Romans 2:1 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?
The New Evangelical crowd is rife with heresies. One of the famous quotes they use is: ‘don’t judge’. What they never stop to consider is that in making that statement, they are judging. One of the favourite passages they like to use to defend their hypocrisy is found in Matthew 7. Jesus taught the importance of righteous judgment there and other places. The Bible does not forbid judging. It condemns hypocrisy.
In our text, God is continuing to build His doctrine in the book of Romans. In chapter 1 God addressed the sin of rejecting Him whether found in Jew or Gentile. He shows us the result of a rejection of the true God. In this chapter He turned His attention against the hypocrisy of the Judaizers. We have looked at them before. They are Jews who claim to be spiritual, but who are far from God. The Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, scribes generally fit into the category of Judaizers. They lived by law keeping. It was not the law of God, but their own corrupt laws. They could not keep them, but they demanded obedience to them by others. Law keeping was their means of salvation.
The particular issue here was that the Judaizers were sitting in judgment of the Gentiles. God addressed the hypocritical judgment of the Jews against others. What they were doing was similar to the lawlessness in our country. We have lawmakers who make laws, but the laws they make are for the paupers, not for them. Our environment minister can get on a jet and fly all over the world preaching his corrupt science. However, we the people who are paying his high salary and his flights, are supposed to stop driving, and even be more disciplined in our breathing. Some might suggest this is a secular matter, but it is a very spiritual matter for him and others in his camp. They worship ‘mother earth/mother nature’.
God declares that the judgment a person uses applies as much to that person as it does to anyone else. God is righteous. He is just in all His actions. He demands righteousness of man. He described the wickedness in chapter 1 and He also warned of the judgment that those described there, are under. God has every right to examine everything that man does. He has every right to expect a certain standard of man. He also shows us that He has provided the only means for man to meet His holy standard. That provision is available to all through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In verse 1 God showed that these Judaizers were doing the same thing they were condemning others for. In verse 2 Paul stated that he (we, saved people) was sure that God’s judgment is according to truth. Paul began his life as a lost man. He was trained as a Pharisee. He was a Judaizer prior to salvation. He was confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ and he had no defence against the truth. He repented and was saved. He knew he was wrong and thus he did not argue against God. You can read of his conversion in Acts 9.
In our text, he stated that God’s judgment against hypocritical judgment was justified. God has no use for those who want to go around with their nose in the air, condemning everyone that does not meet their standard. As we have already seen in verse 2 and will see further, judgment must be according to God’s truth. If I want to help someone I think needs help, I better be sure I am walking right with God first of all and that I am seeking to help that person by carefully and rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
Those who have been reading my devotionals can see that I often judge different things. God has shown me some things that I have done that were wrong. He has shown me the need to be saved first of all. After salvation, He has been showing me the importance of doctrinal purity in my own life and in my own beliefs. He wants others to walk in truth as well and thus the need to expose false teaching and illuminate truth.
In verse 3 Paul continued to confront the thinking of the ‘high and mighty’. They were judging others, possibly even with regard to the sins mentioned in chapter 1, but they were guilty of the same. Paul reminded them that they would not escape the judgment of God just because they set themselves up as judges. Self-appointed judges are not needed. We need God appointed judges who are saved and who are motivated by the love of God to preach His word. Every time a godly man preaches God’s Word, he is judging people. In reality it is God’s Word that is judging the heart of the hearer. The preacher will be directed by God to use certain examples that might apply to individuals listening to him. He does not need to know the details of the listener’s life. He just needs to preach the Word faithfully and let God do His Work. The Holy Spirit will do that as he faithfully preaches and teaches God’s Word.
In my years as a pastor I have witnessed people who professed to be saved and who were at times even involved in ministry in the local church, all of a sudden humble themselves and admit they were not saved. They knew it all along, but they finally had to admit it. I did not know if they were saved or not. In some cases I had my suspicions, but I am not God. The faithful preaching of God’s Word will bring results. Often it will bring opposition.
Paul, who was an apostle, was not God. He did not know the hearts of the people. God did. Paul was a servant of God and as such he needed to preach and teach the truth. He also needed to write down the things that God told him to write.
There are many people who avoid the truth at all costs. They will travel distances to attend a compromised church just to avoid dealing with their sin. There are many pastors and churches that are guilty of enabling sinners. Rather than preaching the truth, they coddle sinners and protect them in their sin.
Paul was directed by God to remind those who want to set themselves above God’s Word of the danger they are in. They will not escape the judgment of God.
In verse 4 Paul used another angle to address the same issue. Possibly these self appointed judges despised the riches of God’s goodness and forbearance and longsuffering. Just because God does not strike a sinner dead right away, does not mean He agrees with what they are doing. We do not know how old Paul was when he was saved. He was an adult. He had consented to the murder of Stephen. He had letters of authority to arrest Christians in Damascus. He was certainly guilty before God. Yet God did not kill him. He exposed his hypocrisy and He showed him his need to be saved.
God is very good to man. We do not deserve His goodness. We do not deserve His forbearance. The Greek word translated as “forbearance” means self-restraint. God withholds His wrath from man for a period of time. Then there is the longsuffering of God. This word is closely associated with forbearance. It means patience. God’s Word is plain. It is not complicated to understand our need to be saved and the way of salvation. There are things in God’s Word that are difficult, but the need and way of salvation is not hard to understand.
As we noted in chapter 1, we all know from our youth that we are sinners. We know we do not meet the righteous standard of God. There is a reason why sinners commit their crimes at night and in secret. In our fallen times, more and more criminals are becoming emboldened due to the injustice in our system. They still know they are worthy of punishment.
Not long ago there was a criminal standing in court waiting for the judge to pronounce her sentence against him. He had pleaded for mercy from her. She had his record in front of her and she began to state that his past demonstrated that he needed some harsher sentencing. He did not like what he was hearing and he jumped up over the short wall separating the judge from him. He wanted to beat her up. He was angry. It took several men a while to restrain him. He knew he needed punishment for his crimes (sin), but he did not want it. He thought he could fix his problem by adding more sin to his record.
It is the nature of God that leads the lost sinner to repentance. God withholds His wrath for a time to give the sinner opportunity to turn to Him and be saved. That fact is not something that should be ignored. That fact is something that needs to be preached faithfully to give sinners another opportunity to turn to God and be saved. As we were reminded in chapter 1, there comes a time when God turns the wicked person over to a reprobate mind. That is His decision to make. We, who are saved, need to remind the lost of their need to listen to God. We all need to look into the mirror of God’s Word and let Him show us who we truly are. As He reveals who we are, we need to humble ourselves and listen to Him and be saved.