Saturday, 9 February 2013
…and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, Romans 2:18
There are two general meanings that the word “approve” could mean in this verse. The first would be “to approve of” and the other would be to “prove” or to “discern between.” Either would make sense in the context of the verse and it should be noted that the former would merely be the result of exercising the latter. In the overall context and because one eventually results in the other, it would be logical that Paul is speaking of discernment.
This type of discernment is found in the testing of metals by fire. When they are heated they are proven pure, found to be mixed with lesser metals, or defiled by impurities. The fire reveals the purity, nature, and quality of the solid by breaking it down into liquid. Jesus uses this same term in Luke 12:56 in a manner revealing discernment –
“Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?” Luke 12:56
The people He was addressing could walk out from morning to morning and tell what the weather would be like by the color of the sky. But when the Light of the world came and revealed His glory, they were blinded and unable to make a right discernment about who He actually is.
In a like manner, Paul shows that the Jew, putting his trust in the law as an end in and of itself, boasts in God because they “know His will” from the law. This is done regardless of whether they actually have faith in God or not. They know what He expects from a mechanical sense and therefore can discern between what is good and what isn’t. They obtain this because they are “being instructed out of the law.”
The word “instructed” here is from the Greek word katechoumenos. It is where we obtain our word “catechumen” – one who is being instructed. From this comes the word catechism, or instruction.
The instruction they receive helps them to understand what is right, but he will show that it doesn’t guarantee that the knowledge will be transferred to right action. As an example, a judge may know the law like the back of his hand, but this doesn’t mean that he will actually obey the law that he knows. Time and time again we read of judges who are arrested for committing the very crimes that they judge others for. These judges –
1) Know the law (His will)
2) Agree with the law because they judge others using it (approve the things that are excellent)
3) Because they have been schooled in law (instructed out of the law)
All of this, however, is no guarantee of right living. We will see this as we continue.
Life application: What is your level of Bible knowledge? Have you read the word many times? Have you studied the original languages? Have you been schooled in proper theology? If yes – big deal… big deal if you don’t align your life with what you know. Having the law; knowing the Bible; understanding the nature of God – none of that means diddly if you have no heart for the Lord. Each day, remember to return to child-like faith in your Lord. Then go back and apply the meat of His word to Your wholesome diet.
Lord Jesus, I confess that too often I trust in my knowledge and forget to put my faith in You. My knowledge actually causes me to stumble and act in a manner contrary to the beauty of living by faith alone in Your great work. Humble me, O Lord, and give me a heart that is soft and tender toward You alone. Amen.