Summary: Man’s judgment is blind. We all have blind spots in our character others may see, but we can’t. God’s judgment is perfect. He has no flaws, no character deficiencies, so His judgment is perfect because His character is perfect.
I get a lot of funny things over the internet, some funnier than others. The other day, someone sent me a list of interesting questions. One of them really stuck out in my mind. If a man is standing out in a forest all by himself, and there are no women around, and he speaks, is he still wrong? Here is another interesting question. How is God going to deal with a person who is morally good and pure, an all-American citizen, a good person, but never really had time in their life for God? I am not talking about the murderers, the idolaters, I’m not talking about the people who sinned wickedly, I’m talking about these good people we all know. The answer to that question is right here beginning in Romans 2. Romans 1 is pretty harsh. It is an excoriating narrative against all kinds of terrible sins, and Paul is really talking in the third person. He is talking about “them” or they are without excuse. This was a letter written to a group of Christians in Rome. They were located in a pagan culture, kind of like America, and they were saying, “That’s right, Paul, preach it. What about all this wickedness around us? You know, like we have been talking about the last few weeks, like murder and homosexuality and idolatry and greed. Yeah, we need that kind of preaching.” But, suddenly, Paul changes direction and quits talking about them, and starts talking about us.
Romans 2:1. “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. Now, we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 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? Or, do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”
I. THE DANGER OF JUDGING OTHERS
Now, in this passage of scripture, we are going to look at three topics that Paul addresses. He’s going to talk about the danger of judging others. Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, “Well, you know what the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not judge.’” Well, the Bible never says don’t judge period. The Bible says be careful how you judge because the same judgment you use will be the standard used against you. The word here for judging is not a word that means evaluate, nor does it mean form an opinion, it’s a word literally meaning to condemn someone in judgment. It’s when we as Christians become the judge, the jury and the executioner, and that kind of attitude is very dangerous. I want to say again, it does not mean you stop evaluating people. Dr. John Stott, an eminent, viable scholar wrote about judging others:
“This verse is not a call to suspend out critical faculties or to renounce all criticism and rebuke of others as wrong. It is rather a prohibition of standing in judgment on other people and condemning them, which as human beings we have no right to do, especially when we fail to condemn ourselves.”
So, never overlook someone’s behavior by saying, “Well, the Bible says ‘Thou shalt not judge.’”
We have to make value judgments all the time. For instance, I am a father. I have two teenage daughters. Let’s say some guy comes to take one of my daughters out on a date and he walks up to the door and every part of his body visible is pierced, he has a fifth of whiskey in one hand and a marijuana cigarette in the other hand. Let’s say I look out there and he has a customized van parked out in front of my house. Am I going to say, “Oh, the Bible says, ‘Don’t judge’”? No, I’m going to evaluate that guy. I’m not going to condemn him, that’s not my job, but I am going to evaluate him, and I’m going to say, “You’re out of here, buddy!” We all have to make evaluations. That’s not what the Bible is talking about here. It is saying, “Be careful that you do not stand in condemning judgment over someone.”
Let me give you an example. Last week I mentioned Jeffrey Dahmer. Are you familiar with Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer, convicted of brutally murdering 17 people? As you know he was sentenced to several concurrent life sentences (which is interesting in itself), but in prison, Dahmer was murdered by another inmate and is now dead. Let me ask you what you think about this. Do you think Jeffrey Dahmer is going to be in heaven or hell? You may not know, but after he was sentenced to prison, before he was murdered, he claimed to have been born again. He claims to have had a born-again experience, and he was attending chapel in the prison. He was baptized and claimed to be a Christian. I want you to examine your own feelings about that. Some of you are probably thinking something like this, “Well, if he’s going to be in heaven, I don’t want to be there.” Or, maybe you are saying, “Well, I don’t know about that. I mean God’s Grace is okay for normal sinners like me, but for social deviants like that, I mean, can somebody like that really be saved?