Tuesday, October 11, 2011
“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. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 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?” (Rom. 2:1-3).
Scripture Reading: Romans 2:1-6
In our Scripture passage under consideration this day, Paul is not overlooking the great doctrine of salvation by grace as found in Ephesians. He is, however, stressing that believers ought to act like believers-that every person, believer and unbeliever, Jew and Gentile-is going to have to give an account of himself or herself before God. God’s judgment is a subject that certainly is not exhausted in our text, for obviously only certain facets of the whole truth are brought to light here. Among these facets are the following:
1) Judgment is of God, not man (v. 1).
Too often along life’s highway we encounter people who seem to feel that they have been divinely appointed judges or critics of their fellow humans. Paul speaks pointedly on this subject in verse 1.
Man who judges others is inexcusable.
Man is trying to play the role of God if he attempts to pass judgment on his fellow man, for God is the only Judge. Those who play the role of critic or judge in the community are behaving as a deranged person once did. Such a person once slipped into the judge’s chambers, put on the judge’s robe, and entering the courtroom, sat in the judge’s seat behind the bench, trying to pass himself off as a judge. Just as absurd is the person who attempts to sit in judgment on his neighbor. Paul said emphatically concerning the critic, “Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest” (v. 1).
One who passes judgment on his neighbor passes judgment on himself.
Paul said, “For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself” (v. 1). Does not the town gossip soon have the wrath of the local citizens on her neck? Do they not shun her? Can she ever expect to have close friends who will confide in her? I once knew a person in the community where I lived who arose early to get her household chores cared for so that she might begin making the rounds of the neighbors’ homes to glean all the latest bits of news and choice tidbits of gossip. People dreaded her arrival at their homes and found many excuses not to let her in. Unfortunately, she never understood why people seemed not to prefer her company.
The one who condemns is usually guilty of the same fault.
The person who sits in judgment on other people, condemning them for character imperfections, all too often is guilty of the same things-or worse. Jesus pointed out that man can see the slightest imperfection in his neighbor’s character or personality but has not the slightest idea that his own character is far from lily white and that his own personality reeks with undesirable traits. “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” said Jesus (Matt. 7:1). In a certain church there were some prominent businessmen who were successful by the world’s standards. They presumed to sit in judgment on their pastor and deacons for the way they administered the affairs of the church. They would have been horrified, however, if their pastor had criticized them concerning the way they operated their respective places of business.
2) God’s judgment is true.
Paul expresses the deep and abiding conviction that he and all real Christians have concerning the judgment of God-it “is according to truth against them which commit such things” (Rom. 2:2).
God’s judgments are true to divine standards.
God judges not by inadequate human standards, by manmade laws with all of their frailties and absurdities. Some of the most entertaining reading a person can do is to read old law books that contain laws that have no present-day significance or that never did make sense. I am told that in a certain state there used to be a law that said that when two trains approached an intersection at the same time, each was to wait until the other had passed-a more than somewhat difficult task!
God’s judgments are equitable. There are laws in our land that seem to protect the guilty and to penalize the innocent. For instance, a brave citizen heard a noise in an adjoining apartment and, knowing that the occupant of that apartment was out of town, went into that apartment to investigate. He apprehended two men in the process of robbing the apartment of its valuables, and he held at bay the two culprits until the police could arrive. The result of this heroic action was that the robbers were sent to jail for four months. The brave neighbor was sentenced to prison for two years for illegal possession of a gun-manmade justice! God’s judgment is equitable.
God makes no mistakes in his judgment.
God’s judgments are accurate. God looks down into the heart of the one being judged, and his system of judgment is more accurate than a lie detector. His judgments are just. As Joseph Addison once said, “To be perfectly just is an attribute of the divine nature.”
God cannot be misled by circumstantial evidence. Many years ago a man was sentenced to death on the gallows because a jury had declared him guilty of murder. The condemned man firmly declared his innocence, but circumstantial evidence was against him. On that fatal day, he was led to the gallows, the noose was put in place, and finally the trap door was sprung. In the hush of those moments following, there arose a murmur of excitement. Unexplainedly, the noose broke and the condemned man simply fell a few feet to the ground. It was decided that he would not have to undergo the trip to the gallows again but that he would be sent to prison to remain for the rest of his life. Some twenty years later in a distant town a man lay dying. He called the minister close to his bedside and whispered into his ear his confession of the murder for which the other man had been convicted. God, the righteous Judge, cannot be misled.
God’s judgment is tempered by love.
The person standing before God’s judgment throne who is joined to Christ in faith is not looked upon as a stranger but as a beloved heir. The love of God reaches across his bar of justice to reassure the trembling person that divine justice is tempered by divine love. As we stand before the throne of God to answer to him for the deeds done in the flesh, he will see us not in our own goodness-or lack of it-but as followers of and believers in his only begotten Son.
3) Man cannot escape his judgment (vv. 3, 6).
Some people live as though they expected to live on this earth forever, as though there will never be a day of accounting to almighty God. Paul speaks emphatically against such an idea, for he says that:
Those judging others cannot escape God’s judgment.
Humans receive some elements of judgment while yet on this earth. Paul is saying that in due time God is going to sit in judgment on every person; no one can hope to escape that judgment.
God “will render to every man according to his deeds” (v. 6).
There will appear before God’s judgment seat a variety of “cases.” Paul describes some here:
Those who despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering (v. 4). Humankind living in this age will have much to answer to God for on this score, for never has there been such a time of indifference to the goodness of God. People today are busily engaged in vaunting up the ladder of self-esteem, quite forgetful that it is God who gives them the very breath of life.
Those who are hard-hearted (v. 5). The hardness of heart that causes people to continue to say no to the call of God’s Holy Spirit is the cause of this great and unpardonable sin. Hardness of heart creates rebellion toward God and enmity with God. This sin of unbelief will cause many to hear the fatal words of the righteous Judge: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
Those who continue to refuse to repent of their sins (v. 5). How tragic it is that many people see no need of turning away from their sins. Also tragic is that many plan to wait until the last minute of their earthly lives to seek forgiveness.
Those who patiently continue in faith and well-doing shall receive eternal life (v. 7). Faith that lasts until death is a saving faith, indeed! Faith that puts words into practice in day-to-day living is faith that counts. Some standing before the great judgment throne are going to hear the Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21).
Now in Conclusion
Paul speaks to us in a very pointed way, cautioning us not to sit in judgment on our fellow humans. We as Christians ought to take into our hearts Paul’s admonition to us and resolve not to speak harshly of others or to gossip about others in the future. More to the point, Paul reminds us that there is going to be a judgment of each one of us by God, the righteous Judge, and that we must be prepared for that great day. This day will you examine your hearts and see if you find therein the assurance that you are ready to meet the Master face-to-face? If you find that you are not prepared, will you open your heart and let your faith flow out to God through Christ Jesus and in return allow his saving power to reach into your soul?
God Bless You, Pastor Mike