Summary: Paul addresses the dangers of hiding behind religion to avoid a relationship with God.
Last week, from Romans 1, we saw how people get so far from God, God gives them up to their vile choices and futile minds. That is the most tragic story in the Bible.
We pointed out that all of us are susceptible to the same spiral stairway. Even believers, even Churches, can become cold towards God.
But Paul knew his audience. He knew they, and we, would tend to look at the first chapter and click our tongues. We would (secretly) say up the prayer of the Pharisee. “I thank God I am not like those in Chapter 1.”
You see, many believe we can be saved by religion. But Paul points out clearly that religion walks down the same spiral staircase as the pagans of Greece and Rome.
Rom 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
If we look outwardly first when we examine these scriptures, be become unrighteous judges. That is the theme of Matthew 7:1-5. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
This doesn’t we should never make a judgment as to what is right and wrong in our lives or in the life of someone we love. Reading that carefully will NOT bring you to the conclusion that the speck in your brother’s eye is none of your business. But your first look in inside at your tendency to the same sin.
Once that internal look has revealed our sin and we have removed our log, we are then told to help our brother with his speck.
So judgment is not ruled out. Actually, it’s required.
The two kinds of judgment that are never acceptable:
1. To judge other in an area we are still guilty of ourselves, and,
2. To judge someone’s soul as damned and unreachable.
Paul is talking about the first here. He is saying “Don’t hide behind your religion to judge others.” He is speaking specifically speaking to the Jews who condemn Gentiles for going down that stairway to Hell. He is reminding them that in their Judaism, they are doing the same thing.
Rom 2:2-4 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
The Jews were depending upon their “Jewishness” and the promises of God to the Jews to cover them with the “kindness, forbearance, and patience” of God. Paul is telling them that God is not showing those favors to excuse them, but that they would repent of their sins. This is the picture of people hiding behind religion and not in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Rom 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
Because God is showing these kindnesses because He is waiting; But because these were still unrepentant, it was going to be worse. They were storing up wrath and it would be revealed in judgment.
Rom 2:6-8 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Paul is speaking about living under the Law. But he is talking about the Law creating a repentant heart that seeks the mercy of God. For the Jews to live righteously under the Law, they would have seen their sinfulness and cried out to God for forgiveness and mercy.
When we look at religious Jews during this day, you would see that most of them lived in confidence that their position in Judaism was enough. They live in pride, thus taking the same path away from God as the pagans. They denied God’s place in an area of their lives. They desired ignorance of God instead of truth. They allowed themselves to be deceived into self-worship. Their condemnation of the Gentiles was evidence of that.