On the way to work this morning I was listening to another sermon by Piper on Romans 2:25-29. Piper was focusing on verses 28-29:
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.In his treatment of this passage, Piper tried to help people understand this verse with several illustrations, including two equations. These equations were developed from these verses and the context of Romans, and they are helpful in understanding how the Jews could have the Law, but not get it, while the Gentiles could get the Law and not have it. Here are the two equations:
LAW - SPIRIT =
- External Religious Rituals (circumcision, baptism?, Bible reading?)
- The Need for the Praise of Man (it is amazing how the taste of a compliment is so POWERFUL to us)
- Internal Circumcision of the Heart (Jeremiah 31:33)
- Satisfaction in the Praise of God (see verse 29b above)
So LAW + SPIRIT is the fulfillment of the Law; without the Spirit, Piper points out that the law simply backs us into a corner and we rebel or we try to look like we are obeying the law and we try to climb a moral ladder to heaven. And we know that the only way we can have Law and Spirit is to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness and righteousness.
This LAW - SPIRIT equation opens my eyes; maybe you too can see the Pharisees of the 21st century in our church pews.