The Importance of Spiritual Purity (Romans 2:23-25)
Romans 2:23-25, Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
One night in China, missionary C.L. Culpepper stayed up late for his devotions, but as he tried to pray, he felt like stone. Uncomfortable spiritually, and not willing to remain in this current state, he asked, "Lord, what is the matter?" He opened his Bible and read from Romans 2:17-25. Culpepper said the Holy Spirit used these verses like a sword to cut deeply into his heart. The Spirit of God convicted him of hypocrisy, a lack of power and ineffectiveness for Christ.
Culpepper awakened his wife and they prayed into the night. The next morning at a prayer meeting with fellow workers, he confessed his pride and spiritual impotence, saying his heart was broken. The Holy Spirit began to convict others of sin so much they could hardly bear it. Revival began to break out in the seminary, schools, hospitals, and area churches as people got right with God and one another. The result of the Shantung Revival was the growth of churches as many got right with God and many were won to Christ.
The effect of this passage on Culpepper was the same goal the Holy Spirit had for the readers of the letter to the Romans. God wanted them to have a change in focus and a change in heart. This was the punch in the long noses of those who were self righteous. It wasn't the possession of the Law, but the practice of it that mattered.
Paul drives his case forcibly against self-righteous Jews. The Jews rested in the Law and trusted it for their righteousness. They boasted that they knew God, knew His will, and chose a higher morality in life because they were “instructed out of the law” each week at the synagogue. They believed they were morally superior than everyone else.
Paul wanted them to stop comparing themselves, stop focusing on the faults of others, and start looking at themselves. Adultery, idolatry, and theft can also be done in the heart. They preached against stealing, yet were guilty of dishonesty in their personal affairs. They preached against adultery, but were secretly guilty of immorality themselves. They preached against idolatry, but profited from secret dealings with shrines of idols. It’s worth noting that hypocrisy deceives the hypocrite, damages unbelievers, and dishonors God.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace because the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
The carnal mind is opposed to God, to all that He is. A carnal mind has no interest in the law of God nor in trying to live as God wishes. The carnal mind wants to live as it wishes and do its own thing. The carnal man wants to indulge his flesh, whether by food, sex, pride, power, position, money, recognition, fame, or self-righteousness.
Most carnal minds are influenced heavily by their environment and those around them. If their friends are materialistic or immoral, they focus upon the same. Few carnal minds ever break away from their environment and friends. Only the Spirit of God can penetrate the human mind and set it free from the flesh and its carnal passions.
The Bible teaches that we cannot please God if we do not have a right relationship with Him (Romans 8:8). We are to be right before men but also real before God. Lip-service and life-service are to go hand-in-hand. Our Sunday Christianity should be the same as Monday's. Our inward attitude is what is important to the Lord. God wants our heart and He changes it when we give it to Him. Ezekiel 11:19, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.” II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Prayer: Father, my desire is to please and honor You in my daily walk with You before others. I know that there is not one thing that I ever perform or ponder that is concealed to You. As You examine my heart, help me to live a life of holiness, honesty, and humility. I ask for strength, patience, and wisdom as I aim to practice Your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.