"Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" (Romans 2:17-24)
It is true that having the Law brings about superior knowledge, but it also brings about more accountability before God. Because what could be omitted by ignorance, cannot be by awareness. The Jews were relying on the Law, banking on the fact that they were good enough.
However, good enough does not cut it. James says in James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." Paul by comparison is stressing the fact, that the laws the Jews are claiming to have kept, are the same laws, they have broken. Stealing, adultery, Idol worship and coveting.
Paul speaks to the intent of the heart. It is not breaking a law only if you act upon it, the law is broken with the engagement of our mind. Jesus said in Matthew, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." ( Matthew 12:34 ) Sin lives in intent and objective not only actions. Therefore as Paul explained the nuances of the Law in Romans 2, it lays to rest that the Jews could ever fulfill it by their actions.
The Jews had a form of godliness but they were sinners just like the Gentiles. Their presented piousness which was hypocritical to what they claimed to be. Because of it, it caused the Gentiles to blaspheme God. Their representation of God gave Him a black eye.
Today, we see the same thing. We see people relying on what they can do for God instead of relying on His saving grace. They become so legalistic and self righteous, that outsiders want no part of God. It is a sad state when we take something so perfect, so holy and so simple as God's unmerited favor and kindness and turn it back into the letter, propelling others under the burden of it.
Today, may you rest in God's provision of Grace. May you throw off everything that holds you in chains and simply worship Him because He deserves it! Know that you relationship with Him rest solely on what He's done for you, not the other way around! If you do this, instead of repelling others away from Christ, you will lead them to Him!