"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things" (Romans 2:1)
Recently, my cousin commented that she had a hard time believing I struggle with the same sins she does because I have been a Christian for a long time. In her mind, my relationship with God somehow makes me more holy and less likely to sin. Sometimes, the longer we are believers, the easier it is to adopt this attitude and start judging others by comparing them to ourselves.
When we judge others, we prove that we have awareness of right from wrong and this knowledge makes us liable for our actions.
At the end of Romans 1, Paul is building a case to prove the Gentiles (those outside of God’s Covenant people) were guilty before God because of their refusal to acknowledge Him. In this chapter, he turns the table and focuses on the Jews. The Jews were God’s special people, and because of this relationship, they thought had the right to judge and condemn others. Paul is showing them that they are just as guilty, if not guiltier, than the Gentiles. Paul’s assertion is that the Jews had no right to pass judgment on others because they were just as guilty of exactly the same things.
"Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32)
Have you ever been guilty by association? I remember in high school our teacher gave us a work day but warned that talking during class would get us kicked out for the next two periods. So for the next two days, while I was sitting in the library, I remembered evaluating my choice of who I sat with, and I thought to myself, perhaps I haven’t chosen very wisely.
Humanity blatantly does things that go against God.
Although I wasn’t the instigator, I participated and by that gave my approval to it. When the teacher followed through with the punishment, I was both guilty of disobedience and guilty by association. One could debate that giving approval to sin is just as contemptible as participating in it.
"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (Romans 1:28-31)
It’s interesting that out of the laundry list of transgressions, most of these wouldn’t make our top 10 list of what we consider to be a grievous sin. Some of these, such as arrogance or being boastful, seem very minor compared to murder. Worst of all, we probably remember the last time we participated in a few of these things such as gossip.
Unthankfulness is the root issue
But Paul starts to wrap up his accusation against the whole of humanity by saying that “they have become filled with every kind of wickedness,” the Amplified Bible says we are permeated and saturated with every kind of unrighteousness. The fruit of this lifestyle is listed: envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice…and the list goes on and on.
When you boil it down, all of this unrighteousness comes back to Paul’s main accusation that we did not recognize God as God, we didn’t glorify Him and we were not thankful of Him (Rom. 1:21). This is the root issue throughout this charge in Romans 1, as it’s an issue of the heart.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Romans 1:26-27)
Do you ever wonder why sin is so prevalent in today's society? Every year, sin becomes more acceptable and blatant than before. None of this is new as the same sins still exist; however, our society has normalized and incorporated it into everyday life. Paul says this has been the case from the beginning. Humanity exchanged the truth of God for a lie, so God gave us over to the desires of our hearts (Rom 1:24-25).
We let sin turn our world upside down and continuing in this way brings us to the point of not being able to recognize truth from a lie.
From the beginning, God created male and female and instituted marriage before the fall of mankind. Eve was joined to Adam in the garden (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:22-24). God gave us the incredible gift of marriage to bless us and provide the platform with which to procreate.
"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:24-25)
By nature God created us to be in fellowship from the beginning, as Adam and Eve enjoyed a close connection with God in the Garden of Eden. God places such importance on us knowing Him. He innately set this knowledge in our hearts.
Our society is saturated with idolatry, as we serve money, jobs, and material possessions, not realizing that these things were created for our pleasure not our bondage.
God chose us and desires for us to choose Him, but He does not force it. If we do not recognize Him as God, He will allow us to choose our own direction in life. The power of choice is necessary for a solid relationship.
Previously in this chapter, Paul stresses that we have intuitive knowledge of God (Rom. 1:19). He made this knowledge known to direct us to Him, but it also prevents us from sinning because the knowledge of God will counter these desires when recognizing His will above our own.
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1:21-23)
Since God has revealed Himself to us from the beginning, it forces us to make a choice. We can either glorify Him as God or we can choose to walk away. Paul describes this dilemma from the very beginning of time. Our track record is that we chose not to acknowledge God so our thinking became frivolous and impractical. The result was a foolish, dark, and hard heart concerning God.
Modern-day idols are just as prevalent but more disguised. Work, money, family, and material possessions have the potential to be idols.
This condition of a hardened heart is a process. If we claim to be wise without recognizing God as the sovereign creator of all things, we are fools. This leads to looking to other things to satisfy our deep needs. It’s a sad day when we exchange the glory of God for made-made idols.
It is easy to look at this and think that we would never make and worship idols such as primitive civilizations did. But as our society progresses, so do our idols. According to Timothy Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, an idol “is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” 1 Modern-day idols are just as prevalent but more disguised. Work, money, family, and material possessions have the potential to be idols. Everything and anything we exalt above God is the modern day idol.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20)
Creation itself testifies about its Creator. King David said in the Psalms, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Ps. 19:1). It is impossible to live on this planet without recognizing God, as nature is proof to His existence.
By observing how specific and exact the interworkings of creation are, one can only come to the conclusion that there is a God. This is by design.
This Psalm goes on to say, “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard" (Ps. 19:1-3). Creation’s voice goes out and translates into every known and spoken language. What it is revealing is the glory and majesty of God. By observing how specific and exact the interworkings of creation are, one can only come to the conclusion that there is a God. This is by design.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them" (Romans 1:18-19)
This is the first sharp corner in the book of Romans. Earlier, Paul laid out his thesis statement that the gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) and in the gospel a righteousness by faith is revealed (Rom. 1:17). Now, Paul is tasked with explaining this in detail.
Deep down, we all know what is right and wrong. We all know what sin is.
The first step is to prove mankind’s guilt before God and show the need for a savior. He will address several things but starts out insisting that every person has an instinctive knowledge of God’s wrath against their sin. Deep down, we all know what is right and wrong. We all know what sin is. Our own conscience bears witness to this idea, making us feel guilty about choosing to sin. But as a whole, humanity continues to suppress this truth and continues in wickedness.
Today is Christmas morning and, as usual, I’m up early and reflecting on the wonder of Christmas—a day set aside to celebrate the miracle of Jesus. This year, in the midst of a tumultuous world, I celebrate the beautiful promise about our Messiah, the
Prince of Peace.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would also have this attribute and be known as the Prince of Peace, our Jehovah-Shalom.
In the Old Testament, God is called Jehovah-Shalom, which means The Lord is Peace. This was the name of the altar built by Gideon to memorialize God’s message of peace (Judges 6:24). There is something special about the many names of God, as
each one reveals another aspect of His character. Jehovah-Shalom was used so His people could be confident that the Lord would bring them peace.
Over 400 years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would also have this attribute and be known as the Prince of Peace, our Jehovah-Shalom. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
In the midst of all of our troubles, God is faithful and brings us peace.
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith" (Romans 1:17)
This is a profound statement—one that has the ability to revolutionize our lives. But in the same way, it is the most under-taught concept in the entire Bible. This is a key part of the gospel, and yet so many of us have no understanding of what righteousness entails. The gospel we’ve heard is only part of the good news, and when we fail to understand how we are righteous in Christ, we miss out on the transforming power of the gospel.
The way we begin with God is the way we finish by being righteous
Paul exclaims immediately after revealing the gospel as the power of God, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…” This is the way we begin with God and this is the way we finish by being righteous.
Righteousness is the “state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God. Integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting.”1 This is what God gives to the believer. By faith we accept this as part of our salvation. The forgiveness of sins and righteousness are indivisible. “Here we are shown the inseparability of the two things: God imputing “righteousness” and God not imputing “sins.” The two are never divided: unto whom God imputes not sin He imputes righteousness; and unto whom He imputes righteousness, He imputes not sin.” A.W. Pink.2
Is Righteousness Important?