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Romans 2:1-11

Romans 2:1-11 is a fascinating passage.  Following a grave warning of God, Paul says, "you have no excuse."  God is clearly knowable yet the sinful man turns his back on God.  Even worse is that man is a hypocritical.  And it's the hypocrite that Paul primarily deals with in the opening of this text.  The conclusion reveals the coming judgement upon the hypocrite.

Romans 2:1-11 is a tough text.  God is a righteous judge and there is a judgement coming.  But there's something remarkable found at verse 4.  Paul writes, "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that his kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (ESV).  What is he getting at?

This line comes as a somewhat sarcastic statement.  It's in reference to the one who judges others but seems to think he will escape judgement himself.  How interesting!

How often do we as Christians look at the first chapter of Romans and the following sections of Romans that discuss the judgement and immediately cheer on the coming judgement for those people? We are quick to look like Jonah aren't we?  But often we Christians play the role of the hypocrite. . .  and judgement is coming.

But Christians are not the only ones who will face judgement.  Every man, woman, and child will face God's just judgement and we'll know it's just when we all stand before him.

So many in our society today want to reject this idea.  "How can a loving God be judging" they say; "How can a good God punish people?"  You can hear what they are getting at and yet Paul has already address it.  Because he wants us not to presume on the riches, kindness, forbearance, and patience means there is no judgement.  Instead he is saying God is functioning in such a loving way to bring us to repentance before the coming judgement.

It's like the parent that holds back and gives her child a chance to make something right before bringing the punishment.  The parent is patient, loving, and hoping to see the kid do the right thing first.  But if the child still doesn't do the right thing, punishment comes.

God is loving because he wants us to repent.  God is patient so we have some time to come to our senses and repent.  He is kind so we repent.  Clearly, God wants us to repent.  And the bigger question here is why repent?  Because a serious theme of Romans is that Jesus will save us at this judgement if we repent and confess that Jesus is Lord.  He does not save us from judgement; he saves us at judgement.  That is to say, while we are standing in judgement--seeing all our trasspasses and knowing how right the sentence is against us--Jesus' blood covers us.  Jesus has already faced the judgement and we trade our sentence for his righteousness.

The great trade comes, according to the Bible, only to those who repent and receive the salvation that comes from Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone.  God wants us to repent, but verse 5 says, "But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed."  Everytime someone says "A loving God won't throw me into hell" but does not repent, he or she is just storing up more wrath.  Instead, we need to see that a righteous God will judge us and the punishment is more than we can bare, but this same loving God sent his son, Jesus, to pay the price so that all who believe and repent-trusting in Christ and living a life faithful to his teaching--will be pronounced 'justified' and saved!

*Photo of "Saint Peter Repentant" by Goya is in the public domain.