He offers also the 7th commandment as an example, and asks if the man who inveighs against adultery is simultaneously committing adultery.  This becomes very poignant when we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the people of His time as an “adulterous generation.”  We well remember the case of the woman taken in adultery, how the Lord exposed His enemies as shameless hypocrites who were practitioners of the very thing for which they were accusing the woman.

He brings in also idolatry, which falls under the heading of the first and second commandments.  Does he that teaches against idolatry, and professes an abhorrence of false gods, himself commit sacrilege?  This was tragically common among the Jews, as we find throughout the prophets.  They professed loyalty to God and went through the forms of worship, but their hearts were so evil and corrupt that their sacrifices were no more acceptable than if they had offered a dog’s head or swine’s blood.

Paul sums up his point by directing our attention to the entire law: “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?”  I do not think the apostle is arguing against the proper place of teaching the morality of the law.  What he is attempting to prove is that the Jew has no ground to place himself under the cover of the law as a system of salvation.  As he will show many times throughout this epistle, the law was not given to save men, but to show men how sinful they truly are.  The Jew missed this point, and pretended that his acquaintance with, and observation of the Mosaic law, made him right with God.  Paul would have them to know that not only the Gentiles, but they themselves are lawbreakers, and that when they break the law the God they claim to serve is greatly dishonored.  A true spiritual understanding of the law should have convinced the Jew that he could in no wise perfectly keep God’s commandment, which is exceeding broad.  Such a realization would, in its practical outworking, drive him to the conviction that the only hope for salvation lay in the message of free pardon and justification from sin through the merits of Christ, which Paul preached.

 

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