Familiarity and Obedience

James Cook

READ : Romans 2:12–29

It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (v. 13)

It is a disturbing fact that these verses are addressed to people who know God and his will. They were the counterparts of the good church people of today. They were proud of their relationship with God and thought of themselves as guides to the blind, lights to those in darkness, correctors of the foolish, and teachers of children. Yet there was one flaw that undid all their claims to goodness. They were saying one thing but doing another. They were honoring the law with their lips but breaking it with their lives. They were blind to the fact that “it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

Jesus said much the same thing in different words: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Knowing and doing belong together. It is easier to recite the Law than to keep it; it is easier to learn the Christian way of life than to live it. Still, God calls us to both. There is little doubt that most religious problems stem from trying to do only the one or the other. We are either tempted to concentrate on works without faith or faith without works. Paul reminds us that the most intimate sign of belonging to God is not familiarity, but obedience. (originally published October 4, 1961)

PRAYER

Thank you, God, for the Bible and for the light it sheds on life. Amen.