Summary: How do you get in good standing with God? Sometimes we mistake the outward signs of rightness for inward reality. In fact, the Lord urges us to examine the "secret self" and lay it bare to God and let His Son cleanse it. Are you willing?
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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.
Paul makes an abrupt switch here in Chapter 2. In chapter 1 he showed 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 condemns homosexuality, idol worship, and violence – but now he turns the tables and says to the church – why are you judging, you are just as bad!
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?
How upset do we get when other people do something wrong? Oh, she shouldn’t have said that, or he shouldn’t have done that. We get our back all up when we see a corporate CEO get caught manipulating stock prices to get an extra million – but we don’t think anything of boasting about the worth of something we’re selling – maybe a car let’s say – not telling about that part that’s about to fail – so we can get a better price.
We fall into this false sense that God wouldn’t punish me – I’m a good person overall. The truth is that God judges based on facts, not opinions – on objective truth, not rose colored glasses. And we are all under that judgment.
We can’t escape God’s judgment by avoiding it, or resisting it. We need to agree with it and submit to the verdict – guilty, then let Jesus pay the price. How important that sacrifice becomes. When we think we something special on our own we do show contempt for God’s kindness – because it is for love that He sent Jesus to die. Our problem is we just don’t realize what He’s done for us.
So the next time you find yourself getting angry at the sins of others, think about your own life, do you do those same things? And even if you don’t, why are you condemning them? Instead we should lead people in sin to the love of God through Jesus Christ.
Not everyone will accept this – look at what Paul says to them:
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. 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
Here we seen the repentant and unrepentant heart compared. The idea of doing good doesn’t mean we get to heaven by doing good – but this is the result – we realize we have sinned, we agree with God’s verdict on sin, we cling to Jesus Christ and make Him our Lord – and then the outcome of that is a changed character.
The point is, if you seek self you’ll receive judgment because it is rebellion against God and His way of escape. The only thing to look forward to is wrath and anger, but if we seek Him will get from Him glory, honor, and eternal life.
9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
The Jews were special – in that they were to be an example and the conduit through which God showed His love and forgiveness. Instead they thought of themselves as above it all and better than everyone else.
We need to be careful as Christians that we fall into the same trap. Don’t look down on the person who is struggling with sin or the person who doesn’t know Jesus – be the conduit for God’s love in their life.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.