Book of Romans Chapter 2

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

In Romans 2, Paul tackles the dangers of hypocrisy. He teaches us the dangers of relying on good works while having bad character and bad intent. This will only lead to affliction and distress. It’s quite common sensical if you think about it. You can’t trick God by outwardly following commandments if inwardly, in your heart, you are doing it for lust, power, or fame. God does not reward that kind of behavior. 

….but to those who act from selfish ambition and who disobey the truth, but who obey unrighteousness, wrath and anger. There will be affliction and distress. 

Paul accuses the preachers of blasphemy for engaging in the exact behavior they preach to others NOT to do. In Romans 1, he goes after the Gentiles/Romans for ungodly behavior without the law, and then in 2, he goes after the Jews who have the law and don’t behave morally or justly in accordance with the law. Though Paul is talking to the Jewish leaders at the time, the universality of it is ANY believer who manipulates the truth of God for selfish ambition or who engages in “unrighteousness” will earn God’s wrath and anger. Think about how many believers are turned off of by Church and thereby distanced from faith in Christ because the preachers behaved in a way that dishonored God. Though we must have grace for those who transgress and quickly repent, ultimately there is a higher standard placed on those who preach than those who are just personally guilty of sin.  

21 Therefore, the one who teaches someone else, do you not teach yourself? The one who preaches not to steal, do you steal? 22 The one who says not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? The one who abhors idols, do you rob temples? 23 Who boast in the law, by the transgression of the law you dishonor God!d 24 For just as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” – Romans 2: 21-24 (NIV)

All of this leads to Paul’s ultimate point: it doesn’t matter how many laws we follow, whether we do them sincerely or as hypocrites, if we do not have the spirit of God within us. The reward is in abiding with the Spirit, not the letter of the law. In seeking God’s pleasure, not people’s. He’s not saying there is no value to the law; rather, on its own, it’s not enough. The law without spiritual obedience is worthless. 

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Reading this had a profound impact on me, because in Islam there’s a strong emphasis on following the law. The more we did, the better our chances of being forgiven. There was no mention or concept of the “spirit of God.” Consequently, it felt like abiding by the law was no more than a set of rituals. God was nowhere in them. Though Paul directs his comments to the Jews, it speaks to me about my experience in Islam. The Bible is a living and breathing revelation that can speak to all of us differently. 

I pray you read the Scripture and allow the words to speak into your Spirit what God is trying to tell you—not only about the past, but about your present and future. 

1 –  The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 2:28–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Book of Romans – Introduction

By Hedieh Mirahmadi 

Background: The book of Romans in the Bible was written by the Apostle Paul, also known as Saul. He was such a devout believer in Judaism that he severely persecuted the followers of Christ. 

When he was on the way to Damascus to arrest believers there, God got his attention, as recorded in Acts 9:1-6. Supernatural light blinded him, and as he lay on the ground, he heard the voice of Jesus.

A lot of people didn’t believe in the power of seeing Jesus after he had ascended. Many don’t believe that he appears to people today even if he did so for Paul back then. 

But others do believe in the power of God to do anything, and that Jesus is the same as before, today and forever. If you are one of them, then you accept that these things are still possible. 

In my own conversion experience, I heard Jesus’s voice, then saw a vision of him. He made it abundantly clear to me that He called me for a distinct purpose, just as He called Paul. I, too, was a believer in another faith: born of a sacred lineage and a devout Muslim. Christ revealed Himself to me, and therefore I cannot deny the calling He has placed on my life. It may involve pain and suffering, as it did for Paul.

In Romans, Paul expresses his deep desire to promote unity between believers in Jesus who were originally Jewish and those who were Gentiles.  

Since everyone who was not Jewish was considered a Gentile, that term encompasses nearly all of humanity who accept and are born again in Christ, including atheists and Muslims. 

Paul wrote passionately and convincingly, with love and respect for the Jewish people. He wanted them to realize the immense gift of grace that comes through the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. He also plainly described the dangers of not doing so. 

I found his arguments brilliantly articulated, with grace, divine power, and conviction. His words spoke to me so clearly about why faith in Jesus is so irrefutable and necessary.—We all need faith. Not only for our salvation but for joy and transformation in this life as well. 

I want to share with you some inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit about how the Book of Romans relates to my own experience. 

 

General Themes in Romans

 

  1. Paul begins his argument by describing God’s wrath against all mankind. In case his Jewish readers thought that their heritage somehow made them better, Paul shows otherwise in the second chapter. In fact, a Jew who judges a Gentile stands condemned by the same standard. All sin. All must repent. No one has the right to point accusing fingers at anyone else. The people who confidently believe they have measured up to God’s righteous standard may be in the most danger. 
  2. Only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the one true God can we achieve reconciliation and unity. Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to humanity. These go all the way back to Abraham, the father of all monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Islam.   
  3. Paul sought the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles but also wanted to be clear and convincing about the consequences of not accepting the one true God alone is worthy of worship. 
  4. God’s very first commandment is that his people worship no other gods. But Paul recognizes that all of us are slaves to temptation and sin, because we put our other desires such as wealth, sex, and fame as idols. Our idolatry of our desires rather than God can only lead to sin and death. God reveals his wrath on our unrighteousness both individually and as a society. Proper fear of God entails fearing both his wrath and his grief. 
  5. In the seventh chapter, Paul eloquently describes how even the most devout adherents to religious law can be the worst perpetrators of sin. The law reveals what sin is, and our flesh then desires it. It’s a vicious cycle. We agree with the law and want to follow it. But the sin that still lives in us impels us to live otherwise. Only the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit can rescue us from this body of death.  
  6. Though Paul wrote to Jews and Roman Gentiles, the universality and eternal nature of the word of God applies to all humanity at all times. So it is a warning to any learned believer that they should avoid self-righteous thinking or the condemnation of others as if their sins are somehow less than the sin of those less versed in the law. The other great monotheistic religions should take heed. Jews don’t accept the divinity of Christ or even acknowledge he was a prophet. In the Islamic tradition, Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, ascended to Heaven without death, and is believed to return in the last days to defeat the anti-Christ. However, it only assigns him the title of prophet and absolutely denies his divinity. If Muslims can consider this objectively, without the lens of politics, they can take heed of the Scripture as the infallible word of God for humanity and not just a “holy book.”