Summary: Romans 2:6-11 speaks of two different paths that we travel through life. This sermon examines these two different paths in order to show which path leads to eternal life.
A pastor of a small church once received the following letter signed by “A Faithful Member”:
You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss Sunday worship now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:
• Christmas (Sunday before or after)
• New Year (Party lasted too long)
• Easter (Get away for holidays)
• July 4 (National holiday)
• Labor Day (Need to get away)
• Memorial Day (Visit hometown)
• School Closing (Kids need break)
• School Opens (One last fling)
• Family Reunions (Mine & wife’s)
• Sleep late (Saturday night activities)
• Deaths in Family (Average two per year)
• Anniversary (Second honeymoon)
• Sickness (One per family member)
• Business Trips (A must)
• Vacation (Three weeks)
• Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds)
• Ball games (Six per season)
• Unexpected Company (Can’t walk out)
• Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back)
• Special on TV (Super Bowl, etc.)
Pastor, that leaves only two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August—unless providentially hindered.
A Faithful Member
We smile at a letter like this because we recognize it for what it is. It is merely an excuse for not attending worship.
We are all guilty of making excuses for one thing or another. Generally, however, our excuses are exactly that—excuses! And they need to be seen for what they really are.
This is particularly true in our relationship to God. In Romans God accuses us of repressing the truth about himself and of violating his moral law even while we pass judgment on others for doing the same things. But as soon as we hear God’s accusations against us, we begin to make excuses. We claim that we did not know what was required of us, that we did not do what we are accused of doing, or that our motives were actually good. Whenever we find ourselves doing this, we need to remember the principles of God’s just judgment, which Romans 2 explains.
Our text today, Romans 2:6-11, teaches us that God’s judgment is according to our deeds. We cannot plead extenuating circumstances with God, because it is what we do that counts. This principle is unfolded in Romans 2:6-11 and is developed further in Romans 2:12-15. Let’s read Romans 2:6-11:
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. 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. (Romans 2:6-11)
Romans 2:6-11 speaks of two very different paths. One is the path of good deeds, the end of which is glory, honor, immortality and peace. The other is the path of evil, the end of which is wrath, anger, trouble and distress. These verses teach us that a person is either on one path or the other.
Today, I want to examine the two paths.
I. The Path of the Righteous (2:7, 10-11)
The first path is that of the person who does good. In our text Paul speaks of such people in two places. Putting these verses together, we have the following: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he [God] will give eternal life. . . . There will be . . . glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 2:7, 9-10).
There are two things that such a person is described here as doing: (1) he or she does good and (2) he or she persists in doing good.
There are three things that are highlighted as his or her essential motivation: (1) glory, (2) honor, and (3) immortality. Elsewhere in Paul’s writings, these terms are used of the Christian’s ultimate expectations.
“Glory” refers to the transformation of the Christian into the image of God’s Son, by which the glory of God will be reflected in that person. Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (cf. Romans 5:2; 8:30; 9:23; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 15:43; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:17).