can be distracted … even circumcised ones. And when hearts cool, then behavior becomes forced and phony.

So how’s your heart this morning as we prepare for Communion?
Check it out if you haven’t already for as our Final Thot puts it …

Final Thot … A transformed LIFE begins with a transformed HEART and
that TRANSFORMED life puts our God is the best possible LIGHT!

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