Wednesday, 13 February 2013
You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? Romans 2:22
This is the second of three verses asking those questions to which the Jews of his time had to answer, “Yes.” The first today concerns adultery – “You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” The answer is “yes” and it is found in the gospels as were the previous questions. And not only is the answer affirmative to literal adultery, but spiritual adultery as well. In Matthew 12:39, it says this –
“But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'”
Jesus accused those who came to Him looking for a sign of the validation of His authority of being wicked and adulterous. The Ninevites, to whom Jonah was sent, repented at the preaching of Jonah without any miraculous sign. The people of Israel had been given the sign of Jonah in Jesus’ preaching that judgment was coming, just as Jonah gave. And yet they failed to repent. They, the stewards of the oracles of God and the people from whom came the prophets saw the repentance of Nineveh based on the word from the God they served, but they were unwilling to do what even the pagans had done. They were attempting to excuse themselves from their obligation based on God’s supposed favoritism of them, but instead they only incurred greater guilt.
Concerning literal adultery, the account in John 8:1-11 pointedly shows that the people were willing to judge a woman caught in adultery by bringing her to be stoned and yet excused the male who she was with, though both bore the guilt. Jesus then challenged them to cast the first stone if they were without sin; none did. The premise of the law is that if one commandment is broken, the entire law is broken (James 2:10). As none were without sin, then all had broken the entire law, including adultery. In both respects in this account they were proved to be adulterers.
Paul next makes an interesting comment, “You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” The people of the law had transgressed so far in the past that the land was literally full of idols. Because of this, and many other transgressions, God’s judgment came upon them and they were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. The lesson concerning idolatry was well learned, but this only took care of the outward, blatant sin of having idols set up for worship. Despite the external change, it did nothing to inwardly change the people. Their hearts remained greedy and set on idolatry, even if it wasn’t demonstrated in bowing to idols. Instead, they had set up idols in their hearts. Jesus shows us this in Matthew 21:12, 13 –
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
As we continue to see, the very things which the Jews found fault in others were found in them as well. They were trusting in their status as Jews and not in a personal, obedient relationship with God. Each of us needs to continually evaluate our own station to ensure we don’t fall into this trap.
Life application: Though we may be born into a Christian home, we are not by default Christians. Though we may be members of our church, it doesn’t mean we have a right-standing with God. The only thing we can trust in for God’s favor is our faith, mixed with obedience. When these are properly exercised, God will surely turn His face toward us. Take time today to evaluate your walk with the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus and all that He did for me. Help me not to trust in anything except His work and then help me to instruct others in a right relationship with You as well. It is so easy to have and we so often miss it because of our own pride. Be with me and keep reminding me that it is by Jesus alone that I am secure in You. Amen.