God’s Impartial Judgment (Romans 2:1-11)

God’s Impartial Judgment (Romans 2:1-11)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31, 2021

In 2001, Tim Goeglein started running the White House Office of Public Liaison, providing him almost daily access to then President George Bush for seven years. Then it all ended abruptly on February 29, 2008. A well-known blogger revealed the startling fact that 27 out of 39 of Goeglein’s published articles had been plagiarized. By mid-afternoon the next day, Goeglein’s career in the White House was over. 

Goeglein, who admitted his guilt, said that this began “a personal crisis unequaled in my life, bringing great humiliation on my wife and children, my family, and my closest friends, including the President of the United States.” 

Goeglein was summoned to the White House to face the President. Once inside the Oval Office, Goeglein shut the door, turned to the President and said, “I owe you an…”

President Bush simply said: “Tim, you are forgiven.” 

Tim was speechless. He tried again: “But sir…” 

The President interrupted him again, with a firm “Stop.” Then President Bush added, “I have known grace and mercy in my life, and you are forgiven.” 

After a long talk, a healing process was launched for Goeglein, which included repentance, reflection, and spiritual growth. “Political power can lead to pride,” Goeglein later reflected. “That was my sin. One hundred percent pride. But offering and receiving forgiveness is a different kind of strength.
That’s the kind of strength I want to develop now.[1] 

Have you been forgiven? Are you trusting in Jesus and His work on the cross for your salvation?

I have some honest questions for you:

  1. When it comes to salvation, does God favor a certain cultural group?
  2. When it comes to salvation, is one more likely to be saved if they live a moral life?
  3. When it comes to salvation, is one more likely to be saved if they have not committed certain sexual sins?
  4. What do you believe and how do you live?

We are going to look at a Bible passage that teaches that everyone needs salvation. There is no partiality with God. I think most of you believe that, but I am concerned that many do not live that way. I think many think God favors the moral person. In other words, many may think that as long as you do not commit certain sins God favors you. I think many may think that God favors Americans, or another country. To be clear, Israel was, and remains, God’s chosen people. But this meant that the Savior came through Israel and God still has a purpose for that country. Everyone needs salvation through the cross.

We are walking through Romans and we come to Romans 2. Let’s read Romans 2:1-11 and my theme is the following:

God’s impartial judgment

My application is:

Repent and live for Jesus, then share the Gospel with others

Romans 2:1-11:

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. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 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? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Remember the context

This passage is the second chapter of Romans.

Romans is Paul’s great treatise on salvation.

In the book of Romans Paul is writing about how we are saved, and who needs to be saved, and the extent of salvation.

In verse 1, Paul addresses some who think they are okay.

Paul addresses people who think they are okay because they are Jewish or practice a moral law.

Paul had just given this litany of sins (Romans 1:18-32) and now he tells them that they are without excuse.

They practice the same things.

It seems as though in Romans 1, Paul is addressing the Gentiles and now he is addressing the Jewish people. There are different views on this. Some think he is now addressing the gentile moralist. That would mean one who teaches a moral law.

One source points out, The NIV misses the force by translating simply “You.” The exclamatory is used to express emotion (BDF , par. 146.1b). “You, sir!” would supply the vitality inherent in the phrase.

MacArthur shares: Having demonstrated the sinfulness of the immoral pagan (1:18–32), Paul presents his case against the religious moralist—Jew or Gentile—by cataloging six principles that govern God’s judgment: 1) knowledge (2:1); 2) truth (v v. 2–3); 3) guilt (v v. 4–5); 4) deeds (v v. 6–10); 5) impartiality (v v. 11–15); and 6) motive (v. 16).[4]

Now, in verses 1b-4 Paul says they do the same things as Paul had written about in Romans 1:18-32.

In the second half of verse 1 Paul says that they do the same things.

One writes: We are reminded of the encounter between David and the prophet Nathan (2 Sam 12:1–14). David agreed that the rich man who killed the poor man’s pet lamb deserved to die. But having passed judgment on another, he quickly learned from Nathan that he had judged himself. “You are the man!” declared the prophet. You have taken the lamb (Bathsheba) of the poor man (Uriah) for your own pleasure. In judging another, you have judged yourself. God’s judgment is based on truth. It is impartial and makes no distinction between rich and poor, king or pauper.[8]

Jesus talked about this in Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37

In verse 2 Paul says that God’s judgment rightly falls on those who practice such things. What things? I think this is going back to Romans 1:18-32.

In verse 3: it seems as though there were some who were very hard on others. These may have been Jewish people hard on the Gentiles.

Paul asks them if they think they will escape the judgment of God.

They think because they are moral, or because they are Jewish, they are okay.

But we all need salvation.

The Jewish people would usually be more moral, they would usually not commit much of the sins in Romans 1:18-32, but they still need a Savior.

In verse 4 we see God’s kindness leads to repentance.

Notice the three words in verse 4: “kindness,” “forbearance,” and “patience.” These are riches from God.

In verses 5-11 we see the contrast between the non-believer and the believer.

We see the contrast between the person trusting Jesus and not trusting Jesus.

Notice they have a “hard” and “impenitent” heart.

They are storing up wrath.

verse 5: they are unrepentant. They are storing up wrath for themselves.

Paul is as hard on them as he was on the gentiles and their litany of sins.

They are storing up wrath. There is also a reference to the day of judgment.

Paul says that they have a “stubborn” or “hard” heart. About that word MacArthur shares: The English word “sclerosis” (as in arteriosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries) comes from this Greek word. But here the danger is not physical, but spiritual hardness (Ezek. 36:26; Matt. 19:8; Mark 3:5; 6:52; 8:17; John 12:40; Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7).[10]

Paul says that their heart is hard and “impenitent” or “unrepentant.” Again, MacArthur shares: A refusal to repent (cf. Rom. 2:4) and accept God’s pardon of sin through Jesus Christ.[11]

They are storing up more wrath through their unrepentance. The day of judgment refers to the final judgment that comes at the great white throne at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11-15).

verse 6 is from Psalm 62:12; also Matthew 16:27.

Some think this is teaching salvation by works. That is not true, we are saved by faith, but we are saved unto good works (Eph. 2:10).

I like what Mounce writes:…But in the immediate context Paul was not teaching how we are made right with God but how God judges the reality of our faith. Faith is not an abstract quality that can be validated by some spiritual test unrelated to life. God judges faith by the difference it makes in how a person actually lives. A. M. Hunter is right in saying that “a man’s destiny on Judgment Day will depend not on whether he has known God’s will but on whether he has done it.”77 That is why Jesus taught that those who respond to the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner will be rewarded with eternal life; but those who fail in these down-to-earth tasks will “go away to eternal punishment” (Matt 25:31–46).[12]

Beginning in verse 6 we see a contrast between the redeemed and the unredeemed. The redeemed are in verses 7 and 10 and the unredeemed are in verses 8 and 9. We are not saved by works, but we are saved unto good works (Eph. 2:10). The deeds of the redeemed are evidence of salvation, not what saves them.

This is called an ABBA chiastic structure.

verse 7 is about the redeemed:

Paul gives quite a list of nouns that are received by persevering to the end. If the redeem persevere they receive:

Glory

Honor

Immortality

eternal life

There is an emphasis on perseverance of the saints not easy believism.

This is Paul’s first mention of “eternal life” in Romans. It is life that is qualitatively different from the life of this present age.[13]

Verses 8-9 are written about unbelievers. Verses 8-9 show what happens to the person who does not persevere, the non-believers.  

These are those who are selfishly ambitious or “self-seeking” about that Greek term, MacArthur shares: This word may have originally been used to describe a hireling or mercenary; someone who does what he does for money regardless of how his actions affect others.[14]

These are unbelievers, they do not obey the truth, but unrighteousness. They will experience God’s wrath and fury.

Verse 9 shares that they will face tribulation and distress. This goes to the Jew first, but also the Greek.

verse 10 brings back the contrast to the positive.

Now, we are back to the believers. This is about perseverance and doing good. The believers will experience glory and honor and peace, again, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. These are repeated from verse 7 except “peace” replaces “immortality” and “eternal life.”

We must persevere: Remember the Child’s Toy that’s a big vinyl doll with a heavy round weight of sand in the bottom? You punch it, it bounces right up again. Punch it again and it comes back to the upright position. Similarly those Christians in the early church kept bouncing back.[15]

We must be like them.

MacArthur: Just as the Jews were given the first opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel (1:16), they will be first to receive God’s judgment if they refuse (cf. Amos 3:2). Israel will receive severer punishment because she was given greater light and blessing (see Rom. 9:3–4).[16]

Glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good. Again, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

verse 11 There is no partiality with God: Deut 10:17 and Acts 10:34.

Applications:

We must be humble and understand that I need redeemed as much as anyone (verse 1).

We must understand that God does not show partiality (verse 11).

We must understand that God does not show partiality to the Jewish people over the gentiles (Acts 10:34; Galatians 3:28; Revelation 7:9-11)  .

We must understand that God does not show partiality to people with a Christian background.

We must understand that God does not show partiality to people who live moral lives.

We must understand that God does not show partiality to Americans.

We must be SO careful about judging while doing the same things (verse 1).

Judging condemns ourselves (verse 1).

We must not be spiritually arrogant.

We must remember that the judgment of God falls on us when we practice such things as from Romans 1:29-31.

We must understand that we will not escape the judgments. Again, God is not partial.

We must NOT think lightly on the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience (verse 4).

We must not trivialize that these are riches. Our salvation comes from God’s riches.

We must not trivialize the “riches” of God’s kindness.

We must not trivialize the “riches” of God’s forbearance or tolerance.

We must not trivialize the riches of God’s patience.

We must repent when we do trivialize these great riches from God. We must repent as we see that God’s kindness is to lead us to repentance.

We must remember that there will be a day of judgment (verses 5-10 and (Rev. 20:11-15) and we must repent now, while we have time.

We must seek Christ now, we must live for His Kingdom.

Prayer


[1] (Warren Cole Smith, “Wins & Losses,” World magazine, 10-23-10, p. 11. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Love and Longing, 5/13/2011)

[2] NIV  NIV New International Version

BDF  BDF F. Blass, A. Debrunner, R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament

SBLDS  SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series

1  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995)

[3] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[4] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[5] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[6] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

61 Luther noted that while “the unrighteous look for good in themselves and for evil in others … the righteous try to see their own faults and overlook those of others” (Romans, 36).

[7] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 88.

[8] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 89.

[9] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[10] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[11] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[12] Hunter, Romans, 36. Similarly, Stuhlmacher writes that “in the final judgment, one’s works, as a visible expression of the nature of a person, are evaluated. What is pleasing before God is rewarded; what is evil or was neglected, will be punished” (Romans, 46).

1  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 91

[13] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[14] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[15] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 437.

[16] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[17] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 481.

[18] C. H. Spurgeon, Feathers for Arrows (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 121.

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