You Jews think all is well between yourselves and God because he gave his laws to you. You brag that you are his special friends. You know his plan, and are able through your knowledge of the Law truly to appreciate moral values. You can confidently look upon yourself as a guide to those who do not know the way, as a light to those who are groping in the dark. You can instruct those who have no spiritual wisdom: you can teach those who, spiritually speaking, are only just out of the cradle. You have a certain grasp of the basis of true knowledge. You have without doubt very great advantages. However, prepared as you are to instruct others, do you ever teach yourself anything? You preach against stealing, for example, but are you sure of your own honesty? You denounce the practice of adultery, but are you sure of your own purity? You loathe idolatry, but how honest are you toward the property of heathen temples? Everyone knows how proud you are of the Law, but that means a proportionate dishonor to God when men know that you break it! Don’t you know that the very name of God is cursed among the Gentiles because of the behavior of Jews? There is, you know, a verse of Scripture to that effect. —Romans 2:17-24
What Paul is saying is that you can go ahead and lean back on the Bible and go all out for God and know His will and be able to make clear-cut decisions; you can even be a good student of the Bible and believe that you yourself are a qualified leader of the blind, a light to those who are in the dark, and be able to teach those who do not know the Truth, and even memorize all the Bible verses . . . but do you ever teach yourself? What I mean is that you can place so emphasis on the Bible but disgrace your Father by your violations of the Scripture! Are non-Christians sneering at “The Faith” because of you?
Being Baptized and professing your faith is indeed fine if you live by the Bible; but if you violate everything the Bible teaches, your “faith” has turned into paganism.
On the other hand, suppose a non-believer lives by all of the ethical precepts of the Scriptures, won’t his lack of “Faith” be considered just as good as membership? That’s a tough one. Because according to Paul, a Christian is not someone who makes a show of it, nor is his church membership for status purposes. A Christian is someone on the inside, whose membership is of the heart—something spiritual and not mechanical—and who doesn’t seek the approval of society but of God.
We are going to continue this thought as our study continues.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome