Summary: We will look at some problems with projection (focusing on someone else's sin). My hope is that after looking at these problems, we will get real with God and allow His kindness to lead us to repentance and a changed life in the areas we may have tried to
Don’t Look at Me!
Romans 2:1-5 1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
Intro: Paul showed in chapter 1 how people in general are responsible for their actions and responsible for knowing God. Undoubtedly many in the audience in the Roman church would have agreed readily as Paul condemned homosexuality, idol worship, violence, and other kinds of sins that seemed to describe pagans. Well, if you’ve ever been set up, you might be able to relate with some of Paul’s readers. Listen to the last verse in chapter 1. Romans 1:32 “Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
-Now you can almost read the thoughts of some of Paul’s readers. “Hey, I don’t approve of people who commit those kinds of sins. No way, not me! Those dirty pagans do those kinds of things, and boy, are they going to pay! Those godless goyim (Gentiles) are gonna get what they have coming to them! God will judge them because they are so wicked and despicable!”
-But here in chapter 2, Paul lets the other shoe drop rather unexpectedly. After indicating that approving of others who live wickedly is as bad as living that way yourself, Paul tells them that even if they don’t approve of others who sin, it doesn’t get them off the hook for their own behavior. Even if you are angry about someone else’s sin, that doesn’t cancel out the sin in your own life. Paul even indicates that some of them are committing the same sins they are judging others over. Jesus called this kind of thing hypocrisy.
-The word hypocrite was used for actors in plays. It is made up of two parts: the Greek prefix hypo-, meaning "under", and the verb krinein, meaning "to sift or decide". The original meaning implied a deficiency in the ability to sift or decide. In a play a good actor made it difficult for the audience to tell that he was just acting. (Maybe you’ve heard the story of Sammy at the theater.) A hypocrite is someone who acts one way in front of an audience, but really lives a totally different life. It’s hard to tell who a hypocrite really is because everything looks good and sounds good, but something is missing. Hypocrisy has been called "the tribute that vice pays to virtue" (François de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims). A person may act a certain way while at church or around other Christians, but slip back into their default mode as soon as they are able.
-So Paul addresses this end around attempt some of his readers are using to bypass the examination of their own lives. Some apparently think that if they keep the focus on the really bad people, then God and everybody else will not see the evil in their own lives. There is nothing new under the sun. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. And there was nobody else around left to blame, so God started with the devil and worked backwards.
-This kind of thought process that judges other people’s faults and sins while trying to conceal our own is considered to be a thinking error. It is known in psychology as projection. “Projection is a common defense mechanism where a person gets upset with a trait in someone else that he wishes to deny in himself. They suppress the knowledge that they have the same trait and externalize blame on the other person. They are highly sensitized to the unwanted behaviors in others and transfer their horror and anger at their own unwanted inner trait to an outside person. The majority of their internal thoughts or words during an argument is focused on blaming the other person. We all have a bit of projection in us, but some people have the need to blame others big time, thus obstructing their own growth and learning.
People who project blame often feel a hidden stigma and shame at possessing a disgraceful personality trait so they 'project' or transfer anger on others to distract themselves from knowing the truth about their own self. They become so highly sensitized to the presence of their unwanted traits that it interferes with their social informational processing. So they don't see reality as it is and then operate out of their misperceptions. How do you know if you are projecting your anger on others? Preoccupation, judgments and anger about others' behavior are projection. If you spot it, you got it!” (http://www.angriesout.com/grown14.htm)