Do You See Your Sin in the Same Light as the World’s Sin?
Thinking about Romans 2:17–24.
Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident 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 babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.(Romans 2:17–24)
After discussing the judgment of God upon the Gentiles, Paul turns his attention to the Jews.
While some thought God would judge them differently because they were Jews and had the law of Moses, Paul will show that they are mistaken.
How the Jew saw themselves.
Paul addresses how the Jews saw themselves — and we get a glimpse into the attitude of at least some of the Jews.
They “rested” on the law, meaning they thought just because they possessed the law, God would treat them differently. They “boasted” in God, knew His will, and thought they were better than the Gentile because they understood and could judge what was best (Reese, Romans, 100).
The Jew had tremendous self-confidence that they were the light to those in darkness, the guide to the blind, and the teacher of the ignorant. They were the ones who could help this sinful world come to know the ways of God — surely God would judge them differently!
The Jew’s problem.
Paul points out the big problem that the Jews either ignored or were ignorant of was even they didn’t do what the Law of Moses taught. They were also “law-breakers!”
Because of their stealing, adultery, and greed, they were breaking the very law they claimed to hold in such high esteem. In breaking the law God gave them — they dishonored Him.
Their sin actually led to God’s name being blasphemed among the Gentiles.
We of today judge a man’s religion by his life; and the heathen, who had the conception of many gods, judged a man’s god by his conduct. Good man, good god; bad man, bad god, was their theory. — Lard, Romans, 95
Because of the Jew’s conduct, the other nations thought less of God than they should have. Paul likely quotes Isaiah 52:5 to provide Old Testament support for this point.
So they claimed to honor God and His law — but by their conduct, they communicated a low view of God throughout the surrounding nations.
As Paul was calling out and condemning the sin found in the Gentile world (Romans 1:18–32), no doubt the “Amens” and “Preach on brother!” flowed from the Jewish mind. The Jews did not consider themselves guilty of sin in the same way as the Gentiles and didn’t believe they would be judged the same as the Gentiles.
Paul is beginning to point out just how wrong they were.
Do we sometimes have this mentality in the Lord’s church? I’m afraid sometimes we do.
Preach about some sin that is widespread in the world (but not so much in the church) today, maybe even controversial, and the preacher will hear a chorus of “Amens,” and people will say, “The world sure needs to hear that sermon!”
But preach on gossip, pornography, immodesty, the marriage roles of the husband and wife, pride, or greed — and you might not receive the same sort of response.
Is it possible that we don’t see our sin in the same light as the world’s sin? Is it possible that we believe that God will judge the world for their sin, but He will let us slide by with the sin we are practicing — simply because we are “religious” and read our Bible?
May we never think our own sin is somehow less significant than the sins we see out in the world.