Thursday, 14 February 2013
You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? Romans 2:23
This is Paul’s final question of indictment against the Jews who rested in the law, but failed to adhere to the precepts they supposedly held in such high esteem. “You who make your boast in the law” implies that they have something worthy of boasting about. Nobody would boast in something of no value. Therefore, the implication is that law is good, the law is right, and the law is holy. Holding up the law as a vital part of their status implies its great value, because their status is derived from that law.
As an example, consider a Bible preacher. He stands in the pulpit and proclaims the glory and splendor of the word. He preaches its precepts. He condemns those who don’t adhere to it. His livelihood is based on the Bible, his status is based on the Bible, and the people’s trust of the Bible is based on his determined mindset about the Bible. All of who he is and what he has is because of the Bible; he boasts in the Bible. But Paul goes on…
Despite all the boasting Paul asks, “Do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” The very law the Jews stand on for their livelihood and status is dishonored when they break it. In essence, they have religion but they are not redeemed; they have appearance without reality; they profess, but they do not possess; they have orthodoxy, but they are lacking orthopraxy; they know every precept, but they have no proper practice. Quoting Isaiah, Jesus states these words to the religious leaders of His time –
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:7-9
How many times have we seen Bible preachers, bishops, pastors, cardinals, evangelists, etc. stand on the Christian message in precept, but fail to adhere to it in practice. Their words and their actions don’t sync. This is what Paul has been and is addressing. Albert Barnes rightly states that, “It matters little what a man’s speculative opinions may be; his practice may do far more to disgrace religion than his profession does to honor it. It is the life and conduct, and not merely the profession of the lips, that does real honor to the true religion.”
A Christian by name only is not a Christian. There must be a moment in the person’s life when true acknowledgment of one’s own depraved state is realized. After that, it is incumbent on the saved soul to demonstrate it in outward workings of the internal change. To fail in this can only bring disrepute upon the perception of the Bible and upon the Person of Jesus by those who look in their sad direction.
Life application: Are you living out the precepts that you speak to others? If not, mixed signals are being sent which can only adversely affect your testimony and their faith. Take time to evaluate your actions and align them with your professions.
Lord Jesus, help me to have actions that align with my words in all aspects of my life, but especially in my conduct as a Christian. This is particularly important because other’s perceptions of everything I do bears on who I am in You. So keep me on the straight and narrow path of right living, O Lord. Amen.