18 January, 2022

Jan. 9 | Righteous Judgment

by | 3 January, 2022 | 0 comments

Unit: Romans (Part 1)
Theme: Righteous
Lesson text: Romans 2:1-16
Supplemental texts: ​Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 12:17-19; Psalm 7:6-11
Aim: Appreciate the righteous judgment of God and commit to leave judging to him.

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Jan9_2022.

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By Mark Scott

Parents and teachers taught us, “When you point your finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you.” Judging others comes at a high cost. Ultimately it will come home to roost. Jesus taught the same thing (Matthew 7:1-5).

These first two lessons in Romans deal with God’s righteous character evident in his wrath and judgment. Beneath the radar was the tension between Jew and Gentile in regard to salvation. If the wrath of God is poured out on the Gentiles (Romans 1:18-32), the Jews could think they get a pass. They might reason, “Get ’em, God. Sic ’em” (similar to Israel in Amos’s day—Amos 1:3–2:3). Paul essentially said, “Not so fast.” In this section, Paul advanced his argument that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

Passing Judgment
Romans 2:1-4

Jews have no excuse (apology) when they pass judgment on someone else. Let the record show that we must make judgments in life (John 7:24). A non-discerning person is a fool. But Paul, like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, condemned unjustified judgment and censorship. The Jews evidently were doing this against their Gentile brothers and sisters. Some form of the word judgment occurs in this text 10 times. Wrongheaded judgment is offensive to God.

When we condemn others we also condemn ourselves because we are hypocritical. We are guilty of seeing in others what we fail to see in ourselves. This thought should give us pause. We think (reckon or count) we will escape God’s judgment. In doing this we show contempt (presumption) for God and presume on his kindness. God’s kindness, forbearance and patience (long-suffering) are intended to produce repentance (cf. Galatians 5:22). So be careful, little heart, when you judge.

Receiving Judgment
Romans 2:5-11

Judgment belongs totally in the hands of God because human judgment is most often skewed. God’s judgment is “based on truth” (Romans 2:2), and he never shows favoritism (to show partiality by regarding the face of someone). Stubbornness (dryness or hardness) and an unrepentant heart cause God to store up wrath for the ultimate Judgment Day. On that great day, his righteous judgment will be revealed and “people’s secrets” will be judged “through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:16; cf. Revelation 20:11-15).

For a book that so strongly emphasizes that people are saved by grace and not by law, Romans sounds very much like the Gospels at this point. There is no lack of harmony between Paul and Jesus though. There are imperatives of salvation in the New Testament. They evidence real faith. Therefore they cannot be dismissed. God’s people are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The imperatives in and of themselves cannot save. But all of them demonstrate real faith, which is why Scripture can affirm that we are saved by faith but judged by works. People who persist in doing good and who also seek glory, honor and immortality get eternal life. On the other hand, people who are self-seeking (to work for hire, scheming for themselves), who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath (settled and justified anger) and anger (fury to where the “thermometer” explodes). To ensure that no one misunderstands, Paul twice underlined that these things were true for Jew and Gentile.

Standard for Judgment
Romans 2:12-16

In this section Paul dug down into the real distinction between Jew and Gentile with regard to what standard of judgment would be used against both groups. Neither group was off the hook. Jews and Gentiles both sin—this was Paul’s point in the larger sweep of context. The Gentiles did not have the law of God like the Jews. One might assume they were therefore exempt from judgment. Not so. The parenthetical comment of verses 14-15 teased this out. All people have their conscience (moral umpire meaning “to know with”). The Gentiles did not have the law, but they did have their conscience. Paul almost held out for the possibility that if they obeyed their consciences they would be acquitted. But in the end their consciences would accuse (to condemn or speak against) them.

On the other hand, the Jews (of which this section is mostly about) had the law. Did they keep it? Hardly. Therefore they would have to be judged by the law. For the Jews, just hearing the law was not enough. The only way to be declared righteous (or “truly made righteous”) was to obey the law. Paul, of course, would go on to argue that no Jew kept the law—except Jesus (Matthew 5:17).

Boasting has to be jettisoned (Romans 3:27). Neither Jew nor Gentile should judge the other. They both will be judged by God since vengeance belongs to him.

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