You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? (Romans 2:21, ESV)
A head full of Scriptural knowledge must be coupled with a heart committed to godly obedience. Knowing must be followed by doing.
Many people are intrigued by Scripture and spend much time studying and gaining knowledge about it. But few connect that knowledge with a personal application – what they read and understand impacts their life and influences their lifestyle.
In today’s reading, Paul continues his assault on the religious legalists of his day. The Jewish religious leaders touted their seemingly spiritual superiority due to having, reading, and knowing the Mosaic Law. As God’s chosen people, who were given God’s Law, they viewed themselves as a “cut above” everyone else.
Then an amazing thing happened – Gentiles started accepting Christ’s salvation, receiving the Holy Spirit, and living transformed lives. This posed a serious dilemma for the Roman church. How was it possible for the “unchosen” Gentiles to be included in God’s grace? Since they didn’t have or follow the Law, how could Gentiles know how to live in a way that was pleasing to God?
Head- Knowledge is not Heart-Knowledge
Yes, the religious leaders had much Scriptural knowledge. But their prejudicial and hypocritical lifestyles hindered their spiritual insight and growth. As such, they were a poor reflection of the God who they claimed to follow (Romans 2:24). Their “head full of knowledge and message full of rules” blinded them to the “weightier matters” (Matthew 23:23) of compassion for their fellow man and genuine faith in Christ.
Jesus gave this warning about religious legalists: “Practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3). Paul confirmed, “It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Romans 2:13). James succinctly summarized the issue with, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
The instruction is quite clear – all the spiritual knowledge, Scripture memorization, and notes taken from Sunday sermons serve no value if our lives are not transformed by God’s truth. Let’s not be like those who are “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Rather, let us be transformed by His Word (Romans 12:2).
- Which will you be? Will you be quick to hear yet slow to do?
- Or will you readily hear the truth of God’s Word and become an obedient doer by applying what you learn to your life?
- What truth have you recently learned from God’s Word? How are you applying it to your life?