Archive for June 21st, 2019

Romans 2:17-24

In Romans 2:17-24 Paul gets after the Jews about their assumptions. Every “boast” of the Jewish man in this passage concerns the possession of law. The Jewish people of Paul’s day were extremely proud and confident in the fact that God gave His holy law to them as a nation. They believed this confirmed their status as a specially chosen people, and thus insured their salvation.  Paul challenges that belief. Many Jews believed that possession of the law was all that was required, but having it does not justify anyone. It is only when the law is in us and controls our heart that it can justify us. And unfortunately for all mankind, that simply does not happen as all have sinned and fallen short, even the Jews.

It comes down to this principle: “You have the law, do you keep it? You can see how others break the law, do you see how you break it also?” That’s what Paul is asking the Jewish people of his day, and the question we must answer as well. It is somewhat rhetorical, because the answer is that no one keeps it. “But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?”

Here is the truth we must address. God applies His law to both our actions and our attitudes. Sometimes we only want our attitudes evaluated, and sometimes only our actions. God will hold us accountable for both motives and actions. “While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” It is not what we say that matters, it is what we do and how we live out the law. And unfortunately, that will be the thing we stand before God to defend. And we’ll be guilty as charged….

Many of us are hypocrites that talk about obedience and living as Christ Followers in public, but we unfortunately fall way short of actually living up to God’s required standards. And that causes those around us to question why it matters at all. Paul reminds the Jew that God said in the Old Testament that the failure of the Jew to obey the law causes Gentiles to blaspheme God. “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” We do damage to the name of God when we talk about how we follow Jesus, but live like we have no requirements at all. It is hypocrisy that shames the name and causes those around us to doubt it matters at all.

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