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Paul’s argument continues as he moves on to talk about God’s judgement being just and good and will be the final judgement. He challenges his readers not to be caught in the position of judge, because it is not our place to judge. When we do we place judgement on others we state a fact: we too can be judged! We need to give God his place and allow him to be the judge of our lives and the world. Those who know and love Christ have nothing to fear, but those who don’t follow Christ have everything to fear. But yet, grace remains. God’s kindness should point us to him and his love and as Paul concludes this section he tells us a wonderful truth in verse 11: For God shows no partiality.


David McCullagh:

I wonder, can you remember back to 2008 and, and the more I say these dates, I have to remember there weren't even people born here tonight in 2008. But I wonder, can you remember back? It was a moment in our national history when judges were facing the wrath of the public. A huge proportion of media interest was devoted to the topic, and we were told that judges were out of touch with the views of ordinary people, that they had no idea about real life. That was the cry that went out from the public. It was said that they'd lost touch with the views of ordinary folk. Now this may not instantly bring the event to mind, but perhaps you will remember the context. A 64 year old political journalist named John Sargent bore the wrath of the Strictly Come Dancing judges. You're outstanding at dancing really badly, declared one. And yet, the public, they just couldn't agree, as week after week, they defied the judges and allowed Sargent to remain in the competition. And the debate raged across the nation. And the judges rushed to seek to defend their position. And as we know, everyone's favourite judge, Craig Revel Horwood, declared, I think John should go. I still maintain this is a dance competition. You need people that can dance. Sergeant, well, he took issue with this and he relied on his strong personal following rather than his deaf footwork as the basis for his survival. The judges and their judgement were very much under scrutiny. Of course Sargent eventually pulled out in the November of that 2008 season of Strictly Come Dancing. And the reason why I tell you that is because tonight the theme of judgement will be very much at the centre of our thoughts. It's not the judgement of man that we can so quickly challenge and talk about. But it's about the forthcoming judgment of Almighty God that we learn of in the Bible. And the sad thing is, as much as the general public thought they could challenge the expert dancing judges on Strictly Come Dancing, they think they can do the same with Almighty God. The creator of the universe, the one who designed creation, the one who gives breath to our very being. Humanity thinks it can question and challenge the judgments. I've told you before, um, and this is only week three, so I've told you at least twice already, that we have to understand Romans in its entirety. Paul is not giving us little snip bits here and there. Paul has one whole argument throughout this book, particularly from chapters 1 right through to the end of chapter 11. It is one line of thought. And that one line of thought is about the gospel of Jesus Christ. So I want to bridge between the passage that we read earlier from Romans and what we've been looking at on these Sunday evenings just briefly. Two weeks ago we began in this letter that Paul wrote to the Christians that met in first century Rome. They were predominantly a Gentile group, but with a number of Jews amongst them. And we've seen already how Paul's letter was an attempt to set out for the Christians living there the plan that God had put in place to allow all of humankind, whether Jew or Gentile, to have a personal relationship with Him. And you need to remember what the Bible calls that. Because the Bible calls this plan that God has given us as the Gospel, or the Good News. Because that's exactly what it is. The gospel is good news. In fact, it is the greatest news we can ever hear. Paul's excited in his letter to the church at Rome about this very good news. And we saw that in chapter 1, because Paul said that he wasn't ashamed of the good news, but rather he said it was God's way of offering salvation from a life lived in separation from him, and instead to a life in a personal relationship. It's outstanding, and you know what? It's audacious. What a claim, that we can approach the throne of God and know Him as our Saviour and our Heavenly Father. The fact that each individual living here on planet Earth, each one of us can have a personal relationship with the God who made and controls not only the world, but the entire universe. That's quite something, and yet it is absolutely true. And so for Paul, this really is good news, and we're going to hear lots about the good news as we study the entirety of this letter together. However, Paul sets out to show us the good news by first helping us to understand the bad news. And maybe that's what you've picked up towards the tail end of chapter one, and as we were reading the start of chapter two. And he doesn't do that to tell us about the bad news just to keep a sense of balance to his letter. It's not as if he's trying to have an argument that... As in a debate that people can come back and challenge him and say you were biased one way or the other. No, he tells us the bad news for a purpose because it helps us to understand the good news. It puts the good news in its context. He's basically answering the question, why do we need a saviour? And the simple answer is, we are sinners. And being a sinner means something. It means that we are against God. And so Paul wants to make it clear that if you're not for God, well you're against Him. There's no middle ground, there's no grey area, it is that black and white. You're either with God, or you're against Him. And so Paul tells us the problem that we're in. And then he tells us later in his letter how we can escape from it. The bad news is that the entire human race is viewed by Almighty God as having fallen short of the standards that He requires for us to live in a relationship with Him. And His sense of justice and perfection requires that He must deliver judgment. And And at this moment we see how the nation were in uproar at the Strictly Come Dancing judges in 2008 because we think that we know better than the experts. We think we know better than God. That's a very foolish position to be in. And that's the message of Romans chapter 2 in a nutshell. One day, the day of judgment, Almighty God will judge us and deliver His verdict on whether we've lived in the way He intended. And as we've seen from the passage, Paul's argument is dense and it's complex. But that's it in a nutshell. One day, on the Day of Judgment, the Almighty will deliver His judgment on each and every one of us. So let's look at these two, or these 11 verses in two parts. The first part is in verses 1 to 5, and the warning of judgment. If you recall back to what we were looking at last week, there was a long list of things that Paul told us were sinful, that the sinful world loves, and he expected his readers to agree with him. Indeed, these things were sinful, and we should stay away from them. And I hope that as we read them, we would be nodding our heads as well in agreement. So Paul expected his readers to agree with his indictment of common pagan practices that were listed there in Romans 1 verses 18 to 32. And his readers might agree that people deserve God's wrath for their depravity, and rightly so. And pagan philosophers such as Seneca and Epictetus shared Paul's hatred of corruption, and his fellow Jews agreed that idolaters, liars, and murderers merit just judgment. So it seems anyone who was a thinking person at the time of Paul all agreed that these things were not good for a common society. And perhaps they even thanked God for their goodness as the Pharisee did in Luke 18 verse 11. I thank you my God that I am not like one of these. Perhaps they became so self righteous in what they saw because they saw in themselves not the sin that they wanted. Yet Paul warns those who agree with him too quickly, for in passing judgment on others they actually in turn condemn themselves. Because this is what verse 1 tells us. We seem to have lost some things just at the moment. But verse 1 there, if you have your Bible open, tells us, Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, Practice the very same things. When we pass judgment, we accept the principle that judgment is just and necessary. Those who condemn others think they are on God's side, but are we? Are we really? Because verse 2 tells us, and hopefully there's something coming back up just now. Verse 2 says, We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. So when we judge others, we're stating something that we believe that there is a right to be judged. The problem is, we don't have the right to do that. The judgment of humanity is only for God and Him alone, because it is His standard by which we are judged, not ours. If we believe that God is judge and use His law to make judgments, we admit then that we are liable to that very judgment as well. So, when we judge others for their sins, we end up condemning ourselves. When we sin, and we do the same thing. Cause Paul continues in verse 3, Do you suppose, O man, you who judge those who practice such things, and yet do them yourself? that you will escape the judgment of God? Paul's saying, wake up. Do you think you can play God? Because you can't. Because if you're going to judge people on the merits that you believe are from God, then you will be judged by those very same merits. If we practice or habitually commit the same sins that we condemn in others, we will not evade God's judgment. We hate gossip, but we tell tales. We become angry when others break their promises, but then we make promises that we can't deliver. Or we condemn great evils, but we practice lighter versions of them. So we condemn cursing, but then use harsh language. We condemn murder, but we shout at others and say we hate them. And we condemn theft, but we succumb to envy. Isn't it easier to detect the faults of others than to see our own? We all do it. It's easier to point the finger at someone else who isn't doing what you think they should be doing by asking, well, am I doing what I should be doing? And what it means to live for Christ. And when people read Paul's comments on sin, they tend to agree, they may even feel pride that they share his morals, but there is no merit in condemning others. What counts is keeping the law, not using it as a weapon. Because Paul declares later in verse 13, that we'll look at in a couple of weeks time, For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Now, that's not to say that we live on a works righteousness, that it is our works by keeping the law that earned our salvation. But as we'll see in a few minutes, it's the demonstration of our faith that means we want to keep God's standard. That yes, we will not want to sin and that we will trust him as the judge of our neighbor and indeed of ourselves. And as we move into verses 4 and 5, we see Paul challenging our presumptions. Paul says that we can easily presume on God's kindness and goodness, thus ignoring his wrath on unrighteous people. And an unknown critic once quipped, God has for, God has to forgive. That's his job. Are we in the risk of saying the same thing? Because often this can be the thought that we have that no matter what we do and how often we do it, God simply has to forgive us and we use language that his love is greater than his wrath. But we can't do that. We can't play God's kindness. God's kindness is there to tell us how much we need him because God's kindness is counter to what his wrath is. And so Paul goes on to warn us that thinking like this will only come back, quite literally, to bite us. Check yourself. Check your attitude towards sin and God and see what you're telling yourself. If you have little regard for sin, and don't take it seriously, and that it doesn't really matter, you think God will automatically forgive me, well then you are in serious trouble. Yes, God does forgive, and will forgive when we seek Him, but He expects a change. Not a return to that same sin. And we have this confidence that when we seek his forgiveness, we can keep close to him. And we can stay away from sinning, because as Paul tells the church in Corinth, in 1 Corinthians 10 verse 13, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. In other words, we all face sin and temptation. But this is what Paul says, God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it. The goodness of God here is the invitation to seek Him and in His faithfulness, and He will keep us from sinning. But when we do sin, He will also provide. the way of escape. If you struggle with a particular sin, go to God and trust Him for your escape from it. The truth is, as 1 John chapter 1 and verse 8 confirms, we all sin and we all need God's forgiveness. He offers it freely tonight to each and every one of it, one of us, but we can't simply depend on this unspoken agreement. We must go to Him to receive it, to confess our sin. And know in fullness the covenant of salvation that he gives us through his son, Jesus Christ. That once we are his, we are his for all eternity. That doesn't mean we fall back and sin and sin and sin again. Sin should be abhorrent to us. We should hate sin. And we should love God. And as we love Him more, then we will fall away from those things that so easily entangle and ensnare us. The second part of this passage is in verses 6 to 11. And it's God's judgment will be just and impartial. Whenever you're a television judge, well, I'm assuming whenever you're a television judge, I've never been one. I never want to be one. But you're there because you are an expert in what you're called to judge. And so let's go back to Strictly Come Dancing. These are all people who have choreographed or danced themselves and that is their professional job. So they know what to be looking out for. They know how to make a judgment whether someone is good or not so good. But they can become impartial. Because they are human, or sorry, they can become partial. They can like a character or not. They can resent someone, or they can really love them. They can have their favorites, and they can have the ones that they don't like. And so that's how we begin to think when we see that carried out in front of us on our television screens. We begin to see that. That's God. We begin to think that, that God has favourites. When we do appear before God, and that day will happen, He will judge with perfect equity. Verse 11 tells us that God shows no partiality. In other words, God isn't swayed by our appearance, and He's not swayed by external matters. Neither beauty, nor wealth, nor achievement, nor family ties impress God. And we need to know that because at times we rely on these things for our salvation before God. Aren't we good? None of us are good. Not one. So don't rely on these things, rather rely on God and who He is, because His judgment will be just and it will be impartial. And verse 6 tells us that He will render to each one according to His works. We can often ask why God will repay each person according to what they've done. We see this in the stories that Jesus told as well as here Paul now, saying that God will render to each one according to His works. Does he really judge according to works? And if so, have grace and the gospel then disappeared? Well, the answer is no. Paul will soon point out that believers are justified by faith, not works. Yet the Bible consistently says that God will judge our works, our deeds, our words, and our thoughts. Judgment according to deeds is not salvation by works. Judgment according to works is correct because our words and deeds, our works, follow our heart commitments. Judgment by works is not threatening if we love God. If we seek God's glory and honor, it will show in our deeds. He notices every loving act that is born of faith. If a man or woman feeds the hungry, shelters travelers, and befriends the lonely. Well, he remembers it. But judgment does loom, and it looms for those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, as verse 8 says. The term self seeking refers to those who labour, even at good things, but they do it for selfish gain, they do it for acknowledgement. rather than from a genuine, pure heart. Aristotle used the term to describe men who sought political office for selfish gain. Those who live for themselves and reject the truth experience, those who do it and reject the truth experience trouble now and wrath later. But, Paul says that if we persist in righteousness, God will give eternal. Again, this is not salvation by works. Rather, each human travels a path that leads to heaven or to hell. And that path bends and wobbles, but it is paved with a through line of words, deeds, and affections. Jesus offered himself for the redeemed, but his work is no mere transaction. It's not sign at the bottom of the creed and gain eternal life. Rather, it is a call to a life of costly devotion. After Peter professed to Jesus, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus blessed him for this confession, but minutes later told his disciples that anyone who follows him must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. And that's recorded for us in Matthew 16, verse 16 and verse 24. The redeemed are not perfect. No follower of Jesus, believer, Christian is perfect. And so we always need Christ's sacrifices and his mercy. But they also persist. And we also persist in loving God and in doing good. And as we finish this passage tonight, verses 9 and 10 direct Jew and Gentile, in other words believer and unbeliever, to assess what they seek. If anyone seeks glory as God defines it, well then God grants it. Otherwise, as verses 9 to 10 tells us, there will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil. The Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good. The Jew first and also the Greek. Do you see what's going on here? If you're not for Christ, you're against him. And do you see what happens? There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil. And you could say, I don't do evil. I only do good. If you're not loving Jesus, Then everything you do is evil, for it does not count in the judgment of a life that is born to Christ. Rather, it says that it is a life that has depended on itself. As good as your works may be. But what happens when we do come to Christ, well, then, there will be glory and honor and peace for everyone who does. I've often said, why do bad things happen to good people? And then it's often flipped, why do good things happen to bad people? And I would argue that those who are successful in life outside of Christ do not know the peace. That we know. Because no amount of money can buy peace. No amount of property portfolio or qualifications can buy or give peace. They will only bring more trouble for themselves. But what is offered in Christ is peace that is everlasting along with glory and honor and that comes from God because it is His. Well, let's finish for this evening because these first 11 verses of Romans 2 have taught us that God is indeed a righteous judge. He won't judge based on a whim or on what mood he is in. God's judgment is true and fair. And if we are in Christ, then we don't need to fear it. He will punish sin because that is what sin deserves. And we simply can't depend on a cartoon image of God who sits on a cloud and looks like a kindly old Grandfather who'll simply say, well take care as you go. That's not how this works Sin is abhorrent to God and he has provided a way for our sin to be dealt with and that is Jesus Christ Knowing Jesus Christ. This is the joy of the gospel and it is our only salvation So what will you do? Will you question the judgments of Almighty God and say you're not fair and I know better? Will you depend on your own self righteousness? Judging others and being satisfied that you're not like them? Because if you do, then you are as lost as they are. Or will you recognize that God will judge us and so you will receive salvation in Jesus? Know that it is the fullness And that you will live for Him so that the world will see through our works and our words that we are His and we are His alone. The invitation for us all this evening is to come to Jesus because through Him God shows no partiality and you will be accepted. You will be received and you will be made righteous. As Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 5 verse 21, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. It was all done for you. So will you throw yourself fully on Christ and know the goodness and blessing of the gospel in your life? I trust and I hope that you will, no matter what age you are, what your background. Trust in the God who loves you fully. Let us pray. Our Father, for your word tonight, we thank you. We thank you for the deep love that you have for us so that we can be redeemed and bought back from the penalty of sin. And Father, you are the judge, and, and that judgment day will come. And if we are in Christ, then we have nothing to fear. But if we're not in Christ, then we have everything to fear. So, Father, may we be attentive to the call to come to find rest for our weary souls. And to know salvation in Christ and in Him alone. So may we respond appropriately and well to this, your word this evening. In Jesus name. Amen.

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