Jewels from Romans #8

Romans 2:17-24

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God
18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;
19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—
21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.
24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
(ESV)

I found a picture of myself as I was reading through the book of Romans this morning. I found a picture of myself and it was not a pretty picture at all. I found a picture of myself which Paul painted with the words of his pen in Romans 2:17-24, as quoted above. Paul used two colors to paint a picture of me in these verses: pride and hypocrisy. Let me describe to you what I found in my own words.

First, consider the description of pride which resides in me that I found in verses 17-20:

But if you call yourself a Jew…” I may not be a Jew, but my pride tells me that I am chosen by God and that makes me better than other people.

“…and rely on the law…” In my pride, I consider myself better than other people because I don’t do certain things. Or, at least I say I don’t do certain things. Or I don’t do certain things when other people are watching.

“…and boast in God…” In my pride, I brag and boast about my relationship to God and look with disdain on those who do not have the same relationship as me.

“…and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law…” In my pride, I think that I have everything figured out, that God has given to me alone the full counsel of His knowledge and will.

“…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…” In my pride, I think that I have insight that other people would be privileged to know. That it why I write these blogs. I write because I desire some type of recognition that I have these profound things to say.

“…having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth…” Here is the ugliest picture of my pride of all. My eyes fixated on the word “embodiment.” Surely that describes me. If you want to see what it means to have knowledge and possess truth, you need look no farther than me. What a joke!

But are any of these things true? No, they are all lies which my pride whispers in my ear. And when I listen to what pride whispers, it inevitably leads to hypocrisy. Consider the description of the hypocrisy which my pride leads me to in verses 21-23:

You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” How many times have I stood up in front of people and told them to study their Bibles, to pray, to serve others, to set aside their own desires, and then do none of these things myself?

While you preach against stealing, do you steal?” How many times have I told people that it is wrong to take things that are not yours, and then turn around and steal other people’s ideas or their character by my words?

You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” How many times have I preached about the need for complete faithfulness in marriage while at the exact same time lusted after a woman who was not my wife?

You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” How many times have I said that God is the only one and true God and then worshipped at the altar of myself through hedonism and materialism?

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.” How many times have I proclaimed that the commandments of God are good and then turned right around and broken those commandments?

So what is the impact of my pride and hypocrisy? Does it affect only me? Verse 24 answers this question in the most terrible way. “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (ESV) People see me for who I really am, a man full of hypocrisy and pride. And when they see me thus, they have every right to spit in the face of God because the testimony of my true actions contradicts everything I claim about God.

By Berean Husband

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