Romans: The Religious Need the Gospel

Sermon & Small Group Resources

This is the fourth sermon in our Romans series looking at the first eight chapters of the book. Preacher: The Rev'd Zoë Browne. Bible Reading: Romans 2:17-29. 

Download the Small Group Questions, Going Deeper, and Sermon Transcript (PDF).

Next Steps this Week


Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 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.


Download in PDF format.

CONNECT: What are potential areas of hypocrisy in your life that you need to address? 

WARM-UP Questions

  1. What are some of the common false assumptions that people make about gaining God’s favour? 
  2. What do you think are the potential blind spots of Christianity in Australia? Do you think this is ever a danger also for you?

READ Romans 2:17-24

  1. What type of behaviour was Paul identifying as hypocritical? What was so shocking about the way that some Jewish people were behaving despite knowing the Law and even teaching it to others?
  2. What cost does this have? Why does Paul describe it as blaspheming God’s name?
  3. Do you think that you always practice what you preach? Are there any areas in your life in which you may be inconsistent in this way?
  4. How can we endeavour to serve God faithfully, without developing a form of ‘works righteousness’?

READ Romans 2:25-27

  1. What is Paul’s main point about the purpose of circumcision? How did it reflect a ‘false righteousness’?
  2. What does it mean to have a ‘circumcised heart’? How does this apply to us today?
  3. The people in this section assumed they had a good relationship with God? What types of things did they rely on for that relationship?
  4. What are the modern ‘markers’ of being a Christian (or the things that we do)? How can we be tempted to rely these on instead of Jesus himself? 
  5. Why must we not rely merely on the things that we do, or our sense of ‘goodness’, for salvation?

READ Romans 2:28-29

  1. How does this passage (along that we’ve covered so far in Romans), point to the desperate need of all people for the saving power of the Gospel?
  2. What is ‘true righteousness’? How can we be certain of our righteousness because of Jesus?
  3. If we have been saved by grace, how should this righteousness be expressed in our lives?

APPLY (this week): How can you grow in your confidence in Jesus instead of things which have no power to save?


Gracious God, we thank you that we are saved not by what we do, but by your grace through the Lord Jesus! Please help us to be your authentic people, running from hypocrisy, and being consistent with our lives. Please prevent us from relying on the things that we do, or our religious acts, but only in the saving power of your Gospel. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Making a set of cards using this PDF. Play a game of snap. Shuffle the cards. Dish them out to each player until there are no cards left. Players are to keep their cards in the hands, with the pictures face down. Players take turns going around the circle, placing a card face-up on the centre pile. If a proceeding card matches the previous one, they are to ‘snap’ by being the first to slap their hand over the pile of cards. If they success (be the first), they pick up the entire pile of cards. The winner is the person with the most cards in this game. As you play, try to identify each picture and how it fits into the letter of the Romans so far.