Romans 2 v 1 – 11
Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 2. We’re going to read together the first 11 verses this morning – Romans Chapter 2. And as we read it, you’ll see it’s a very hard passage of scripture to read. It speaks in very, very clear language and it speaks about very, very clear realities. I never fail to read it without it putting the fear of God in me.
1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on [all] those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or 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?
5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the Day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, He will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality. (ESV)
The text ends with things that every human heart that is not lost its mind desires: glory and honour and peace. Glory is undescribable – every human being intuitively seeks that. And honour – to know that despite my many failings, I have done some things well and others have acknowledged it. And this very precious treasure of peace – which is not just the cessation of hostility – peace is not just the absence of hostility. Peace is something in itself with its own substance. You know when you have it, you know when you don’t. It’s the peace of God that transcends all human understanding says Paul. We cannot describe what that peace is. Paul says it’s above our understanding. You cannot explain it. But every human being knows when you have that peace, you know when you have it, and you know when you don’t. And these are precious things that the text ends with. God says that He’ll give “glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”
That’s where the text ends – it’s with Good News! And I think all of us want that. So we can read this text in one or two ways. I can read it like a Pharisee, and make you really feel how God is going to judge you and it is my duty as your pastor to do that for me, and to also do that for you – to not make light of these things. Or we can look at what it is that God wants us to have. We don’t have to have this judgment. We don’t have to have all these terrible things that God describes in the text. There’s a way of avoiding that and finding that glory and that honour and that peace. And I think unless there’s something wrong with a person that’s what everybody wants: glory and honour and peace. Do you want that? Is that what you want in your life? Is that what you want for your children – glory and honour and peace!? How do get it? Well, we get it by believing the bad news that we see in the text first and accepting what God gives to us to heal that terror that He describes. We see in the text three things: God’s rebuke, God’s riches and God’s righteousness. We’re going to look at those things – God’s rebuke, God’s riches and God’s righteousness. We’re going to speak about first of all the rebound of man’s judgment – how if you are a judgmental person that will have a rebound – it will come back on you. That’s the first thing we see in the text – the rebound of man’s judgment from verse 1 through to verse 3. Then from verse 4 on, we see the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance and patience. And lastly from verse 5 on, we see the righteousness of God’s judgment. So let’s look at each one of that.
- The Rebound of Man’s Judgment
Now tonight, I’m going to be preaching from Malachi chapter 2 verses 10 to 16 and going to speak on divorce and the profanities that people brought to the altar of God in Malachi’s time, and we’re going to look at that. Many of us who have not gone through those things will stand back and say ‘oh well, that’s for all those people over there.’ We need to look at this text first and see: “you who judge others, you are guilty of the same things.” And if you live in judgment of other people, there will be a rebound. That’s what we see in the text, notice what the Apostle says. We see the self-condemnation of judgmental sinners. Look what He says: “You have no excuse, oh man…” Everyone – that’s excepting no one! “Every one of you who judges”, everyone who judges! You have no excuse “for in passing judgment on another” – and here’s the rebound that I’m talking about – “you condemn yourself!” That’s the rebound when you judge someone else you condemn yourself, which is worse than judging – you pronounce a sentence on yourself, and God gives the reason for it. He says: “because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” So there’s a rebound on your judgment. When you judge others you pass judgment on yourself and you condemn yourself. That’s the reality of it. Now that’s not to say that we ought not to point out to our children and to ourselves and to each other when we see rank sin in each other’s lives.
Think back through your life. At least my testimony is this: Do you know who served me best in my life in the three careers that God has led me through? Do you know who the people are who served me best? It was not those who showered compliments and flattered. It was the ones who came and took me to task. It began with my late father when I was small; my grandfather; my mother; even my own brother’s – even though I’m the oldest in the house of nine children. Those who corrected me; those teachers; those friends who said: Willem, come on! They served me best and we need to help each other understand where we go off the rails, but we’re not there to just fix someone else all the time. Have you noticed how we have this propensity in us? When we see brokenness, it has to be someone else! The real problem is so up close and personal – when you look in the mirror, it’s staring at you in the face – it’s you! But no, it’s someone else; I have to fix someone else. I have to fix my husband or my wife or my children or my mother or my father or my teacher or my pastor or the elders. I have to fix someone else!
Let me speak for myself. It’s not you, it’s me! The problems in my family are not my family – it’s me. That guy with the road rage – it’s not the other people on the road it is I who am the problem. Amen!? We cannot stand around and judge others. There’s too much about us that need to be redeemed! People continue to ask me. How are you doing? And what do we say: O I’m fine thanks. I’m so blessed – it’s going very well, by God grace. I have an answer. I spoke to Jaco and them this morning, and others have heard me say this. When asked ‘how are you doing?’ I say ‘I’m doing terrible for very good reasons, and I’d rather be doing bad for good reasons than to be doing good for bad reasons. I’d rather feel terrible inside because the God of Grace who fixed my conscience brings me to my knees, breaks me and does not leave me the way I am. I’d rather feel bad and depressed, knowing He’s at work and He’s not going to leave me the way I am. I don’t have the time to go around and fix all of you. I don’t have the time to even fix my family. There is too much wrong with me. I need to be busy with the God of heaven who fixes me! I can’t walk around judging others because when we do, we pass judgment on ourselves, that’s the reality of it. And what’s the reason for it? How can God say that? I read this passage – must have been about 15 years ago – to another person. I read this passage and you know what she said to me? ‘I find that insulting.’ I said, ‘Well God meant it as an insult. He’s not going to take it back because you don’t like hearing it.’ The reason for it is we’re guilty of the same things. The Lord says if you just look at a woman in lust, you’re guilty of adultery. If you just look at a man with anger and you say ‘you fool’, the Lord says then you’re a murderer! Because it’s not what you do that’s the problem – it’s what what you do tells you about who and what you are. You do what you do, because of who and what you are. It’s not so much the creed and the conduct – it’s the character that is the problem. And if only the Lord’s people would know this we would be permeated by Grace instead of being judgemental. We would be going around and we would be saying: ‘You know what, my brother over there is aware of his weaknesses and his sins. He knows I know too, but I need a walk alongside him and say, hey brother it’s wrong, it will land us in damnation, but you know what? The Lord is fixing us don’t give up, work with Him. It’s going to be painful, you’re going to feel really bad when you give up your pet sin, but you will gain glory and honour and peace.’ That’s how you get glory and honour and peace. So that’s the rebound of man’s judgment. If you judge others, He says: “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who may do such things. Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God?” You won’t! So we see first of all that there is the rebound of man’s judgment and if only we may become less judgmental people. I’m not saying turn a blind eye to sin. The Lord’s not saying that! But the task before us is not just to point it out so that you can feel better. What is it about us that we always want to go around and teach everyone else lessons – lift everybody else up – fix everyone else? What is it with us? When you look in the mirror, there’s the problem! You brush the teeth of the problem, and still we don’t get it. You comb the problem’s hair every morning. You bath it, you feed it, you flatter it, you dress it, you cart it around all over the city – and still you don’t see it. I’m the problem; the biggest problem in my life and those around me is I. I don’t have time to fix my family and to fix my congregation. God is too busy with me. Every one of us must have that perspective. What is it about me that the Lord needs to heal for our lives to become better to get the glory and the honour and the peace? That’s the rebound of man’s judgment. You judge others, you condemn yourself!
- The Riches of God’s Kindness, Forbearance and Patience
I love that, but I want you to see two things about the riches of God’s kindness, His forbearance and His patience. You need to see man’s presumption on it and God’s purpose with it. Those are the two things that the Apostle points out for us. First of all, there’s a problem:
a. Man’s Presumption on it
To presume on something means to take it for granted without due reason. “Or do you presume on the riches of the kindness and forbearance and patience of God?” The Lord says when we are judging others, we are presuming on the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience. He is saying it’s there – these riches of His kindness, His forbearance and His patience with you. It’s there – it is real – it is part of the character and the attributes of the God of Grace – it is there. But we presume on it when we don’t see:
b. God’s Purpose with it
Why is God being kind? Why doesn’t He just singe us every time we sin – wipe us off the planet immediately? He’s kind. Why does He speak to us in kind tones and say to us “Come to Me, all who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Do you know who He’s talking to, these weak and heavy laden people? We think about them with bleeding hearts: ‘Aw they are weak and heavy laden, and we need to be very, very soft and so.’ No, He’s seeing them in their sin, and He’s being kind to them. He’s saying: ‘Do you know why you are suffering, you know why you are in a pandemic, you know why you are afflicted by evil ideologies around you, the rise of socialism in the United States of America and all over the world? It’s because of sin!’ And yet: ‘Come to Me, all who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Come to Me!’ He doesn’t stand up and say: ‘Get out of My face, I never want to see you again, you worm!’ It’s always: ‘Come to Me!’ Lord, have you seen what I just thought? ‘I saw that – come to Me!’ Lord, did you feel that affection that I just had in my heart – that hatred that I felt for someone else? Did you see it? ‘I saw it. Come to Me!’ Did you see what I’ve just done? ‘I saw – here’s your redemption: Come to Me – come now, if you’re weak and heavy-laden, come to Me!’ That’s His kindness, His forbearance. He doesn’t wipe us off the planet at every single sin that we commit and He’s patient with us.
But what is the purpose of that? It’s meant to lead us to repentance. It means that God wants us by that to make a turn around. From where we going to turn around and come to Him – that’s repentance – It means stop going where you’re going, turn around and go to Christ – that’s repentance. That’s the purpose of the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience. We read the history of the world – there’s a delightful little book, I can’t remember if it’s by Lou Marinoff called ‘What on Earth Happened?’ It’s a little 300-page paperback – gives you an overview of the history of the world. And we see, we ask ourselves when we read that: ‘why has God not wiped us out completely long ago?’ It’s because of His kindness and His forbearance and His patience – that’s why. But then we see lastly:
- The Righteousness of God’s Judgment
We see three quick things: Man is acting faithlessly, God will judge fiercely and God will judge fairly. For those of us who don’t see the kindness and forbearance and patience of God, and we’re always judging others and trying to fix them, there will be the righteousness of God’s Judgment. Notice what He says from verse 5:
a. Man is acting faithlessly
He says but because of your hard and impenitent heart, because that kindness and forbearance and patience is not bringing you to repentance – you have an impenitent heart – that means a heart that doesn’t repent – that doesn’t turn away from what God is calling you to turn away from. Because of that, we see two things: God will judge fiercely and God will judge fairly.
b. God will judge fiercely
“You are storing up wrath for yourself.” Listen to me – you don’t want that wrath! You can stop reading right there. You are storing up wrath! You don’t want that wrath – it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God! And if your heart is impenitent and hard, you are storing up for yourself wrath! And in judging others, you’re dishing it out like you’re your own little god! Don’t we do that? Have you noticed how prone we are to that – to act like little gods ourselves – having to fix everybody around us – then you go brush the teeth of the problem!? We’re storing up for ourselves wrath. When God’s righteous judgment will be revealed because man is acting faithlessly. Look, God will judge fiercely – it’s a fierce judgment: “…you are storing up wrath for yourself on the Day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” It will be fierce. It will be fearful.
c. God will judge fairly
“He will render to each one according to his works:” It’s not that your work save you but it’s the works of will tell whether you saved or not. “…to those who with patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, He will give eternal life;” How do you get that?
By patience you seek for glory and honour and immortality, which is to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ alone in His sacrifice on Calvary, “but for those who are…” and here’s the problem: “self-seeking.” I keep on telling you to the point of boredom already that the three great problems of humanity are Narcissism, Hedonism and Materialism. Puff me, please me and pay me. You don’t have to read… you can go back – you can go read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations – I’ve got this little copy here. And he tells us about the three contaminations of the soul. You know what they are? Passion, triviality and discontent – always self-seeking – there is that passion. Triviality: We hold ourselves up with things that are meaningless – cars and fancy houses and clothing – triviality! We see how trivial we are when we see we live in a world where people will do anything to protect themselves against the flu, but they won’t use the regulations and the means that God gives to protect their souls against Eternal damnation! Triviality! And discontent: We’re always unhappy and discontent with everything. Those three things: Narcissism, Hedonism (which is pleasure-seeking) and Materialism. And He speaks about it: “those who are self-seeking.” I’ve had to say that to myself in my own family when I start strutting around like a little god in my house. ‘Hey Wim come here, let me fix you, come here. Mia, now it’s your turn, and Susan – that happens quite often. And I know why I do it, because I’m the problem. That’s why I do it. It’s self-seeking – it’s wanting to be God. Listen to me, you and I – let me tell you something about us. We make terrible gods. It doesn’t work. Stop seeking yourself! Seek your God – glory honour and peace.
“There will be wrath and fury”, God says. How terrible! There is nothing worse than the wrath and the fury of God. “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek…” But here’s the good news. This did not take Him by surprise. God who had every right to judge because of His kindness, His forbearance and patience, before the foundation of the world, took that beautiful Lamb without blemish, nailed Him to a cross – to a cross! – so that he can say: “…but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good,” But, Paul elsewhere you say there is no one who does good, no, not one. That’s true. Only in the Lord Jesus do we do good – “the Jew first and also the Greek.” And I love the Afrikaans of this: for God has no ‘witbroodjies’. God shows no partiality.
There we’ve seen it: The rebound of man’s judgment – if you judge others, you will be judged, you’ll be condemned. We see the riches of God’s kindness, His forbearance and patience – they call us to repentance. If we don’t repent, there’s in the Word for us today a serious caution: We will be acting faithlessly; God will judge fiercely, God will judge fairly. When you find yourself on that Day, be among those who repented and find that glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good.