Text: Romans 2.1-16
Introduction: We’re in Romans 2 this morning beginning in v1. Turn there and mark that place. But let’s begin in Amos. I’ll give you a moment to turn there. Romans 2, where we’ll be most of the morning and Amos, beginning in 1.1; The book of Amos begins with the Jews witnessing the judgment of God upon their Gentile neighbors. Amos 1.1 tells us a little bit about Amos and then launches into Prophecy. Rd v 1-2;
I’m sure that at 1st the Jews listen closely. But then, Boom, the hammer is lowered and the Jews start lovin’ it! Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab. These are the neighbors of God’s people. Amos has lulled them in and by 2.1, they’re amen-ing the preacher! But then Amos catches them off guard and let’s them know they’re not safe from the Judgment of God, either. Rd 2.4-5; The Gentiles didn’t have the Law of the Lord and were going to pay dearly for their behavior. The Jews had the Law, so they are without excuse! They thought that just because they were on God’s side that they had no worries. They figured the Law, the Temple, and being God’s people was enough to avoid God’s judgment. Amos uses the ole’ bait and switch!
In our text today, Paul is using a form of argument that Amos uses in his book. Paul has been preaching to the Gentiles and the Jews are standing behind him shoutin’ “amen,” “hallelujah” and “preach it!”
Turn back to Romans. Let’s begin back in 1.18-20… Amen! And it continues down through v. 32; rd 1.32: Amen! Then, without warning, he hits the Jews right between the eyes, just like Amos did. They never see this coming. Rd 2.1;
What we find in chapter two is an indictment upon the Jews for trusting in their religion and not in their obedience born out of a heart for God. I’ve divided this first section up into three parts which explain God’s Righteous Judgment to us. These three explanations are:
- God’s Righteous Judgment is unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional.
- God’s Righteous Judgment is rendered according to each one’s works.
- God’s Righteous Judgment is perfectly impartial.
So let’s begin with the 1st word of warning,
God’s Righteous Judgment is:
I. Unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional (1-5)
exp.: Let that sink in. Read that again. This truth should grab us. It should cause us to stop and think. I’m sure most of us here this morning are thinking that we’re Gentiles, so in this story, we’re not really the one’s being addressed. And concerning the context, that would be true. But if you apply the principle from within the context, I think you’ll see that this really applies to anyone who relies on their religion to save them. The Jews weren’t safe just because they were God’s people. And you’re not safe just because you’re a Baptist or a … whatever you claim to be.
exp.: rd 2.2-5; This isn’t about who you are, but about what you do because of who you are. Don’t miss that. Lots of people go to church, but that doesn’t make their Christians. There are a lot of people who serve as pastors, but that doesn’t make them Christians. Please don’t confuse your salvation with a denomination or a building. AND, don’t confuse your salvation with your baptism or church attendance.
Paul was telling these people that, while they’re saying Amen and Praise the Lord, they’re not exempt from God’s judgment when they do the same thing their Gentile neighbors do.
*This was the classic warning – the warning their forefathers had received: when you enter the land, be careful not to behave like the people I am kicking out of the land. Deut. 4.1-6.14; Chapter 7 is all about cleaning the people out of the land and making a place free from their idols and evil practices.
Paul is saying that they haven’t changed. The principles are the same and they still don’t get it.
ill.: Now, apply this thought, this principle to your own life: Don’t you find in yourself a bit of irony? That it is ironic how we can see so well the sins of others, but we miss it in ourselves. I mean the very same sins.
2 Samuel 12; Nathan to David; What an incredible set up! David is furious. He wants to know what man would do something so evil and wicked. Death! Death is the only true, right and fair judgment that can be assessed upon that man. And then Nathan hits him right between the eyes. You! You are that man!
app.: For some strange reason, we can locate the sins that plague us in other people – really, so much easier than we can see those sins in us.
That is what Paul is doing here: You amen and shout praise the Lord at this preaching to the Gentiles and yet those very same rebellions ways are in you. Do you think you’re safe because you’re Jewish. Do you think your racial or ethnic heritage offers you some free pass? Uh-uh! Your sin, Your disobedience is storing up “wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” It isn’t just about having the Law, it is about practicing the Law in your life.
t.s.: and that’s Paul’s 2nd warning to them.
God’s Righteous Judgment is:
II. Rendered according to each one’s works (6-10)
exp.: you see that statement in v 6; rd 6; v 7-10 are set up in a Chiastic Structure delineating the difference between these two types of people: the people of good works in v 7 & 10 and the self-seekers, self pleasers in 8 & 9:
- Accordingly (6)
- To those who through patience in well-doing (7)
- To those whose works are self-seeking (8)
- Tribulation and distress (9)
- Glory, honor and peace for those who ‘do’ good (10)
Please don’t mistake this to think for one second that Paul is preaching a ‘salvation by works’ message. He isn’t. I think Paul does this to place emphasis on the life of one who is saved verses the life of one who isn’t. As a matter of fact, Paul will conclude this section in chapter three with ‘all are sinners’ and ‘all are justified only by God’s grace’. That’s what he started this section with, too (cf. 1.16-17 – it is the righteousness of God for everyone who believes). So, what exactly is he saying?
Simply this: Salvation isn’t just a thing of knowledge. It is a thing of change. Salvation in the heart of each believer changes that person. They live differently, they love differently, and they act differently. The change is something that is experienced on the inside and then exhibited on the outside – it is seen. It is observable.
ill.: I think the perfect illustration is baptism. It is a public testimony expressing externally what has happened internally. It doesn’t save you, but it is a sign of obedience.
app.: Herein lies the principle: the work of the self-seeker will end in tribulation and distress. If you’re not getting this let me be very frank: this tribulation and distress is the eschatological Day of the Lord. Don’t confuse tribulation here on earth with that. For these people who live life to very selfishly, there is reserved the wrath and fury of God. However, For the one who seeks glory and honor and immortality through patience, that will end for them with eternal life.
t.s.: Paul offers one more explanation here:
God’s Righteous Judgment is:
III. Perfectly Impartial (11-16)
exp.: rd v 11-12; note: both groups sin and both groups experience judgment and death; will also perish and will be judged; Paul is clear throughout this epistle that sin leads to death, but faith to life. Rd v 13; hearing vs. doing; Man, that sounds awfully close to salvation by works; But I think Paul is echoing James here: Jas 1.22-26: 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
exp.: rd v 14-16; Some have the law, but some do not. Their actions are born out of a real sense of duty. The conscience acts as a law, if you will.
ill.: During the World Series T-Mobile had a fund raising event for Hurricane Harvey Relief. #HR4HR. Text #HR4HR to a certain # and $2 was donated to Hurricane Relief. Show video.
app.: Now, why would a secular organization do this? There is an innate, instinctual reaction to do good to people who are in need. Southern Baptist already do this, and I imagine for most of these volunteers, there is the law of God at work in their hearts, as well as, a clear understanding of our duty as believers. But for lost people, why do they this? Paul tells us: They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.
app.: that is what makes God’s judgment impartial. You really see this in Matthew’s Gospel. Listen closely and tell me if this doesn’t match what Paul has been saying.
The Final Judgment
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
t.s.: sounds like…He will render to each one according to his works.
Conclusion: My favorite basketball team is the San Antonio Spurs. I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was at Kirby Junior High back in the 70’s. There is a trait the Spurs have that I just deplore, abhor. Every single time my Spurs get a big lead in the game, they sit on it. Invariably, do you know what happens? They lose.
I remember one year the Spurs were beating the Lakers by 24 points in the 3rd qtr and still managed to lose. They did it again this past Thursday night: Spurs were up by 19 points and still lost by 10.
Why do you think that is? When one thinks they have the victory, they sit back and rest on their laurels.
Application: I sometimes feel the church is guilty of just such a reckless creation. I wonder if we’ve made people think they’re saved because they said a prayer when they were 8 or 12. They said a prayer and maybe got baptized, but they’ve never followed through with their life. They have their religion – maybe even a certificate, and so believe that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they behave or what they think. They think they’ve got victory in hand and so they sit on what they think is their lead. When all the while, they’re lost. They’re trusting in a piece of paper or their denomination or their …
Invitation: Good works are wonderful… I hope you’re not trusting in them to save you either. But, I sure hope your faith is demonstrated in your life by your good works. Remember:
- Do not trust in your baptism or your denomination any more than you would trust in your good works. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.
- I’d say we must be careful to practice the Law in our own lives: that is – to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and 2ndly, to love your neighbor as yourselves.
- God will render his judgment of us all impartially, according to each one’s work. And for those who think that they will receive some exception because they’re Baptist or Catholic or Jewish or American. Well, as Nana used to say: you’ve got another thing comin’