Despising The Goodness Of God:
We Are All Guilty

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 9a of 83


1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:1-5).

We saw in our last trench of studies that the apostle Paul is addressing the Jews or the Christians in Romans 2. We know that those who commit the things described in chapter 1 are sinning against God. So we judge and condemn them. But the problem is that we do the same things as those we condemn. Therefore, we are inexcusable and, in fact, doubly guilty.

Now, these are facts. It is a fact that we judge. It is a fact that we do the same things we condemn– though we may not do them to the same degree. But why do we do those things although we know that they are wicked in God’s sight? Paul suggests two possible reasons.

First, could it be that we think we can escape the judgement of God? Could it be, that we think that while the gentiles deserve God’s wrath, we do not? In Paul’s words:

2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them [i.e. the gentiles] which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

That is to say: We are confident that God will judge the gentiles who commit the things listed in chapter 1. But could it be that it has not crossed our minds that if we do the same things, God will judge us too? Could it be that it has not sunk into our hearts that we deserve God’s wrath like the gentiles?

But secondly, could it be that we do the wicked things we condemn because we do not truly appreciate the goodness and severity of God? In Paul’s words:

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

This is whole mouthful. I’ll explain it a bit more as we go along, but take note for now what Paul is saying briefly. He is suggesting that the second reason why we do the same things which we condemn is that we may be unconverted and living in spiritual apathy.

So then, as a wise minister of the Gospel, Paul is seeking to remind us of 3 things in this passage.

First, he wants to bear in mind that we are, like the gentiles, inexcusable.

Secondly, he wants us to realise that wrong thinking leads to wrong conduct.

Thirdly, he wants us to realise that God will judge all unrepentant sinners,—including the spiritually apathetic amongst professing Christians.

The Lord helping us, let us contemplate on these three points.

1.  We are Guilty

a.   We have already touched on this in our previous study. The gentiles are inexcusable when they hold down the truth in unrighteousness. They know that God will judge them for their lawless deeds, but they continue to do them. They even derive pleasure in them that do them.

We who have the Word of God know that the lawless deeds of the gentiles incur God’s wrath. So we judge and condemn them. But instead of refusing to do as the gentiles do, we do the same things. We sin when we do those lawless deeds. We sin double when we do the very deeds we condemn. We are therefore inexcusable. We are guilty!

Let me put it this way. Do you read the newspapers? How do you feel when you read about various crimes? Well, if your heart is not already numbed, you will surely feel outraged by the various things you read.

When you read about murder, does not your heart rise in judgement against the murderer? But do you not also murder by spreading malicious gossips or backbiting someone?

When you read about theft and robbery, does not your heart condemn the thieves and robbers? But do you not also rob and steal? Do you not rob from God by withholding your tithes and offerings? Do you rob Him by giving Him half-hearted service? Do you not steal from Him by using His Sabbath for your own pleasure?

When you read about intrigues and lies, do you not shake your head in your heart? But do you not often do the same thing by being less than honest in your dealings with others?

When you read about rape and outrage of modesty, does not your heart rise in judgement against the perverts? But do you not also break the 7th commandment? Do you not lust with your eyes, or covet after someone with your heart?

When you read of child abuse or maid abuse, does not your heart cry out against these wicked persons? But do you not do the same? Have you not been overly harsh with your children? Have you not abuse your domestic helper with harsh words or make them work seven days a week, — depriving them of their Sabbath?

b. This is what the apostle Paul is trying to impress upon our hearts. If we know that others are doing some wrong things, and we do the same thing, we are doubly guilty. We are inexcusable. We have even less excuse than the heathens.

But why does Paul want us to know we are inexcusable? Is it because he just wants us to feel bad? No, no; that is not what a shepherd ought to do. The Lord never makes us feel bad without a good reason. So faithful ministers of the Gospel ought never make God’s people sad without good reasons.

So why does Paul want us to feel inexcusable? He wants us do to feel guilty, no doubt, because he wants us to know that we are equally worthy of death as the sinners in the world (v. 32).

Why does he want us to know that we are worthy of death? No doubt, so that we may know that our salvation is entirely by grace through faith in Christ. Like the Gentiles we have need of reconciliation to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not only for heathen and barbarians. It is for all men including those within the visible church.

Make no mistake: Jews and Christians are not superior to barbarians, pagans and heathen. Nothing in ourselves makes us better than the worst criminals and terrorists in the world. We all deserve God’s wrath.

We are what we are and where we are today, entirely by God’s mercy and grace. We are favoured by God not because of any good in us. By ourselves we deserve only God’s wrath and curse. We can persevere on in eternal life not because we are now good enough. No, no; we are saved and being and shall be saved entirely by grace through faith in Christ Jesus alone.

c.   If that is so, how ought we to live our lives? Ought we not live for Christ alone? We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Him. We were purchased through the shedding of His blood. Ought we not to seek to glorify him in all that we do? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).

Let us, dearly beloved brethren, therefore learn to live for Christ. Let us learn to serve Him in all that we do. Serve Him in your speech. Serve Him in your work. Serve Him in your studies. Serve Him in your home. Serve Him in your vacations.

Whatever you do, think for a moment, how am I serving Christ? How does my action promote His kingdom? What can I do to better promote his glory?

This is how a Christian ought to live. The Christian ought to strive against sin. He should seek to live a holy life as God who has redeemed him is holy. But at the same time he should live joyfully and gratefully as a forgiven child of God.

But why is it that many professing Christians do not live like that?

Why is it that many professing Christian think nothing about breaking God’s laws?

Why is it that today many professing Christians are Christians only on Sundays, whereas on other days they can behave worst than unbelievers?

Paul gives two answers, as we saw. We shall consider the first answer in our next issue.

… to be continued next issue

JJ Lim