ROMANS - Chapter 2 - Righeousness of God
ROMANS – CHAPTER 2 -
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
June 13, 2023, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Paul wrote to Romans while he was in Corinth. The Corinthian Jews persecuted him and considered Paul an enemy of the Law. As we study Chapter 2, Paul hits the hypocrisy of the Jews head on. However, for the Church, this chapter is written to the hypocrisy of the religious spirits in the Churches down through the centuries.
Since the day the unbelieving Jews refused to accept the dispensation of Grace, we still have a large segment of the universal church who continue to live under the dispensation of the Law. Religion continues to patch that which Christ has declared useless. The apostate church has improvised flesh for the Holy Spirit.
We the Church of Jesus Christ are not to regress into Judaism to make us more spiritual. The Jewish race will join the Gentile race as the One New Man (Eph. 2:16). The middle wall of separation has been broken down… having abolished in His flesh…the law of commandments contained in ordinances…so as to create in Himself one new man from the two; thus making peace.
In Chapter 1:32, Paul condemns the whole human race. Paul spoke of the worst offense of all, that these people who knew they were exposed to God’s wrath deliberately encouraged others to follow their example. It is true of mankind of all generations born into the Adam race under the Law of Sin and Death. At birth we were all born into the natural family of Adam (human race). It was through one man, Adam, that sin entered the world. With his sin came death. Death then spread over the entire human race, for all sinned. When Adam sinned, we sinned. If Levi could pay tithes when that tribe was still in the loins of Abraham, then the unborn human race could sin while still in the loins of Adam (Heb. 7:9-10).
Having charged the Gentiles with forgetting God to live in wickedness, Paul now subtly turns to prove the Jews defenseless too, first in veiled language then in verse 17 openly. Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God. This is somewhat after the manner of Nathan’s parable to David, “Thou art the man” (2 Sa. 12:7).
2: 1-3: 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. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 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?
For one sinner to condemn another is like the “pot calling the kettle black.” It is the nature of sinners (saved and unsaved) to see the faults of others and overlook their own. The gossip will condemn adultery and vice-versa. In God’s sight, gossiping is as bad as adultery. When a person is truly righteous, he looks at his own faults and sees the good in others.
As Paul develops this letter to the Roman Jews and Christians, he will open to them the truth that the Law of Sin and Death has been swallowed up by the Law of the Spirit of Life. At the Cross and resurrection there was a confrontation of the two laws, and the Law of Life has prevailed where the Law of Sin and death once reigned (Ro. 5).
Under the Law, the Jews are as guilty as the Gentiles, for they do the same things as the Gentiles. God chose the Jews as a special nation. Theirs was the honor of acting out the redemption drama on the stage of the world. Theirs was the honor of receiving the Holy Words of God; and the revelation that the wages-of-sin is death (animal sacrifices). From their race, the Messiah would come to save those who would receive Him (God’s sacrificial Lamb).
2: 4-6: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 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.
Wealth of grace ignored, turns into a wealth of wrath. They treated God’s goodness as something they deserved. This made them proud and hypocritical. In His long-suffering, God didn’t punish them. Instead, He postponed their punishment, waiting for His goodness to melt their hearts. But they were not seeking God or His mercy, they were seeking superiority to other men. “According to his deeds” could be interpreted as according to each person’s works. It is my persuasion it is according to how we fulfill our Christian destiny.
Sin is not part of this judgment. The Christian’s sin is covered at Calvary. We received the “righteousness of God” by faith and are equipped to enter heaven. The sinner, because he refuses God’s righteousness in Christ Jesus, dies in his sin. This is what keeps him out of heaven. The theme of Romans is that God’s righteousness comes to people by faith-period. “It is a living, creative, active, mighty thing this faith! It is impossible for it to fail to produce good works steadily” (Luther).
2:7-11: (Christ will render) eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 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 to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
There is no better way to describe Hell than by calling it the “wrath” of God. Hatred will feed on itself. Jealousy will compound and good will never know any satisfaction. Selfishness is the grand theme of hell. Man’s emptiness of soul will be awful. In heaven we will be infinitely satisfied by an infinite God. The believer’s joy in the Lord in heaven will be unlimited. We will feed upon God’s glory, honor, and beauty eternally.
Paul affirms and confirms in His epistles, “there is no partiality with God.” Jew, Gentile, Man, Woman, Black or White, we are all equal in the sight of God. Among men and devils, there is partiality.
2: 12-16: 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; 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 Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
Before the Law of the Spirit of Life, both Jew and Gentile are measured by the same measuring stick of the Law.
The chain reaction of sin and death were greatly accelerated by the law, so that sin abounded in still greater dimensions of its dominion … God’s ultimate design being that when sin had abounded beyond all imaginable proportion, then He would reveal His grace that would abound far beyond all the realms of the dominion of sin and death.
Ro. 5:20: Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
Just as Creation speaks and reveals God, also every man whether Jew or Gentile has a conscience. On the day of judgment, God will bring secrets out into the open, both Jew and Gentile. The Gentiles though ignorant of the Law, will be judged by their conscience. But the Jews will also have to answer to their knowledge of the Law. They will be judged by the Law until Christ came, then they are judged by Jesus Christ.
The gospel no longer bows to the kingdom of the Law of Sin and Death. We bow to the LORDSHIP of Christ who forgives our sin and His Holy Spirit who guides us into eternal life. We have the Law of Life written in our hearts. Those who receive the gospel preached by Paul are no longer under the Law, nor are we judged by the Law of Sin and Death. Some Christians still choose to live under the Law of Sin and Death.
Paul makes it clear that every man is judged according to the light (knowledge of God he has and not by some higher standard which he does not possess. People are not judged by our conscience, but by theirs.
2: 17-24: Indeed, you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, (Isa. 52:5)” as it is written.
Paul is speaking directly to the Jew, yet also to every religion that places itself under the Law of Sin and Death having a form of knowledge and truth in the law yet living in sin or complicit with sin. He is speaking to every denomination or individual who is in bondage under the law separate from the Law of Spirit and Life in Christ Jesus. Sin and death took hold of the human family when Adam sinned, and from that point on there has been a chain reaction in the human family right down to this day. But in the last fifty-years, there has been such an acceleration of the Law of Sin and Death that man has discovered the secret of annihilating five billion of earth’s inhabitants in a matter of few moments of time. Mankind has given himself over to the god of this world in a vain attempt to be his own god.
Paul lists the great privileges of the Jews in verses 17-20; but these are also the great privileges of the Christian Church. The Jews preached a godly life, but didn’t live it. The church of the 21st century preaches a good message and make their boast in God, yet how many messages call Christians to repentance from the world system and live a life separated unto righteousness.
Paul purposely set forth the superior position of the Jews that he might indict them for their failure to live up to the greater responsibility it brought them. All Jews were raised in God’s Law from childhood. They heard it read every Sabbath and were thoroughly schooled in the whole content of the Scriptures. They even boasted of being able to “know God’s will.” A spiritual message is always measured against the “messenger.” People read the lives of those who claim to speak for God.
Paul delivers the rebuke toward which he has been building. It was obvious they cared more about money than pleasing their God. They scandalized God’s reputation with their passion for money. Chapter 2 is speaking clearly to the church of the 21st century. Paul could make this judgment because he was once a Pharisee and son of a Pharisee; ... circumcised on the eighth day; of the tribe of Benjamin; and Hebrew of the Hebrews.
After setting forth the superior position of the Jew, next Paul accused the Jews of breaking the very Law in which they gloried. Paul confronts them with the Jew’s symbol of spiritual security, Circumcision. Circumcision indicated separation unto God. It was the dividing line between Jew and Gentile. Because of their circumcision, the Jews expected to remain God’s favorite --- no matter how he lived. Paul tells them they have been uncircumcised.
2: 25-29: For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Paul is here bringing together the One New Man. Eph. 2:11-13: Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh --- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands --- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the Blood of Christ.
A true Jew is one who lives up to the meaning of his name by pleasing God. Jew comes from Judah which means praise. The true Jew ignores the praise of men, desiring only the praise of God. It is natural for people to desire the praise of others. It is supernatural to forfeit the praise of men; to the praise of God. A true worshiper is an inward sign that circumcision has taken place.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor Eastgate Ministries Church, 10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX www.eastgateministies.com
I entered into the labors of F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary; C. S. Lovett’s Lights on Romans; and Chain Reactions of Realms of the Spirit by George Warnock (1918-2018). Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their laborers.