Genesis 44-45 / Psalm 49 / Romans 1-2
But man, despite his riches, does not endure;
he is like the beasts that perish.
The humans have a special kind of arrogance about them, individually driven by a force of instinct out of their control to think they are inherently good within themselves. There's nothing special about a human individually or collectively. They are just like the animals who live a few years and then go into the ground to become one with it via the process of transformation by decomposition.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
They cannot trust anything but what they can see and control until they need to be comforted about their apparent imminent demise, which is a blow to their persistent need to continue to keep surviving. Then when they do trust some god outside of themselves, it's a god they've made up which suits their existence and does their will, which is convenient for them.
Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
There are many things to trust in the present natural consciousness, but they all have one thing in common. They are all geared toward finding a kind of agreement that sits well within the particular human who is searching for it. It doesn't matter what that thing is the human is searching for—money, happiness, truth, respect, honor, fulfillment, eternal survival—because it's all about quenching that need to find the agreement it seeks to feel okay, to find some hope to continue to survive. Everything comes back around to that constant service to the self, which is the drive of the instinct to keep doing just that, to keep each one in that cycle of self-love and preservation, much like any wild animal is driven toward the same end without even thinking about whether it should do it or not. In other words, the humans don't live their lives making decisions about what they're doing or going to do, but are driven by a force of instinctual power to make their decisions based on that underlying drive, which means they don't make any decisions at all, since each one is colored by that instinct to survive, and to always choose toward that which enhances that instinct to choose that way.
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Paul is desirous of visiting and encouraging those who had been chosen to believe something that seemed impossible, that the life of the man who had been killed was now particularly inhabiting them. After 15 years, Paul had not left that which was started in him; he still believed and hadn't gone away from the new life and the new way of God, about which he diligently preached among the new converts. That would have been important reassurance to them who were going through so much trauma of losing everything that they would have called their lives. What they had spent their lives trying to enhance and preserve was now being threatened or taken away because they believed something that seemed totally impossible, and it wasn't just some generic religion they had a whim to say they believed in all of a sudden. After a few hundred years when it became that generic thing, then it lost all its power and became the many forms of one of thousands of generic religions the humans join when they feel like they want to acquire that ultimate agreement within themselves of being able to survive forever (eternal life), after they've spent their lives surviving to and for themselves.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
He wastes no time before launching in to a defense against the haughtiness of the Jews who thought they had something, but were actually just like their forefathers who sinned in the desert against Moses and God, whom Paul's contemporaries claim they are disciples (of Moses). But they don't know the real Moses as Paul did, because he was Paul's brother; they had been bonded together by the spirit of truth that lived in Paul's heart. That was the mechanism of the new covenant, the life of the Father & Son living in the bodies of God's sons before it went away.
You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.
Actually the parallels of Paul's day with the Jews are a lot like today between those who would become sons to the living God and those who claim to know the way to God, but who cannot know because that way is secret, and must be revealed to those who would know it. Just as the 1st century Jews actually followed their made up moses who looked nothing like the true Moses because he and what he did was changed by the rabbis throughout the centuries in order to be able to serve them and their needs. The same thing is true today about the followers of the jesus god who was made up by men when the true Jesus and the gift he brought to the 1st century sons went away from the earth, as promised by Daniel, officially by about 500 a.d.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
Then Paul introduces the groundwork for an argument that he spends much of the book developing, based on what he understands about the OT scriptures. Men have always gone away from God, even though they knew the correct way to go. They have perpetually become "given over" to the way of darkness, even by that which they claimed to possess righteousness before God. Chapter 2, verse 1 concludes this observation by the introduction of a key reality. Of course he is mainly aiming at the Jews in all of this, which makes sense being a Pharisee—his entire mind set would have been culturally conditioned by his identity in that regard. However what Paul had living inside him extended out past the Jew/Gentile reality and it applies to men not in a religious (Jewish) sense, but in the practical reality of everything human, including philosophy and psychology, because every way man is applies to how God made him to be. Being Jewish just happened to be a huge part of Paul's life, which is why he's always talking about the law and fighting the Jews, whom he knew to be wrong. In the same way we know the christians to be wrong because they don't know who God is—they cannot know because that ability to know left the earth, so all there is now is just a generic adherence to whatever the animal can find an agreement in since the power that drove Paul left and is gone.
The problem with the humans who claim to know the way to God is that they always want to make everything having to do with God into specialized religious matter, or else it doesn't seem to be valid. The truth of God, when the son begins to know it, applies to the whole of him, and addresses problems that aren't at all "religious," or about good and bad humans. The son knows that all the humans (including themselves) are bad because they all are driven and led by the enemy of God, which keeps them unclean because it defines them as mere animals who cannot come near Him. The fundamental reality of man goes back to Adam and God, which is a relationship between a Father and a son, not a religious story.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
The universal law of God is an understanding of Him, a recognition of His awesome greatness that displays thankfulness and a truly grateful heart. The basis of this general violation of the more universal laws of God, that is, an unspoken law that exists in men's hearts, is found in the inevitable hypocrisies of men who claim to be wise, who claim to have a hold on the truth, and who allow that to be something they hold up as that which makes them special to God. Actually all they are is special to themselves, because they're driven to be that way as a matter of survival. The validation they get from other humans means they aren't getting it from God, because He doesn't share that way—that's the way of men who think they can lay a claim on Him and make Him work for them, to get what their animal nature craves and yearns for: acceptance, honor, validation and respect from the other humans.
The dilemma is that although they claim to be wise, they become fools and end up giving the glory due to God to something or someone else (themselves). They violate these unspoken laws of God, that which lives in their hearts, while at the same time holding up another set of laws as something which can save them, that which they say they do not violate. Paul, though, claims that even these laws, about which the Jews claim to be experts and obey—more importantly try to make others obey—they invariably can not be true to. Because they are based on the truth of God, the unspoken things and the reason God gave them in the first place, they violate these more important truths which hold sway over the others.
He sets up an actual good/evil duality in 2:7, good being those who "seek glory, honor and immortality," not for themselves but for God and His true family, which reinforces what he already mentioned, those who "neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him." Evil were those who "self-seekingly reject the truth." Evil, in Paul's thinking, isn't necessarily someone who violates certain details of the law, as the Jews assumed; nor was good someone who necessarily kept them. Good was someone who may have kept them or not kept them, but only because of the motivation in his heart in why he wanted to do either—to do the will of God over and above everything, even what is considered acceptable and right.
Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven (whom you can't see, not like man who is natural) is my brother and sister and mother.
The righteous man kept the law because of his motivation to seek the glory and honor of God, not because doing it would get him something (self-seekingly become right with God who would give him what he wants, for himself). David, who loved the law because he saw the secret things hidden within it, is our example. He looked through the law and was able to see why He gave it and what His motivations were in doing so—the heart of God—for the sake of the hidden family of sons. Everything is for the family, for the Father's sake, which is the story of Jesus' life and why he is important, because his allegiance wasn't to or for himself, but all for the Father and His family of true sons, whom he recognized in the OT words as his true brothers, not merely those who called themselves Jews because that served them to do it.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced;
God says that He seeks a man who is after His own heart, which is a man who seeks to know the heart of God—His secrets and desires, what pleases Him, what the man can do so that God is delighted with him. David was a man who desired to know God's heart, one who was after that knowledge. He sought glory and honor, not for himself but for God. That is the perfected heart of the Son who was promised, the more perfect David and Moses, who responded to the Father and tended to upholding the glory and honor of God in ways they couldn't.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll.
That is the secret motivation of the heart of the disciple of Jesus, to be as he was. However, this universal law which Paul introduces, the law of the nature of the self-seeking animal, prohibits men from doing this, which is the crux of everything as Paul did his best to explain that dilemma within him, the struggle he faced in wanting to lose the old nature, but being kept held in its grips to keep him following it by what was instinctually inside him that kept pulling on him to follow it instead of the voice of the Teacher who was teaching Paul how to become transformed into a son of God.
It is the law of the sinful nature that makes men slaves to seeking their own glory and honor, that which affects all men, either under the law or apart from it. It isn't about good (those who are like the human leaders and do their will) vs. bad people (those who are a threat to them because they don't conform), that according to humans. It is about good (chosen sons of God who did His will) vs. evil (all the humans, because of their condition).
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
Upholding the Mosaic law meant nothing if this other law, the secret law that lives in the hearts of men, was being ignored and violated. This Paul sums up by saying first that, "God does not show favoritism," meaning that God doesn't favor the Jew (or the christadelphian, or the christian) just because he has the law, the right facts (circumcised). Second that the judgment of God will happen, "on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ." Not through whether men lived by the rules of the law, but by their secret motivations which led them to do either seek the glory and honor of God, or the glory and honor of themselves whether they lived under the law or apart from it.
Verses 12-16 reinforce the idea of this other law in Paul's mind, the law of the heart that affected all men, not just the Jews. The actual criteria for God's judgment declared by Paul is that of men's secrets in their hearts and minds, which become the law that holds precedence over any external law that men may think is all-important. That's what Matthew 5-7 is all about—the truth vs. how the humans hide, most of the time not even knowing it.
The words written by Paul were preserved for the sake of the sons of God, who aren't necessarily dealing with a bunch of Jews trying to make us do the things the law requires. That was a cultural reality which has changed because of the circumstances of man over the last couple thousand years. Now the law has changed into another set of external laws, or rules by which the group who created and maintains them thinks that a man can be righteous before God—right in His eyes, desirous and delightful to Him and worthy to be given the many treasures He has stored up for those who love Him.
The printed words that were preserved for us to read cannot be formed into a set of rules by which a man can find his way to God through observing. Nor can they be used to condemn anyone because they are incomplete of and by merely themselves as words on paper. Nor are they able to derive an institutional credo, by which if practiced one can become pleasing to Him, just as that was never the intention of the Mosaic law. The words are used by the force of power who is the living word, the teacher who calls the sons to the revelation of who they are, so that they can find out the secret motivations of God's heart, so that they can find out what He has always desired from a people who wear His name on their foreheads. The true sons take their true Father's name when He moves on His intention to adopt them into the true family, what the natural creation was created for. It is also to show us how so many failed to see that, because of this other law which makes men slaves to seeking glory and honor for themselves and not for God. The way of man, of the animal, the sin nature, is that other thing inside men's hearts which make them unable to please God.
Finding out what it means to know and love God is our goal, for that is what we have been called to do. It is impossible for the animal to do that, so the sons have to be transformed from that reality into the other, which is impossible unless they are particularly invited. Nothing in the earthly existence can help us do that. God's way is different, opposite of the human's way, which is to always seek glory and honor for itself. Seeking glory and honor for God can only come from a genuine desire to do that, which comes from love for our Father and His interests even at the expense of our own. Not the things that make us loved, honored and respected in the world (especially our own little community); but the true, secret, hidden things unavailable to the animals.