June 7-8, 2014
Paul wrote the second chapter of Romans to Jewish readers who believed they enjoyed a special relationship with God because they knew and obeyed the law of God. Many believed this relationship placed them above the law, and so they 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 guilty actions.
But it’s never enough just to know and approve of what is right. It is never enough to be a church member or to be born into a Christian family. Nothing has 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 occasionally 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 secretly. Nobody, I repeat, nobody is immune to 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.”
Consider the Last Supper, when Jesus told Peter that he would deny Christ. In response, Peter adamantly proclaimed his love and loyalty, claiming he would lay down his life for Jesus. But some hours later, Peter was able to rationalize the exact opposite of what he professed he would do. And, indeed, he denied Christ—not once, not twice, but three times.
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, shift blame or deny you’re in this category. Reflect and examine why you’re tricked into thinking that your behavior results in your benefit rather than your harm.
Today, don’t rationalize or hide. Stop posing. Jesus died so you could lead a transformed and abundant life. That life is the only place in which the peace and joy we all desire can be found. Faith in Christ sets us free from sin. But to enjoy this life, we must exercise and apply that faith to life’s everyday 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. However, 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. Whether you are a doer of the Word or you are only a hearer of the Word, it’s your decision, so 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. Romans 2:13
Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples. Matthew 26:34-35
And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, “This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the man.” And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, “Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.” Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, “I know not the man.” And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, “Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” And he went out, and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:71-75