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THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON

July 16, 2023

SERMON SERIES: GOD’S WORLDWIDE PLAN FOR EVERY PERSON

BOOK OF ROMANS

Sermon # 3: THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON

Romans 2:17-29


How genuine is your faith? It has become very fashionable in some circles to appear spiritual. But, in today’s world, men and women are looking for significance in all the wrong places, probing and then adopting a false religion, a false spirituality. In an effort to fool others, themselves, and even God, these people have embraced a cheap imitation of the real thing.

“For many centuries genuine pearls commanded a high price because of their scarcity. Great quantities of oysters had to be examined before a few could be found that contained the coveted treasures. Then suddenly the market became flooded with them. After some investigation the mystery of the abundant supply was revealed. Enterprising individuals had discovered that if a foreign object is lodged in its tender flesh, the oyster will form a glistening pearl around the source of discomfort. Deciding to help nature along, these men artificially induced the process by inserting irritants such as tiny beads and buckshot into the shells. When the pearls had formed, they were carefully harvested. Wealthy patrons became suspicious, however, and insisted that the lustrous jewels be subjected to special tests. Though outwardly they seemed perfect, the x-ray showed their impurity, for they had ‘false hearts’ of lead or glass.”

This is the condition of the religious person.

· He or she is impure.

· He or she has a false heart

· He or she does not have a genuine faith in God.

Many people believe that being religious is a good thing. However, those same people fail to realize that religion will send you straight to Hell! These verses will teach us today that it is not what we do externally that saves our souls, but it is what happens internally that determines where we will spend eternity. These verses will TELL us “THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON”.


I. THE SPIRITUAL CONFIDENCE OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON v. 17-20


A. The Jews boasted of their lineage v. 17 - They could trace their religious ancestry all the way back to Abraham. The Jews felt this gave them an ironclad guarantee of salvation.


Many people today have claimed to be Christian simply because they were the children, or the grand-children of believers. That, however, can’t save no one.

B. The Jews boasted of their Law v. 17b – They thought they had a special status with God since they have and know Scripture. The Jews felt just possessing the Law and knowing it, was enough to put them in a right relationship with God.


In John 5:39-40, The Scriptures point to Jesus, yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life. This means we aren’t going to heaven just because we know the Bible. What you know will all be held against you if it is not believed and practiced in your life.

C. The Jews boasted of their Lord v. 17c-18 – Again, they claimed a special relationship with God by virtue of the Law and of their religious activity.


Brothers and sisters, you can’t please God! No matter how good you get, you will never be good enough to please the Father, Isa. 64:6; Matt. 5:20.

D. The Jews boasted of their leadership v. 19-20 – They not only felt superior to others, but also considered themselves guides, lights, instructors, and teachers because they had the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law v. 19-20. The Jews felt it was their responsibility to show everyone else the way. Certainly, the idea was fine, but the motive of the heart was wrong.

This same brand of hypocrisy is still being played out in the world today. A religious person will try to force everyone else to conform to his or her standard of living. Our duty is to point people to our Savior.


THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON

1. The Spiritual Confidence Of The Religious Person


II. THE SPIRITUAL CONTAMINATION OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON v. 21-24


A. The Jews were guilty of deception v. 21-22 - The Jews or religious men were telling everyone else how wrong they were, they were merely deceiving themselves and others, because they were just as guilty as the persons they were trying to convert.


Watch out for people who are always telling others how right they are, and how everyone else ought to be like them. Often, they are of the very things they despise in others.

B. The Jews were guilty of desecration v. 23 – Now, Paul explains the result of the Jews’ breaking God’s Law. Because their practice did not match their profession, they were guilty of dishonoring the Lord! What a terrible thing to do – claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word in written form and then violate what it teaches?


Many people fail to recognize the truth today that sin dishonors the Lord!

C. The Jews were guilty of destruction v. 24 – Because the Jews lived the way they did while claiming to be God’s people, they were guilty of blaspheme (defame, disrespect). By their false profession, they destroyed the credibility of God. All the Gentiles would ever know about God was what they saw in the Jews.


Anytime we live in a manner that is inconsistent with what we claim to be, we are guilty of blaspheming the name of the Lord.

THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON

1. The Spiritual Confidence Of The Religious person

2. The Spiritual Contamination Of The Religious Person


III. THE SPIRITUAL CONDEMNATION OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON v. 25-29


A. Condemned by the reality of his or her sins v. 25-27 - Religion gives us false security! The Jews believe that a ritual circumcision is the way to secure God’s approval. Paul tells the Jews in this text, that even if they are circumcised, when they refuse to keep the Law, in God’s sight, it is as if they were just another heathen!


We look at the Jews’ attitude and think they are foolish, but we have people who have the same notions today. In Christian circles it isn’t circumcision, but things like baptism, communion, church membership, saved parents and grandparents etc. are looked upon a proof of one’s salvation. It has to be of the heart!

B. Condemned by the righteousness of the saint v. 26-29a – Paul emphasized: “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision which is by nature be counted for circumcision v. 26? In God’s sight, a person without any rituals can be more righteous than a person devoted to them. Living God’s way is from the heart and you are attached to Jesus! In fact, Paul says that the righteousness of the uncircumcision actually judges or rebukes the religious person as a sinner v. 27. Do you know the difference between a ritual and a Scriptural command? To simplify this, remember that only what is found in the Bible is a Scriptural command. Anything else is nothing more than a man-made ritual. Remember who pleases God, the saved person who lives right because of a changed heart!

C. Condemned by the redemption of the Savior v. 29b – Paul’s final argument against the religious person is to inform him or her that true religion is not a matter of the hands, the feet, the eyes, the head and the lips. It is, however, a matter of the heart!

Jesus didn’t come so we could have religion; He came so we could have a relationship with God through Him. We must never be deceived into believing that we can somehow please the Lord, or that we can be good enough to get into Heaven on the basis of our religious experiences. God’s people are the people who have been circumcised spiritually---in the heart.


ILLUSTRATION:

What the world calls religion is nothing more than an empty shell, void of any life or meaning.


“The story is told of two brothers who grew up on a farm. One went away to college, earned a law degree, and became a partner in a prominent law firm in the state capital. The other brother stayed on the family farm. One day the lawyer came and visited his brother, the farmer. He asked, ‘Why don’t you go out and make a name for yourself and hold your head up high in the world like me?’ The brother pointed and said, ‘See that field of wheat over there? Look closely. Only the empty heads stand up. Those that are well filled always bow low.’ “Said differently, ‘The branch that bears the most fruit is bent the lowest to the ground.’


Whatever you do for Christ, is it of the heart or of appearance only?

THE DANGERS OF THE RELIGIOUS PERSON

1. The spiritual confidence of the religious person

2. The spiritual contamination of the religious person

3. The spiritual condemnation of the religious person

Responsive Reading: Romans 2:17-29




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