Romans Chapter 2

Part 1

KLMX Radio

Sept 2008

 

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Introduction]

[Prayer]

 

I’m working through the book of Romans here on KLMX radio and last time we covered Chapter 1.  In Chapter 1, Paul introduced himself and immediately set out setting a foundation for the theology that he’s going to discuss in his letter to the Romans.  In Chapter 1, he defines the thesis of his letter when he says:

 

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (17)  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

 

Paul then starts dismantling objections to this gospel.  One of the foremost objections to the gospel message is “Oh, I didn’t know that!” or “What about the innocent native in Africa?”  Paul immediately addresses that objection, before it’s even raised with the statement:

 

Romans 1:20-21  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  (21)  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

 

As you can see here, he begins his epistle by demonstrating man’s natural inclination not to turn toward God, but to turn away.  Because of this natural inclination, all men have transgressed against the commands of God and all men are in need of salvation.  Paul is going to spend the next few chapters demonstrating this point.   That, very briefly, gets us caught up and leads us to Chapter 2.

 

The first statement in Chapter 2 is this:

 

Romans 2:1  Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

 

Here we can see Paul beginning to show that all men are guilty in God’s eyes.  It’s common, actually just about universal, for people to compare themselves to other people and say “I’m not perfect, but I’m not as bad as he is!”  However, in demonstrating that

 

Romans 1:20  …since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…

 

 Paul has also shown “…that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)  The word “inexcusable” in 2:1 means- does it not? - without excuse.  Watch what Paul has to say about this as he expands on his statement.

 

Romans 2:2-11  But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.  (3)  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  (4)  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  (5)  But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,  (6)  who "WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS":  (7)  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;  (8)  but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousnessindignation and wrath,  (9)  tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;  (10)  but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  (11)  For there is no partiality with God.

 

This is quite a chunk of text, but I wanted to put it in context and thus quoted several verses so that you could see the argument develop. 

 

First, note that the “judgment of God is according to truth.”   God’s judgment is not according to some random set of rules that mankind is expected to follow, but is according to truth.  The truth of the matter is exactly what the Bible tells us- God created man in God’s own image, thereby giving him such characteristics as the desire to create things, a sense of beauty, a sense of justice, a sense of truth, and the ability to give and receive love, among many other things.  But because man is only an image of God and not God himself, he does not have a perfect nature- he cannot, because only God is perfect and holy (Rev 15:4).  Instead of praising God Almighty and giving Him and Him alone credit for creation, man creates and then worships other gods, including Mother Nature, snake gods, mountain gods, golden calves, and even man himself.  This takes glory from God Almighty and is a punishable transgression.  And, the fact is, according to Paul writing to the Romans:

 

Romans 1:20  …since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…

 

This is the truth, no matter how much man tries to wiggle out from under it and escape and ask ridiculous questions like “What is truth?” or even “Is there truth?”  We know instinctively that there is a God Almighty and that He is the Creator.  God’s judgment is according to this truth and it stands against those who practice lies, deceit, and idolatry, as demonstrated in Chapter 1 of Romans.  Yet, rather than confessing our own transgressions, we like to point fingers at other people.  Paul asks us this question:

 

Romans 2:3  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

 

When people die, it’s very common to hear things like “He’s up there playing cards with his friends in Heaven”, or “I’m sure he’s chasing elk in that big hunting ground in the sky”.  I’ve heard people say many times about their pets: “He’s in doggie heaven, chasing balls and smiling down on us.”  I hear this from people who’ve just said “I’m not very religious, but….”  Well, whatever makes you think so?    What makes you think there’s a heaven and what makes you think you’re going to go there?  This is where people so often say things like “a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell” and “only the really bad go to hell, and I’m not perfect, but I’m not that bad.”  Try it!  The next time you hear someone talk about the “big card game in the sky” ask them what they mean by that.  Push them a little bit and see why they expect to go there.  After all, Paul says:

 

Romans 2:3  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

 

I see him addressing pretty much everyone in this statement.  We all practice idolatry and we all fail to give credit to God for the things we’ve received.  What makes us think that we’ll escape the judgment of God which is done using truth as a standard?  Paul shows us just how deep this rebellion goes when he says:

 

Romans 2:4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

 

Let’s examine this statement a bit.   Paul is talking about God’s goodness, forbearance, and long suffering and says that we despise those things.  What Paul is driving at is this- when God does not immediately punish sin, people take advantage of it and continue on in their transgressions.  For instance, how many times have you heard someone say “If there is a God, why does He allow this or that to happen?  If there is a God, He must not be in control.  Either that, or there is no God.”  But Paul says that God is forbearing and long-suffering.  God is patient and does not always immediately punish sin.  And it’s a good thing He doesn’t! 

 

Imagine if your very first transgression was immediately met with God’s righteous wrath…as a baby, you cry and complain because you’re hungry.  Now, many folks will immediately say “What’s wrong with a baby complaining?”  Well, if God is in control of all things, then the baby is hungry because God wants it to be a little hungry for the moment.  Instead of patiently enduring hunger and seeking God’s will, our baby complains against his station and thereby begins a life of constant grumbling and complaining against God- “This stupid job, I hate this job!”,  “Why do I have to do this!?”, “It’s COLD, when will summer ever get here- I hate winter!” and so on.  This is grumbling and complaining against the position where God has put you at that moment.  It’s saying that God doesn’t know what’s best for you at that moment, for your eventual growth.  Just imagine if God immediately punished that grumbling.  Not a single one of us would ever survive the first few minutes of life!

 

Valid as it is, I admit that a baby’s cry is an extreme example of sin in action.  Let’s go ahead and soften the example a little bit.  Do we all agree that holding false idols or gods greater than God Almighty is a dreadful sin?  God seems to think so, as that is the 1st Commandment.  Do we agree that given a choice between two things, we’ll take the one we love the most?  In other words, if you have 5 minutes of free time and you can spend it visiting with a loved one or watching TV, what will you do?  If you choose the TV does that or does that not send the signal that you prefer the TV over your loved one- remember, I said “choice” and “free time”, time that’s yours to do with as you please.  So, what should God the first time you sit down to watch a football game instead of reading your Bible or praying or going to church or otherwise fellowshipping with your Creator?  Have you not chosen that other thing over Him?  Isn’t that a violation of the 1st Commandment?  We’re all guilty of this.  God ought to punish us immediately.  But He doesn’t.  Instead, He displays goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering.  And we, in seeing that we’re not immediately punished, we think that we “got away with it” and continue to repeat our transgressions.   We do not acknowledge God’s goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering but continue to take unrighteous advantage of those things. This is what Paul is talking about when he says we “despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering…”  Not only do we continue in our own unrighteous acts but we question the sovereignty of God because He allows these things to continue.

 

Paul however gives us the reason as to why God allows this:

 

Romans 2:4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

 

God is patient, forbearing, and long-suffering specifically so that His goodness may lead us to repentance.   If your transgressions received immediate action, none of us would last long enough to repent.   Paul tells us in:

 

Ephesians 2:4-7  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  (5)  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  (6)  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  (7)  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

Consider these words, search your heart, and seek repentance for your transgressions.

 

Isaiah 55:6-7  Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.  (7)  Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

 

Join us tomorrow on KLMX radio at 9:45 am as we continue our study of Romans.

 

Forward to Part 2

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