February 2, 2018

You Can't Run, and You Can't Hide

Romans 2:6–16

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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-seeking1 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.

God's Judgment and the Law

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 it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Footnotes

[1] 2:8 Or contentious

You Can't Run, and You Can't Hide



Central Truth

No amount of status, privilege, ignorance, or self-righteousness will protect us from the wrath and fury of a righteous and sovereign King against whom we have willfully rebelled. We can't begin to comprehend how good the Good News is until we realize just how bad the bad news is.

Devotional | Romans 2:6–16

Paul spent the last half of Romans 1 describing how "they" aren't right with God. Then he lowers the boom on his self-righteous audience in Romans 2:1-5 to show that "you" are hypocrites...

Paul spent the last half of Romans 1 describing how "they" aren't right with God. Then he lowers the boom on his self-righteous audience in Romans 2:1-5 to show that "you" are hypocrites because "you, the judge, practice the very same things" (Romans 2:1). Paul has skillfully stripped away the arrogant superiority that characterized his mostly Jewish audience. The playing field has been leveled, and there is nobody left to whom they can favorably compare themselves by claiming privileged status as God's chosen people. "There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, . . . but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good . . . ." (Romans 2:9-10) God's justice is administered without discrimination or preference.

But Paul knows that self-righteousness won't die easily. In verses 12-16, he cleverly anticipates and disarms their excuses of "I didn't know" and "I'm not that bad."

First, nobody can claim ignorance—neither the Jew who has the Law, which was written on stone tablets at Mt. Sinai, nor all others who have the law written on their heart.

And second, "it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified" (verse 13, emphasis added). In the Book of James, James clarifies just how much of the law must be kept to be right with God: "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." (James 2:10) And Paul shows that "all of it" also includes "the secrets of men" (Romans 2:16). Jesus got even more specific in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that inward thoughts of lust and hatred violate the law just as much as the outward acts of adultery and murder (see Matthew 5).

So you stand before God alone, guilty, and pitifully inadequate to defend yourself against the wrath and fury of an unimaginably powerful God against whom you've willingly and knowingly rebelled. Me, too. Now I begin to understand just how bad the bad news really is.

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Bio | David Green

Hi. I'm Dave Green. I serve at re:generation on Monday nights in Dallas. Although Dallas-born and -raised, I lived in Tampa, Minneapolis, and Sacramento for 15 years before moving back home in 2012. When I left the Metroplex in 1998, McKinney was a small town just south of Lake Texoma; now it's a suburb of Dallas. It's amazing how time has changed my perspective. I wonder how long it will be until the Rangers win a World Series.

Discussion Questions

1. To whom do you compare yourself so that you feel less guilty?

2. Why did you skip over the previous question so quickly? Go back and answer it honestly this time.

3. In Luke 16, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. How parched does someone have to be to beg for a drop of water to relieve his anguish?

4. Now, using that imagery, how parched are you? How aware do you have to be of your own inability to be right with God before you will beg for just a drop of Good News?

29 Comments available

Rachel Crow 5 months ago

Christ stripped away my arrogant superiority and does so on repeat through these verses and many other verses. Q1: I have often found myself comparing my shortcomings to others; “At least I’m not doing THAT.” And while that may be true; the ‘acceptable (in the Worlds Eyes) sins that I commit: yelling/cursing in anger, being judgmental, gossiping, etc are seen as we have just been told, “point to death.”

Shelley Price 5 months ago

Me too.

Elizabeth Lariscy 5 months ago

*fathom

Elizabeth Lariscy 5 months ago

Thank you, David for a moving devotional. This one put me on my knees. God’s amazing grace: I can’t phantom it. He is so good. I surrender all!

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@David Green, totally get that 300 word limit.

greg jones 5 months ago

@David Green. “Self-righteousness not dying easily” well said. Experience can become a great teacher if we let it. The if we let it part can be pretty hard. I’m thinking your re-gen group is being lead pretty authentically. Thank you for a great devotional today, beware of our own self-righteousness is probably a good thought for all of to remember when we read what’s coming next in the letter.

David Green 5 months ago

@HopeHarris - Thanks for filling in the Good News that I couldn’t fit into 300 words. Those of us who have been recipients of God’s ridiculous grace just can’t help but finish the thought… “BUT GOD…” (Eph 2:4-5)

Hudson Jobe 5 months ago

David - thank you for the great devotional and your service here and on Mondays. This is a great reminder of the equiality of each of our insufficiency before God. It humbles my sense of comparison and reinforces my acknowledment for the need of saving grace.

David Green 5 months ago

@GregJones - great point about teachers. It convicts me how prone I am to feign authenticity when leading my re:gen group, while expecting authenticity from them. That line about “self-righteousness not dying easily” was me preaching to myself.

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

I probably sometimes compare myself to myself (myself 45 years ago) There are ups and downs to that. Sometimes seeing better examples in living or people long dead helps… depends on the purpose of comparison Sometimes it helps realizing shortcomings in self

Lisa Olsen 5 months ago

(Part 2) God is both love and just. Unfortunately, so many “pastors” in our churches tend to fall on one end of the spectrum in their style of teaching. Either be scared out of your mind and try your best to “will yourself” to stay on God’s good list, and/or on the other end of the spectrum, don’t talk about sin, the need for redemption, and certainly not hell. They talk about God’s love and acceptance, leaving out the crucial point of why we need a savior to begin with. Sound doctrine is so important as it colors every aspect of our lives.

Lisa Olsen 5 months ago

Thank you, David! The wrath of God is a scary thing. It is meant to be feared, I believe. It’s good to have a healthy fear of the one who has the power to control your eternity…either to paradise with Him, or hell without Him (not to mention the torment that one will experience there). And that is bad news…but there is good news for those who cry out to God. Jesus. I have been listening to some podcast teachings lately on the importance of sound doctrine (accurate biblical teaching). The above is an example right here. The reality that rebellion and a refusal to bend the knee to Christ will separate one from God forever…in hell. At the same time, I don’t believe it’s fear that ties our heart to Christ, but rather love.

greg jones 5 months ago

Question two is my favorite journey question ever. Even if we say we are not comparing ourselves to someone when we speak of them, James 3:1 says not many of you should become teachers because they will be judged more strictly. Teaching and judging are like the two edges of a very fine line. Paul, who persecuted the early church, is probably condemning much of his past as he teaches on their judgement in the present. Lesson for me, be careful of what you condemn in others if you’ve never condemned it in yourself.

Todd Shaddock 5 months ago

The 2nd question was brilliant… And convicting and humbling.

Rita Satagaj 5 months ago

Thank you David for your devo this morning . It is very clear how bad the bad really is. Paul could come and speak on Sunday morning and it would still fit his audience . We are all sinners, we do need to look inside ourselves and ask forgiveness for God shows us. I want to be sure that what I do is all for God’s glory and not for my own. I am thankful for the cross, oh so thankful!

Robbie Vedrenne 5 months ago

Your “Central Truth” is so good. Great devotional

Robbie Vedrenne 5 months ago

David, I am afraid God’s righteous judgment has befallen our Rangers… It might be awhile.

Arch Tignor 5 months ago

Darn. And I thought I was getting away!

Michelle Diehl 5 months ago

Jesus got even more specific in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that inward thoughts of lust and hatred violate the law just as much as the outward acts of adultery and murder (see Matthew 5). This is a good reminder, David, how we should try not to have any stinkin’ thinkin’!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Paul doesn’t use the words ‘believe’ or ‘faith’ here, rather is heavy on the ‘do’, ‘doers’ and ‘works’ as he starts with a judgement and ends this section with judgement

Works demonstrate faith. Abraham offered Isaac believing in a resurrection somehow, the faith he had decades before which already justified Abraham was then vindicated by Abraham’s works and so real saving faith will be vindicated by a judgement according to the fruit of charity and works that evidence saving faith. Faith is the root, works are the fruit.

Every parable of Jesus regarding final judgement painted a picture of a judgement according to works, not a salvation by works but works that reveal a changed nature and saving faith.

Trey Collins 5 months ago

Great devo David, and the weight of sin is heavy. Matthew 11:28-30. Praying for you this morning!

Jennifer Borgne 5 months ago

David? Thank you for a most excellent close to the weeks reading! To answer your first query: everyone. I wrote in my journal of how guilty I am at comparing, and judging myself righteous on a daily basis. From those around me (in traffic on the way to work, at work, etc) leafing to self righteousness by placing myself above them. Add to that a worldview of performance based living, and you’ve got yourself a mess. Incredibly grateful He happens to love messes like me. Committed to praying thru this and looking at what He reveals… I cannot do it on my own. Grateful He’s up to the transforming task.

Robert Owens 5 months ago

Your second question - very good point - congratulations. Robert Owens

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Moses, the law giver, wasn’t able to enter the promised land because he disobeyed God. That should be a hint that you don’t enter ‘the promised land by keeping the law.’

And shortly after Moses did not enter the promised land, Rahab became the first new believer there… also an irony

Lindsey Driscoll 5 months ago

I’m struck by 2:13 this morning and the idea of merely hearing God’s law and the gospel; yet not obeying. We know the Jews knew the law, yet they did not obey. The gentiles knew of Christ and his teachings and still they could not follow them all. I’m thankful that the gospel is for the Jew and the Gentile (1:16), that the Gospel is for all, for all have sinned and fall short. (3:23)

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Key discovery: A person’s eternity will rise or fall on what they did with the Gospel of grace. All that will matter when that day comes is what that person did with Jesus Christ?

Did he/she receive Him, or did he/she reject Him?

Did he/she fall before Him in repentance, or cling to their sins and stubbornly refuse to bow before the Lord?

A person’s eternity depends totally on what they do with Jesus.

“Faith in him is key to assurance and life. But beware: faith that produces no hope, faith that produces no love, faith that produces no obedience is no saving faith. Embrace Christ today as the One who forgives our sins and the One who empowers our obedience.” Piper

Lord let my heart be empowered by you alone. Let me focus on you and may my affections be solely for you.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

David - Processing more fully through your devo. Really well done.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

Two verses stick out to me:

“God shows no partiality”. He does not grade me on a curve. My sales ability is worthless. I get no special treatment. My deeds are “filthy rags” (Is 64:6).

“God judges the secrets of men”. Judges is the Greek word “krinō”; try, condemn, punish, avenge, damn, decree, ordain. Not much wiggle room here either.

Paul’s explanation of the truth is quite sobering. It lays bare the worthlessness of my own efforts when they come from a wrong heart. There is nothing I can do or say. I have nothing. I bring nothing. The chasm between me and righteousness cannot be bridged.

In my journey, the more I see this chasm, the wider it gets. This is the blessing - as I see how Jesus really is the only bridge.

Shawn Foster 5 months ago

David, Thank you for leading by example. Compared to the average pew potato, we are killing it! Oh, wait. Thank you for driving a steak into self righteousness and unrighteousness. Knowing how ugly and bad the bad news is, and that it apples to ALL sets the power of the Gospel on fire! The God of peace will soon crush Satan at his feet. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Romans 11:33. Let’s go church!

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