I. THE GENTILE PAGAN WORLD AS PAUL SAW IT.
A. They were filled with unrighteousness, fornication, covetousness, full of envy and murder, haters of God, proud, boasters, without natural affection.
B. The reason for this condition.
1. When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God.
2. They had become vain in their imaginations.
3. Their foolish hearts were darkened.
4. Professing themselves to be wise they had become fools.
5. God had given them over to their own lusts.
6. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator.
7. They did not want to retain God in their minds so God gave them over to reprobate minds.
II. THE JEW WAS HORRIFIED BY THE ACTIONS OF THE GENTILES FOR THEY WERE CONTRARY TO THE LAW THAT GOD HAD GIVEN TO THEM.
A. In chapter two Paul points out to the Jews that they were even more guilty than the Gentiles.
1. They were judging the Gentiles for their actions, yet they were guilty of doing the same things themselves.
a. In the sermon on the mount Jesus is taking the Jews to task for their misinterpretation of the law.
b. He began the section of the message with the words, "Except your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisee's you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.
c. He then illustrated the statement with 5 illustrations of how they were interpreting the law and contrasted their interpretation with the divine meaning and intent of the law.
d. The law said, "You shall not kill." Jesus said that if you hated your brother you were guilty of violating the Spirit of the law.
e. The law said, "You shall not commit adultery." Jesus said that if you looked lustfully upon a woman, and desired her sexually, you had violated the commandment.
2. Thus you could be keeping the law outwardly, yet be breaking the law in your heart, and God looks upon the heart.
a. This is exactly what was happening with the Jews.
b. They honored the law with their lips, but it was not in their heart to keep the law.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
c. God looks on a man's heart, He is interested in what is going on in your heart.
3. Just hearing the law cannot justify you before God. When Moses gave the law to the people he emphasized the importance of doing the law.
Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, to do [them], that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
4. The Jew by virtue of having the law and the fact that he knew the requirements of God for righteousness, and consented that this was the correct way to live felt that he was justified before God.
III. NOT ONLY COULD THE APPROVAL AND CONSENT TO THE LAW NOT AVAIL FOR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD, BUT KEEPING THE ORDINANCES OF THE LAW, COULD NOT MAKE A MAN RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD.
A. God had made a covenant with Abraham when he was 99 years old. The covenant was that God would multiply him exceedingly. That he would be a father of many nations. That God would make him very fruitful and the nations and kings would come forth from him. That God would give to his seed the land in which he had been living.
1. The sign of this covenant was to be the rite of circumcision.
2. Thus every male born among the descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised.
3. This was the outward sign that they were a Jew.
4. In time the Jews did what so many people do, they began to substitute the ritual for the actual reality.
5. The same thing has happened in the church with the rite of baptism. Many people believe they are Christians because they have experienced the rite of baptism.
6. Both rituals symbolize that a person is not going to live after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
a. In circumcision you are cutting off the flesh, i.e. the life lived after the flesh.
b. In baptism you are burying the old life of the flesh, to live a new life after the Spirit.
c. But if you are living a life after the flesh, then the value of either ritual is totally negated.
d. The fact that you were baptized when you were an infant is totally meaningless, if you are living after the flesh. The same is true if you were baptized after you became an adult.
e. As Peter wrote, "Now baptism doth now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, (i.e. an outward washing) but the answer of a good conscience toward God."
B. This is the point that Paul seeks to make as he addresses the Jews.
1. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit and not the letter.
2. This means that they are also guilty before God and need the offer of salvation offered by God through His Son Jesus Christ.
IV. IT'S A MATTER OF THE HEART.
A. Why is God so interested in what is going on in your heart?
1. In Proverbs 4:23
we read, "Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life."
2. Jesus said,
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
3. Again He said,
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
B. In chapter 10 as Paul speaks of our being saved he said, "If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved."
1. Why believe with your heart? Why not believe in your mind?
a. Man often finds it easy to change his mind.
b. It is difficult to change your heart.
2. What is in the heart of a man, will determine his purposes and goals in life.
C. What is in your heart today?
1. Jeremiah said,
The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings. What the Lord is saying here is that you will be judged by what's going on in your heart.
2. At the time of the flood in the days of Noah the Bible declares:
And God saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. God was looking upon their hearts. Even as He looks at your heart. As he looks at your heart what does He see?
3. In Psalm 139
David recognizes how thoroughly God knew him. "Oh Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. You understand my thoughts afar off. There is not a word in my tongue, but you know it completely. Such knowledge is to great for me, I cannot attain it."
4. Recognizing that God knows him so thoroughly even better than he knew himself he prayed. "Search me Oh God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be some wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."
C. Back in verse 16 of our text Paul tells us that in the day in which God judges, He will be judging according to the secrets of men, i.e. what is in your heart.
D. Solomon said, "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways." This is just what God is saying to you today. Give me your heart.
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.