The Inexcusable Judge
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are that judges, for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that commit such things. And do you think thou this, O man, that judges them that do such things, and you do the same, that you shall escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads to repentance? But after the hardness and impenitent heart you store up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds.
Father, we have here, just as we have the last several weeks, a sobering passage of scripture, a convicting one, and so we pray that You would give us wisdom and insight, as we study it together. We thank You that You have promised that You would give us the Spirit of truth who would guide us into all truth and would teach us all things, and so we pray that You, by Your Holy Spirit, would open our hearts to receive from You today, a word that is challenging and convicting. Transform us by the renewing of our minds Lord, that we would be able to exalt and glorify You in the world in which we live. This world desperately needs to see Your love and Your grace through the good news of Your gospel, and so, God, work it into us that we represent You well wherever we would go, whether it is in our neighborhood, or out on the baseball field, or at work, or school, wherever You would carry us, even to the uttermost parts, Lord, we want to shine forth Your glory, so stir our hearts. We ask this in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
Paul’s aim, in the open of this letter, the letter to the church at Rome, is to exalt the glories of the gospel of God. And he, as we saw last week in Romans, chapter 1, specifically at verse 15, he was ready and willing to preach that gospel there in the city of Rome; just as he had already done in many other places to this point in his ministry. Paul had already been to the regions of Galatia, and Macedonia, and Greece, Asia Minor. And so, wherever Paul went, he went there, not as a traveling businessman, plying his trade as a tentmaker, he went there not to see the sights of the world in that day, the great temples of Corinth or Ephesus, his whole aim, in going to these places, was to proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. And he says, as we saw in verse 16, a couple of weeks ago, that he was not ashamed of the gospel, because he knew that it alone is the very power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. The gospel is the only way unto salvation. The apostle Peter also preached this in Acts, chapter 4, at the very early stages of the growth of the church, we read in Acts, chapter 4, verse 12, he’s standing before the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, and he says in verse 12, “There no other name under heaven given among men whereby they must be saved.” So the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of God’s Son, God come down incarnate here among us to lay down His life for our sins, that good news is to be declared, and it’s the only way. Jesus said the same thing in John, chapter 14, of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me.” And as we see that message proclaimed in the gospels, and in the epistles, and throughout the scriptures, we recognize that it is good news, that’s what the word “gospel” means, the Greek word “euangelion.” It’s good testimony going forth, it’s the same word that is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, that was used in describing the messengers who carried word to the captive Jewish people, when they had been prisoners of war in the land of Babylon for 70 years, and then this group of people started to go throughout the regions where they were being held as slaves, as prisoners of war, and telling them, “You can go free, you’re set free.” It was good news, glad tidings of good things.
But the reality is is that the good news of the gospel, for it to become exceedingly glorious, or for it to be tremendously good, it must be presented upon the black backdrop of the lostness of humanity. You see the good news only becomes clear, as being good news when we recognize just how bad the bad news is. And that’s what we’ve been looking at in these chapters here before us in the book of Romans. So Paul quotes, as we saw last week in Romans, chapter 3, which is kind of the conclusion of this opening section; he quotes in Romans, chapter 3, verse 10, from the old covenant, the Old Testament, and he says this, “There is none righteous,” Romans 3, verse 10, “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands; there’s no one that seek after God. They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is no one that does good, no not one.” So that’s the conclusion of this section; that’s where Paul is taking us, to this conclusion that there’s nobody who does good, there’s no one who understands, there’s no one that seeks after God. And this is the evaluation of God over humanity. As God looks at humanity, which He has created, which is fallen because of sin, He says, “There is no one there that does good.” This is the indictment upon humanity, from God, the judge. He’s the judge of all things. And so He indicts humanity as being completely out of the way. And we see in Romans chapter 3, verse 23, the summation of this whole thing, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That’s where Paul is steering this whole discourse, is to that concluding remark. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So that’s God’s appraisal.
But as we considered last week, we, human beings, God’s creation that are fallen, we don’t really believe that to be true. We have a hard time with the idea that there is nothing good in us at all. And so we just have a hard time buying that. And so we start to think, when we read passages like that, or we hear it stated in those concise words: that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, there’s no one who does good; we start to think things like, “Well there has to be some good in us. We can’t possibly be 100% completely unprofitable. There’s got to be something there that’s, you know, intrinsic to us that’s of value.” And yet the scriptures declare God’s evaluation of us is that there is none righteous, not a single one. And our fallen nature has an incredibly hard time accepting the reality of our fallenness. We just don’t like to admit that we are as lost as we truly are. Now, there’s a good number, a fair amount of guys here, and guys never get lost, right? I mean, thank God of Siri and the maps program, that’s been screwed up a little bit on the iPhone, but because of that, I’m never, ever, ever lost. But even before that, there’s, you know, you’re driving with your wife, and, “I think we’re lost.” “No, we’re never lost. Always know which direction north, south, east, and west is. I can be dropped anywhere off, and find my way out.” Which is not true, but we like to think that. Right? Well the same is true with our spiritual condition; we don’t like to admit or confess our lostness; we have a hard time grappling with our fallenness.
Not only that, we have an amazing propensity for self-justification. So anytime we encounter, in our lives, a situation where our God-given conscience; and we talked quite a bit last week about the conscience, that God has hardwired into us, a recognition of a moral law, He’s given us a moral compass; and so any time when we’re walking through this life, where we encounter a situation where our God-given conscience conflicts with our sinfully-inclined thoughts or actions, we attempt to try and adjust things so that we no longer feel the pain of that conscience. We try to adjust so that that cognitive dissonance goes away. Cognitive dissonance is where you have the values that God has imprinted upon your heart, His moral law in our conscience, where that conflicts with what you’re doing or thinking or saying in that moment; and when you have that conflict there’s a cognitive dissonance. And when we encounter that in our fallen state, our reaction is to try and adjust things so we do away with the conscience. We’re not convicted by it any longer. And so I mentioned last week how that when you do that repeatedly, when you no longer listen to your conscience, and kind of go the other way and continue walking in your actions that conflict with your conscience, when you do that repeatedly, you can sear or callous your conscience to the point where you no longer have the sensitivity to the moral law that God has imprinted upon you in your heart. Paul speaks about it this way in the book of Ephesians, Ephesians, chapter 4, just a few books to the right of Romans, he says in verse 17, Ephesians 4:17, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as unbelievers,” or Gentiles, “in the futility,” in the vanity, “of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because the blindness of their heart.” Then he says this in verse 19, “who,” speaking about these unbelievers, “being past feeling have given themselves over to sinful actions, lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” So he says, “In their state, their fallen state, they’ve moved beyond feeling, they no longer feel the affects, they no longer have the sensitivity to the God-given conscience, because they’ve calloused it. And Paul says it like this in his first letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 2, “They speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.”
So living here in 21st Century western culture, the western ethos in this modern day, is that man is essentially and inherently good. That’s the mindset, that’s kind of the presupposition that we begin with. That human beings are born essentially or inherently good, and that they become bad, or do bad things, not because they are bad themselves, but because they encounter difficult situations, they encounter harsh things around them in their environment, so that causes them to act bad. But that’s not what the scriptures reveal. The scriptures are driving home this point, Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That we all have transgressed God’s glorious character, through our actions, and that these things come about, not because of outward influences upon us, it’s not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man, from within, from the heart. That’s where these things come from, as we’ll see in just a moment in Mark, chapter 7.
And so in these introductory chapters, chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Romans, Paul is zeroing in on three cross-sections of humanity, three different groups that we have in humanity. We saw last week, in Romans, chapter 1, verses 18 through 32, that he addresses those that would be called the hedonists, the hedonists; the one who lives for pleasure; the one who lives, it looks like, according to no law, no rule, no goverance; they just do whatever they want. That’s the whole goverance of their life. They live for pleasure; they find meaning in whatever makes them feel good. It’s humanistic philosophy. And in our culture today, just as it was 2,000 years ago in Rome, is rife with this; this is just all around us in our culture today. A hedonistic mindset.
Now as we move into chapter 2 today, verses 1 through 16, we’re going to see that Paul moves from the hedonist, and now he speaks to the moralist, the moralist, in chapter 2, verses 1 through 16. And then next week, when we continue on with our study, we’re going to look at the religionist. So, the hedonist, the moralist, and the religionist, the self-righteous is the third group. And so as you look around humanity today, you can find each one of these cross-sections, each one of these categories. And Romans, as we saw last week in chapter 1, it reveals the desperate condition of humanity, and the desperate condition of humanity is this: because we see that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; that no one is righteous, no, not one, in Romans, chapter 3; we find in Romans, chapter 1, verse 18, that the wrath of God is ready to be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. So the plight of humanity, the desperate condition of humanity, is that God’s wrath is about to come forth, it’s about to come onto the scene against all ungodliness and against all unrighteousness. Because humanity has wholesale rejected God’s glory; it’s said, “We don’t want any part of that.” And they have exchanged it for pitiful and pathetic substitutes in idolatry. And that’s what Romans, chapter 1 zeroes in on. That when humanity, fallen from God, departed from God, when they refuse to glorify God, to worship Him, to be thankful to Him, because God has imprinted upon us or programmed us to worship, we’re going to worship something. And so if we refuse to worship God, we’re just not going to do that, we will not glorify Him, we will not be thankful, Romans 1:21, then the default, what you will always revert to will be worship of idols; because every single human being is created by God as an instrument of worship. The reason He made us is to glorify Himself; the chief end of man is the glory off God. That means that we are ourselves instruments of worship, and He has hardwired us, He has programmed us to do that, to worship Him. And so when we make a decision or a choice that we’re not going to worship Him, we’re not going to reverence Him, and glorify Him, then we’re going to worship something. We’re going to turn towards idolatry, and idolatry will always reduce to immorality. That’s what Romans, chapter 1 reveals. When a person says, “I will not worship God or glorify Him as God,” their ultimate end is to be a worshipper of something, of idols, or things that have been created. And then God, as we saw three times in chapter 1, it says, “God gave them over,” He gave them over to this. And the idea about God giving them over is that when man says, “I refuse to glorify You as God,” God says, “Okay, I’m not going to intervene. And so because you’re created to worship, you’re going to worship something, I’m not going to intervene in that,” because God’s not going to force Himself upon us, nor is He going to force us to worship Him. So He says, “I will not intervene,” so, in not intervening, He is giving us up to spoil basically. And so the result will always be immorality. And so, we saw that Romans, chapter 1 ends with a glorious list, if you will, of immoral behaviors; a great list of very bad things, things like what: homosexuality, unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, pride, arrogant boasting. All these things are listed there at the end of Romans, chapter 1. These actions the Bible deems as sinful, sinful; they are unrighteous; and the reason they are unrighteous is because they do not accord with, or they do not connect with, gel with the righteous character of God. So God is the standard of what is right, and pure, and good, and true. And so when you disconnect from that, and you do things that are against His character, then you’re doing things that are unrighteous, and false, and sinful, and ungodly. Anything that is incongruent with the character of God is ungodly, therefore it is classified by the Bible as sin. And so the conclusion is given to us there in Romans, chapter 1, verse 32. What happens to those who practice such things? Look with me again, Romans 1:32 and let’s see; this is the conclusion for the hedonist, Romans 1:32: “who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit,” or it can also be translated practice, “commit such things are worthy of,” what, “death.” Why? Because, Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” So those who practice such things are worthy of death. And this is supported, or substantiated further in other passages of scripture. In fact, turn in your Bibles to the book of Galatians; you’re in 1 Corinthians, turn to the right just a few books, you’ll see 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Galatians 5; here in Galatians, Paul is contrasting what he calls the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh. He says this in Galatians 5:19, “Now the works of the flesh,” this is just our normal default nature, “the works of flesh are clearly seen,” they’re manifest, and these are them, “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” So there are some things listed there that are the same as what is listed in Romans, chapter 1, but he amplifies it a little bit here, I mean we could go on, and on, and on, building a list of sinful actions, of behaviors that are against the righteous character of God; but the concluding remark is this: those who practice such things, Romans 1:32, will be put to death. Those who practice such things, Galatians 5:19, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. So we see that these things are connected; to die, in the way that God speaks of it in Romans, is to not inherit eternal life with God forever.
And from there we turn to 1 Corinthians, so just go back to the left towards Romans to 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 9, Paul says there to the church at Corinth, “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” Well yes, we know that, because we just saw it in Galatians 5:19, but what does he say, “Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” So again, the list is similar in some ways to Romans 1 and to Galatians 5; maybe a few things are different, but the conclusion is this: those who perpetually, continually practice and commit such things, they will die, they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Now the intriguing thing is is that we, human beings, in our fallen nature actually like lists like that. You say, “Why?” We like lists like Romans, chapter 1; Galatians, chapter 5; and 1 Corinthians, chapter 6; the reason we like lists like that, especially people like us, who are sitting in a church, is because when we read a list like that, it’s very likely that you found nothing in that list that you say, “I’m doing right now.” You see, when we read a list like that, we who are moralists, we’re moralists, we live by a certain moral ethic, we look at a list like that and we say, “Well I don’t do that. I don’t murder and commit adultery, and steal and…I don’t do any of those things.” So we look at a list like that, and you know what a list like that does for us, it puffs us up. We go, “Well I’m not so bad. Those people are bad, but I’m pretty good.” And so when we read a list like this, the moralist will look at this, and we’re incredibly quick to identify sin in others, but we have something of a diminished capacity in seeing it in ourselves; and we justify ourselves.
And so we read a verse like Romans, chapter 1, and Galatians, chapter 5, and verses in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, and we see stuff like this, and we begin to justify our sinful nature. And what we do, when we see a verse or a passage like this, even if it does convict us, if there’s a certain point of it that does convict us, maybe there’s something that we struggled with in the past, or maybe we have a hard time with even now; when we’re convicted, what our kind of self-exalting morality does, is it covers over that gritty piece of conviction with, like a pearly white self-righteousness. And so when we read passages like this, we just kind of mumble, or kind of move over parts that we don’t like; or we just don’t quote those ones. Right? And so we find ourselves thinking, “What a lost and gross world we live in. It is so bad out there; there are some really, really vile people out there. Don’t they know that the judgment of God’s going to come upon them? Oh, it’s just going to be horrific. The wrath of God’s going to be revealed from heaven.” And so, moralists, people sitting in churches all over this country, at this very moment, we live by a certain moral ethic. And so, we look at lists like this and it probably doesn’t describe us; so moralists love lists. In fact, moralists would love more lists. In fact “list” is part of “moralist.” And so we just love lists. And we look at stuff like this, and it kind of makes us feel like, well, we’re just not so bad. They make us feel safe and secure from God’s judgment.
And so Paul now shifts from Romans, chapter 1 to Romans, chapter 2; he shifts from speaking to the hedonists, who, their sin is clear, it’s evident, the work of the flesh is evident, it’s clearly seen, everyone can look out at the world today and say, “Man, this world is full of sin.” You see it in the news, you see it on TV, and people entertain themselves with it; I mean, we look all around us, we are filled with sin as a people; but then we look inside a little room like this and we say, “But this is a safe place, everything’s good here. We’re okay, no judgment, no wrath, we’re fine.” And so Paul shifts gears, and now he begins to speak to the moralist. Why? Because he’s driving home this conclusion; look at Romans 3 again, I already referenced chapter 3, verses 10 and on, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” None that seek after God, nobody does good; their mouths are like an open tomb; they spew forth bitterness and death. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Recognize that Paul’s point in these first three chapters is to drive home this point, Romans 3:19, look at it with me, if you would, in about the middle of the verse, we see this: “that every mouth may be stopped, and that all the world may become guilty before God.” This is Paul’s aim here. He’s saying there are three groups of people in the world: there’s the hedonist, do what you will shall be the whole of the law, do whatever you want; there’s the moralist, who says, “Listen, I’m pretty good, I’m better than those people; I don’t murder, and commit adultery. I’m better than all those wicked people; they deserve judgment;” and then there’s the religionist, the hyper self-righteous, that has a codified set of laws given to them in holy scripture, holy writ, and they look at this and they say, “Look, we’re the special people because we have the Law, we descended from Abraham, so everything’s good for us.” So, those three groups of people: the hedonist, the moralist, and the religionist. And Paul’s aim is to stop all of their mouths, and make them all guilty before God. Why? Because the glory of the gospel, the good news that Christ died for our sins, that He makes a way of salvation for sinners, through His power, through the gospel, His justifying work that He deals with our past sin, the punishment for our sin; for that to be exceedingly glorious, it has to have the backdrop of: We are all guilty. So Paul doesn’t even begin to talk about justification, and sanctification, all the aspects of the gospel, glorification; doesn’t even begin to talk about that until Romans, chapter 4. Because in Romans, chapters 1, 2, and 3, he’s building the case that everyone is guilty before God, that our mouths would be stopped.
And so he focuses now on the moralist. Chapter 2, verse 1, Romans 2, verse 1, “Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are that judges; for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things.” Now Paul was an expert at logic, and he was, although we may not recognize it, he’s a lawyer, his entire upbringing, to be a Pharisee among the Jewish people, he understood and knew the law, he was a doctor of the law. And as such, he has this impeccable awesome logic. He just gave this incredible list of bad things that people shouldn’t do: fornication, and adultery, and all these things that are spoken of, there: drunkenness, and fightings, and backbitings, and envy, and malice, and then right on the heels of that, he says they’re all going to be judged, and he knows that there’s going to be some people that would read this and say, “They deserve judgment. They should all be damned to hell. Condemn them.” And so he says, “Okay you, who judge another, I have a word for you; so you, who look at others and say, ‘They deserve to be damned to hell.’” Paul says, “Okay, let’s talk to you for a moment, and see what God’s word has to say to you.” And he says, he begins this in such an interesting way, because he says, “You are inexcusable.” Now look back at Romans, chapter 1, verse 20 again real quick, and remember, Paul was addressing, in Romans 1, those that refused to worship God, and turned to idols and became hedonistic in their practices, and he says this, “Listen, you’re without excuse. Why? The invisible things of God from creation are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even God’s eternal power and Godhead; so that you are without excuse.” If you refuse to worship God and you worship idols, you’re in an indefensible position because your conscience and creation say there’s a God and you should worship Him. And so you’re in an indefensible position; when you stand before God, you will have no excuse. And so Paul uses the exact same Greek word, as he shifts focus from the hedonist to the moralist, and he says there in Romans, chapter 2, verse 1, “You are inexcusable, O man.” Who is inexcusable? Well, the one who judges; the one who casts condemnation upon another one. Now, it’s important for us to recognize what is meant by this idea of judging someone, because we’re constantly being told, “Hey, Jesus said don’t judge people.” Right? The idea expressed in this word, Greek word “krino,” which is speaking about judgment here, is to condemn someone to hell. You’re saying, “Because of what you’ve done, because of the way you live, you are damned to hell.” And so, Paul says, “Be careful, you who judge, because you also are in an indefensible position.” Why? He gives us three reasons in verse 1 why they’re in an indefensible position:
Number 1 – Their judgment of another proves the reality of a judicial morality. What is that? When you judge someone, when you look at someone and say what they are doing is wrong, you are proving the existence of a moral law. You are proving that there is One who has given a standard of right and wrong. And so Paul says there, “You are without excuse when you judge, because when you judge another, you’re guilty of the same.” So, the indefensible position is that when you judge someone, you’re proving that God is, and that He has said, “This is right, and this is wrong.” You see, if there is no God, then there is no moral lawgiver; and if there is no moral lawgiver, then there is no moral law; and if there is no moral law, then you can never say to someone, “You shouldn’t say that, you shouldn’t do that,” because there is no such thing as a right and wrong, everything is, you know, relative, if there is no God. But when we stand in judgment of another, we’re proving that there is a standard of right and wrong.
Secondly, their judgment, the judgment of a, you know, self-righteous individual of others, it brings self-condemnation; their judgment brings self-condemnation. Where do we see that? “For when you judge another, you condemn yourself.” How so? Well, when you begin to say, as you look at the sinful conditions of the world and you say, “Well, I don’t practice all those wicked things. I don’t murder people. I don’t commit adultery. I’m not involved in fornication. All those people are worthy of death, but I’m good.” When you do those things, you highlight the reality that actually you’re involved in the same sort of sin. How so? Well, the apostle James tells us, in the book of James, James, chapter 2, verse 10, that if you transgress God’s Law in one point, you’re guilty of transgressing everything. So if the Law of God says, “Thou shall not kill, or thou shall not commit adultery,” and you say, “Well I’ve never killed anyone and committed adultery,” but the Law also says, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” So, if you’ve lied, even if it was an itty, bitty, bitty, bitty, little white lie, just a little, just a fib, anything, if you’ve lied in any point, then you’re guilty of the same transgression of the Law, as the one who committed adultery. That’s heavy. I mean, bear the weight of that for a second. You see, a lot of times when you interact with someone who does not know God, and you ask them some questions like, “Well, if you died tonight, would you go to heaven?” They say, “Well, yeah, I think so.” “Well, why?” “Because I’m a pretty good person.” “Well, how do you figure a good person?” “Well, I never committed adultery. I’ve never murdered anyone.” I think it’s interesting that many, many times, when I’ve interacted with people over that, it seems that those are the two sins that people say. “I’ve never killed anybody.” “I’m really glad to hear that.” “I’ve never committed adultery.” “Well that’s wonderful.” Interesting that Jesus addresses those specific sins in His discourse in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew, chapter 5. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 5, and look at verse 21. Matthew 5:21; Jesus is speaking, He says, “You have heard that it has been said of them of old time, ‘You shall not kill, whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment.’ But I say unto you,” now note this, when it says, “But I say unto you,” this is a “Thus saith the Lord;” this is God speaking. “I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whosoever shall say, ‘Thou fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Anyone ever been angry with someone without cause? Anyone here ever been malicious toward someone, you say, “Well there’s no way I’d ever murder them. I’m angry at them, I hate them, but I’d never do anything to them, but boy, I sure would be happy if they got hit by a bus. I’d never physically do anything to them, but boy, it’d be great if, just like, an asteroid would fall from the sky…you know.” That’s malice, that’s murder. Ouch, that’s heavy. Well, let’s keep going. Look at verse 27, same passage, “You have heard that it has been said of them of old time, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say unto you,” input “Thus saith the Lord.” “If you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery with her in your heart.” He goes on to say, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.” They had an external righteousness, they looked really good on the outside; they were moralists, they were religionists. But He says, “Your righteousness needs to go down into your heart,” because God’s dealing with the heart here, and not just the external actions. You see all sinful behavior is the overflow of a sinful heart. It’s just the manifestation of what’s already there in the heart. This is proven by Jesus’ words in Mark, chapter 7, verse 20, when He says there, “That which comes out of a man is that which defiles him, not that which goes into them. For out of a man, out of his heart comes forth evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All of these evils come from within.” So when Paul says, “When you judge another, you judge yourself, because you do the same things,” although it may not be manifested, although it may not be clearly evident in your life that you’re doing the things that the hedonist is doing, you’re still internally doing them, because your sin is of the heart.
Lastly, we see here in Romans, chapter 2, verse 1, the judgment that moralists cast on other people exposes their own error. Romans 2, verse 1, “Wherefore,” I’m sorry, “Wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things.” Our judgment of others only exposes our internal sin. We may not externally practice it, but it’s still resident in our heart. And so, when the moralist sits back and says, “Gosh, look at that terrible list of 23 very sinful things in Romans, chapter 1, verses 29 through 32; they’re so bad they should go to hell, they should be condemned.” Then he says, “Well wait a minute, you’re guilty of the same things.” Even though you’re not practicing it, you’re not doing it, it’s still there in your heart. Verse 2, Romans, chapter 2, “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that commit such things.” Humanity is unfit to judge other human beings as it relates to condemning them to eternal punishment, condemning them to hell, because of our own inherent sinfulness. But God is the right and true judge. Well how can we be sure that God is the right and true judge? How can we be sure that He judges in the right manner? Well, we can be sure, number 1, because of the character of God. He is just, He is righteous, He is truth.
In Genesis, chapter 19, God judged a couple of cities, actually five cities, two of the chief cities were cities named Sodom and Gomorrah. And before He poured out judgment and wrath and vengeance upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other three cities of the south, He went and met with one whom He had called out, a guy named of Abraham. And God clues Abraham in to what He’s going to do in Sodom and Gomorrah. And Abraham realizes that, “Well my nephew Lot, he lives down in Sodom and Gomorrah; that’s not good.” And so Abraham intercedes, he talks with God on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he says, “God, suppose there are 50 righteous people who live in Sodom. Would You spare the cities for 50 righteous people?” And God says, “I will.” Abraham thinks for a moment, “Wait a minute, there’s probably not 50 righteous people in Sodom. God, suppose there’s 45 righteous. Would You spare the city for 45?” “Yes.” “Okay, I hope I’m not stepping on some really crazy area here, what if there’s only 30?” “Yes, I’ll spare the city for 30.” Down to 20; at one point it says this, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Awesome question. He was questioning the righteousness of God, in pouring out judgment upon humanity. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And we recognize that that is true, if there is one who will judge every human being, that person best be righteous in their judgment.
Now, sitting here, in the United States of America, November 2012, we sit, although we recognize there are problems with it, there are errors sometimes within it, we sit in a nation that has one of the greatest judicial systems around. But we recognize that there are some times when people who are guilty are let go, and then when there are people who are innocent, and they are judged. But we have a system, great judicial system in many ways, and yes, there’s problems; but we have a system where a jury of your peers, 12 individuals, hear the testimonies, see the evidence, and make a decision. And we recognize that, even with that, there are times when there are failures. And so when we think of judgment, there’s going to be a Judge that’s going to pass judgment upon all humanity, we filter it through our human understanding of a judicial righteousness. And so, we want to know, is God going to be righteous? If He’s the arbitrary Judge, will He be righteous? Let me read to you about the Messiah, Jesus, in Isaiah, chapter 11, Isaiah 11, verses 1 through 4, this speaks about Jesus and the way He rules His kingdom, “There shall come forth a Rod out of the stem of Jesse.” That just means that Jesus is going to come forth from the line of Jesse, king David. “And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,” upon Jesus, “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And the Spirit shall make Him quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord;” and notice this, verse 3, “He,” Jesus, “shall judge not after the sight of the eyes, nor of the hearing of the ears, but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equality the meek of the earth.” What’s this tell us? God does not determine a person’s, whether of not they’re worthy of judgment based on testimony and evidence; He doesn’t judge based on the seeing of the eyes or the hearing of the ears. There’s never a time with God where He has a reasonable doubt in His judgment, because He’s not judging according to the seeing of the eyes or the hearing of the ears. There’s never a, “Well the glove doesn’t fit, so you have to acquit” moment with God. It’s never there. Why? Because the scriptures reveal that God judges, Jeremiah 17, verse 10: He judges the heart of man. He sees what we cannot see. He judges the heart. 1 Chronicles 28, verse 9 says the same thing, “The Lord who searches the hearts, understands all the imaginations of the thoughts.” Now, how is that for you today? God knows your thoughts, every one of them. Every time you’ve had a lustful thought, a vengeful thought, every time you’ve had a covetous thought, God knows that. What no one else may be able to see, as you sit in judgment and say, “Look at that adulterer, they should be put to death;” as you cast judgment upon another, you condemn yourself, because you’re guilty of the same. And there’s coming a day where we’re going to stand before God for judgment.
Look at verse 3, Romans, chapter 2, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judges, you judge those that do such things.” What such things? Those things that were listed at the end of Romans, chapter 1. Do you think when you pass judgment upon those that do such things that you’re going to escape the judgment of God; just because you’re not doing those things, even thought they’re resident in your heart? “Or,” verse 4, “do you despise thou the riches of the goodness and forbearance of God, His longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads to repentance?” Do we presume upon the riches of God’s grace? You see the moralist often sits in a place of self-righteous judgment upon the hedonist because of the misrepresentation of the grace of God. How so? The moralist looks out into the world, and they see the sinfulness of the world, they see the behavior of the world, that is against rightness, and they see the bad things that happen in the world, and they say, “That’s because they’re doing things that are against rightness.” And then they look at themselves and say, “See, clearly, I’m doing okay because God hasn’t judged me yet.” The very real problem is in that we can misinterpret, or vainly imagine that God’s patience with us, that His longsuffering with us, that His rich kindness towards us is an indication of God’s approval of us. It’s not. The longsuffering, patience of God is an indication of His grace, and it is for a purpose. What purpose? 2 Peter, chapter 3, verse 9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but He’s longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” You see the purpose of God’s common grace, of His forbearance in not pouring out His wrath upon us yet, the purpose of it is to make a way for repentance. Why? Well, Peter goes on to say, in the very next verse, 2 Peter 3, verse 10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall burn with a fervent heat, and the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up.” God is longsuffering towards us, desiring that we would repent.
Verse 5, Romans, chapter 2, “But after the hardness and impenitence of your heart,” or, you’re not willing to repent, “you are storing up for yourself wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds.” You see the moralist, although they do not do the sinful deeds of the hedonist, they are still worthy of the same judgment, because, in the face of God’s good, rich mercy and grace, they have stubbornly refused to repent. And part of the reason that they refuse to repent is that because of their own established moral reality, they think they don’t need to. “Those bad people outside need to repent. But I’m good. I don’t need to repent. I’m a pretty good person. And I’m better than that guy.” And you know, the reality is, there’s seven billion people on the face of the earth today; you can always find someone worse than you. Even if you have to go all the way back to the 40s and say, “Well I’m better than Hitler.” But, you see, Hitler’s not the standard of righteousness, God is. So His perfect standard is the standard of righteousness. And so because of the hardness, and their failure to repent, they are storing up for themselves wrath. The same wrath that will be poured out upon the hedonist, will be poured out upon the moralist, because God will render to every man according to his deeds. “The wages of sin is death,” says Romans 6:23. And so whether we plod through this life in a hedonistic abandon, practicing every possible wickedness that we can, or we abstain from all, and cast judgment upon the hedonist, we will stand before God for judgment one day. And the same wickedness that is resident in their heart, but apparent in their actions, is resident in our heart, even if it’s not seen in our actions; and it will be judged by God. As Paul says in Galatians 6, verses 7 and 8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap. Whether he sows to the flesh, he will reap corruption, but if he sows to the Spirit, he shall reap everlasting life.”
So Paul continues, Romans 2, verse 7, “To them, who by patient continuance in doing well,” doing good, “seek for glory, and honor, and immortality,” eternal life; “but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath will come upon them, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; but glory, and honor, and peace to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God.” If we sow to the flesh, if we live after our carnal tendency, our default nature, we’re going to reap corruption, and judgment; but, he says, if we sow to the Spirit, if we attach ourselves to God, and plant into our lives the things of God, we will reap everlasting life. “Those who walk in patient continuance of well-doing,” says Paul, “seek for God’s glory and honor, they will reap immortal life, eternal life.” Now the moralist will say, “Well, I am doing good; I’m not doing bad, like those bad people out there. I’m doing good.” The problem is, is that it’s the heart that is the issue; and so if you have not had a newly received heart through the new birth, then you’re doing good works from the wicked heart, and all of our righteousness is as filthy rags before God, when done from a wicked heart. And so every soul, Paul says, will experience this wrath. Verse 12, Romans, chapter 2, “For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law.” So if you sin, and you do not have God’s law in your life, you don’t know God’s law, you still have your conscience, you’re going to reap His judgment. “And as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” If you have God’s law, and you continue to walk in lawlessness, you will be judged. Verse 13, “(for not the hearers of the law are justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not God’s law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another.” So even if you don’t know the Ten Commandments, even if you’ve never read the Bible, you have the implanted conscience that God has given to you, and you know that what you’re doing or what you’re saying, you ought not to do or you ought not to say. And when you go against that, you have transgressed, and even though you don’t know the Bible, even though you don’t have the Ten Commandments, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and His earth shows forth His handiwork.” And so, we’re without excuse. The hedonist, the moralist, the Jew, the Gentile, because why, God is not a respecter of persons. And verse 16, Romans, chapter 2, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel.” It’s not about the actions; the actions are just proof of the secret inward heart problem.
Well, those hedonists, they’re done for. Right? The moralist, they’re toast. “But I’ve kept the Law. I have Abraham as my father. I’ve descended of a royal line. Therefore, I will be justified.” Really?! Well, we’ll address that next week.
Would you stand with me.
Father, I thank You for the fact that You are the One who leads us, and so, Your word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, so we want to be following You. We thank You that we’re not functioning in our own power, our own righteousness, but we’ve been clothed in Your righteousness, and You direct us. And so, Lord, I pray that You would direct us as a body, that You would direct us to see great ministry produced from this fellowship. Direct us, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.