February 9, 2018

Without Excuse!

Romans 2

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God's Righteous Judgment

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-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.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded2 as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically3 uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code4 and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.


[1] 2:8 Or contentious
[2] 2:26 Or counted
[3] 2:27 Or is by nature
[4] 2:27 Or the letter

Without Excuse!

Central Truth

Just as a human judge cannot overlook crime and remain just, neither can God overlook our sin.

Devotional | Romans 2

The headlines in today’s paper read like they normally do. Words like, "corruption," "dirty FBI officials," and "bribed judges" grab our attention. We grow numb to hearing bad...

The headlines in today’s paper read like they normally do. Words like, "corruption," "dirty FBI officials," and "bribed judges" grab our attention. We grow numb to hearing bad news, but reading about bribed officials raises a particularly sick feeling within our stomachs. We place our trust in judges and expect them to rule fairly.

If this is true of human judges on earth, what about God in heaven? Just as a human judge cannot overlook crime and remain just, neither can God overlook our sin. To remain just, He must judge sin.

In Romans 1-3, Paul makes the argument that all men are guilty of sin and without excuse before the Lord. In chapter 1, Paul argues that the pagan Gentile is without excuse. All of creation declares the glory of God, yet he suppresses the truth (1:18), refuses to honor God (1:21), and exchanges the truth of God for a lie (1:25).

In Romans 2, Paul continues to make his case. Just as the pagan Gentile is guilty and without excuse, so, too, is the moral man. Although he knows right from wrong, he practices hypocrisy (2:1), presumes upon God's kindness (2:4), and hardens his heart toward the will of God (2:5). His own conscience condemns him (2:12-16). He knows right from wrong, but chooses to do the very thing he knows he should not do.

Paul’s attention then focuses on the privileged Jews. They, too, are guilty and without excuse. The Law condemns them. Although they boast in the Law, they break it (2:17-24). Their heritage and righteous works (e.g., circumcision) are unable to save them (2:25-29).  

Later, in chapter 3, Paul concludes that all men are guilty and without excuse. Therefore, the righteousness of God is rightly revealed through His judgment of man.

These chapters teach us about the condition of our hearts and need for a Savior. They also teach us about God. He is righteous and just, and therefore cannot overlook our sin. At the same time, He is full of grace. At the cross, we see both the justice of God and the love of God meet.

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Bio | Blake Holmes

I am the proud husband to one beautiful bride and the father to four children.

My life radically changed when a valet car parker outside a Dallas restaurant shared the gospel with me in a clear and compelling way. 

I graduated from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently, I serve as Watermark's Equipping Pastor and Director of the Watermark Institute. 

Some things I enjoy include real country music (think George Strait, not Lady Antebellum), good BBQ, Tex-Mex, and watching college football.

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the Lord gives each of us a conscience? What do you do when your conscience condemns you?

2. The Jews trusted in their heritage and righteous deeds to merit God's favor. In what ways do we rely upon our own morals in order to win the Lord's approval? Why is it impossible to ever be "good enough" for God?

3. What was the role of circumcision? What does Paul mean when he speaks of "circumcision of the heart"?

4. How would you summarize Romans 2?

15 Comments available

Georgia Littlejohn 17 days ago

For me I think of my conscience is like the Holy Spirit. Both r always there. We no right from wrong. We know what helps and what hurts. The Holy Spirit delivers truth, love and guides. I hope I listen but when I do something that I feel guilty for then I confess. A lot of the time it is me feeling guilty not knowing if I helped in a situation or made it worse. I most likely have done nothing wrong but I’m always trying to make sure that the other person is OK. I hope that makes sense. Thank you for the devotional.

Tyler Vanman about 1 month ago

Thank you for this devotional! That hit right where I needed some truth poured in to remind me of God’s love and mercy to his children. God’s truth is always true and applicable. What a breath of fresh air truth can be! Praise the Lord!

Robbie Vedrenne about 1 month ago

“Just as a human judge cannot overlook crime and remain just, neither can God overlook our sin.”

That is twice this week I have been cut to the quick on how rapidly I become accustom to my own stench. God’s kindness and patience should lead to repentance, not self righteous arrogance. I hope that God is still kind and patient with this flawed image bearer. Thanks Blake, great stuff!

Michael Scaman about 1 month ago

I like how Jame White puts it. There is only one type of way God speaks the world accepts: ‘a God who mumbles’. The world is never quite sure what he actually says that way.

Here in Romans, God has made himself clear enough and known whether in the law, in the world around us (Psalm 65:8) or in our conscience (Rom 2:15) or other ways (Amos 4:13). Man worked really hard to ignore it, and made a really bad choice in trading glory down and believing ‘the lie’ and in a bad place before God. The irony is they usually don’t realize it.

Hudson Jobe about 1 month ago

Thank you for the great devotional today. A great reminder that we are all equal in the insufficiency of our works and opportunity for grace.

Scott Ward about 1 month ago

Blake, your bios crack me up every year. Haha! Good job at being funny! Also, that’s impressive about the valet driver. That’s normally a 3 second interaction. How did he grab your attention, I wonder?..

Jay Burns about 1 month ago

As always love your insight. Love you and your faithfulness and encouragement to me always. I want to hear the valet story soon and while there, I am going to explore your hurts, habits, and hang ups that have led you to hate on Lady Antebellum…I can halfway understand that, but it can’t lead to hate on Brett Young, Chris Young and I fear Florida Georgia line.

Jody Curran about 1 month ago

Blake, what a treasure you are to Watermark and how much we appreciate your sharing. Still marvel at the Romans outline you shared! Wow!

Rita Satagaj about 1 month ago

What a great wrap up Blake, thank you! I love that a valet shared the gospel with you! That, in itself, is convicting to me. God knows our hearts, he wants our hearts. He doesn’t just want the outward me. V29 He wants all of me. He wants me to have a genuine relationship with him. In doing so I will gladly go out and do God’s will not for myself, but for God’s glory. I pray a prayer of thanks for God’s love and patience with me as I am in work in progress.

Michael Scaman about 1 month ago

Moses sang in his last words in the Song of Moses of a time God will circumcise the heart. The New Testament speaks of ‘The Song of Moses and the Lamb’ It’s one song not two.

Moses sang of both human failure and a gospel transformation redemption. A humanly failed given command in Deut 10:12,16 and Jeremiah 4:4, yes. A God fulfilled promise in Deut 30:6 and Jer 31:33, yes. A change brought by God Jer 32:40. Ezek 36:26

Rev 15:3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb.

Trey Collins about 1 month ago

Thanks for this devo Blake, great explanation of the need for the justice of love of God. My God give us all the grace to leave justice to Him, not be vindictive, and love others well. Praying for you this morning Blake!

Hope Harris about 1 month ago

Gm Blake, great to see your face on JTJ!

Romans 2 has been challenging for me. I have learned that all people are without excuse, because of the gift of our conscience.

These two thoughts sum up the second half of the chapter for me:

“If of Jesus Christ their only view May be what they see of Him in you, Hope, what do they see?” (James MacDonald)

“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Unknown

Lindsey Driscoll about 1 month ago

Thanks Blake for wrapping up chapter 2 for us. Q3- I have been seeing parallels in my life with the Jews and being a Christ follower from a young age; like I’m set apart because I went to VBS, can do the hand motions to Awesome God, and can sing just about any 90’s worship song. Circumcision was used to set the Jews apart, and it removed that which could bring infection. Paul-reminds the Jews that circumcision is not merely outward and physical, but of the heart, and made possible by the Holy Spirit at work in us. (2:28-29) Not our written code, how I was raised, or things I have done to show Faithfulness. Lord, take what brings infection in my heart and remove it, work in my heart by your word and the Holy Spirit.

Sue Bohlin about 1 month ago

Heyyyyyy Blake! Did the valet parker ask you if you had a faith? However he started the conversation, I’m so glad he did!

Reading Romans 2 today is particularly poignant for me because of the report my doctor relayed to me yesterday as she looked at my hip X-rays: "Sue, you’re just a mess!" I have some of the worst bone-on-bone joint problems she’s ever seen, and how in the world have I made it this far with that degree of pain?

Just as the news in Romans is that we’re broken with no way to fix ourselves, I am confronted with the need for surgery (hip replacement) I can’t do myself. It would seem that the word of the day is “helplessness,” both physically and spiritually. Praise God for a Savior who knows what I need and how to replace what’s broken down and hopeless–with His own life!

Hugh Stephenson about 1 month ago

Good morning Blake! Amazing that God used a car valet to help you see the truth!

Without excuse. Indeed. Just reading it makes me wince.

Romans 2 has been very hard for me. It reads a lot like a legal indictment at a trial. Jesus as the lamb always comforts me yet verse 16 clearly states His role as lion and judge. Paul’s indictment of my heart is painfully exhaustive and complete. It extends more fully than my sinful mind can take me. Truly, my church resume is a “filthy rag”. My life resume is worse. I am left crushed with a lost and broken heart.

Having exhausted worldly solutions, I want to orient to Him alone. I pray that He “create in me a pure heart” (Ps 51:10). I strive for obedience, pray for mercy and praise God for grace.

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