Our outline of the book of Romans:
Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18-5:11, Justification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 5:12-8:39, Sanctification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 9:1-11:36, God’s righteousness and Israel;
Rom 12:1-15:13, Practical application of God’s righteousness;
Rom 15:14-16:27, Conclusion.
Paul is teaching us about justification and the righteousness of God, by first contrasting it with the condemnation and unrighteousness of men. We learned yesterday that righteousness is of God and unrighteousness is of men. We saw that wrath, condemnation, and judgment is reserved for unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), and by inference since he is contrasting the two, that justification is reserved for righteousness. Paul began explaining what unrighteousness was that was going to receive wrath: idolatry as the foundation, and what proceeds from idolatry. That brings us to the end of Rom 1.
JUSTIFICATION and the RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD
Rom 1:18, The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness of men;
Rom 1:19-32, The unrighteousness of idolatry (denial of God as Creator, i.e., Greeks);
Rom 2:1-11, The unrighteousness of man judging man;
Rom 2:12-27, The unrighteousness of breaking the Law / righteousness of keeping the Law;
Rom 2:28-29, Circumcision identifies Israel and is of the heart.
But so that Jews will not make the mistake of agreeing with Paul’s scathing indictment of the Greeks (Gentiles) and go away feeling self- righteous and satisfied in it, he opens Rom 2 with the unrighteousness of man judging man. What comes from man? Unrighteousness. If a man judges another man’s heart as condemned because of unrighteousness, then what has he just done? Committed unrighteousness. Man is not the Just Judge. Man’s judgment is not just. Therefore the one who has judged, has just done the very thing that he condemned the other man for: he committed unrighteousness.
This is why Paul says,
“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.” Rom 2:1
(By judging, we are defining the word as Jesus defined it when He said, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” Mat 7:1. He was not talking about not judging whether an action was righteous or not; human judges must judge whether the law has been broken or not. He was talking about not condemning the heart of another as destined for wrath in that Day, because humans cannot judge that question with just judgment! We are incapable of reading our own heart much less another’s; that is something only God can do.)
You see, men are quick to pronounce judgment. Even godly men who have been raised in the word of God all their lives, as Jesus’ disciples were, fell into this trap. For they asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume an unbelieving town with the wrath of God (Luk 9:51-56). Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” In other words, CONDEMNATION IS NOT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Peter put it this way:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Pet 3:9
Of course, the Day of Judgment must come. Sin cannot continue forever, because sin hurts people and victimizes and traumatizes people. But because God does not want any to perish, to suffer wrath, He stretches out His longsuffering. Today is not the Day of Judgment, therefore no one is being condemned today!
Paul put it this way:
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? Rom 2:4
That it is not God’s nature to leap to judgment or to condemn, ought to encourage us to repent of our sins and come to Him! He is wooing us, not recriminating us!
Of course, the one judging could perhaps make a case if he was also not a transgressor of the Law. But Jews have also transgressed the Law, while Greeks have also kept the Law; we cannot divide people into “saved” and “unsaved” by the classes, races, and groups to which they belong. Those who have a circumcised heart toward Him, are His people, and that is the only criteria which counts.
For further reading:
romans 2, circumcision is of the heart (2011)