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Personal Responsibility: Romans 2.1-11 (NLT)

We know well what’s wrong with the world.  We do a fine job of discussing this.  This is Romans 1.  Paul presents this clearly; our world is broken.  Chapter 2 asks another question: What’s wrong with us?  Asking this question can create a holy silence!  One person might answer this question and say, “sin.”  Another person might say, “we all need Jesus.”  Paul brings us face to face with the reality of what’s wrong.  There’s something wrong in each of us.  Before we can get to hope we need to understand what’s gone wrong. 

What is wrong with us?  Why haven’t we taken responsibility with what’s wrong with us?  It’s easier to see faults in others than to see the faults within ourselves.  Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount told us that before you tell your brother about the speck in his eye, you better take a look at the log in yours.  We have a tendency to be blinded to what’s inside of us. 

It is sometimes easier to see the faults in others than our own faults.

            1You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse!

Verse one has sharp words.  Paul turns this conversation onto us.  He adds that we are without excuse.  We know who we are called to be.  How are we blinded to ourselves?  It can be difficult to see what’s happening in our own lives.  We all do this.

For example, I saw a video of a mother and her ducklings.  They were walking in a line together and the mother walked over a storm gate.  The first duckling fell through it.  The second fell through.  The third fell through!  Don’t they see the one in front of them fell through?  Why not?  We are so easily blinded to what’s happening around us.  We are without excuse. 

Sometimes we project onto others.  Therapists call this “projection.”  We see our faults in other people.  “Condemn,” what do we do with this word?  There’s a difference between evaluation and condemnation.  We should evaluate the voices we allow to speak into us.  There’s a difference in looking to understand and condemning. 

David wanted to get rid of Uriah.  David sends Uriah into war.  David gives a sealed letter to deliver to Joab, the commander.  Uriah doesn’t know he is carrying his own death sentence.  The orders is to go into a fierce zone of battle and pull pack without Uriah so he will be killed.  Joab does this.  A loss of life in battle was felt.  A messenger was sent to David.  David was a warrior; he knows the battlefield.  David would get upset if people died because of stupidity.

For example, in one battle a soldier was too close to the wall.  A woman dropped a rock on the soldier’s head and he died.  David got angry when someone died.  David received the message that Uriah was dead.  David changes his tone and says these things happen in battle.  David was blinded to his own sin.  We all are blinded to our own sin.

3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?

It’s easy to talk about what others do.  It’s difficult to say that we do the same things.  The word, “think” here is a mathematical word.  It means to count.  Why do you count/reason this way?  We don’t “count” ourselves like we count others.  Do we thing we are God’s favorite?  God hasn’t done anything about this so it must be ok?

Silence from God may not mean approval of our actions. God may simply be giving us more time to change.

            Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

These are three questions.  How do you respond to the first question in verse 4?  Do you know how good God is to you?  If you’ve been a believer for any amount of time you know how good God is to us.  The word, “tolerant” refers to God giving us more time.  Judgment hasn’t come yet.  We confuse tolerance and forgiveness.  God doesn’t automatically forgive us.  The purpose of tolerance is to give us more time.  God’s intention is to bring about repentance.  God gives us time.  God is patient with us.  If we think about it we realize we are not walking with God.  God isn’t ok with it; He just gives us more time.

For example, when a child gets in trouble a parent can say, “I’m going to give you some time to think about what you’ve done.”  The parent is hoping for repentance but many times the child comes up with a better excuse while thinking about it.  This wasn’t the purpose of giving the time to think.  The goal is to realize wrong and to ask for forgiveness.  God is loving, kind and patient.

The second question asks, “Does this mean nothing to you?”  God is patient.  Does this mean something to  me?  If we repent and turn to God, God will restore.  We come face to face with the reality that we are separated from God.  We decide to choose God’s way over our way.  It is God to whom we are accountable.

God is our impartial judge, and we are accountable to Him.

            6He will judge everyone according to what they have done.                                                                                                                                                                                    
            11For God does not show favoritism. 

Each of us will answer to God.  It’s easy for us to think we are ok because we are God’s favorite.  We have protected status.  We are Americans; we go to church.  Paul, in Romans says God does NOT show partiality or favoritism because of nationality or status.  Paul isn’t teaching here how we are made right.  Paul is weighing our faith.  What’s the depth of our faith?  What we do is demonstrated by how we behave.  Faith should make a difference in our actions.

In Matthew 25 Jesus spoke about the same topic.  In the second half of the chapter Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats.  They are divided, left and right.  What’s the criterion?  I came to you hungry, naked, sick, imprisoned…  Our faith does something.  What we do unto the least of these we have done to Jesus.  Romans chapter two measures our faith.  Real faith changes what we do.   

Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.  Bible verses are from the NLT.


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