Romans 2:12-24 (NKJV)
For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
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.
Paul is getting at one of the facets of sin that’s hard to describe and even harder to fathom. Paul poses this as questions, but they’re really facts. 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?
When people steal, it stimulates a “hypocrisy hormone” that causes them to preach against stealing (or preach it more stridently). So, we see adulterers rail against adultery, cheaters rail against cheating, etc. I don’t know if psychiatrists have a label for this, but it’s definitely sin.
And here’s the chilling part—this evil lives inside of every one of us. Commit the sin and the corresponding hypocrisy will naturally sprout.
So Paul lowers the boom, particularly on the show-offs. He knows the rule about braggarts not being the ones who should be bragging.
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,”
This is why legalism is so poisonous. You can’t conquer sin by trying; grace is the only way.
Trying to be good leads to pretending to be good. That’s the first step on the road to hypocrisy.
Salvation by grace alone thrives on honesty. That’s why honesty ministries like Celebrate Recovery and Pirate Monks are so effective.
When the masks come off, the gospel blossoms.
All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here: