Summary: While God’s judgment is on specific sins, these sins result from our sinful nature which must be changed to find acceptance by God.
Grace and Sin’s Judgment Part I
I. God’s Judgment On Sin
A. There is a psychological defense mechanism called projection.
1. Defined, it refers to our tendency to project or attribute to others unpleasant or sinful issues we deal with.
2. For example, someone may have the habit of nosiness. (I think of Mrs. Gladys Cravitz of Bewitched)
3. Yet this same person speaks negatively of people they know who are nosy.
4. There is one Andy Griffith episode where Barney is speaking negatively about people who gossip and then begins to do the same thing.
B. As Paul begins to speak about God’s judgment on sin, he starts with an imaginary conversation with a moralist-someone who assumes themselves much better than the heathens Paul has just went to great pains to describe. The form Paul uses was common and called a diatribe. He anticipates questions that might be proposed and then answers them. (v. 1)
1. Sin should disturb us, and it should disturb us when we see others involved in sinful actions we know are ruining their lives and will ruin them eternally if they do not accept Christ.
2. But we must be careful when speaking about those who are in the grasps of sin. We can find ourselves speaking down to them, referring to them with an UnChristlike spirit.
3. Rather than looking at them with an uppity attitude, we should say, “There but by the grace of God am I.”
4. When speaking out against sin and those in its grasp, we should do so with a spirit of humility.
5. As mentioned above when referencing the defense mechanism of projection, if we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit we tend to notice the sins in others that we have the most trouble with.
6. We can imagine this letter from Paul being read in one of the churches in Rome. We can see the saints nodding their heads as the catalogue of sins that characterized the heathen was read. Imagine the surprise when it came to the part that in effect said; “You are just as bad as them.”
7. He no doubt had Jewish saints in mind since he had just catalogued the awful sins of the Gentile heathen world.
8. The Jews in the church would have heartedly agreed with Paul’s assessment of the Gentiles.
9. Gentiles were dogs, outside the Abrahamic covenant and aliens to the commonwealth of Israel.
10. God’s judgment on them was just since they were enemies of God and enemies of his people.
11. This scenario can be compared to a preacher getting up and giving a survey of those who live in the ghetto and then listing the sinful practices associated with that segment of a city.
12. Then turning to the congregation of religious folks, he says, “And you are just as bad as them.” Imagine the looks of surprise he would receive, or the glares of anger. This is what Paul did. He turned the tables on the moralists-those who thought they were better because the types of sinful actions he had catalogued were not characteristic of them.
13. While they may not have actually committed some of the acts he had listed, there is the heart matter to consider-the spirit of the law that Jesus addressed.
14. We can be just as guilty because of what is going on in the inside. Adultery is not just the act itself. One is guilty of it if lust is felt and no action results.
15. The issue is not whether some sins are worse than others-sin is sin in God’s sight, though some sins have more far reaching consequences.
C. Paul’s conclusion and teaching is that we are all sinners, whether or not we have committed particular sins. We are sinners because we are born with a sinful nature.
1. Since Paul is speaking to a moralist, let’s define moralist. A moralist is one who lives a clean and pure life as well as one who lives by a certain set of standards, values and principles.
2. You could not ask for a better neighbor. If they work for you, you would never have to worry about them slacking on their job, and if this person is a parent, they will do a wonderful job of providing for their children.
3. The moralist makes a couple of mistakes; the first is his tendency to judge others. They criticize, find fault and condemn.
4. The moralist places himself on a pedestal, thinking he is superior to others because they have flaws that he doesn’t. It may not be something sinful. It may be he looks down on a person simply because they come from the wrong side of the tracks. They were not born with the privileges he was.