Romans Chapter 2

Part 4

KLMX Radio

Sept 2008

 

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Introduction]

[Prayer]

 

This week on the Ministerial Alliance programs, we’ve been working through chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In this chapter, Paul is showing the futility of trying to gain righteousness with God through works of the law.  Yesterday we saw that Gentiles- that is, non-Jews- who do not have the Jewish law still have a conscience towards God’s commandments.  And when they violate their conscience, they essentially violate God’s commandments that way.  The Jews, on the other hand, have God’s law and, according to Paul, boast of that fact.  Yet, they still do not follow the law from the heart and Paul says about their disobedience:

 

Romans 2:24  For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," as it is written.

 

I showed how the Jew’s blasphemy is very applicable to Christians today.  Christians are quite guilty of abusing God’s grace and mercy and in misusing their liberty and freedom in Christ to satisfy the flesh.  This just supports Paul’s basic theme in this chapter which is:

 

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.

 

I don’t think the point of the passage is not “do not judge” because walking around with blinders on our eyes doesn’t make a transgression go away.  I think the point is more to show the flaws in ourselves.  Let’s look at Jesus’ discussion of this from the Sermon on the Mount.  

 

Matthew 7:1-5  "Judge  not, that you be not judged. 

 

Now many people stop right there and go no further, but let’s read the rest of the lesson:

 

Matthew 7:2-5  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  (3)  And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  (4)  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  (5)  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

 

“With what judgment you judge, you will be judged” is what Jesus says.  If we simply turn a blind eye on transgressions, that’s not judging- it’s a violation of justice.  If we judge others with a stern and critical eye, saying “You weak person!  I would NEVER fall for that!” I assure you that you will fall.  Look where Jesus pushes his example next:  “And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”  According to him, your brother has a speck- a small, relatively insignificant problem- while you have a plank- a much larger, much more significant problem.   The main point that I want to consider right now, though, is this- you are not excused.  Jesus never says “why do you judge your brother?  He’s just a poor helpless guy who can’t help himself.  Not like you at all.”  No, he doesn’t say that at all.  He says “Why do you judge your brother when you have a pretty big problem yourself?”   How then, should we judge each other?  Well, how would YOU like to be judged?  I’d like to be judged with grace and mercy from someone who wants to help me, not condemn me.  

 

And that’s where Paul is going in Romans 2.  It’s not that Paul is standing on his high and mighty throne casting judgment at Jews and Gentiles alike.  To the contrary, Paul is chipping away at their high and mighty thrones and saying “Hey!  Take a look at yourself!  You who judge, do you do the same things?”  Paul is doing this in order to help his audience.   Leaving them on their seemingly high and mighty thrones isn’t going to help them one bit, but forcing them to take a look at the weak foundation of their throne is going to help them a lot.   Paul is showing the futility of resting in the law and in resting in one’s own works in order to show them a better way, and that better way is Jesus Christ.  We’ll see this for sure as we get deeper into the letter but let me give you an example, for now:

 

Romans 5:8-9  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (9)  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

With all this in mind, let’s move on through chapter 2.   Having said:

 

Romans 2:24  For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," as it is written.

 

Paul goes on to say this:

 

Romans 2:25-29  For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  (26)  Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?  (27)  And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?  (28)  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;  (29)  but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

 

Circumcision was a physical thing intended to show an internal state.  Circumcision itself doesn’t save anyone, nor does it change a person’s heart.  Abraham, for instance, was credited with righteousness long before he was physically circumcised.   Circumcision is simply a physical sign of internal obedience.   Paul says that it’s “profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.”  In other words, if you break the law, then your circumcision testifies against you, not for you.  In other words, if you break the law, then your circumcision testifies against you, not for you.   

 

Conversely, if an uncircumcised man keeps the law, what then?  Note carefully how Paul states this.  He doesn’t merely say “keeps the law” as I just said, but he says “…if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law…”  Righteous is the key word here.  A person can keep the law and observe what it says, but do so with an unrighteous heart.  This is religion and this is what Paul criticizes in the Jews.    By contrast, a person w/out the law can desire to please God, with what information he has, and Paul says about this person- “…and will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?”  This again, applies to Christians.  In my discussions with non-believers, they will often raise questions about Christians as hypocrites.  Christians so often say one thing and do another.  When high profile (and even low-profile) pastors are caught in adultery or pornography or homosexual combinations of these, what sort of message does it send to the world of non-believers?   When Christians are exposed in financial schemes, what message does that send to the world?  It sends the same message as Paul directs to the Jews here in Romans:

 

Romans 2:24  For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," as it is written.

 

Does it mean that these people are not Jews and that they are not Christians?  No, it doesn’t.  It simply means, though, that no person can rest on their religiosity.   A person can never say “I’m a Christian.  I fast twice a week and give tithes of all I have.  Therefore, I am righteous in and of myself.”  The person who says or thinks that in their heart is bound for a fall.  Here’s what Paul says about his own righteousness (italics for emphasis):

 

Philippians 3:8-9  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  (9)  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

 

Paul tells Titus:

 

Titus 3:4-7  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,  (5)  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  (6)  whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  (7)  that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

 

And he tells Timothy:

 

2 Timothy 1:8-11  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,  (9)  who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,  (10)  but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,  (11)  to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

 

From this we should see that no one, not Jews, not  Christians, not Gentiles, nor any other group can stand before God on the basis of their own righteousness.   As we’ll see later in Romans and you can see in Galatians, the law is designed not to make us righteous, but to expose our flaws.  In John, Jesus show us this when he says:

 

John 3:17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 

And later on, in talking to the Jews, he says:

 

John 5:45  Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you- Moses, in whom you trust.

 

Taken together, we should see that, again, the law does not make us righteous but rather exposes our unrighteousness.   This presents us with an interesting problem since God cannot tolerate the presence of unrighteousness and we cannot, of ourselves, achieve righteousness.  How then can a person stand in the presence of God Almighty?   I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again and again and again, because these are the words of life.

 

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  (2)  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

Romans 5:8-9  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (9)  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

We can stand in the presence of Almighty God not on the basis of our own works, but on the basis of the works of Jesus Christ, applied to our account.  This is the great truth toward which Paul is driving in his letter to the Romans and every other epistle he wrote.   He writes to the church at  Corinth:

 

1 Corinthians 2:1-2  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  (2)  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

 

Any message that misses that target is a message that only leads us astray.  You have no righteousness of your own and it’s folly to pretend that you do.  You must accept the fact that Jesus Christ took your sins upon himself, died in your place, and that His righteousness can be placed on your account, so that you might live.

 

I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  Join us tomorrow on the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio as we finish up chapter 2 of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

 

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