you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?Romans 2:21(NASB)
As Paul teaches about the depravity of all men he places humanity into three categories - the immoral man, the moral man and the religious man - for all have sinned and all fall short of God's glory. All are in need of salvation; all need a Saviour and all have the opportunity to be saved by grace through faith in Christ.. But there is one category that receives Paul's particular attention - unfaithful, hypocritical, religious Jews of his day - who considered themselves superior to all other classes of humanity and exempt from God's righteous condemnation.
The Jews that Paul was addressing in this verse were indeed justified in considering themselves to be an advantaged nation.. for God had chosen them out of all the sea of humanity to be His special people, but they were terribly wrong to consider that they were exempt from God's condemnation because of this privileged position. They were equally sinner, equally condemned and equally in need of God's saving grace.
And so Paul's condemnation of the unfaithful, hypocritical, religious Jews of his day is equally true of unfaithful, hypocritical, religious gentiles of our time and his scathing words need to be heeded by all who have fostered an attitude of unjustified superiority today.
The Jews relied on their covenantal ties to God but failed to recognise that they were all sinners who had fallen short of the standard that God expects as outlined in Scripture. They had His word, His law and His promises and knew His will, His character and His plan of salvation. They had received God's instruction, built His Temple and were sent by God to be His witnesses to the nations. But great privileges demand great responsibility, and their behaviour and attitude did not reflect their highly favoured position.
Although they could quote their own moral distinctives and religious peculiarities they did not perform their moral and religious duty to God and their fellow man.. and so the question was asked of this group of unfaithful, hypocritical, religious people - do you who teach others about God not teach yourselves? Do you who preach about God's covenant law to others and His promise of salvation.. fulfil all the righteous requirements that God expects of you? do you who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? Do you who teach others teach yourself as well?
We all have a responsibility to check our own religious distinctives and biases and should not be fearful of examining ourselves to see if we are walking in spirit and truth by asking this simple question.. Do I dishonour God by disobeying His Word and are the criticism that I have of others reflected in my own attitude and actions towards them. Paul's piercing question, deserves self-examination of our own conduct and personal attitude.. if we desire to seek to live godly in Christ Jesus and walk in spirit and truth.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this thorough examination of my sinfulness and my need of Jesus. Correct in me any unworwthy attitudes and perceptions I may have, and I pray that I may not develop the same self-righteous, unfaithful, hypocritical, religious attitude that Paul described in this passage of Romans, but may I live my life in word and deed to Your honour and glory - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.