The Jews sinned in this matter worse than the Pagans not because they were further from God but because they were nearer to Him. For the Supernatural, entering a human soul, opens it to new possibilities both of good and evil. From that point the road branches: one way to sanctity, love, and humility, the other to spiritual pride, self-righteousness, persecuting zeal. And no way back to the mere humdrum virtues and vices of the unawakened soul. If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all the created beings the wickedest is the one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God. There seems no way out of this. It gives new application to Our Lord's words about "counting the cost."The sin that the Jews supposedly committed in this passage was found in several rather violent Psalms in the Old Testament. If you listen or read the words of David or any of the other anonymous writers, often times they curse and rail and call condemnation on their enemies with a ferocity that would make a sailor blush. Though it just sounds like angry poetry to us English-speakers, in their own language the curses are obvious and grating.
And yet these telling, controversial passages are found in the Scriptures.
I am not a perfect person and heck, I don't even come CLOSE to the furthest reaches of perfection. Long, long, long way to go. It's evident in my marriage and my parenting.
But I am NOT finished and I am definitely still excited to see where this journey takes me. I prefer consistent advances in maturity as opposed to sinless perfection. :-)