Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Praised by the Praiseworthy

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Romans 2:28-29 (ESV)

These few sentences are both a rebuke of legalists' futile attempts at self-salvation and also a promise to those who despair that noone recognizes their effort. First, God proclaims that His people are not those who are physically like His people--they are those who love Him with a Spiritual love. The law ("the letter") is not what saves; rather the Spirit of God. But while this is more foundational to Christian faith, it is far less theologically deep than the short last sentence of Romans chapter 2: "His praise is not from man but from God." Listen to that: God's people are praised by God. We not only praise God, He praises us. What an amazing, inconceivable truth! The Majesty of Heaven will call us "good and faithful" (Matt. 25:21, 23). When the world calls us "narrow-minded," "backwards," or "foolish," we can remember that man's praise is as nothing compared to praise from God.

Monday, March 23, 2009

God Shall Arise

"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."--Romans 16:20a (English Standard Version)

For years, I have treasured this promise. Recently, as I studied Romans as a whole, it jumped out at me again. Think about the theological depth and significance of this short saying. God says that He will crush Satan soon. If anything is good news, that is. Indeed, though this promise clearly shows God's violent wrath, it names God as the "God of peace." Why? Because by destroying the evil one, He will give us peace. Even more, He will crush Satan under our feet. We are not to be just spectators--we are to fight the battle.

So take heart: The LORD will soon destroy your enemy. As Psalm 68:1 says, "God shall arise, His enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate Him shall flee before Him!"