Do you practice what you preach? – Romans 2:17-24 – 12/27/2015
Romans 2:17 (ESV) 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.”
This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.
V17 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—
Paul writes to the church in Rome and makes a statement that could cut at the heart of every Jew in that he strikes at the very heart of their pride – the morality of the Jew and the adherence to the law. This follows his original thought in the last article about having “possession of the law” and having the law written upon your heart.
The issue we have here is they had this thought that the law sealed their place and confirmed them as a specially chosen people of God, this was their boast. They believed that God’s good favor was hereditary because God gave his holy law to them as a nation and this is where they based their thought that salvation was found in the law; in the next few verses Paul will show them ways that this is not the case.
V21 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.”
Let’s keep it simple – Paul was asking them “You have the law, you know what it says but do you do it yourselves?” or to put it in everyday language “Do you practice what you preach?” Paul highlights the following areas…
• Teaching of the law
• Idol worship
Simply put the ones who were meant to be upholding the law had heart issues. I am not saying they were suffering from physical cardiac arrest but merely spiritual cardiac arrest. They were very keen to lay down the letter of the law and judge others but they were not doing the very things that made them feel morally superior and gave them that place of “holy authority”. I discuss this today as this was common in Jesus day also; Jesus addressed the matter of keeping the law properly in Matthew 5…
Matthew 5:21 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Jesus clarifies that you may be keeping the law by the letter but in your heart you are sinning and he mentions two of the common sins in that they may be morally clean because they have not physically committed adultery but they have lusted in their hearts and likewise they have not murdered but they have hated someone with a vengeance that they committed the sin in their hearts. This is precisely why God placed the “Do not covet” (Exodus 20:17) commandment in the Ten Commandments. These great theologians have yet to nail he basics.
Jesus had more authority than all of the Scribes, Pharisees and all of the Sanhedrin put together, he authored the law and saw the heart in which it was written, but he was keen to advise that he was not there to abolish the law…
Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
What a phrase that sends chills down my spine “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Which tells me that you cannot be righteous enough to enter the kingdom of heaven in your own stead, which is precisely why Jesus died on the cross for your sins. God sees both the heart (attitude) and the actions (what everyone else sees) and whilst we can paint a pretty picture externally, God sees what is inside and sees the internal ugliness and motives behind your actions.
This is not just a Jewish problem as we have inherited this in the church today a mindset that we will judge on a “do as I say and not as I do” type of deal with what is being judged upon can also be seen in the lives of the judge. Paul concludes at the end of the original scripture that “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Isaiah 52:5) This even breaks one of the Ten Commandments that we “Should noy take the name of the LORD in vain” (Exodus 20:7) And Paul goes a little deeper into this in Romans 14 in respect to a dispute about judging based on what they eat and drink…
Romans 14:13 (ESV) Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
And here is where you have to ask “By judging am I furthering the Kingdom of God or am I causing people to be further away from God?” or “How is this furthering the Kingdom of God?” Do you really want to stumble a believer? I know in my situation, I used to abuse alcohol so I just do not do it. I do not condemn those who chose to have a beer or two as long as they are not abusing it but I also minister to many who have been through recovery programs so I don’t even have alcohol in my house. Yes I have liberty in Christ but maturity in the word tells me not to want to stumble those (including myself) who have had issues.
It is something to ponder as we need to not establish “holy street cred” by tearing others down to make ourselves morally superior. It is not just a Roman church problem or a Jewish problem. Certainly the Jews were to be an example because they had the religious genealogy and knew the law and were certainly more likely to stumble their Gentile believers who would be looking to them as stronger believers as an example. Examine your heart honestly and see if you are making the same mistakes.
Lord willing, in the next article we will look at circumcision of the heart and examine why God cares about the internal as much as the external.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to