Today: [Romans 2:] The Saving Power of the Goodness of God: In Romans 2 Paul drives home the declaration that man is without excuse in terms of justifying himself before God. We are made right with God not by virtue of our birth, our moral excellence or religious culture. These things are excluded altogether. We are accepted by God in Christ because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us on the Cross and nothing else whatsoever.
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[Rom 2:1-14 KJV] 1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
In the previous chapter Paul declares to the church in Rome the message of Christ and Christ alone as man’s basis of approach to God. He emphasizes that both the Jew and the Greek are accountable to heaven for the knowledge of the things of God. The Jew is held accountable by the law of Moses, and the Greek is held accountable through the disclosures of the mysteries of God evident and accessible through the study of nature and creation. Because man did not choose to retain the knowledge of God Paul states for this reason humanity is given over by God to the motions of sins common to man’s fallen state. Thus we come to understand that SIN is the SYMPTOM of a deficient relationship with God. Why waste your breath berating a sinner for sins that God has according to Paul in chapter 1 given them over to? The problem is not the sin – the problem is that man is given over to sin because he has chosen not to retain God in his knowledge. The gospel then is not a declaration of sin but a declaration of the knowledge of God and the Christ of God as the remediation for the sin state that all men are born into.
Chapter 2 starts out with a continuation of the message of chapter 1. Man is inexcusable before God even in those things by which one might feel they are justly pointing out the errors and sins of others. Paul states that when we judge another for their shortcomings, we are only validating the fact from God’s point of view that we are guilty of the same thing. Thus v. 2 tells us that the judgments of God are against the accused and the accuser alike, therefore, the lesson we must learn is not to condemn or judge others for all we accomplish is inditing ourselves on the same basis with the same egregious transgressions. We might feel we have every right to point out the errors of another, but we have to choose – do we believe what God says or what our conscience insists in terms of vindicating us or asserting that we are better than others because we think we are not as sinful as they?
In v. 3 Paul tells us that both he that sits in judgment and the offenders who suffer under the judgments of others are altogether incapable of escaping the judgment of God whose judgments are just and without partiality. What about this issue of judgment? Whether you are a pagan worshipping a false god in an ancient culture or a modern day believer – all of religion and religious expression is grounded in the hopes of appealing to divinity that one might avoid the unavoidable consequences of life. For all of history man in his religious sense has ever attempted to appease God by his worship and his sacrifice. Ancient pagans through virgins into the mouth of a volcano. Modern religion advocates altruism and self-sacrifice as the pathway to divine favor. What Paul is saying is that man is incapable of appeasing God in anyway whatsoever. God will not be appeased by your love, your service, or your sacrifice. The only thing that brings the forbearance of God in your behalf is the shed blood of Calvary expiated by a resurrected Lord at the right hand of the Father ever making intercession for you and me.
What does this tell us about God? In v. 4 Paul portrays God as a just judge yes He is but also a God plenteous in mercy, forbearance, long-suffering and gracious. It is by this grace – revealed in Christ that the Father leads us to repentance. What does this mean? It means that God is not interested in repentance on the basis of hoping to avoid judgment. God does not threaten us in order to provoke us to follow Him. Quite the opposite God pours out upon us His goodness and love to provoke in us the change of heart and life that is defined as repentance and contrition before the judgment bar of heaven. Our trust is not in our ability to obey or adhere to religious principle in hopes of satisfying an austere God. Our deeds v. 7 tells us will never garner anything for us but punishment and wrath. Your goodness or morality afford you no standing in the economy of God. Whether the Jew claiming how religious he is as a law keeper or the Greek rejecting the idea of accountability altogether – both are concluded in unbelief, offenders in God’s court because they are looking to themselves and not to the clemency and mercy of a loving Father who gave His only Son and nothing else as the basis of approach to His throne.
Outside of Christ v. 9 tells us both Jew and Gentile can only be inheritors of tribulation and anguish for there is (v. 11) no respect of persons with God. When you stand before God the only basis on which you can plead escape from eternal wrath and damnation in a literal hell is going to be in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s idea of fairness and justice will not take into account that you were a good person or that while you weren’t perfect, you weren’t aware of what God expected. Ignorance or immaturity will be no defense. Moral rectitude has no standing before a holy God. The question, the only question is who is Jesus to you, who was Jesus to you and did you live your life leaning with your whole heart and personality upon Him as the very basis of your relationship with the Father?
[Romans 2:15-29 KJV]
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. 17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest [his] will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
In verse 16 we see an inconvenient truth that is much not in vogue in modern day Christianity. There will come a day when God shall judge the secrets of men’s hearts by the gospel of Jesus Christ. He isn’t going to trot out the litany of moral commands and balance your offenses with your instances of obedience. The gospel will be the only standard in that day by which men shall be judged. What did you do with Jesus? In that day you might be a Jew and boast your knowledge of the Law but yet be found to be an offender. You might be a Gentile pleading exemption from God’s law on the basis of your ignorance but yet be found to be an offender. In v. 25 Paul sums up the issue of accountability before God in saying that knowledge of God is only efficacious if you have kept the law to the most minute perfection – which no man other than Jesus has done. God is not looking for us to keep the law or live up to His expectations. Instead He desires that our circumcision is not through outward religious striving but by inward transformation being circumcised in our hearts thus we become the embodiment in our persons of that righteousness that Jesus died to express and make available to us and in us. Thus our right standing before God has nothing to do with our ethnicity, or culture or religious background. Our right standing before God is based on inward transformation brought about by the indwelling Christ who circumcised our hearts and not just the outer man whereby our praise is not of men but of God.
What can we conclude then? God accepts no man’s person. God accepts no sacrifice that we might bring Him of the works of our hands or the fruits of our moral excellence. God loves us and accepts us not on the merits of our birth, culture or religious affiliation. God accepts you and deals with you as a son or daughter only because of your faith in the merits of Christ and your faith in the price that was paid on Calvary that you might recline at His table because of who Jesus is and what He did for you on the cross 2000 years ago.
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