Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Romans 2:24

As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" [Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22].

This is the consequence of bearing the name, “Jew;” or in our case, “Christian,” without living up to it. The Jews were called to evangelize the world on behalf of the One, True and Living God, and they not only failed to witness, but they reversed it and caused the One, True and Living God to be blasphemed. Ouch! Could Paul have been more offensive? Paul is very critical of the Jews here, and he is a Jew! He says that they have failed to exalt the name of the Lord for the world to see and failed to be witnesses to the nations for His truth by living according to it; God elected them this for this reason, and they failed. They have been hypocrites, and thus, God’s name is blasphemed because of them. That’s harsh! How would you like to hear that the reason God’s name is blasphemed is because of something you did or failed to do?

Paul basically says that every single Jew who has not received Christ as Savior and Lord is a hypocrite. That would have come across as very arrogant in Paul’s day; How about in our day? Was Paul wrong to be so critical of his own people? No. Why not? Christ and the prophets did the same thing before Paul. Paul is doing nothing new here. He was not being anti-Semitic. Criticism is not wrong. And we’ll see in Romans 9-11 that Paul still loves the Jews, even enough to give up his salvation that they might be saved.

Remember, Jesus wanted the Jewish people to come into the light, to see the joy of the salvation of the Lord, but the Jewish leaders were not willing (Matthew 23:37). They worshipped God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. God hated their festivals and sacrifices, which He had commanded them to observe and perform, because their hearts were not in it. Paul’s charge against the Jews was not that they were making too much of the law; they weren’t making enough of it. Paul uses their hypocrisy as his proof of sin. The hypocrisy of professing believers living in contradiction with their profession is the greatest hindrance to the spread of the gospel. Paul doesn’t tell them to start living like they preach. He knows they can’t do that. They need Christ and the gospel of grace.

Now once again, according to Paul, there are only two types of people in the world. There are hypocrites who don’t know they’re hypocrites, and there are hypocrites who know it. It’s hard to hear: You are a hypocrite. I am a hypocrite. It’s not fun to hear, but there’s truth in it. Any what’s more, true believers, though hypocritical, are witnesses for Christ. You know, the Bible doesn’t say, “Please be a witness for Jesus.” The Bible says, “You are witnesses.” So the question is, are you a good one or a bad one?

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