Living in Grace and Faith
Introduction – In this Session, we will begin Romans Chapter 2, and explore verses 1-11. In the last 4 Sessions, we moved through Romans Chapter 1 and looked at God’s indictment of the Roman pagan culture that Paul lived in, for their gross immorality. In Romans 1, we also see the moral slide of cultures and societies that abandon the knowledge of God and suffer in progressive degrees of unrighteousness being expressed in the people. In the context of Romans, Paul’s target was the common Roman culture and pantheon of its idols. Today, the target of Romans 1 would be our hyper-sexualized American culture.
As we explored Romans 1, we looked at the theology of the Judgment of God and learned how God’s wrath was and is revealed in 5 ways.
1 – Judgment of Nations (Old Covenant)
2- Eternal Judgment of the individual (Matt. 18)
3 – Judgment of Reaping and Sowing (Galatians 5)
4 – Judgment of the denial of God on societies (Romans 1)
5 – Judgment of the removal of Grace on the believer (1 Corinthians 5:5)
If Paul had stopped defining sin in Romans 1, moral people might feel really good about themselves and judge others who lived in open immorality and consider themselves better people. However, in Romans 2, Paul takes on the religious sinner, whose sin is not overt, but hidden in the heart, or sin that is seems of small consequence when compared to others. At the time of Paul’s writing he would have been targeting the observant Jew and moral philosopher. We could say Paul is taking on the religious spirit that condemns others, while excusing itself. See Luke 18:10-14. (Pharisee versus the Tax Collector)
In Romans 2:1-11, we see the following movements in the text.
1 – The religious sinner is as guilty as the overt sinner.
2 – God’s kindness is revealed in His patience dealing with all people considering their sin.
3 – We are all accountable to the way we live before God.
4 – Faith is the great equalizer of all people.
a) Jesus spoke to these same heart conditions in the religious sinner in Matthew 7:1-5. See Matthew 7:1-5. Our personal freedom in our hearts is dependent on our ability to live free from offense, free from letting the decisions and actions of others affect our hearts, and free from judging others regarding the conditions of their hearts. Notice that Jesus says that we are equipped to help others heal from sin, when we ourselves have healed.
b) The most outrageous form of hypocrisy is to label other people sinners and then
do similar things because it is blind to God’s mercy.
a) When God judges’ people, He does so in perfect justice and consequence. Considering that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness, or shadow of turning, that He is love, and He is holy, it is impossible for Him to pervert justice.
b) Because we are affected by the Fall, and have inherited Adam’s sin nature, we are incapable of judging people in equity and perfect justice. We are all under sin are dependent on God’s mercy in Jesus Christ. See Romans 6:23.
c) God shows all people mercy in 3 ways. 1 – Rich Kindness – Greek – ploutos autos chrēstotēs – rich benevolence and kindness. 2 – Forbearance – Greek – anochē – toleration, forbearance. 3 – Patience – Greek – makrothymia – patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs.
d) All these Fatherly attributes of God are for the express purpose of bringing us to repentance. Not because we fear the eternal consequence of sin, which is staggering and horrible, but that we recognize His goodness and submit to Him through the revelation of His goodness.
a) The failure to recognize God’s goodness and turn our hearts to Him, accumulates the wraith of God towards us, and becomes manifest at the end of our lives, or at Christ’s return. Notice that the New Covenant understanding of God’s wrath is that which sees the active wrath of God on humanity stayed until the end of the New Covenant Age. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 & 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11.
a) Paul quotes Psalms 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12. Our daily decisions have eternal consequences. In Luke 12, Jesus gave various commands and parables that encourage us in this truth. See Luke 12:42-46.
a) Our perseverance of faith will be richly rewarded when we are received into eternal life. The power of our decisions is almost unimaginable in scale when we look at them in the light of the eternal reward for being faithful to God throughout our lives. This is not a works-based approach to God, but a life long relationship with God that is expressed through us that mirror what He does, and desires to do through us.
b) The favor of God is not dependent on who we are, but on whose we are and our response to His rich kindness, forbearance, and patience. Faith is the great equalizer. Just as the Lord interacted with Moses, Abraham, Paul, Peter, Deborah, or Miriam, he will relate to us in the same way as we live in faith, express faith and are faithful sons and daughters to Him.