“Wrestling With Romans”
If You Live in a Glass House? (Chapter 2 Verses 1-16)
The moralists and the nominally respectably religious would hold their hands up in objection, if not in horror. O yes, they agree with what Paul says about the condition of the rest of humanity, thinking that they, by their sheer moral acts, will escape God’s wrath (Romans 1.18). Paul cuts the ground from underneath them (v1). No, you will not, that is a false refuge which the Apostle seeks to destroy. The moralist is worse off, because the very things they condemn in others, they are doing themselves, and are therefore doubly judged. It is one thing to condemn sin, as an individual, or as a Church, or to cry out against it from a pulpit, but in doing so be aware that you leave yourself totally inexcusable if you are doing those very same things, it is the boomerang effect, it will come back to haunt you. The Lord Jesus sounds the same warning (Matthew 5.20). Many people who evade the outward acts of deeper, grosser types of sin are no less guilty (Matthew 5.19; 7.1-5). When it comes to making judgments, if Jesus does so, it is righteously (John.8.15-16; 3.17). Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth to begin with themselves (1Corinthians 5.12-6.3). When we judge others on the basis of God’s word, we must first in repentance bow to it ourselves. The Apostle’s purpose is to drive the moralist to the gospel.
The fact is that only God judges in realistic terms (v2). So any mere man who does the very things he or she judges others for, do they think for one moment that they will escape the righteous judgment of God? No way, says Paul (v3). What this moralist is doing is showing contempt for the richness of God’s kindness (v4), and that is absolutely atrocious. It ought to have led this person to repentance. There is a message here for today’s evangelicalism in the United Kingdom. How can there be with us such a vast knowledge of the Scriptures and yet so little discernment, and moral penetration? When you think of all the helps we have to understand the Bible, books, commentaries, cassette tapes, computer software, we have never had so much. If knowing the Bible guaranteed holy living we would surely excel. Instead what do we find? The Church has almost totally surrendered to the world, yes, even to giving way in many cases to the grosser sins, yes, even those catalogued by Paul in the previous chapter. Has God’s kindness led us to repentance? Who are we to cast the first stone (John 8.1-11)? Shall we escape the wrath of God (v3)?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)