This post was originally written on October 14, 2005, before I had ever heard about Torah. I have revised a few places, to be sure that I am explaining Scripture clearly.
Today, as last time, we’re continuing our look at why each one of us needs God so badly. Last time we were talking about how easy it is to see the sin and wickedness in our world but to totally miss it in ourselves. Today, Paul continues on this theme. (We’re looking at Romans 2:1-16.)
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1).
Who me? What do I do? Oh, I’m grumpy sometimes, or I don’t like to submit to my husband sometimes, or I’d rather goof around on the Internet than do the dishes… but come on! I’m not as bad as SOME people!
“But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things” (Romans 2:2).
What things? Hmm… it must be referring back to chapter 1:
“…being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…” (Rom. 1:29-31).
Oh, whew! I don’t do so many of THOSE evil things. I’m not a murderer, a hater of God. You know, I’m a pretty good person overall! 🙂
“…And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:3-4).
Why should I repent? As I said, I don’t do those things. I’m just so glad I’m not Martha Stewart. I wouldn’t be able to handle spending 5 months in jail with THOSE kinds of people. It would be about the most awful thing that could ever happen to a person. I mean, I’m glad that God is rich in goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering to murderers, but I certainly do not need to repent of any of those things personally.
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”” (Romans 2:5-6).
Well, I’m very glad that some of THOSE people will get what’s coming to them. Justice will finally be served. It’s about time….
“…eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality…” (Romans 2:7).
Wait just a minute! What kind of theology is THAT? We will get eternal life if we patiently continue in doing good and if we seek for glory, honor, and immortality? That doesn’t sound like how I heard it. I think Paul is starting to preach a bit of “works salvation,” don’t you?
“…but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek…” (Romans 2:8-9).
Well, that’s better. I can certainly agree doctrinally with God’s judgment on evil doers.
“… but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified…” (Romans 2:10-13).
By now you can probably tell that I’m being a little silly. However, I have caught myself thinking along these lines for real many times. I look at others and see their “wickedness” and totally miss my own evil ways. As for salvation, well… there IS truth to what some religions teach. God would reward us with eternal life if we patiently, unendingly continued in doing good.
Martin Luther first read these words in a monastery. He of all people tried so hard to continue in doing good. Imagine the horror he must have felt when he read these words and realized that even HE wasn’t perfect enough to merit eternal life, which left only one option: the option of God’s indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. If he had been sleepy while reading, I’ll bet he wasn’t anymore! Paul had caught his attention, and Martin Luther went on to learn how we are justified by faith. But I digress…
I was five years old when my heart chilled over for the first time with the realization that just because I was a cute little pastor’s daughter did NOT mean that God would accept me into His heaven. It didn’t help that my older brother liked to sing after the lights were turned out each night. His favorite song was
Hallelujah, Christ returneth,
Christ returneth, Amen!
Christ returneth, Amen!
That just made my blood run cold! I’d see the shadows on the wall or hear sirens, and I’d hide under my covers. But then the dreams would start. Always, in my dream, Christ would return for my family—my brother, my mom, my dad—but He would leave me behind. “No,” He would say, “You are not one of mine.” Then they would all leave without me, and I would run through the house looking for them.
I wasn’t good enough. My dad’s and mom’s righteousness and belief did not automatically fall on me. And I was hopeless.
“…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Yeshua the Messiah, according to my gospel” (verse 14-16).
There was a little girl who lived in a foreign land. Her father had a god-shelf in their home, and each evening they would pray to their family gods. The last god on the shelf was to an unknown god, the maker of heaven and earth. She would ask her father to tell her about this god, but he could not. “He is simply unknown, my dear. He cannot even be known.”
But the little girl could not stop thinking about this unknown god. When she would lie or steal or speak disrespectfully to her parents, her conscience would bother her. She would wonder if the unknown god had seen her. She was afraid what he might do. How would she know? How could she please this god? What if she never could?
So one night, under the stars, she prayed to the Maker of the heavens. She asked him to reveal himself if he was real. She asked him to show her how she could please him.
The next week, missionaries came to her village. I’m sure you can guess the rest of the story. 🙂
And like that little girl, our consciences all touch us on the shoulder and remind us that we also have sinned. We don’t quite measure up. We haven’t yet earned eternal life. Whether monk in a monastery or heathen in a distant land, we all stand condemned before a Righteous Judge.
Do you ever wonder why religious followers of other gods are so devoted? It is because they are desperate. They have no hope. They try to follow after God, patiently continuing in doing good. But then they look in the mirror each night, seeing who they really are. They see a wicked heart. And their blood runs cold.
Where do you stand?
(to be continued)
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.