Summary: God is no respector of persons but we are and that is what makes us judge others wrongly. Continuing study of the Book of Romans.


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Pastor James May


(Romans series #5)

Romans 2:1-11

Judging other people by outward appearance is foolishness. God is our judge and He judges by what is in the heart. The relationship that is in the heart will always manifest itself in the outward appearance and attitudes sooner or later. Here is an illustration from a book titled “Bible Truth” by H. A. Ironside, which points out the foolishness of judging from the outward appearance.

Bishop Potter was sailing for Europe on one of the great ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, It’s all right, Bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!

This self-righteous and judgmental leader of the “church” had been judged as suspicious just as quickly as he had judged his traveling companion.

Paul says to those who would pass quick judgment on another that they are without any excuse for doing so. He has been focusing on the sinner all during the 1st chapter of Romans and now he shifts to those who consider themselves as the Children of God and who judge one another according to their own set of rules and beliefs.

The whole time that Paul was preaching to the sinners of their need to repent, there were those who considered themselves righteous, standing by and nodding yes and saying Amen to his words. But now Paul turns to those who have stood by smugly, in their own self-righteousness, and says, “Who made you God? What gives you the right to judge another when you are in danger of facing the wrath and judgment of God for your own pride and arrogance!”

The sin of judging another person simply because they are different or believe different, or act different, or dress different is as big a sin as another!

People who judge other people without even giving them a chance or examining the life that they live are just like their sinful brothers. They both have an attitude of malice, gossiping, arrogance, pride, unloving and mercilessness. They might think that they are doing the Lord’s work for Him but God needs no help in judging sin or knowing the heart of a man and we have no right to attempt to take God’s place in this process.

One of the biggest problems that we have is the fact that God has left us, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to decide what is moral or immoral for each of us. There are some things like murder, theft, lying and such that are the same for every man but then we come down to the nitty-gritty, day-to-day things that don’t seem to be covered by the seemingly greater issues. That’s where each of us begins to form our personal opinions, our personal convictions and to do what Paul says to the Philippians in 2:12, "…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

When we are convinced that our walk with the Lord is just and holy and that we are walking according to the Will of God, that’s when we become dangerous in our attitude of pride and self-righteousness unless we guard our heart diligently.

Then legalism sets in and we decide that anyone who believes differently or who does things that we have been convicted of is living wrong and bound the fires of Hell. Legalism produces pride in the heart that we are the only ones correct and that no one else can possibly make it to Heaven unless they are just like us. Then we begin to lay out rule after rule, law after law until finally we think that we have hemmed in other people and laid out the exact boundaries of what we believe to be righteous and holy living.

The problem with our legalistic rules is that life continues to move on and soon our perfect little set of rules is outdated and irrelevant even to our own circumstances and lifestyle. If a law is really going to be a law it must always be true in every circumstance and must stand the test of time and comparison to the Word of God.

2 Illustrations:

"I am in earnest about forsaking ’the world’ and following Christ. But I am puzzled about worldly things. What is it I must forsake?" a young man asks. "Colored clothes, for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don’t eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere about obeying Christ, take warm baths or shave your beard. To shave is to lie against Him who created us, to attempt to improve on His Work."

Elizabeth Elliot comments on the above dialogue, "Does this answer sound absurd? It is the answer given in the most celebrated Christian schools of the second century! Is it possible that the rules that have been adopted by many twentieth-century; Christians will sound as absurd to earnest followers of Christ a few years hence?"

Elizabeth Elliot, The Liberty of Obedience, Nashville, Abingdon, 1968, pp. 45-46.

In contrast to the two commands of Christ, the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws...By the time Christ came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. (3) It reduces a person’s ability to personally discern. (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. (6) It produces inconsistencies. (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. (8) It became a burden to the Jews. (9) It was strictly external. (10) It was rejected by Christ.

Outlined from Fan The Flame, J. Stowell, Moody, 1986, p. 52.

Legalism only brings into being more legalism and there is no room for freedom in Christ or no place for the joy of your salvation.

First of all, we condemn ourselves by judging one another, and then God also judges us for being judgmental toward our fellowman. We judge by the outward but God looks upon the heart. His judgment is from the position of being absolutely righteous and holy. God judges what we do according to the attitude of our heart when we do it. So, when God judges us, we are judged right and cannot argue our self-righteousness before Him.

To make matters worse, every time we are judgmental toward another person, we actually display our distrust or lack of faith in God to take care of His own Kingdom. God is able to take care of every one of us. He has the power and ability to bring each of us into perfect alignment with His Holy Word through the power of the Holy Spirit!

God does not judge like we do. God judges with kindness because He is sensitive to our inner most thoughts and the things we face daily. God judges with forbearance, tolerating our ignorance and sometimes even outright rejection of His ways. God judges with patience, deciding not to bring quick and hard correction, while giving us repeated chances to turn from our sin and come back to Him.

Christians do not judge like that! I hope that we don’t judge others but sometimes its hard not to and we do it without even thinking a lot of the time. We certainly don’t judge kindly because we only care about our self and how we feel and what we believe! We don’t judge with forbearance no matter how new the other person may be in their walk with Christ. We expect them to be like us instantly! Neither do we judge with patience because if others won’t change instantly to be like us then we quickly shun them and don’t have time for them any longer.

Judgmental people are constantly stockpiling their hatred, condemnation and dislike for others. Paul says that they are building a literal storehouse of hate for their own fellow Christians and so they will face the wrath of God for that storehouse of bad attitudes. I don’t think that kind of person is a real “Christian” and I know that they will not make Heaven their home.

God will judge every man, both Christian and non-Christian, according to the standards of his perfect holiness and righteousness. It is no wonder that Paul later says in Romans 3:10 that there is none righteous, no not even one. None of us can measure up to the perfection of God within ourselves no matter how righteous we may seem. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ; we are counted as righteous if the perfect Blood of the Lamb covers us. There is no other righteousness that has the power to save or deliver us from the wrath of God.

God will bring His judgment into play upon two types of people: those who do good and those who commit evil. The believer and his good works, and the unbeliever and his evil works are judged but not just because of their works. Their works are only the result of their obedience to and trust in Christ. It is the trust and commitment to Christ that really makes the difference, not the works.

The works of a Believer toward God is a work of Faith in Him while the works of a Believer toward man is a labor of Love because Jesus lives within his heart!

The end result of man’s judgmental attitude is always destructive under every circumstance while God’s righteous judgment is always designed to bring a soul into right relationship with Him. Only at the final judgment will God have to make a final separation, both instantly and completely between those who live for Him and those who don’t. Until that day, God will remain kind, forbearing and patient.

At that final judgment God will judge, with only the purest of love and the greatest reward with await those who love Him and serve Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. That’s the judgment we want to face because the alternative is unacceptable and terrible.

At that final judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment, where every sinner and every rebellious person will appear, God will sit before them in all His wrath and cast them one-by-one into the fiery pits of Hell for all eternity. There will be no defense in that day. There will be no excuse acceptable, just as Paul said in verse 1 of this chapter. We are “inexcusable” for we have condemned ourselves by our own heart and we will know that we deserve just what God is giving to us! What a sad and terrible day that will be for those who face the wrath of God!

Let’s be careful not be judgmental. We can inspect the fruit that others bear and then we can decide whether they are doing their best to live for God, but we can never judge another persons heart. Only God can do that! Let us have the love, compassion, forbearance and mercy of God and allow God to do His work without our interference for only God can be an impartial judge.

He is no respecter of persons because He judges only by what’s in the heart. No one is His favorite because of his or her looks, their personality, their wealth or popularity. No one is His least favorite because they are ugly, dirty, look funny, act funny or live a differently. All are the same to Him and all have a heart. It’s what’s in that heart that He really cares about and that’s what He will judge according to.