16 June 2013
The true way of God’s righteousness versus Jewish self righteousness – that’s what Paul confronts his audience with in this passage. The learning for us today is that if we want to arrive at the truth, then we must trust the source of truth and not culture or our own gut instinct. But before we can do that, we must understand what truth is first and foremost (2 Thessalonians 2:10,13). So how does Paul approach this problem that was a stumbling block for the Jews?
Firstly, Paul was not like many of the preachers we have today, telling people what they wanted to hear so they would like him back. No, he actually loved them so much that he was willing to tell them the harsh truth. He wanted them to come to grips with the tension between God’s sovereign election and man’s responsibility to respond in faith. It could be said that the truth of God’s election did not prevent him from having a heart of love towards the people. Rather it spurred him in love to seek the salvation of all. Do we pray puny prayers that are spawned by puny faith and a puny God?
Secondly, the question isn’t about whether or not we are zealous; the question is what are we zealous for? Because everyone is zealous for something. We all have a passion for something. Here, Paul hits home by saying that his Jewish brethren did have a zeal for God but this zeal was misplaced and misdirected. It was not based on true spiritual knowledge that produced brokenness and humility. Rather, their zeal was based on false knowledge that produced pride and arrogance. More importantly, he knew what he was talking about because once upon a time, he too had this same blind zeal.
Lastly, while every person is on a general quest for some sort of righteousness, where are they looking? That’s the problem. If their eyes are on any source other than Christ (self righteousness, works, legalism), their quest will be in vain.
Paul’s gives us a great example of how we ought to have a heart of love for the unsaved that not only desires them to know truth, but also confronts them with it.
1. A heart of compassion for the lost (vs1)
2. A heart zealous for God but in ignorance (vs2-3)
3. A heart of belief in Christ brings true righteousness (vs4)