If the second half of Romans 1 is a helium balloon for the self-righteous, Romans 2 is a dart gun. Ouch! Here’s my paraphrase of my first section:
Therefore you who judge others have no excuse, for you condemn yourself when you pass judgment on others, since you do those things too — the same things you condemn in others.
We know that God’s sentence against those who practice such things is true and right, however.
Do you, the one who judges others but do the same things yourself,think that YOU will escape the sentence of God? Or do you fail to honor and value and appreciate the riches of His patience, kindness, and willingness to put up with you?Don’t you realize that God’s goodness leads you to repentance?
But according to the hardness of your unrepentant heart you store up anger for yourself in the day of anger and revelation of God’s righteous judgment. He will render to each person according to his works:
On the one hand, life age-abiding to those who by persevering in good works seek glory, honor and incorruption.
On the other hand, anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish to the contentious and unyielding to the truth, but yielding to unrighteousness. This anger and etc. are against every soul of man who works out what is base:
To the Jew first and also to the non-Jew.
But glory and honor and peace to everyone who works out what is good:
To the Jew first and also to the non-Jew.
For God does not play favorites. Those who sinned without the law; without the law shall perish. Those who sinned within the law; within the law shall be judged.
God will not judge people righteous just because they heard the law, but rather because they DID the law. When the nations who don’t have the law obey the law by their nature, they become a law to themselves. They display that the law is written on their hearts and their conscience bears witness with the law on their hearts and between one another, either approving of or accusing them in the day on which God judges the secrets of people according to my gospel, through Jesus the Messiah. (Romans 2:1-16)
Paul’s goal here seems to be to poke holes in Jewish self-superiority. He warns his Jewish listeners not to think themselves especially favored just because they have the law. Having the law is no good unless you keep it. If a non-Jew keeps the law by nature, then he is approved while the Jewish lawbreaker is condemned. God doesn’t play favorites.
God doesn’t automatically squash everyone who disobeys His law. But we shouldn’t assume from this that He approves of our behavior. He is patient and wants to give us time to come to repentance. If we don’t respond to His kindness, then we will face Him as the wrathful judge, ready to inflict tribulation and anguish on the self-serving and base. Those who persist in good works, He will reward with age-lasting life, glory, honor, and peace.
Recognizing sin in others is easy — automatic even. But we tend to give ourselves a pass. That wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t so hard on “those people.” Remember Jesus also said, “In the same way you judge others, you will be judged.”
From the point of view of keeping the law, whether written or known by nature, we will be judged on the day of wrath according to our works. If we are contentious and don’t yield to the truth, but yield to unrighteousness, we will be condemned. But if we are peacemakers and don’t argue with God’s urgings in our consciences, yield to the truth, and resist unrighteousness, we will have life. It is our own consciences which acquit or else condemn us through Jesus the anointed Messiah.
God’s sentence against our baseness is just and fair. He neither plays favorites, nor does He excuse the guilty.
God is patient with us and puts up with us not because we are such very good and excellent children, but rather in order to lead us to repent. We should be shamed by His goodness to us, who have shamed Him as our Father by our bad behavior. This should lead us to repentance from our own sins and mercy toward others.
In applying this more to our present day situation, we who are in the church shouldn’t suppose that we’re better than those outside the church. If we are self-righteous, thinking that we’re on the ins and THOSE SINNERS out there are on the outs and aren’t worthy of God’s mercy, we have some hard lessons ahead. None of us have earned God’s mercy, and ALL of us need it desperately. WE, who are judging THEM for not keeping the law, do not keep the law ourselves. Some of us happily play the “grace card,” explaining that WE don’t HAVE to keep the law — but THEY do! Um Hmmm.
Faith works by love, and love is the law. If we love, we keep the law. We can do anything that we like so long as we remain in love, and if we remain in love, we can only keep the law of love. But if we are judging and condemning others, we are NOT remaining in love, and have as much as shouted, “I want to be judged by the same standards I have set up for HIM!”
Father, cause us to remember that You love all your created children equally. Remind us of our desperate need for your mercy. Inspire us to beg you for mercy for these wandering brothers and sisters of ours, rather than self-righteously pronouncing judgment on them. Cause us to walk in Your strength, and by that strength, to love as you love.