Read Romans 2:1-29
1You, 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. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God. (NIV)
Paul makes a shift now from what he was talking about in the first chapter. The first chapter was addressed to a “heathen world” of Rome. Paul now turns his attention to the Jewish community. Now, the Jews would have agreed with Paul in the first chapter. But now he brings a mirror to their world. He has them look at themselves in the light of God’s grace and judgement.
He wants to point out that the Jews is a sinner just as the Gentile. The Jews might think they have a special relationship with God, which they do in one way, but the same judgement awaits them as the Gentile. Their special relationship was to be God’s witnesses to the world – not a get out of jail free card so to speak.
Paul begins with judging. His basic principle is that we are not to judge. He says we will be judged by the measure by which we judge. Many Jews were using their special status to believe that Grace allowed them to sin. For Paul, this is backwards and he will address it more in the 6th chapter.
We too can sometimes take God’s grace for granted. Verse 4 his is main point. God’s grace is there to lead us to repentance, not so that we can sin again even though we still do. But for Paul, it is seeking to be obedient to God’s ways. Throughout the New Testament, there is connection in all the writers between faith and obedience. This is the theme of the song “Trust and Obey”
Paul is stating that God shows no partiality, no favoritism between Jew and gentile. All will be judged and Paul reminds them that that day is coming. And that day will come in each of our lifetimes for when we die, we have no more time to repent and believe.
In verses 17 to 24, Paul brings up a very real problem with the church today. He is asking if our actions are causing people to accuse the believers of being hypocrites. And that is a charge still leveled at the church today. The Gentiles non-believers accused the Jews of this and many today simply say the church is filled with hypocrites who say one thing and do another.
We are witnesses by the way we are obedient to God’s law. People are watching to see if our deeds and our words match. When Paul says that the law is written on our hearts, I believe that is when our obedience to God’s word becomes just a natural part of who we are. We walk the walk without thinking about it. It is just who we are.
What does it mean to be obedient to God’s ways? Do you find your actions at times at odds with your faith? We all stumble, but when we stumble, do we turn to God in repentance or simply just assume God forgives?
Blessings and Peace