Jew or Gentile, Godly or Ungodly
1 Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. NASB
Last week we looked at what happens to individuals and societies who ignore God and refuse to honor Him as God. In this first part of the 2nd chapter of Romans Paul continues to look at the difference between those who are bound for eternal wrath and those who have eternal life to look forward to. Paul says it is not enough to call yourself a Jew and to be able to trace your lineage back to Abraham as his people believed.
I believe if Paul were here today he would give a similar message to the church. It is not enough to call yourself a Christian. It is not enough to come and sit in church 3 times a week and then go and live like the rest of the world. So what does Paul say separates the truly godly people from those who are ungodly?
The world will be judged, or should I say, individuals will be judged on what they choose to do about God. The Creator will be honored and glorified. We either choose to submit to His Lordship and Authority and believe that He loves us, or we go our own way and refuse to accept the truth that He has made clear to us.
Paul was making clear to the world that he believed it was not enough to claim to be a Jew. It was not enough to have the Law of God or to be able to trace your family back to some godly character. You must have a personal encounter with God and bow in humility before Him. We must accept His Love and His Lordship.
In these sixteen verses Paul contrasts who the true people of God are with those who are not the true people of God.
He speaks of stubbornness and an unrepentant heart. This is the lifestyle of the ungodly. This is the condition of heart and soul of those who have refused to acknowledge God as God. This is a person who refuses to change. They may have heard the Law, or the gospel all their lives, but have refused to submit themselves to the authority of God. Perhaps they have seen God in the beauty and orderliness of creation, but still refuse to bow before Him. This person lives for themselves, not for the glory of God.
The godly, on the other hand are willing to change and to accept that the Creator of the Universe has the right to expect them to live a certain way. They may not be living a perfect life, but they are willing to admit that and to change or repent.
Repentance is not a one time thing, it is a way of life. It is remembering to bow before God and submit our ideas and plans to Him for approval before we charge ahead and do what we want to do. A repentant heart is a heart that does not assume it knows better than God how he should behave in a certain situation. This will be a person of humility who seeks God in every decision.
Paul says the ungodly are selfishly ambitious. They use phrases like, “the heart wants what the heart wants” thinking this is an excuse to go after another's husband or wife. This unrepentant heart is a heart that says, “I cannot control my anger, I was born this way.”
This is a description of the flesh. You know, self on the throne of your life. The selfishly ambitious thinks more about what they want than about what will glorify God and what will be best for others. It is ignoring the great commandments to love God and love others.
The saved must deal with the flesh. We are not immune from the call of the flesh to please itself at the expense of God and everyone else. We, however, are learning to recognize the difference and are willing to repent and change. The unsaved, those who have not accepted the truth that God gave His Son that we might have eternal life, do not acknowledge that God will lead them if they will submit to His authority and follow Him as Lord.
The saved are seeking to obey the truth and the unsaved are refusing to acknowledge God as God.
The Jews of Paul's day felt that they were the chosen simply because their ancestors knew God. Their ancestors were given the Law and having the law, they felt entitled them to special favor with God. They believed in a sort of magic bullet that saved them. Paul was telling them that having the Law was not enough. They needed to do more than listen to the truth, they had to put it into practice.
Those who are saved by grace through faith, have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them and teach them. They have accepted that God is who He told them He is. They have accepted that God loves them and saves them not by the good works they do, but so that they can live with Him as Lord.
Paul says that there are those who have turned away from sin without the law and they persevere in doing good. These are those who put their faith in God to believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Paul and his former peers persecuted the church because they believed they were doing God a favor, but when Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he discovered that God was calling all men to repent and to seek God. He was called to take the good news that God had sent the Messiah. His name is Jesus who was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is our sacrifice for sin. He offered Himself as the payment for our sin. By His death He declared that God would bear the cost for all sin. He called people to follow Him, that is to accept Him as God, as the Lord of lords and King of kings.
This Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises of God to save His people.
Paul's description of God's people, the godly, was the description of those who are walking with God. They bow before Him and seek to follow Him where ever He leads. They are not stubborn, but are willing to change. The people of God are people who are not selfishly ambitious, but seek for the glory and honor of God above all else.
The people of God are not just hearers of the Word, but they seek to live by the Word every day of their lives. They persevere in doing good. That means they keep at it. When they fall short, they turn to God and admit the failure and seek His help to get up and go again, they persevere in doing good.
They are not defined by their ancestry. They are defined by the new birth, they are born of the Spirit. God is living and working in their hearts and lives to help them to be the people of God who bring honor and glory to Him who created all things.
We spoke last week of how God had given those who refused to accept God as God over to the lusts of their hearts. He had given them over to degrading passions. The true people of God, have come to believe that, although they deserve to be cast into hell along with every one else, that God loves them anyway, and wants to be part of their lives. He will speak to them by His Word and His Spirit. He will teach them and help them to become the created beings they are intended to be by God Almighty. He will guide them into all truth and He is that Truth.
The people of God are not better than anyone else. They have accepted that they are worthless without God and they know they need God. They know their value comes from being attached to the vine that is their heavenly Father. With Paul they say, there is no good thing in me. It is God who makes me what I am, it is God who gives me any value that I have.
If we, like the Jews of Paul's day, think that because we are called Church of God makes us any better than anyone else we are mistaken. We must submit to the authority of God and call all men to accept the truth that we need to be people who are willing to change. We must be people who will put away our stubborn selfishness and live for the glory of God, and not for our own glory and honor.
We must put off the flesh and live in communion with the Lord of Life. We must learn to walk in the Spirit and not trust in our selves, or in our heritage for deliverance from the wrath of God. We must persevere in doing good. We must love God and love others as our Lord has called us to love them.
Where is God leading you today? Do you understand the difference between being godly and ungodly? Godly does not mean being like God as much as it means to be living with God in your life. It means you are listening to Him and obeying what He tells you. The relationship is the thing.
Selfishly following the rules to earn a place in heaven is not good enough. You must be following the Master as He teaches you to understand the rules. The Law was not enough for the Jews. Obeying the law is not enough for us today, we must be putting off the old man and putting on the new man. This new man, born of the Spirit, is humble and willing to change as God leads him. He is seeking, not for his own selfish ambition, but is seeking for the glory of God and for the good of other people.
He is following God, not following someone else, or something else. This is the difference between being godly and ungodly.
God will develop the fruit of the Spirit in you as you follow Him. Patience will become second nature to you. Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control will be the attributes of your character as you learn to follow Jesus. Against such things there is no law. Walking in the Spirit, walking with God, being godly.
Lay down the burden of trying to earn God's love. He loves you. Accept it. Believe it. Trust Him. Lay down the burden of trying to be, in your own strength, what God wants you to be. He will develop in you those things He wants you to be. He will help you to live with Him as the Lord of your life. He is Lord, you just have to surrender to Him as Lord and He will lead you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday. NASB
This is the relationship the godly have with the Heavenly Father. Trust Him to love you. Trust Him to lead you. Number 1: God loves me. Number 2: He is my Lord.