The Inexcusable Judge:
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 8b 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 second instalment of our study of Romans 2:1. We considered in our first instalment who is he who judges? At first the answer appears to be “the Jews,” but upon closer reflection, it becomes clear that Paul is pointing to everyone of us including believers, for everyone of us is quick to judge. Thus everyone of us is inexcusable. In this second instalment, we answer the question why?…]

2. Why is the Judge

a.   The Gentiles are guilty though they do not have the written Law of God. They have the Works of God but not the Words of God. But the works of God is enough to make them inexcusable.

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).

No unbeliever can excuse himself for not knowing that God exists, and that He is powerful and holy. God has made it manifest to them. If you are an unbeliever, you know deep in your heart that God exists and that He is powerful and holy. The fact that you hate this truth and try very hard to suppress it does not make you any less guilty.

Deep in your heart you know that if you have to stand before God today that you will have no excuse. You will not be able to say: “But I did not know that you exists;” or “But I did not know that you are holy and powerful.” To say so would be like a dog telling his master: “I did not know you are my master, I thought we are sharing the house together, and we have equal rights!”

If you are still an unbeliever, your only hope is to flee to Christ! Will you not flee to Him, while He is still calling out to sinners. If you go to him, you will find Him gentle and gracious, you will find Him loving you as no one has ever loved you before. Go to Him. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” says the Lord (Jn 6:37). 

b.   But now Paul is particularly addressing Jews or Christians. If the Gentiles are guilty, how much more inexcusable are we. The Gentiles do not have the Word of God, but we have the Word of God!

How much more inexcusable are we? Not only so, but knowing the Word, we judge those who know not the Word. As we do so, we are blinded to by own sin and hardened in their hearts.

It is not necessarily wrong to judge. “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (Jn 7:24), says our Lord.

But if we judge someone for something, and we do the same thing, we condemn ourselves. We become doubly guilty. We become doubly ‘inexcusable’

Thus Paul adds later (v. 21):

21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Rom 2:21-24)

So John Calvin paraphrases our text in the words: “Thou art doubly deserving of condemnation; for thou art guilty of the same vices which thou blamest and reprovest in others.”

c.   Are we guilty? I know I am. When you complain about someone backbiting you, are you not backbiting him? When you grumble about another person’s pride are you not exhibiting your own pride?

We are quick to point fingers at others, and quick to excuse ourselves. We are quick to condemn others but slow to see we that we are guilty ourselves.

Remember the encounter between king David and the prophet Nathan. David had committed adultery with Beersheba and murdered her husband. A year later, God sent the prophet Nathan to him. Nathan told him a story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man own many flock and herds. The poor man own only one lamb which he looks after like his own children. But one day when the rich man had a guest coming. Instead of taking an animal from his flocks or herds to serve his guest, he took and killed the pet lamb of a poor man to serve him.

Because David did not know that Nathan was referring to him, his “anger,” we are told, “was greatly kindled against the man.”

He said to Nathan:

“As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (2 Sam 12:5-6)

David was saying: “God is my witness, I would never do something so wicked! That man deserve to die.” Then Nathan said: “Thou art the man!” (2 Sam 12:7).

Are we not like David? Would to God that we are more like him—in His subsequent repentance. But are we not all like him in his sin? All of us,—all men are alike,—tend to think of ourselves more highly than we really are.

We stand in judgement daily, pointing our fingers at the guilty. We do not realise, as the common saying goes, that “three of our fingers are pointing back at ourselves.”

The world is a courtroom with everyone pointing fingers at each other. Only those whose heart have been changed by the Spirit of Christ know something of the fact that they are guilty. But even then, the remnant of corruption ensures that they do not admit their guilt as much as they should. And worst, they join the world to point fingers against the accused.

I do not ask you “Is that true of you?” The Word of God says, “Thou art the man!”

JJ Lim

… to be continued next issue