Romans 9:32 - Seeking God’s Favor?
Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Truth to Learn
Works don’t produce God’s favor, only faith can do that.
Behind the Words
“Stumbled” is from the Greek word proskoptō, which means “to strike against” or to “trip over.”
The Apostle Paul now explains why the Israelites failed to achieve righteousness even though they pursued it vigorously. He says very clearly that the reason they failed to achieve righteousness is because they did not pursue it by faith. Instead, he says, they pursued it by works of the Law.
The devout Jews did many things daily in an attempt to please God. They prayed, they fasted, they sacrificed, they gave their tithes, they studied the Law and the Prophets, and they listened to the Rabbis to learn the oral laws so that they could be sure to obey all that they were commanded to do. Because they were so intent on earning God’s favor by obedience, they denied, even rejected the one in whom they could have obtained God’s favor, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. They tripped over the stumbling stone whom they called Jesus of Nazareth, denying that He was their Messiah.
But before we get too condemning of these Israelites, let’s look at our churches and church members today. Many of us are putting our effort into praying, fasting, offering our time in service to the church, giving tithes, reading our Bibles daily, and listening to all that our priests and ministers tell us so that we can be obedient to God and to the church with all of its expectations. In short, we are trying to earn God’s favor just as the Israelites did a couple of thousand years ago, and still do today.
In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, the writer recounts example after example of those who obtained God’s favor because of their faith, not because of their obedience to God or to a set of church rules. Tucked away in this chapter is the sixth verse which says:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
The writer doesn’t say “without obedience,” he says “without faith.” Trying to be obedient causes stumbling, while living by faith produces victory! God is pleased with a life of faith, not a life of obedience.
So let me ask you, why do you pray? Why do you read your Bible? Why do you give to your church? Why do you obediently attend church regularly and listen carefully to the sermon or homily each week? Are you trying to earn God’s favor like the Israelites did? Or is it because you believe God’s Word and you want to Glorify Him in all you do? Do you do it out of obligation and a hope of rewards? Or do you do it out of grateful, humble actions of faith?
Think about that and be honest with yourself!
In God’s service, for His glory,
Copyright © 2010 Will Krause. All rights reserved.
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