What Does Romans 2:23 Mean?

You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

Romans 2:23(NASB)
Picture courtesy of bible-history.com

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Having carefully constructed his watertight argument that all Gentiles.. both evil and moral, are sinners and under God's righteous condemnation, Paul turns His attention to Israel, God's chosen people - the sanctified nation who received the Law, the prophets and the promises of God.

Paul had to show that they too were equally under God's righteous condemnation. They too had to understand that Jewish rites, rituals, merit, position and promises were not automatic exemptions from God's condemnation of sin.. and the need to for guilty sinners to be punished.

Paul cleverly leads his Jewish audience down a prickly path which highlights the immense privileges that Israel has as God's covenant people, in order to show that possessing of the Law demands from them a greater responsibility to keep it. Simply being in possession of the Law is not sufficient to justify them in God's eyes. Possession of the Law commanded their total obedience.

He has already explained that God examines the hearts of all men, Jew and Gentile alike.. and points out that the secret blackness of men's heart can never be hidden from God by an outer covering of hypocritical righteousness. He further agreed with the importance of being a guide to those that were morally and spiritually blind and being a teacher to those that were ignorant of God's demands - but then Paul challenged them by asking if in the secret of their own hearts they too were spiritually ignorant or morally blind!

He applauded their stand on adultery, idol worship and other important moral issues, but then questioned whether they adhered to their own exemplary teachings or whether they too could be charged with spiritual adultery and moral degradation. Did they have an outer form of righteousness while denying the need to have their hearts and minds cleansed!

Paul did not pull his punches when it came to speaking the truth in love to His fellow Jewish countrymen. He plainly and openly challenged all who erroneously boasted that they were exempt from God's righteous judgement because of their own merit, rites, rituals, and position as God's covenant people.. and He did so by asking the blistering question: You who boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law?

Israel, boasted of their superiority to all other nations, and yet they did not behave in a manner that reflected the sacred precepts entrusted to them in God's holy Law - Their behaviour and unbelief dishonoured the Lord as it caused the Gentiles to judge the character of God based on the ungodly actions on His chosen people.

Does that not speak volume to we who are God's children by grace through faith in Christ? Can it ever be said of us that we boast in our salvation while dishonouring God? Can we ever be accused by unregenerate man that we discredit our Lord by the lives that we live, the words that we say, the behaviour that we exhibit and the attitude that we reflect? Can the challenge that Paul threw at the hypocritical Jews, ever be thrown in our direction?

By grace through faith in Christ we are not under the  Law, but how important that we do not see our own privileged position in Christ as an open ticket to live in unrighteousness, but may we value our salvation by living godly in Christ Jesus, so that in all we say and in all we do - we do only those things that bring glory to God, in the power of the indwelling Spirit,

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when I have sought to hide my own faults and failings behind a wall of religiosity. Forgive me for the times when I have discredited Your name by my presumptuous words or ungodly deeds. I pray that I may walk in spirit and truth and proclaim the gospel of Christ in truth and in love - not only by what I say and do.. but in the innermost motives of my heart.. so that Christ may be seen in me, to Your honour and glory. This I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

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