Paul wrote the second chapter of Romans to Jewish readers who believed they had a special relationship with God because they knew, approved, and were obedient to the Law of God. Many believed this relationship made them above the Law, and so were not careful in their lifestyles. They excused behaviors that were wrong and trusted in their supposed privileged position to shield them from the consequences of their guilt.
It is never enough just to know and approve what is right. It is never enough to be a church member or to be born into a Christian family. Nothing has any meaning without a relationship with God that is alive and based solely on faith in Christ as your personal Savior. In today’s scripture, Paul is speaking to religious people who lack a living relationship with God.
Religious people are prone to rationalization. They often have a strong belief system. But when their beliefs and behaviors conflict, they may resolve the internal conflict by finding excuses for themselves. Many people are pro-life, but when it comes to an unwanted pregnancy in their own home, some are able to rationalize an abortion. Many oppose pornography, but allow themselves to indulge in secret. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is above rationalizing and excusing sinful behaviors and attitudes.
People rationalize sins such as cheating on their taxes, lying, having temper tantrums, gossiping, being bitter, harboring a grudge, controlling others, resisting change, continuing an addiction, or having an affair. “Everyone does it.” “I deserve it.” “It doesn’t really hurt anyone.” “I’ll only do it this one time.”
Perhaps you have fallen into this rationalization trap. You know God’s Word. You say you believe it. And yet when it comes right down to your personal circumstances, you find a way to rationalize behavior that the Holy Bible condemns. Hypocrisy? You bet! But don’t just pout or deny you’re in this category, learn why you are tricked into thinking that your behavior results in benefit rather than harm.
Today, don’t rationalize or hide. Stop posing. Jesus died so you could lead a transformed life. That is only place in which the peace and joy we all desire can be found. Faith in Christ sets us free from sin, but we must exercise and apply that faith to life’s situations. It isn’t enough to know what the Bible says. God calls us into a close relationship that causes us to want to please Him. We will all stumble and fall along the way, but a close walk with the Lord should encourage us to repent and get back on the right path … to restore our relationship with Him. Knowing and speaking the Word isn’t enough … we must live it. Your decision, choose well.
Dear Father God, forgive me for reading Your Word but then going my own way. I pray that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that Your Word will become a living part of me and that I will live to please You. Help me apply Your instruction clearly in my life. I pray that my relationship with You will grow stronger and my desire to please You will grow. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who lived His Father’s Word, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.