The Inexcusable Judge:
Response

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 8c of 83


“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.” (Romans 2:1)

[This is the third and final instalment of our study of Romans 2:1. We considered in our first instalment who is he who judges? The answer, which we concluded from the text is, everyone of us including believers, for everyone of us is quick to judge. In our second instalment,  we noted how we are inexcusable because we are guilty of the same sin which we condemn. In this final instalment, we must consider how we should respond to this truth.]

3. What Shall We Do?

a.   We cannot cease to judge. Now, there are two forms of judging: indirect and direct.

Indirect judging has to do with our lives. It has to do a judging that is unintentional. By building the ark by faith, Noah condemned the world (Heb 11:7). By refusing, to participate in the course jesting of our colleagues, we condemn their sin. By refusing to train on the Lord’s Day, the athlete condemns his training partners. By giving thanks for our meals in the hawker centre we condemn the world that is beholding us. We cannot cease to judge indirectly.

Our lives will judge in this way. Our words will judge. If we do not judge, we will be salt that has lost its saltiness and light hidden under a bushel. The apostle Paul is certainly not telling us that we must not judge indirectly by our lives.

But there is another kind of judging, which is direct judging. Direct judging is finger pointing judgement where we condemn a sinner by our words. Some expositors say that Paul’s indictment demands that we do not judge directly. They say that when the Lord says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mt 7:1), it must be taken absolutely. We must never judge.

But that cannot be the case. It is impossible for us to cease judging if we are to be witnesses for Christ, and our brother’s keepers. The Westminster Assembly was far wiser in their interpret of the Lord’s words.  Matthew 7, according to the Assembly, forbids ‘rash judgement’ and the ‘aggravating smaller faults’ (WLC 145). The Lord is not condemning words of judgement altogether.

However, Paul’s warning demands that we be slow to judge. And if we have to judge, we must not judge haughtily. This is must be our first response as those who know we are inexcusable. We must condemn sin when we have to; but we must ever bear in mind that we are not without sin. We must judge humbly knowing that we are doubly inexcusable in every sin we judge. And we must judge as charitably as we can, if we have to judge.

I am reminded of a poem that someone sent me some time ago, entitled “I Knew a Man Holier Than God.” Let me read a part of it:

I knew a man holier than God;

(If it was not for poetry,

I could not say it so.)

When conscience struck, then

He would strike

Every conversation with him had rebuke.

He was godly; no doubt.

Godlier than God;

For Seasons, he timed for angels.

Now, certainly, man is of use

As an admonishing instrument:

But abuse, as in most, is ever close at hand.…

Brethren, if we ourselves are inexcusable, we must never ever give anyone the impression that we are holier than God (if that were possible).

And do not say that his impression must be wrong.… or that you have been wrongly judged. Humble yourself, rather before the Lord to see if you have been judging as one blinded to your own sins.

But more importantly and…

b.   Secondly, knowing that we are inexcusable, we must judge ourselves more strictly. How else could Paul judge himself the ‘chief of sinner’? Was he lying? No he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He felt his sin keenly.

We must acknowledge that we deserve God’s wrath and curse. We must not stand and judge as if we are freed of the world’s guilt. We must not say as the unbelieving Jews might say:

“What Paul say is right and true. The world deserve God’s wrath. Thank God that I am not like the world. I read my bible twice a day, I attend church twice a week, I give my tithes and my offerings besides.”

No, no; let us humbly confess that we have nothing to offer God but filthy rags. Let us confess that sin is in our heart. Let us repent when we hear an indictment of sin, rather than pointing our fingers elsewhere.

The world is quick to judge, and slow to admit faults; but we who are doubly inexcusable must be quick to admit our weaknesses, faults and sin, but slow to judge. Humility and self-abasement is one of the marks of a true disciple of Christ.

But that, of course, does not mean that Christians must hang our heads down whenever we go. We must confess that we are sinners deserving God’s wrath, but at the same time, we must live as a forgiven people. We must say, “Yes; I am guilty. I deserve condemnation.” But “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for [me]” (Rom 8:34).

c.   Thirdly, our text demands that we acknowledge that we are as much in need of grace as the heathens. We must not allow ourselves to be tempted into thinking, we have enough of the Gospel already!

We must remember that we are inexcusable!

It is very sad when we think that the unbelievers need the Gospel, but we do not. We need the Gospel! The preaching of the Word of God is the preaching of the Gospel. “The just shall live by faith.” “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17).

It is amazing that we will not skip our daily meals; but we have no qualms about skipping the hearing of God’s Word even on the Lord’s Day. Could it be that we are harbouring the idea that we know enough – already.

Remember that if Christ has saved you; He is saving you; and He will save you. In that sense, the work of salvation is not complete yet. This is why the apostle Paul says:

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13).

Working out your salvation involves making use of the means. And God works in us generally through the means He has appointed. If you would not make use of the means (for whatever reason), you cannot expect God to answer your prayer to prosper your soul.

Conclusion

Now, let us conclude with a word to the children. I hope our children are reading these studies too.

Children, what we are learning in this article is very important. If you have been catechise from young, you know what is sin. You know how to point out other people’s sin. It is good that you can do so. But do you recognise your own sin?

I hear your complaints often. Even my youngest daughter know how to complain about her brothers’ or sister’s sin. So-and-so did this; so-and-so did that. So-and-so said this, so-and-so said that. You know what is right and what is wrong. But the question is: Do you know you are a sinner too? Do you know that when you complain about someone else, and you do the same thing, that you are doubly guilty?

If you disobey your daddy’s instruction, an arrow of God’s wrath is aimed at your heart. But if you turn around and you complain about how your friend disobey his daddy’s instruction, then two arrows of God’s wrath will be aimed at your heart.

When you judge others, God will judge you too. You need the cleansing blood of Christ. You need forgiveness. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can give you forgiveness. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can remove the arrows aimed at you.

If you know the forgiveness of Christ, you will be quick to forgive; and slow to complain about others.

If you do not know the forgiveness of Christ, you will say: “I am sorry, but He started it first.” If you know the forgiveness of Christ, you will says: “I am sorry. I sinned. Lord forgive me for I have sinned against you.” Do you know the forgiveness of Christ? Amen.

JJ Lim