Rom 2:21-24 “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”
Paul continues to point out to the Jews at Rome how unfaithfully they have handled the world of God. Here he is basically saying to them “How can you claim to teach others when you refuse to learn?” This is something that we, as the ministers of God’s word in the world today, need to be very careful about. We need to pay heed to the words that God gives us to speak to His people: they are for us as much as anyone else.
Since Paul has already called their attention to the fact that they are not “practicing what they preach,” we can surmise the answer to his next question. Are we, who teach others not to steal, guilty of stealing? Our first reaction to this question might be one of indignation, but let’s take a closer look. Malachi, chapter 3, verse 8 says “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”
We may not have been guilty of robbing a bank. We may have never broken into our neighbor’s home or car. We may have never held a gun on anyone to take their goods from them. But how many times have we withheld from God the praise, honor, glory and even our worldly goods that belong to Him?
Are we guilty of adultery? Many of us can honestly say we have never cheated on our spouse. We are ready to put a check mark in that column and move on. Before we get too far, have we ever been unfaithful to our Lord and Savior? As His church, have we ever chosen to give our faithfulness and love to some other endeavor ahead of Him?
We might think we are good on the point of idolatry. After all, we do not have graven images in our homes or meeting houses that we bow before and worship. Yet we never stop to think about the times we could have been at church instead of the deer stand or the golf course. We never consider those times that we volunteered to work on Sunday because we figured that little extra in our paycheck was worth more than being in God’s house.
To commit sacrilege, as it is used here, means to be a temple robber. Our first reaction might be that this certainly does not apply to us. The scripture tells us our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19). When we choose the things of the world over the things of God, are we not robbing the temple?
We can brag about our great understanding and ability in keeping the laws of God. Yet, if our only view of these things is in the carnal realm, then we dishonor God. He has called us and equipped us to live holy as He is holy. To willingly and knowingly live below His standard is to hold the truth in unrighteousness.
According to scripture, our failure to honor God in our lives is the reason that those who are not grounded in the doctrine of grace speak evil of Him. They disparage His authority because we fail to demonstrate His love, mercy, and righteous judgment in our own lives. Even the world knows that the teaching philosophy of “do as I say and not as I do” is empty. Paul’s example was that others should follow us only to the extent that we follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
May God cause us to first take heed to ourselves before we attempt to teach others!