God’s Righteous Judgements
“Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
” 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
” 12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
The book of Romans is a hard-hitting book. It deals with both the ideal and the reality of the Christian walk. This walk is fraught with failure and failing. It is fraught with hard lessons and a lot of waiting. The Christian life can be costly at times and eternally rewarding at the same time. This Christian life is lived in the here and now, but one must always keep an eye on the future. We earthbound Christians must always have a heaven-bound mindset, and we must take the long view when the short view does not make sense.
In chapter 2, the Apostle Paul opens the writing, hitting us in the spiritual heart, so to speak. He is building on the principle that Jesus began with in regard to judging a brother or sister in the Lord. The basic principle is this: ‘check yourself first.’ I have heard it said this way: Don’t judge others harshly because they sin differently than you do.
Today we will look at just the first few verses of this chapter.
- Hypocrisy is a dangerous beast, verse 1
Be careful when you judge others but secretly you are doing the same sins. Make no mistake; your sins will not remain secret for long. Everything eventually comes to the surface. All too often, we have heard of Pastors who have fallen into sin but they were the hardest on people. We have seen prominent figures who are hard on, say, prostitution, and then they end up getting arrested in a police operation. We have heard of or seen affairs in the Lord’s churches, and it seems that the most pious people are the ones perpetrating the sins. We are all sinners; we know that, and yet we put each other on pedestals that can only lead to our downfall.
In Hebrews 5:1-3, we find that the High Priest had to first offer a sacrifice for his own sins before he could offer one on behalf of the people. “Every high priest is appointed from among men to represent them in matters relating to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and misguided, since he himself is beset by weakness. 3 That is why he is obligated to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.”
This should lead to humility as a leader and to compassion as a priest, for the people he served. Notice verse 2. He is able to deal gently with those in sin. Why? Because he too is beset by weakness. We should endeavor to turn away from sin and to discipline our minds and bodies to avoid sin. But the reality is that we will sin. Now, there are some who claim to be sinless in this life; and in so doing, they sin as liars. If we continue the thought from the end of the first chapter, Paul is telling us that we have the capacity to do all manner of evil and that we should be wary of our judgments.
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7: 2-4: “For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?”
Before we go judging anyone and seeking to help them with an air of piety, we should first examine ourselves. Paul wants us to help our fellow Christian when sin is in their lives, and he wants them to help us. We see this in Galatians 6:1:
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
Be careful how you help that brother and be gentle with him. Remember the verse about the weakness of the priest in Hebrews; he in turn was to deal gently with the sinful ones, remembering his own frailty. We should be the same way for each other. But we have a tendency to tear each other down so as to point out how much more spiritual we are. Oh, what hypocrites we are!
In the words of Jesus, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”
Too many of the Lord’s churches are filled with cold, unloving and judgmental people who never let you get too close as you might see the chinks in their armor. Many Pastors live at arm’s length to the flock they serve, not wanting to mesh with the unwashed masses. But true shepherds are close to the sheep; they know the sheep and the sheep know them. We Pastors are under-shepherds to the Lord’s people. Often, we are weak so that, like the Priests, we can gently handle the Lord’s people.
- Hypocrisy will be rooted out and punished, verses 2-3
The people of Israel had a form of godliness but they covered their piety in prejudice and hatred. They hated Gentiles, they hated Samaritans and they hated anyone not like them. The religious leaders were even worse; they hated their own people. Jesus confronted this hypocrisy and took the Pharisees head on. Their brand of religion was useless; it offered no life, just death. They separated themselves from the masses and pretended that they were perfect and that they had something in common with God. The truth was that God hated them. He hated their lack of genuine love and compassion.
In Matthew 23:27, Jesus says this: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” You guys look so pious on the outside but inside you are dead and your doctrines are dead. Stop being two-faced. Be honest.
We are sinners, sinners saved by grace, sinners waiting for the redemption of the body. We should be (trust me; this is a hard pill to swallow right now) much gentler than we are. All too often, we are so harsh (I am so harsh) with the Lord’s sheep and we do more damage than good. I am learning to speak in love, to speak truthfully, but always in love. There is a way to speak the truth and to speak love at the same time.
- God’s Grace Should drive us to Humility, verse 4
In light of our weaknesses and in light of our own proclivity to sin, we should be humbled and live in awe of the Lord’s grace and patience with us, and show that love and patience to each other. The Lord remembers our frame, but we are soon to forget that our brothers and sisters are made of dust just like us.
Psalm 103:13-14 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are dust.”
If only we could be compassionate to each other, but we want to point out our superiority in how we live for the Lord. Yes, we are to resist sin. Yes, we are to avoid sin. Yes, we are to be careful. But no matter how hard you try, or how disciplined you are/I am, we will fail. We will sin. Those around us in our families and churches will sin, and how we deal with it will be more telling about our walk with the Lord than any other measurement. Do we lovingly and humbly reach out to the sinning brother or sister and help them. Do we share their shame if any is to be had? or do we shun them like the plague?
Now, we are told in 1 Corinthians that there are some sins that we need to turn people over to the Lord for Him to deal with. But as soon as there is repentance, we are to take that person back.
Jesus warned the disciples to be careful of hypocrisy. He said this when referring to the apparent righteousness of the Pharisees, Matthew 16:6:
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.'”
Hypocrisy permeates all the way through our lives, and soon we just become empty shells and emotionally dead people who cannot empathize nor act compassionately towards our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Romans 2:3 reminds us that we are not fooling God; He sees us and He will judge us harshly. Compassion begets compassion, kindness begets kindness, and forgiveness begets forgiveness. Let us work hard to avoid the sins that enslave us; but if and when we do sin, let us deal with love, humility and compassion towards each other. Let us run to each other and lift each other up, dust each other off and help each other stand again.
I leave you with these wise words in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”
God bless you,
Pastor Sean Gooding
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church