Text: Romans 2:25-29
Theme: True obedience comes from true heart change.
Key verses: “The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But it you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it” (v. 25-27). “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people” (v. 29).
What God said to me: It always comes down to the heart. From my perspective the condition and motives of your heart are what matter most. You’ve seen this theme running throughout my Scriptures. David said it in Psalm 51. Jesus said it in his Sermon on the Mount. Paul is saying it again here as clearly as he can. I do expect truth in your inward parts, Dwayne. I do not delight in sacrifice. I take no pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices I require are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart I will not despise. So many people make it about what others can see, how well they can dress themselves up and put on a happy face, how much they can do good deeds and perform certain rituals. They think by their much striving they will impress me somehow with their outward obedience and activities. Not so. Not by a long shot. I see their hearts. I know their deepest thoughts and motives. And it is from those I will judge them. Do your actions matter? Of course they do. Will your obedience to my laws make a difference to me and to others? Absolutely it can. But it will not be counted as righteousness, and it will not stand the test of my fire at judgement if that obedience wasn’t motivated out of pure love and devotion to me. Only my Spirit can produce such lasting and true change inside of you, Dwayne. That is why He is still working on you, to make you what you ought to be–wholly and completely mine.
What I said to God: My precious and powerful and all-knowing God, thank You for loving me and for putting up with my many failures and set-backs over the years. What a patience and kind Master You are! Paul could not have made it more plain. David and Jesus and others in Your Word reiterate this theme over and over. We have no excuse if we miss it. Change my heart, O God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You. You are the potter. I am the clay. Mold me and make me; this is what I pray.