Paul’s Footsteps #242

Footsteps #242

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?” NLT (Rom.2:1-3)

Rom.2:2-3 reminds me of Luke.18:9-14 – the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus conclusion, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

One of the most effortless things in the world is to judge other people. In Rom.2:1-3 Paul exposes the rather twisted truth that it is easy to be critical of everybody except ourselves. I remember one of my mentors of many years ago using the line “we usually dislike in others what we are ourselves.” Some people are forced to keep themselves in their own favour by observing the imperfections of others.

Well you might be able to fool yourself, or even other people. But Paul tells us here you can’t mislead God, whose “judgment…is based on truth.” The plain fact is, the apostle asserts, no one will escape God’s judgment, no matter how often they go to church or how respectable their sins are. All of us are sinners. All of us will stand before God’s judgment seat. Each of us can choose to either present ourselves before Him in our own goodness or Christ’s righteousness.

The listening Jews would have been happy after Chapter 1 – the Gentiles were deserving of God’s wrath and judgment. But then he turned his arguments on ‘good people’ and showed them they were liable to the same punishment.

In Rom.2:1-3, no one, he asserted is exempt from God’s judgment – no matter what their religious or moral pedigree. In v4 the apostle tells the Jews that they were in danger of despising God’s goodness, forbearance and patience. Paul is trying to wake them up to their real needs. Just because He was gracious did not mean they had the right to keep on sinning. Just because He was forbearing with their perverse ways did not mean they were safe from judgment, and just because God was patient didn’t mean that they were beyond punishment. To the contrary, they needed to repent of their proud ways. They should not use God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering as an excuse to remain where they were spiritually, but should let God’s grace inspire them to sincere repentance.

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