The aim of this passage is to cause us to understand righteousness comes only from the Holy Spirit and when it comes from ourselves it is bound to be superficial.
People that professed God with their mouths but broke the law with their actions were dishonoring God (Rom 2:17-24)
Self-righteousness in believers causes unbelievers to dishonor to God.
There were some Jew who had excelled in the study of the law and they found comfort and pride in their knowledge. These people, because of their knowledge, instructed other on the matter of the law. Paul asked these people why they broke the law that they were teaching others to obey. These people that proclaim their great knowledge of God’s law, dishonored Him when they broke it.
Here Paul referred to the words of God to David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, gotten her pregnant and killed Uriah in an attempt to hide his guilt. In 2 Samuel 12:14 God, through, the prophet Nathan said, “… by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme …”
It is the same with us today. By our actions, we can win over people to Christ or keep them away from Him. Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:13 said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
What understanding of God do unbelievers have when they come into contact with you? Do you bring honor or dishonor to God?
Righteousness is not an outward or physical thing but a matter of the heart (Rom 2:25-29)
True righteousness starts in our hearts, by the work of the Holy Spirit, and radiates to the outside.
Paul went on to say that the ritual of circumcision is only meaningful if a person obeys the law. Otherwise, it serves no purpose. A person who is not circumcised and keeps the law is circumcised. This person can condemn those who are circumcised but do not keep the law. Being a Jew or circumcised is not an outward or physical thing. It is an inward thing. It comes through the Holy Spirit and it is recognized by God and not other men.
In the summon in the mountain Jesus Christ talk about how we were to obey God’s word. In Matthew 5:27-28 He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Obedience starts with our attitudes and is manifested in our actions.
It is because of this high standard of righteousness that God demands that we need the Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so much. Apart from Christ, we have not forgiveness of sin and access to God and apart fro the Holy Spirit we have no hope for sanctification. On our own we are hopeless.
How different are you on the inside from the image that you project to other people?