God’s Righteous Judgment

Romans 2:1-11

Romans 2:1 says that those who pass judgment on someone have NO EXCUSE—

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

This doctrine or teaching on judgment many tend to misunderstand and misuse. Have you ever heard: “What right do you have to judge me?”

Certainly, people have been judging others from the beginning to time. We make judgments about people daily. We meet a person for the first time and we seem to immediately like or dislike them. We pass judgment! We hear that a person as done something contrary to what we believe to be right and we pass judgment—not only on their actions but on the person as well!

Inasmuch as man was made in the image and likeness of God, even though that image has been marred by sin, there remains enough of the image so that man at the lowest level can recognize sin and condemn it. The Gentiles, who did not posses the written law of God, still were able to recognize sin and condemn a person who transgress it. Written indelibly on the conscience is a sense of that which is written in the law.

The Greek word for JUDGE and JUDGMENT means to pronounce, think, or have an opinion concerning right and wrong. The moment we recognize ungodliness and wickedness or an improper action or attitude in another person, God holds us accountable to the same standard.

In Paul’s day, the Jews who had the Law of God looked down on the Gentiles and passed judgment on them.

Notice that a stylistic change occurs with Chapter 2 of Romans. Here Paul enters into dialogue with an imagined Jew who has absorbed what was said up to this point and hearty agrees with the apostle’s exposure of Gentile ungodliness and wickedness. Mankind is divided into two races in the Scriptures— Jew and Gentile. The Jews simply did not consider themselves like the ungodly and wicked Gentiles. But Paul now drops the other shoe of God’s indictment on the Jewish race in this second chapter.

This indictment of God is against the RESPECTABLE SINNERS, who think themselves better than others, but practice the same sins as those they pretend to despise. Yet, this indictment of the Jew goes much deeper; for it is for all who can discern sin and judge it to be sin.

Although Paul seems to be conversing with a Jew according to verse 17, the conversation could be with any Gentile philosopher of his day. The sophisticated sneered at the superstitious idolatry of the less cultured pagans who thronged the temples. But for all their superior airs they practiced the same vices while applauding virtue.

Certainly, what is said to this JEW can be said to any MORALIST or HYPOCRITE, who judges someone on the basis of virtues, qualities, or attitudes that he does not have. The sin of the moralist and hypocrite is that of being INDIGNANT at other people’s shortcomings and of being INDULGENT of his own.

The Jew looked with lofty disdain and contempt upon his Gentile neighbors, whom he classed as UNCLEAN and labeled as DOGS.

Since the Jew recognizes that the Gentile is depraved and hopeless, he has NO EXCUSE. If one can observe ungodliness and wickedness in others, he able is capable of recognizing sin in himself. It is sheer folly to see the faults of another and not see the same faults in one’s self. Therefore, at whatever point we judge another person, we condemn ourselves.

The very moment we tell someone that the LORD will judge them on the basis of something they did or are doing, we place our self under the very same standard on the Day of Judgment. If we turn around and do what they did some time later in our life, we will stand condemned before God.

We are condemned by our own judgment—not because we exercise judgment, but because we do the same things. No wonder Jesus warns in Matthew 7:1-2—

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The same weight of judgment one pronounces upon another God will use. Some people withdraw from making known their judgments for this reason. But it doesn’t matter whether you keep judgments private or makes them public—God will judge you by them.

I am not afraid to judge (think or proclaim) that someone sinned based on God’s truth. If the Bible calls it a sin, I call it a sin! I already know the Truth, therefore, I am responsible to live it. Holding others to the standards set forth in Scripture does not cause God to consider a greater judgment for me. It’s when I step outside the boundaries of the clear teaching of Scripture that I place my self in real danger.

For instance, I can judge a person who steals to be thief. I am on solid biblical ground when I make such a judgment. If I steal something, God is going to judge me as thief based on the Eighth Commandment, not because I judged another to be a thief.

On the other hand, if I judge (think or proclaim) people to be greedy and unspiritual because they don’t give fifty percent of their income to the work of the LORD than I better always give at least fifty percent of my income, because God’s going to judge me according to that measure, which I measured others. He will do so, even though there is no biblical command to give fifty percent.

To expect someone to live up to a certain standard and then not to live up to that same standard is folly— because God will judge you by it! This principle underlies the warning of James 3:1—

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Why are teachers judged more strictly? First, God holds them accountable to live the doctrine they teach others!

Second, the teacher will be held accountable for what is taught. This is true of all teachers, whether in the church or the secular world. Because of the inherent authority of the position, the teacher always influences people for good or bad! The teacher either establishes or reinforces standards by what they teach or do not teach!

The teacher is treated as wise, as he or she ought to be. Therefore, teaching is an honorable position. It seems possible that teachers may receive greater rewards for a job well done, but it is certain they have will receive greater condemnation if they blow it since they will be judged more strictly.

Jesus said to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, “Woe to you, blind guides!” “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge.” Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Throughout the Bible, we find the prophets of God passing judgment on people, exposing their sin and condemning those who practice it. In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan told David a story of a rich man, who had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but took a poor man’s little pet lamb and prepared it for a meal for a traveler.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Nathan exposed David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. When David made a judgment— he himself deserved to die! That was his own judgment on such a thing! In this case, David repented and confessed his sin to God and God forgave him. However, there were consequences, David’s son died in his place—a foreshadowing God’ Son dying for our sins.

In order not to fall under a similar condemnation as David, Jesus adds in Matthew 7:3-5—

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

David was judging hypocritically! If he would have removed the plank from his own eye, he might not have passed judgment, saying, “the man who did this deserves to die!”

Jesus is saying we are unable to help another get rid of sin until we remove the sin from our own life. David was blinded by his own sin and made a rash judgment. The rich man’s sin was a speck of sawdust, David’s was a plank. David overreacted because he had not removed the plank by repenting and confessing the sin in his own life. If he had, he would have experienced God’s mercy and been more merciful in his own judgment of the rich man. If we could talk to David today, he would tell us to keep in mind James 2:12-13—

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Neither Jesus nor Paul taught that we should not pass judgment. There is no way we can . . .

Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and grave . . .

Unless we expose sin in the lives of the perishing, just as Nathan did with David! But we need to be careful that we are not doing the same things we expose.

Not only we will have NO EXCUSE before God if we do the same things, we’ll have NO ESCAPE from His judgment. Verses 2-3—

Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

Here’s another aspect of PASSING JUDGMENT ON SOMEONE ELSE we must consider. A man once said that he didn’t believe that hell could be heated hot enough for Hitler. That man is sitting in judgment. He is taking the place of God.

Both Jesus and Paul teach that God will judge that man by his own measure of judgment. That’s terrifying! So don’t sit in the place of God for He will judge you by your own standards!

God’s judgment is based on TRUTH as opposed to all hypocrisy and unrighteousness. Often our judgments are FALSE, but there are no imperfections in God’s judgments—they are based on reality.

Many live in a world of unreality, including church members. They do not want to hear the Truth. When they first start out learning about the loving Jesus, who died for their sins they are thrilled. But when they begin to see Him as the Judge coming in judgments in the Book of Revelation, they don’t want reality. They have the experience that the apostle John recorded in Revelation 10:10—

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.

In Acts 17, Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness and self-control and judgment to come. And it frightened Felix. In fact, he didn’t want to hear another sermon. The judgment of God is in contrast with man’s judgment. Man does not have all the facts and his judgment is partial and prejudiced. God’s judgment takes in all the facts. God knows the actual state of man—just what he is. And so on that basis He will judge Him.

The great delusion of the cultured person is that the depraved person must be judged must be judged, but he’s confident that he will escape because he’s different. Most people believe Hitler and Stalin ought to be judged, but they think they should escape! Paul says there is NO ESCAPE.

God will judge man for what he is in His sight. Do you want to stand before God on that basis? I don’t!

The Jew or the hypocrite feels that other men’s sins are worse than his own. He compares himself with the drunkard, the harlot, and the hoodlum, and prides himself on his own church membership, morality and respectability. The comparison is, of course, very flattering to himself. The mistake this person makes, however, is very simple and very common. He is measuring himself alongside the wrong standard.

However, when God judges men it will not be by the standards they choose; it will be by His own. God’s standard is the Truth, the entire revealed Word of God, and more specifically the Ten Commandments as clarified by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” He lived those high and holy utterances. If we are going to measure ourselves by someone, we must measure our self alongside of Jesus, who is the Truth. Then all grounds for hypocrisy and smugness will be swept away.

NO APPRECIATION, verse 4—

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?

God probes ever deeper into the depravity of man. The unsaved do not want to face up to their sinful condition, but they would be better off if they did. The human race is infected with the cancer of depravity.

If a man has early evidence of cancer and the physician merely tries to encourage him by telling him to ignore it, that man will die of his disease. A wise and good physician will say, “You have cancer and it will be wise to do something about it without delay.”

Most philosophies deny or disregard man’s sinful nature. They contend that man is basically good, while the Bible clashes with their diagnosis head-on!

Many have NO APPRECIATION of the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience.

I imagine that the Jews of Daniel’s day felt the same way about King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that many Jews of today feel about Hitler. You know what God did with very unpopular Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed and burned Jerusalem, while killing thousands of Jews? He saved that proud king who humbled himself and called upon the LORD.

Then comes along the very popular king Belshazzar, who treated the Jews very well in Babylon. But one night, he takes the holy vessels from the Temple of Jerusalem, and drinks wine from them, praising the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. What did God do? His finger wrote on the wall: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.

MENE: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
TEKEL: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
PERES: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

That very night the great Babylon kingdom fell without a fight and king Belshazzar was killed by the Medes and Persians.

Many don’t realize the extent of God’s kindness which leads towards repentance. God was kind, tolerant and patient with Nebuchadnezzar, he made the king eat grass like a cow for seven years. Then one day Nebuchadnezzar’s stubbornness melted in a repentant heart, he looked up to heaven and repented of his pride and called upon the LORD.

But Belshazzar stubbornness grew harder in an unrepentant heart and God’s patience, tolerance, and kindness wore out! There would be no more chances to repent! He died and his final judgment was determined for Hebrews 9:27 declares—

Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

There is NO SECOND CHANCE, verses 5-6—

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done”.

STORING UP WRATH AGAINST YOURSELF FOR THE DAY OF GOD’S WRATH is a striking statement. It is intended to startle the Jew out of his lethargy of self-deception. His ungodliness and wickedness is being deposited for the Day of God’s Wrath. The sins of commission as well as omission will be weighed. God will render to him according to his deeds according to Revelation 20:13—

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

No person in their right mind wants to be judged this way! Our deeds stand before God in His holy light. Remember Cornelius—he was a good man, but he was lost.

People who want to work for eternal life may do so, but they will fall short of the glory of God. Their works will not get their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Peter declares in Acts—

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

If you’re unsaved, my friend, you do not want to be judged according to what you have done! When the unsaved stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, they will have NO EXCUSE, NO ESCAPE, NO SECOND CHANCE and NO ETERNAL LIFE. Verses 7-8—

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

These two verses are difficult because on the surface they seem to teach salvation by works. Far from teaching a system of salvation by works, verse 7 when rightly understood, teaches the opposite. Such an idea is foreign to the whole tenor of Scripture—salvation is by grace alone.

To keep resolve this difficulty, we must bear in mind that this passage has to do with God’s basis of JUDGMENT. In the Bible, judgment is according to our works; salvation is by faith.

At this point in the letter, Paul is not discussing how a person is saved and receives eternal life. That comes later. Here he is showing that Jew and Gentile are on the same ground before God in the matter of sin.

When judging a person “according to his deeds,” God first weighs the reasons for a person’s behavior.

The reward of eternal life is promised to those who do not regard their good works as an end in themselves, but see them as marks not of human achievement but of hope in God. Their trust is not in their good works, but in God, the only source of glory, honor, and immortality. The good works the believer performs do not bring him salvation, but they attest to the salvation he has received by faith.

It should be understood that there are many who seem to be seeking after righteousness who are not really seeking after glory, honor, and immortality. The glory that we seek after is the glory of God, and not the glory of man. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Those who are persistent in doing good will inherit glory, honor and immortality—eternal life. On the flip side of the ledger, there is NO ETERNAL LIFE for those who reject truth and follow evil. Instead of glory, honor, and immortality, they reap God’s wrath and anger.

Here Paul sets forth that God rewards the good and punishes the evil. In Chapter 3, the apostle declares that there is no one who does good on the face of the earth and that is why everyone needs the Savior!

NO FAVORITISM, verses 9-11—

There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

Paul never speaks directly of HELL in his writings. Instead, he uses metaphors like TROUBLE AND DISTRESS and GOD’S WRATH AND ANGER for Hell. Likewise, GLORY, HONOR and PEACE are metaphors for HEAVEN.

In the whole sphere of Bible teaching on life after death, there is only one logical doctrine—that of eternal punishment. There is no logic to the doctrine of Heaven, but the doctrine of Hell is perfectly sane and comprehensible. All mankind should go to Hell and not one should go to heaven. Yet, in spite of that, there are countless numbers of human beings who will spent eternity in heaven.

Suppose Governor Ridge would abolish prisons and give every convicted criminal a life pension and an estate in Pennsylvania. People would say the Governor is crazy. The state does not reward first degree murderers with pensions and pleasures, but with life imprisonment or death.

Yet the doctrine of Heaven is that God will stoop down to the human race and take an individual who has been guilty of any kind of sin, will take the sin upon Himself as the Substitute, and will offer the believer the glories of Heaven forever. There is no logic in it at all. The logic is all on the side of Hell. TROUBLE AND DISTRESS FOR EVERY HUMAN BEING WHO DOES EVIL—is the only logical outcome for sinners!

The Jew is listed first because of his spiritual advantage over the Gentile. The Jew not only had the truth of God revealed in creation and conscience, but the Scriptures as well.

Eternal destiny, however, does not depend upon whether one is a Jew or Gentile. God’s judgment is impartial—HE HE DOES NOT SHOW FAVORITISM.

This is the truth that Peter learned in the Cornelius incident. Following the Roman centurion and his household receiving of Christ and the Holy Spirit, Peter testified in Acts 10:34—

I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.

God offers equally salvation to the thief on the cross as well as to the Pharisee. God offers salvation to the high and to the low. God offers salvation to the intellectual and to the ignoramus. Christ died for the world — for whoever believes in Him. God shows NO FAVORITISM.

Deuteronomy 10:17 declares—

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

NO PARTIALITY, NO BRIBES, NO FAVORITISM. Church membership, a good family, being an outstanding citizen, or having a fundamental creed give NO ADVANTAGE before God at all. Either you have the Savior, or you don’t!

This section of Romans began with man on the throne judging and it ends with God on the throne!

Every unsaved person who stands before the Great White Throne Judgment will have NO EXCUSE, NO ESCAPE, NO SECOND CHANCE and NO ETERNAL LIFE—for God shows NO FAVORITISM to those who have NO APPRECIATION of His kindness as expressed in Romans 5:8-9

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

Physically, mankind is divided between JEW and GENTILE. Spiritually, mankind is divided between LOST and SAVED.

Unless your sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ, they are stored up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. Do not be stubborn, self-seeking, rejecting the truth. Stop clinging to your folly—turn to the the Savior—eternal life or God’s wrath is at stake.

Eternal life is not a reward for effort; it is a gift to those who have been washed in the blood of Christ.

Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Are you washed in the blood?

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