Summary: Romans 1 shows that bad people need Jesus. But Romans 2 shows that the so-called good people need Jesus, too.

You’re the Man! (And So Am I)

Romans 2:1-16

Good morning! Please open your Bibles to Romans 2. I know! You kind of feel like we are starting a brand new series, after five weeks in Romans 1. But actually, we are still in the first section of our outline of Romans. If you remember a few weeks ago, I gave you a very basic outline of Romans. The overall theme is The Righteousness of God. That’s what every part of Romans is about. And we are in Section 1: The Wrath of God. And we will be here through chapter 3, verse 20.

Now if you were here last week, you probably feel like you got hit with both barrels on the wrath of God. We talked about sexual sin, both heterosexual and same sex. We talked about God giving people over to the lusts of their hearts, then to dishonorable passions, and finally to a debased mind. We ended with the picture of the Gentiles “not only doing these things,” but giving approval to others who practice them. And I painted the word picture of the Roman Collisseum, filled with people giving their approval to the horrible acts of violence they saw in the arena.

I bring them up because after the sermon, I had one person (my brother Allen) text me and say, “Great sermon, but the Collisseum wasn’t actually built until after Paul was dead.” So, we all need people like that in our lives. Thanks, Allen!

But in any case, we might get to the end of a chapter like Romans 1 and say, “Way to go Paul! Way to get after those horrible Gentiles. Sexual perverts, deviants—man, you really let them have it! Way to not pull any punches.”

Some of you said similar things to me after the sermon last week. You congratulated me on speaking the truth about “those people.” One person even came up to me and told me about a news show she was watching about the son of a prominent politician, and how that particular person’s disgusting behavior perfectly illustrated what I was saying about the downward spiral of our culture.

1. Intro: The problem of the invisible tape recorder

Now, that is certainly one response to Romans chapter 1. But there is a problem. Let’s look again at the first few verses of Romans 2:

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. 2 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?

This is what theologian Francis Schaeffer called “The problem of the Invisible Tape Recorder.” He said, “Imagine that each one of us has an invisible tape recorder hanging around our necks.” (we got Josh a voice-activated recorder for Christmas so he could record classroom lectures and listen to them later). So, to update Schaeffer’s analogy a little bit, imagine that you have a voice activated recorder hanging on a lanyard around your neck. And it makes a recording of everything you say in judgment about someone else. Every time you point out when a politician gets caught lying (which means you’d probably need a couple of terrabytes of storage on this recorder!). Every time you comment on the latest story about a celebrity scandal.

Every time you point out the neighbor who’s kids aren’t well behaved.

Every time you yell at another driver who is distracted.

This invisible voice recorder keeps track of every single thing you ever say in judgment of someone else.

And at the end of your life, you stand before God, the righteous judge, and God says, “All right. I’m going to be completely fair. I am going to play your recordings, and I will judge you on the basis of what your own words say are the standards of human behavior.”

How would you do? Well, most of us would be like a deer in the headlights. We would want to rip off the voice recorder and stomp it into pieces.

Because the truth is, as John Stott pointed out in his book, The Message of Romans,

We work ourselves up into a state of self-righteous indignation over the disgraceful behavior of other people, while the very same behavior seems not nearly so serious when it is ours, rather than theirs.

2. From third person to second person (v.1-3, 2 Sam. 12:1-9)

And so here is the genius and the billiance of the Apostle Paul. I want to point out a huge difference between chapter 1 and chapter 2 that you may not have noticed the first time around. Look at the pronouns.

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