Romans 2:1-5
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Question: As Paul shows the path of deterioration in Romans 1:18-32 for those that would deny God, those who wanted nothing to do with God, who were hedonist "being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;" and although they knew the right thing to do they instead decided to do wicked things, despicable things, pathetic things, wretched things, and not only do they do them, they happily approve of others when they do those same crimes. Does anyone you know of come to mind? This could be individuals, groups, maybe even corporations? What was your reaction to what Paul said about them when he wrote the wrath of God is being revealed against such men as these? What are your thoughts on the gunman, Stephen Paddock when he shot up those hundred of people and killed 59 at the country harvest festival in Las Vegas?


I picture Romans Chapter 1 - 3 almost taking place in a large group setting with men of all types, backgrounds, and denominations present with Paul preaching in the middle of the room. In chapter 1:18-32 Paul hits hard those that are pleasure seeking hedonists who want nothing to do with God. He reverberates scripture such as Proverbs 14:14, 22:8 when he says to them "you wanted nothing to do with God nor His righteous commands; you've made your bed, now you're going to lie in it!" (see 1:32,25,27). Some of us, happy to not be at the wrong end of Paul's wagging finger, look at each other, eyebrows lowered, nodding in agreement, elbowing each other as we point to the hedonists saying among ourselves "they'll get what they have coming to them". Maybe we'll even give a shout out to Paul to back him up "there's a special place in Hell reserved for people like that!" As we start to stand and applaud Paul, happy that God is going to stick it to these reprobates. We give one more shout out to Paul, "we stand with you Paul, us decent folk agree, string up those porn peddlers!" Paul then turns his gaze toward us as if he's looking right through us. For a second we pause, thinking maybe he's going to commend us, after all, we're nowhere near as bad as them. Then Paul's eyebrows lower, he looks at us without blinking and says:


Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. - Romans 2:1


"Woah!" we think. I must be reading this wrong. Paul must still mean the hedonist but why is he looking at me? Then Paul continues walking toward you, directly toward you without pause nor straying from his path.


And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? - Romans 2:2-3


Leaning back, looking away, we struggle to regain our stance, and then looking back at the hedonists, this time we point to one specifically hoping it will recapture Paul's attention and with disdain in our voice we say "I'm nowhere near as bad as that man! c'mon Paul, look at what he has done!" We posture and proclaim "Yuuuuckkkk" as we wave our own finger in the air pointing vigorously up to the sky as if someone up there had agreed with us. Paul continues without wavering.


Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? - Romans 2:4


I'll stop there but I wanted for a second to put you in this scene from the perspective of whom Paul is now addressing. That is, the Judgmentalist. The judgmentalist has an interesting disposition. They love to monitor others and compare themselves. They are pretentious finger pointers who exhaust their efforts in finding faults in others who do not take the time to examine their own. They hold a "I may be bad, but I'm better than them" self view. Because of their diligence to watch what's going on over the fence when the police show up they offer the verdict before the facts in order to save the police time in their investigation. They are often embittered and detest anyone enjoying or benefiting from grace. For some biblical examples of this see Matthew 20:10-12, Luke 15:25-30.


Now back to Romans 12:1


Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. - Romans 2:1


There's an age old school yard saying that rings true on all ends of the spectrum. Whether sharing in suffering or evil it still remains true "It takes one to know one". Have you notice that often when we judge we declare to know what the other person was thinking? "I know what you were thinking" we say. How can that be unless we ourselves have the same mindset? When we catch children younger than us in sin, do we not understand what they are plotting because we are more experienced than they? When we say to the child "you're going to go to hell for lying" are we not condemning ourselves since we're ourselves are liars too? Anytime we declare what someone "deserves" we essentially are declaring what we deserve since we are guilty of the same thing. Paul here is in perfect agreement with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5:


“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. - Matthew 7:1-5


I like what Max Lucado wrote in his book In the Grip of Grace. "The key word here is judges. It's one thing to have an opinion. It's quite another to pass a verdict. It's one thing to have a conviction; it's another to convict the person." It's one thing to be disgusted or repulsed by the acts of sin but it's another entirely to claim that you are superior or that any person is beyond the grace of God (no one is).


And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. - Romans 2:2


Man isn't omnipotent, we don't know all the facts, whether it be the entirety of the circumstances or the intent of another person's heart. Therefore it's impossible for us to make an accurate assessment and subsequent judgement. Even if we have all the facts we are still sinners and would then filter our judgement according to our own fallen nature.


When I was in elementary school I was very difficult. The teachers had a lot of trials having endured me, I offer no excuse. One day though, one day when we were jogging around the track at Fairview I came across a fence board that had nails sticking out of it. My thought was to pick it up and throw it over the fence so nobody stepped on it. Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to rid of it because the moment the playground teacher saw Ryan with armed with a 2x4 with nails sticking out of it she stopped me before I could start, what seemed to her as my hate crime against other 4th graders. She called my parents and I was suspended. Now in her defense, she had experience with me to draw from, but the fact of the matter is, she couldn't judge the intent of my heart. Only God is capable of doing that (and He does, Prov. 16:2, Jer. 17:10). God is the only one who is omnipotent and holy, that is, He is all-knowing and untainted so He is the only one who has all the information and because of His perfect character and righteous disposition He is perfectly just in His judgement and vindicated when He sentences. I've often heard people say "only God can judge me!" My reply to such a person is "and that doesn't scare you???". God in making his wrath revealed against ungodliness and unrighteousness should scare us.


But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? - Romans 2:3


It's an interesting thing that the moment we enter a state of judgement against the act of someone else we are then professing that we know that act is wrong. When we take the judgement seat on a situation we are declaring that in this judgement we know what is right and what is wrong. In John 9:41 Jesus told the Pharisees "since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." Think about that. Remember Romans 1:20 "they are without excuse". Now we are "without excuse" when we do the same or similar things as they. I say similar because while we may not have committed an act exactly as those we are judging, we are guilty of similar ones. We judge a driver going down the road for breaking the law, yet we ourselves probably break the law when we drive on a regular basis (there are so many rules that govern it after all). We judge a person who almost kills us on the road because they were looking at their phone, do we not also look at our phone when we're driving? "Oh but Ryan I'm good at it when I do it". Looking at your phone, whether you are good at it or not is still breaking the law, it's breaking the rules that was set forth by the same governing authority who granted you the privilege to drive as long as you obey them. David, a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22) didn't escape this snare:


Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said,

“There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.
“The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.
“But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb
Which he bought and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom,
And was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;
Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. - 2 Samuel 12:1-9


Question: Did the crime is Nathan's story to David match the crime that David actually did as seen in verse 9?


You see, if we change the circumstances slightly you will find, as David did here, that we are guilty of the very same thing that our righteous indignation was bringing a scathing judgement against. Therefore we are inexcusable when we judge others. As we saw with David here, the story with the parable that Nathan shared with him and what David actually did were actually different circumstances. However what happened in the heart of David and the heart of the man in the parable was the same. Realizing this broke David. God doesn't merely consider the circumstances, which is all that mere man can judge, but God who knows the thoughts and intents of man examines him at a heart level.


But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7


“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds. - Jeremiah 17:10


This is why I could be guilty of murder without ever touching another person. For that matter I could also be guilty of adultery without ever fornicating.


15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. - 1 John 3:15


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5:27-28


Sometimes it can be a good self examination of our heart to investigate the shows we watch. If we are drawn toward drama, violence, murder, adultery in movies and shows, if those things, rather than disgust us, repulse us, repel us, instead give us pleasure, than it may be an indicator of what's going on inside. If in our hearts we derive pleasure from those things, than we are guilty at a heart level, even having not committed the outward act.


Man cannot see these things and therefore our judgement of one another is faulty. God who searches the hearts and knows all things (John 21:17) accurately assesses and therefore accurately judges.


Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? - Romans 2:4


When you're wondering how to act toward someone ask yourself this, what if Jesus acted toward you with the same regard. I was convicted this week when I was handling a difficult individual, a client of ours who was, in error, blaming me for their self made problems. This has been a repeated pattern with this particular client where they were upset with me because of their ignorance. And now, today, after concluding that maybe keeping this individual on was more trouble than it's worth I said to my wife as I vented, "just one more time and I'm gonna be tempted to send this guy packing!" (as I told her just how I would present that to them). When I said that I watched her heart break. This surprised me; I expected vindication. You see this client had been with us for some time and I remember when I met them (him and his wife) he mentioned a previous I.T. firm dropped them for unknown reasons. This client never gave us grief about paying, even for the extra time they take when they are being difficult. Almost every time we meet up he often apologizes for being "a dummy" with this stuff. Puzzled at my wife's reaction, though not right away but a few minutes later I asked her about it, how I noticed her heart breaking when I told her I was tempted to send the client packing and she said in that moment she was picturing this difficult client of ours high and dry with nobody to help them. Maybe nobody else who would stick it out with them because they are difficult. "Oh man, I thought to myself, I'm pretty sure that's how I should feel". Then for some reason my self-torturing heart asked this of myself, what if Jesus regarded me the same way I was regarding this client. What if Jesus sent me packing when I'm difficult reasoning to Himself that I'm more trouble than I'm worth. Oh thank God He doesn't! Where sin increases grace abounds all the more(Rom. 5:20); thank God His ways are not our ways! (Isa. 55:7-8). You see, in that moment I was considering lightly the riches of Christ's "kindness and tolerance and patience", forgetting how He dealt with me so kindly that led me to repentance. I lost sight of the huge debt forgiven me while I demanded what was due me from this client (see also Matthew 18:23-35). (and this client pays for my time, how am I gonna handle a stranger when they wrong me???) Oh God, let me never lose sight of what you've done for me nor take lightly your riches in grace (Eph. 2:7), kindness, tolerance, and patience (see also Eph. 1:7, 2:7, 1 Tim. 1:14, Titus 3:6, 2 Cor. 9:8). I'm heart broken.


"the kindness of God leads you to repentance". The law only kills (2 Cor. 3:6, 7, 9). The ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor 3:8) gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). The law only applies externally and operates through the strength of man in his flesh (Rom. 8:3) which as we know, except for Christ, failed miserably (Rom. 3:23) and for all those that failed, even a little (James 2:10), for them it results in death (Rom. 6:23). God, in letting us know what He expects of us in the law (Matt. 5:48, 1 Peter 1:16) was done so in love, for we wouldn't have known about sin if it wasn't for the law (Rom. 7:7) and we would have still perished in our sin without the law (Rom. 2:12). Now, beyond the kindness shown in the law, God, in his riches of kindness, not only came and paid for our violation of the law in full (2 Cor. 5:21) but fulfilled the law on our behalf (Matt. 5:17), and offers us His Spirit to accomplish in us what we cannot. And He does all this and offers it free to us! (Rom. 6:23). Furthermore, in His kindness He leads us, even us who rebel against Him, to repentance so that we may live!


And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; - John 16:8

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. - John 1:9

32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” - John 12:32

51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. - Acts 7:51


"always resisting the Holy Spirit". It's not as if God, in His mercy and grace didn't try. Not only has He made Himself clearly known to everyone, but in His riches of mercy and grace (Eph. 2:4, 7) and "tolerance and patience," (Rom. 2:4) He keeps pursuing! We really will have no excuse (Rom. 1:20).


But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, - Romans 2:5


"day of wrath". Judgement at the end of time in contrast to the judgement spoken of in the last half of Romans 1 (v18-32). Unlike that spoken of in Romans 1, when this day comes, there is no recovery. Notice who it is that is storing up the wrath for this day.


Question: What is repentance? It means to change one's mind and turn to God (Acts 26:20). How is repentance linked with salvation? Acts 2:36 speaks of one changing their mind about Jesus Christ, to recognize that He is indeed "Lord and Christ". Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.


The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9


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