(17) Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,Romans 2:17
Last week we studied the beginning of Paul’s case for the sinfulness of mankind in Romans 1. He continues to make that case in chapter 2. He makes the case at the beginning of Chapter 2 that mankind is inexcusable in their deeds. All men stand guilty before God, who “will render to every man according to their deeds”.
This truth could have been unsettling to a jewish audience if they believed it. Why? Because they lived in a jewish culture who had placed their security for being right with God in several different realities.
The first reality that the jews placed their security in was their nationality. Paul mentions this in verse 17, today’s highlighted verse. “Behold, thou art called a jew…and makest thy boast of God”. The jewish people are God’s chosen people, but this did not mean that every person who is nationally/ethnically jewish stands justified before a Holy God. Paul made this clear previously in Romans 2:9-11, where he said,
(9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (11) For there is no respect of persons with God.Romans 2:9-11
Paul is not making the case in verses 9-11 that those who do more good than bad will go to heaven. We know this because he goes on to make the case that everyone is guilty and in need of a Savior. What he is saying is that blessing or punishment from God isn’t exclusively based on being a jew or a gentile. It’s not as if jews are guiltless and gentiles are guilty. When it comes to whether or not we stand guilty or justified in the eyes of God, nationality has nothing to do with it. Why? “For there is no respect of persons with God.(Romans 2:11)”
When you ask people if they are going to heaven, my experience is that most people would say that they are or that they hope that they are. When you go the next step and ask them why they think they would you’ll get a multitude of reasons. One you might get is this nationality or heritage idea. “Great-grandaddy was a preacher.” “I grew up going to that church.” “My momma was a great Christian and she taught us right.” All of those things may be good, but they don’t really answer the question adequately. The old saying is that God has no grandchildren. Just because you are a certain nationality, or you have a certain heritage is no automatic guarantee of security before a Holy God.
Are their advantages to having a “christian” heritage? There may well be, but it alone will not cleanse you of your sins and justify you in the eyes of a Holy God.
- Are you trusting in something other than Jesus Christ to make you right with God?
- Is there someone around you that thinks this way?
- What should you do in response to the fact that you or others may believe that they are right with God based on their heritage?