Romans 2

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If you lose all the books of the Bible, have the book of Romans and follow Jesus, you’re going to you’re going to be okay. Romans is the great treaties of the Christian faith. This is Paul’s pinnacle work of explaining to the church in Rome what it looks like to have a relationship with God and walk in light of him and those first 18 verses or first 17 verses. Explain the beauty of that as Paul sets up the foundation for the Book of Romans and verse 16 and 17 is that thesis statement to the entire book that the that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ versus the power of God to salvation for all those who believe and the idea of the the gospel being that power, it’s the dynamite of God. It’s a it’s a beautiful passage of Scripture of just expressing how important that gospel is. And so for the first eight chapters, he then starts to explain to us what it’s like to know Christ and find our identity in Him. But something important Paul does before he he starts to establish our position in Jesus. He begins this this book in verse 18 to explain to us how much we need Jesus. In fact, I think I’ve said to you as a church, the the goal of the gospel in the beginning is is really to offend you. And I don’t say that just simply to say, look, as a church, we’re out here to be a bunch of jerks to people.

But but the goal of the gospel is to offend you, to recognize how much you need Christ for salvation. It’s not until you recognize how loss you are that you begin to realize how much that word salvation should really be meaningful to your life and what Jesus has accomplished for you. And so Paul starts off explaining to us the need the state of our soul apart from Christ. So we see the goodness of what the gospel is. Our our, our looseness, our sinfulness as a human being that separates us from God. That is not the gospel. That word gospel means a good news. But but it’s to recognize why that good news is so precious the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Why it’s so essential for our lives. And so in verse 18, Paul starts to talk about the irreligious. The he begins to build this basis of why we should even believe in God. The evidence of of who got is and what that means for us. And then he ends the chapter by talking about the the dissention of human beings apart from God, that that life of living without God, what that leads to in the dangerous destruction it presents. And in fact, the last couple of verses of chapter one, he says this. He says there are gossips and slanders and haters of God and insulin and haughty and boastful and inventors of evil and disobedient to parents and foolish and faithless and heartless and ruthless, though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die.

They not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them. So he talks about the the irreligious and the destruction of life lived apart from God and as if you were God. And then he goes from there and he starts to then discuss the importance of of moral people seeing the need for God and then religious people seeing the need for God. The end of chapter one, I want us to know is can be a very dangerous passage of Scripture, because oftentimes what people what people can do in reading such verses, as I just read to you, is to start to become finger pointers to those they consider immoral. As if they’re getting what they they deserve and some of the hardest people to reach for the gospel then. Become moral people. People that think they have it together, people that think that they’re better than someone else because, well, at least they’re not doing that. And they start to think that their heart is oak. You know, one thing I will say about the end of chapter one and reading those lists of behaviors that are contrary to walking in light of crisis, at least broken people tend to recognize much more quickly how desperate they are for for their need for the Lord in their lives.

It’s moral people who tend to think that they have it all together. And in fact, in chapter two, verse one, I think what Paul wants to communicate to us today is how to avoid moral blindness. How can we think we might have it all together? Or at least we’re better than someone else? How do we begin to recognize the gospel need in in our lives if we live in such a way? And in chapter two, verse one, Paul starts it off this way. He he very quickly, after he describes all of those things that you just read. He then says this. He says, therefore, you have no excuse. Oh, man. Every one of you who judges. As if to say to us, as you read those verses and think about other people rather than point the finger at others, I want you to recognize your position before the Lord. You have no excuse. I love how he starts there because when we’re guilty as individuals, we immediately try to to justify our position. And he reminds us we have no excuse because we’re people that like to make excuses. Typically that type of person who makes a mistake or sins, usually the one that makes excuses like likes to start off like this. I’m sorry, but. I’m sorry, but as if they they need to qualify it.

They’re the exception or they’re. They’re the victim. It’s it’s not their fault that what happens. And they just need to simply explain theirself. Sometimes people get so arrogant. I’ve had someone say this to me before. Their relationship with God is now so close they no longer send anymore. And I said, I think you forgot. Lying is a sin. And first John and first John. One that says, If we say that we have not sinned, we’ve deceived ourselves and the truth is not in us. And Paul wants rather than us to become finger pointers to get a proper perception of our own heart before God. This walk that we live is not a comparison to one another. But an understanding of who we are in light of who God is. And so point number one in your blink is this hold a biblical view of your standing before God. How to how do we avoid moral blindness by holding a biblical view of your standing before God? And this is where Paul’s heart is. Unless we walk the dangerous territory of recognize. Oh, this is. This is all the sinful things. I don’t want to be a bad person. I just. I’d better be a good person. That’s that’s not God’s desire for for us. And understanding the gospel this morning. Like, certainly when we walk in in this world, we want people to be moral.

We want people to be good, like we want to live life that way. But I want to understand our goal as a church is not to make you a better person. Our goal is not to give you a self-help guide to to enter into life as a a better version of you. Our goal is to see you become a new creation in Jesus, to die to self completely. And to live for him. And that does not start until we understand our own brokenness in our lives. And so therefore, you have no excuse. All men, every one of you who judges he goes on for in passing judgment on another. You condemn yourself because you, the judge practiced the very same thing. What we’re acknowledging is that there is a moral law and therefore a moral law giver. And what Paul is at least establishing here is that we he acknowledges that we all judge. I mean, we live in a judging world. And Jesus warned us in Matthew seven, we if we judge, we’re going to be judged by the same standard. Matthew seven and verse one and two. Some people take that passage to say, God says you ought not judge. And that’s not true. That is not true. I want you to know this morning, God wants you to judge. All right. I need to qualify that. But God wants you to judge. And the sense that. You discern what’s right from wrong.

It’s important to understand what is right from wrong. I mean, Jesus died for the things that we we have done that’s wrong. Jesus died for our sin. So it’s important. And the idea of a discernment in judging, that’s not a good thing. This is a godly thing. I will choose godly thing and not bad thing, right? That’s important. But but in terms of judgment, where it’s not okay is when we devalue another human being because of their behavior. Every human being is made in the image of God. And to simply degrade another human being because of their sin is to tear away from that image. It is not okay to think of someone else lacks. Moral standards that makes you better than them. James, Chapter two, verse ten tells us he who is guilty of one sin is guilty of all of it. Remember, our comparison is not to one another. But before a holy God. Judgment starts to go the wrong way when a moral person disconnects the idea of morality from who God is and they start to see themselves as the standard. And that was the sin from the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve eat of the fruit, and they will declare to God right from wrong. And we start to establish ourselves apart from God as the moral authority. We think it’s our duty in this world to be the Holy Spirit.

And set the standard of what perfection should look like and condemn all others who can’t reach our our idea of of perfection. And when we start to separate ourselves simply living a moral life, as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. That’s typically what we say. It leads to a dangerous territory because we disconnected from from the one who has pursued us with his life and given his very life that we can find freedom in him. In fact, Charles SPURGEON warned us of that in the 1800s. He said this. A time will come when, instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats. What SPURGEON is saying is, look, as sheep and I love how the Bible refers to us as sheep. You got to think out of all the animals God could pick, He picked the dumbest one, right? And there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason for that. If you’re driving down the road and you see a lost dog or a dog wandering down the street and typically you talk to the dog and say some of the dog, the dog immediately can can sense that it needs to head in another direction and usually just heads home. You can point out the direction it goes home, but you come to a wandering sheep. Wandering sheep. If you try to see a wandering sheep on the side of the road, like you’re going to help this wandering sheep.

You can’t just come up next to a sheep and be like sheep. You’re lost. Let me help you find the way home, Shepherd, you dumb sheep, run away. Afraid you have to grab that sheep. Russell That sheep slammed that sheep to the ground and throw it around your neck and carry it home. That’s. That’s a sheep, right? And honestly, that’s us when it comes to God. And God hit it perfectly when he compares us to sheep. Understanding just how much we need the Lord to carry us in our lives. And and this is what SPURGEON is saying, is when we we separate ourselves from God and we don’t see the essential of the gospel in our life because of our our state of sinfulness before a holy God, all we look at church for is just self help. Improving. Make me feel good about me. They become some kind of clown leading the show among goats who have no idea. How much they need. Grace So verse, verse two, he goes on, We we know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. God’s judgment. Is right. Just fair. God’s judgment will not miss you. There’s a story in the Old Testament. The second Samuel 12, comes after David’s sin with Bathsheba. If you remember, he had an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, and then she became pregnant and he was worried he was going to get found out.

So her husband, who was off in a battle, he invites him back from the battlefield and tries to get him to spend a night with his wife. He refuses because all of his friends are out on the battlefield and he didn’t want to enjoy the pleasures of life when he could. He his friends were out there. He just waited till David was finished with him so he could go back on the battle. And when David realized that he wasn’t going to be able to cover his sin, he sent Uriah and some of his friends to the front lines and Uriah and this friends lives were lost. So David conducted the sin and Nathan the Prophet. And second Samuel, 12, comes before David and he tells them a story. He said there was a rich man who owned all kinds of sheep and a poor man who only owned one sheep, and the rich man didn’t want to kill his sheep. So he took the sheep from the poor man and he killed his only sheep. What should happen to him? And David responded in his pride. That man should be punished. He should be killed for this. And Nathan looked at David and said, And David, that is you. With your sin. With your Uriah Bathsheba. And when we think about the idea of morality and we try to live a moral life separated from God, that’s the danger of who we become.

Arrogant in our position. As if we possess the authority to condemn others, not recognizing who we are in light of who God is. Verse three. Then Paul goes on. He says, Do you suppose, old man, you who who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself that you will escape the judgment of God. It’s as if in verse three and four, Paul, he anticipates there will be a rebuttal to what he says. And so he poses in verse three and verse four two questions for us to consider. But in verse three, Do you suppose all man, you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? This word suppose, can can also be defined as as calculated as if someone’s trying to calculate in their mind logically, but not theologically. Right. They’re thinking logically. Okay, I understand there is a judgment. There’s a sense of morality. And so they’re trying to think through the the idea of judgment logically in their mind, but they’re separating it from God. They’re underestimating us, underestimating God’s perfection. And overestimating their own. And in the end, when you try to use logic without the field logic. We all end up lost. And what David is saying in this passages, these first three verses, we all have a sin problem. He’s not stepping into these verses to simply point the finger at one person, but to point the finger at every person.

We all have a sin problem. And then the question becomes for us, what do you do with it? Verse four. The next question he asks helps us start to establish that basis, he says. Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance. In the midst of talking about the sin, David sort of takes a step back now and gives our soul a place to rest. As he starts to talk about the kindness of the Lord. And that’s point number two in your notes here. How do you avoid moral blindness as this understand the purpose of God’s kindness? The purpose of God’s kindness, he tells us here, is express in a few ways. And the whole point is that it might lead us to repentance. But. But Paul is encouraging us here. Look, don’t mistake God’s goodness. As if to communicate to us that your spiritual, spiritual condition is simply okay. Don’t mistake God’s delay in judgment to say to you, Well, you might be just okay before the Lord. In fact, Paul’s encourage us to think through that. There is a there is a purpose to God’s kindness for all of us. Just because God’s wrath may not have happened right now or up to this point in your life doesn’t mean his wrath isn’t coming.

In fact, Revelation chapter six, verse 17 is that warning that the wrath of God will be poured out. Don’t take for granted his kindness. What does that look like? Let me just give you more of a theological perspective on the New Testament of how God’s kindness has been demonstrated to us so that we can see our position and why it becomes so meaningful for us to to not make our lives blind to where we are in the Lord, but to be thankful for what God gives for us. It says on Mark, chapter one, verse 15 When Jesus first words, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark, as He pronounces who He is, He says, The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. Jesus is a promise king with Him being in the flesh. Now he’s delivering to us His kingdom. The word gospel is a is a word all about a king establishing a victory on behalf of of people that we can be reconciled to him. The King has won that victory and we can belong to his kingdom. And he says that the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe, which means turn from any other world system and put your trust in this king who has brought his gospel, His good news for us, that kingdom has come.

But what is interesting is when you read throughout the New Testament, the Jews then then deal with what is this kingdom like? They had a perception in their mind that when the Messiah would come, that the Messiah would brings certain particularities. With this kingdom there would be more of a geopolitical kingdom that would rule. But when Jesus shows up, they start to notice that his kingdom looks a little bit different than than the concept that they had in their mind. In fact, in chapter one, after Jesus is crucified and resurrect and he’s about to ascend, they say to Jesus, verse six. So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said to them, It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. So Jesus is acknowledging the fullness of what His kingdom is about, has not been completely delivered. But but then what he does say to his followers is, But look, the Holy Spirit is coming to you for you to fulfill what I brought into this world, through this kingdom spiritually, Jesus is kingdom starts moving through this world.

And physically, one day it will come. In fact, a second, Peter. Chapter three Knowing the Jews think about those promises in Christ. He says the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises of some slowness, but He is patient towards you. Not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Do you want to know why Jesus didn’t bring the fullness of his kingdom? Physically. It’s because to do so, it would judge us all in our sin. Jesus knew in order to be able to invite us into that kingdom, what we would need to be a part of it is forgiven. And it’s in that reconciliation to Christ through the gospel that we have now the opportunity to enter into all that Christ will bring in the days to come. In fact, in Second Corinthians chapter five, verse 17, it says to us, anyone that is in Christ is a new creation. The oldest passed away. Behold, the new has come. It’s an incredible passage of scripture. You think it’s talking about creation, and the only time we’ve seen God create has been in Genesis and in Genesis, when God created the world, He created perfect for relationship in him and the man’s sin. And it destroyed or destroyed our relationship with God and this earth and all of it became corrupt. And now all of a sudden Jesus has shown up and He’s given his life.

And the purpose for which he has given his life is look at this is to recreate. To make all things new. And he starts that new creation with you. God breaths his spirit into your life, making you a new creation to belong to the new creation that he will establish in the heavens and earth. It’s incredible what God does for us. And so in terms of judgment, when you think about God’s patience and kindness of God, that brings you to repentance. It’s so important. It’s his kindness and his patience and his forbearance that that leads you to repentance, because there is a there is a type of judgment that is poor and bad for the soul. It’s it’s the judgment that devalues another person When you use the type of judgment that devalues another person, it provokes your heart into into hiding. It makes you feel full of shame. It makes you feel like less of a human being. It gives you anxiety and fear. You never know where you stand with that other person when they bring that kind of judgment on yourself, on you. And it’s it’s unhealthy. But when God judges. He not only calls us out in our sin. But he also unconditionally loves us where we are. God demonstrates his sin towards you. And while you were at sinners, Christ died for you. God sees you in all of your imperfections and sins that have separated from from you, from him.

And he pursued you anyway, and he gave his life for you so that you could have an opportunity to be forgiven and reconciled and enjoy his presence all of your days. That’s why in Romans eight, verse one, at the end of Chapter seven, Paul says, A wretched man that I am who will save me from this body of sin and death. And then in chapter eight, verse one, he says, There there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law. The spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. The spirit makes you a new creation. There is no mistaken of where you land in Jesus when you are in Christ. You have the promise. There is no condemnation. Shame is removed. Forgiveness is given. The perfection of Christ is put on you. How do you avoid moral blindness? Understand the purpose of his kindness. I love how John Newton said it. Every time I see a picture of John Newton, it always shocks me if you know John Newton. He was the slave trader who turned to to Christ and writes Amazing Grace and his incredible transformation in the Lord. I always, in my mind, picture John Newton, this rough and tough looking guy. And then I realize he’s like a 17th century version of Princess Leia. Every time I see him, it always shocks me there.

But. But he says this the original princess. Later he says this I am. I’m not the man I ought to be. I am not the man I wish to be. And I am not the man I hope to be. But by the grace of God, I am not the man I used to be. He knows what he’s received in Christ. This is a man that rather than point the finger, walks humbly in life because of what Jesus has has done for him. And so when he looks outward, then to the rest of the world, it gives him this place to be invitational and and open about the opportunity that others might have. Not because he’s better than them speaking down to them, but he’s right beside them, knowing how much Jesus places value intrinsic value in our life because he’s given his life for us. And his statement should be something that just resonates in our own soul and even becomes our own language because of what Jesus has done. And so Paul then goes on in verse five, He says, But because of your heart and impotent heart. You were storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works. That idea of. That idea of an infinite, infinite heart is this this hardening towards. It’s not embracing the way that God communicates his self towards us to not be open to what the Lord desires to do, but rather establishing ourselves again as the authority.

Can I tell you the most dangerous? The most dangerous characteristic to your relationship with God. It’s bright. Pride is the most deadly characteristic that you can carry before the Lord. The hardness of your heart will lead you there. Point number three then. There are only two choices. There are only two paths, two ways, however you want to put it. But there are only two choices. I’ll tell you why this is important. Just a moment. But in these next verses, Paul’s going to follow this classic structure. In verse seven, he’s going to talk about an idea in verse eight is going to talk about another idea that he’ll continue in verse nine before he goes back to the beginning idea of verse seven and verse and verse ten. So he follows this chaotic structure and the way he explains this, but in verse seven, he says to those who are who by patience and well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality will will he will give eternal life. But for those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There are only two paths here. Paul wants to clarify for us, and I’ll tell you why in just a moment.

But in these two paths, it’s interesting. In verse seven, it might look like a path of works for some of us that might know the gospel is not about works. It’s about what Christ has done for us, not what we have done to impress him. But but you see that he’s saying to see glory and honor and immortality, and he’s going to give you life. And so we might ask the question, what is he saying to do these good works? And this is what he’s going to do for us. But I want you to see in verse eight, he’s obviously not talking about this in a self achieving way, because in verse eight he says, but for those who are self seeking, right? So he’s identifying that what he’s talking about in verse seven is not about you as an individual in your own achievement achievement, because he’s saying these words are not about self seeking. This idea of of glory is not your personal glory. This idea of honor is not your personal honor. The idea of pursuing immortality is not about you achieving this immortality. Because he then says us, says to us that he will give you eternal life. The glory to come is a heavenly glory and and the honor to come as a heavenly honor. And the immortality to come comes with eternity with God. And if we’re to seek those things, we’re going to begin to recognize in our life that the way to achieve those things is not found within us.

But outside of us. Which is why Christ alone is the answer. He is the one that gives us eternal life. But the opposite to that. Do not obey truth. He says that the other road is those that don’t listen to what Christ proclaims in his gospel and embrace that, but rather those that that do not obey the truth. They’re under the wrath and fury of God. And can I can I just encourage you? Church, one of the most precious things you can do for your soul. Let’s take the word of God. And open it like a child. And just let Jesus share with you who Jesus is. Don’t come with any agenda or presupposed ideas, Just open up the Word of God and let Christ communicate to you who Christ is. And as you come to understand that embrace the Jesus that’s proclaimed in Scripture and in verse nine, then just like verse eight, he he carries on, He says, There there will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first, and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good. The Jew first and also the Greek for God shows no partiality. What he’s saying here. It doesn’t matter where you come from. There is not a pedigree before God that says all your parents were in ministry.

O you get a pass, come to heaven. Oh, you attend church. Oh, great. You get to come to. Oh, you read the Bible. Oh, thanks for doing me that favor. You get to come. There is no partiality. That’s what he’s saying in this passage. There’s there’s no elevation that puts you above. Others say Christ alone, who rescues your soul? He reminds us here. But glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good. And and here’s what Paul’s going to build us to. He’s establishing this basis for us to begin to recognize that if any of us might start to think that we are those good ones. The Bible tells us. Mark Chapter ten, verse 18. There is no one good but God. There is no one good but God. And if goodness is what rescues your soul, it communicates to us even more how much we need. Jesus. And the reason I say to us there are only two options is because our tendency as human beings, when we reread this in Scripture, there is heaven in there as hell, and that is it. As we like to add a third option, moral people are the kings and queens of adding a third option. And they’ll say things like this because we don’t like the two options, right? We will say things like this. Well, as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters.

Just be good. And can I just tell you as a church. Jesus gave too much for us to ever make a comment like that. What Jesus did cost him his life so that we could have freedom. And I don’t want to ever undermine the significance of what Christ did for us. If all that matters is that you’re good. When Jesus showed up, what Jesus would have said is, Hey, religious people, great job of being religious. As long as you keep trying to being good, that’s all that matters. The disciples. The disciples would not have given their lives if they didn’t recognize how important it was, in fact, that the integration. Chapter two, verse 21 It tells us if righteousness could be achieved through the law or moral living, then Christ died needlessly. It’s not about as long as you’re good. That’s all that matters. It’s about recognizing Jesus. Is that king? And Jesus is a king came to deliver his kingdom through the Gospel, which frees our soul that we may trust in him. There is not a third option. Thomas Goodwin actually said it like this. Sometimes we think about this third option. We think, you know, as long as you’re good, you may not have Jesus, but as long as you’re good, you’ll still get to heaven, as if you can have heaven without Christ. What makes heaven. Heaven is Christ. Thomas Goodwin, one of the famous reformers in the 17th century, said this.

Well, maybe not. It’s not up there. Well, forget it. I’ll tell you about this guy in a minute. But but Thomas Goodwin acknowledged. The road Jesus calls us to walk does not start with morality. And he says Heaven without Christ is hell to me. And if I get to heaven and there is no Jesus, I will leave it immediately. For Thomas Goodwin. He recognized the purpose of eternity is not about a destination, but about a person. He’s the one that sets us free. This guy, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn. That’s as I say, it rolls off the tongue. Solzhenitsyn. Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He was. He is from Russia. And during World War Two, he was a captain in the Russian army. And he was actually thrown in prison for writing against Stalin during World War Two. And in prison, he became a Christian. He went on to become a Russian dissenter. He denied communism and Marxism and becoming a Christian. He then became a writer. In 1970, he won the Pulitzer Prize or the excuse me, the Nobel Prize. And in 1983, he received the Templeton Prize for Progress in religion. And during that speech and this is a part of that speech, this photo reflected here. In that speech he remarked on. How Russia had fallen apart. He recalled in a speech the words he heard as a child. When his elders sought to explain the ruinous upheavals in Russia.

And he said, quote, The elders said this Men have forgotten God. That’s why all this has happened. Alexander then went on to add. If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire 20th century. Here, too. I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat. Once again, men have forgotten God. That’s the danger of morality. And the system of morality. We separate ourselves from Creator God. We began to recognize ourselves as the authority. And in doing so might makes right. We force people to embrace what we think because we become the judge. Not realizing in judging ourselves, we’re acknowledging a moral lawgiver, and all of us will come before him. God has no partiality. The point of the gospel is not about being a moral person. The point of the Gospel is to recognize our need for Jesus and to keep our souls. From embracing a moral blindness. It’s important that we recognize one a biblical view of our standing before God. Number two, understand the purpose of his kindness for us. And number three, there are only two choices. An eternity with Jesus or an eternity without him. But his kindness gives that opportunity for us to embrace him so that in Christ there is no condemnation. But we get to enjoy his presence forever.

Romans 1, part 2

Romans 2:12-29