Summary: As Paul continues to lay out the fact that all people fall short of the glory of God and are in need of God's righteousness, he focuses on the fact that the Jews are no better off than the Gentiles.
A. One day a company inspection was taking place at the Redstone Arsenal, the U.S. Army’s guided missile school in Huntsville, Alabama.
1. The inspection was being conducted by a full colonel.
2. The inspection was going smoothly until the colonel came to a certain soldier.
3. The colonel stopped, looked the soldier up and down, and snapped: “Button that pocket, trooper.”
4. The rattled soldier stammered, “Right now, sir?”
5. “Of course, right now,” barked the colonel.
6. The soldier slowly and carefully reached out and buttoned the flap on the colonel’s shirt pocket.
B. Isn’t it amazing, how for some reason that is peculiar to our human nature, it is always easier to see the unbuttoned pockets of others than it is to see our own?
1. Splinters in other people’s eyes seem to be more obvious than planks in our own eyes.
2. That is why God is the only one who is worthy and able to be the righteous judge.
C. Today, we continue our sermon series on Romans called “Pursuing Righteousness from God.”
1. So far in our series, we have determined that Paul was writing the church in Rome to help them resolve a conflict between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.
2. Part of the solution for that conflict is a proper understanding of salvation by grace through faith.
3. When a person is saved, they are brought into a state of justification because the righteousness of Christ is transferred into their spiritual account, so to speak.
4. No person is righteousness enough to save himself or herself – all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by grace because of the sacrifice of Christ.
5. Before Paul can drive home this truth of the good news of the gospel about salvation by grace through faith, he must first paint a picture of the bad news of the unrighteousness of all people.
D. In our sermon last week, we explored the depressing and depraved world of Romans 1:18-32.
1. In those verses, Paul paints a picture of the world as it progressively turns away from God.
2. We see that each stage is worse than the one before, and the final stage is deeply troubling.
3. Paul’s focus in those verses was the depravity of the Gentile world of that time.
E. But as chapter 2 begins, Paul shifts his focus from one group to another.
1. That shift is signaled by changing from using third person plural verbs throughout 1:18-32 (“they knew God”; “they exchanged”; “they know God’s righteous decree”), to using the second person singular (“you, therefore, have no excuse”).
2. This change suggests Paul is now turning his attention to a different group of people.
3. There are several possibilities as to whom this new group might be: the Roman Christians in general, or moral Gentiles, or Jewish people in general, or Jewish Christians.
4. Paul does not specifically address the Jewish audience until 2:17, but I think the language he uses in verses 1-16 points toward Jewish people in order to get the attention of Jewish Christians.
F. Those Jewish Christians in Rome who had been listening to Paul’s letter and who had likely been “amen-ing” him through 1:18-32, needed a wake-up call of their own.
1. Certainly the Jews in his audience would have applauded Paul’s condemnation of the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32.
1. In fact, Jewish national and religious pride encouraged them to despise the “Gentile dogs” (as they called them) and caused them to have nothing to do with them.
3. Paul’s main point throughout the section we will explore today is that the Jews are really no better than the Gentiles.
4. Paul will explain that the Jews also suppress the truth God has given them and that they, too, are “without excuse.”
5. Paul will expose as false the Jews’ presumption of superiority over the Gentile.
6. Paul will lay out a clear understanding that God is the only one who is worthy and able to be the righteous judge.
G. At the beginning of our study of Romans, I told you that I had my apprehensions and concerns about trying to preach through Romans, and that’s why I postponed doing so up until now.
1. Some of those concerns have to do with the deep theological arguments that Paul lays out as he tries to deal with the situation in Rome.
2. It’s very easy to get lost in those detailed and well developed arguments, and become confused.
3. One of the things I want to encourage us to keep in mind as we work through today’s text is the difference between the basis of our salvation and the assessment of our spiritual condition.
4. The basis of our salvation is God’s grace, but the assessment of our spiritual condition is our works.