Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 20
GOD’S WRATH – IMMORAL MAN – ROMANS 1:17-32
GOD PROVES HIS CASE – MORAL MAN – ROMANS 2
THE VERDICT IS GUILTY – RELIGIOUS MAN – ROM. 3:1-23
Here we are going to take the second segment of humanity that God is building His case against. We will slip away from the grossly immoral segment to the moral people, and they’re just as guilty. The moral man wouldn’t dream of living like the people we just finished studying. Or would he? Verse 1:
“THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest:…”
That’s the reason I always say that I won’t look down my nose at these people, but I do feel that they are grossly in error. But I won’t judge them. If it weren’t for the Grace of God, you and I would be where they are, because everyone of us has the potential for all of this, because we are all out of Adam. And it’s only the Grace of God, under some parental teaching (which a lot of our young people today are not getting), that delivers us from the potential that’s in every human being to go to the same depths. Again in verse l:
“THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself (a hypocrite. That’s what the hypocrite likes to do, point the finger at the other fellow. He forgets that when he points there are two or three fingers pointing back at him. So be aware that, if we are going to judge someone, we had better look at ourselves first); for thou that judgest doest the same things.”
We wouldn’t dream of doing it. Oh, maybe not overtly but what about covertly? Or what about in the thinking processes? I think anyone of us would hate to admit what sometimes runs through our minds. Everyone of you does this, and don’t tell me you don’t because you wouldn’t be a member of the human race. And I’ve always asked people if what these little kids hear won’t register. Oh no? It goes into that subconscience and just lays there until just the right time, then `boom’ it comes alive in the conscience, and they remember it. Now verse 2:
“But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things (even if it’s only covertly). And thinkest thou this, `O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?'”
Do you see that? Even the good person who wouldn’t dream of actually entering into a homosexual relationship, is just as guilty if he do so in his thought processes. Now remember what Jesus did with the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery?” He took it so far that none of us are clear of it. Even if you think it in your heart, you’re just as guilty as the person that does it, and we know that’s hard for us to comprehend, but that’s what The Book says.
You move on through all these verses dealing with this moral person who says, “Oh I wouldn’t dream of doing those things,” and in the same breath he condemns those that do. But God is going to judge him just as much. Now verse 6:
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,” God has never poured out His wrath, that’s something that is yet to come, but when it comes it’s going to be beyond human comprehension. Come down to verse 11:
“For there is no respect of persons with God.” God is not going to treat an American better than a Japanese, or a white person better than a black person. With God there is no difference.
“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law (outside the realm of Judaism, they shall perish without Law, they are not going to be excused because they weren’t under the Mosaic system): and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;”
Now we are in the middle of the Children of Israel. We know what the Law does, it condemns everybody. Because every human being that has ever lived, other than Christ Himself, has already broken the Law, and so they are condemned. Now verse 13:
“(For not the hearers of the law are just [or justified] before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified….)”
Here is where we have to be careful. That’s under the Law. Let’s go all the way back to the Book of Exodus Chapter 19. Here the Children of Israel had just recently been brought out of Egypt, and are all encamped around Mount Sinai. Moses has gone up into Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandants from The LORD Himself. Now Moses has come back down from the mountain and we find in verse 7 the following:
“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people (Israel) answered together, and said, `All that the LORD hath spoken we will (what?) do….'”
Now that’s legalism, that’s Law, and whatever the Law commanded, Israel said, “We’ll do it!” If it was done because it was prompted by faith, that was what God wanted. But nevertheless remember that Law demanded doing on the part of its adherents. It had to be prompted by faith, of course, but they still had to do what God said to do. Now let’s come back to Romans Chapter 2, and this is what Paul is talking about. When the Jew was under the Law he couldn’t get by with faith + nothing like we can in this age of Grace. He had to have faith + doing something, what ever the Law demanded.
“(…For when the Gentiles, which have not the law [now keep that in mind, because in our next lesson when we get into Chapter 3, Paul is going to lay it out as plain as day as to what the Law does and what it does not do], do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”
Now that’s just human nature, and where does it all begin? In the conscience. When God created Adam he gave him a conscience. And conscience was to precipitate confession. And that is what prompted Abel to bring the required sacrifice. His conscience convicted him, and he listened to it, but you see it’s within the realm of human nature to spurn conscience. I mean we can burn it, and get it to the place where it is just no longer active. And of course that is just exactly what so many people do, but it’s there and you can’t ignore it. Now verse 16. This is just an amazing verse.
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets (that is the secret activities of these moral people, as well as the open activity of the immoral) of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
What’s Paul’s Gospel again? That Christ died for all these sins. He died for the sins of every homosexual that has ever lived. He died for the sins of these moral hypocrites. He’s died for the sins of these religious people that we are going to see in the next series of verses. Consequently, God is going to judge the human race based upon that. You wouldn’t have to go where you’re going and perish, because Christ has already settled your account if you would just believe it. That reminds me, I have a tape at home called “Our Godly American Heritage.” The author expresses in that tape and reads from Supreme Court opinions of the early days of our nation, where those Supreme Court judges in their opinions quoted this Book.
Can you imagine that happening today? And in another place on the tape the author points out how our top government officials, Presidents and top Cabinet people maintain that America could not survive unless America remains true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I could hardly believe that when I saw it. I could understand that men like Washington, and others like him would say, “We have to stand on this Book.” But many of them even narrowed it down that it has to be based upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
And the other day I read some by Thomas Jefferson, and I wouldn’t call Jefferson a born again believer. I think Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin both were more or less out of the same bolt of cloth. But Jefferson still came back and said, “Unless this nation stands and operates under The Word of God it is doomed to fall.” And you and I are seeing it happen right before our eyes. Now let’s look at verse 17, and we are going to see the Prosecuting Attorney (God) now move to the third segment and that’s the religious person.
Now you know that I have no time for the word `religion’ don’t you? I think it is the most awful term in the human language. Religion prompts hatred, and war, it also takes people down the dark paths of legalism. Religion is always man’s attempt to somehow please God. Always remember that Christianity is never a religion! Christianity is God reaching down in mercy and Grace to a lost human race. Religion never does that. The Apostle Paul uses it in a bad light when he says he was saved out of the Jews religion. And that’s what Paul was, he was religious, but what was he? He hated the very name of Jesus of Nazareth as a religious person. Now in these succeeding verses that’s what we are dealing with – a religious Jew. In fact, that was the primary religion that Paul had to deal with. We find in verse 17 the following:
“Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,”
Now most of you have spent enough time in your Sunday School material about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, that you know how they were. Oh, they were self-righteous, and proud of their religious status, and this is what Paul is addressing. Now verse 18:
“And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law (so they should know); And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.”
In other words, those Pharisees, those religious leaders of Israel had all of that knowledge, and then look at verse 21:
“Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?”
What were the priests of Israel known for many times? Stealing from widows and the underprivileged, you bet they did. Why do you suppose that Jesus went through and overturned the tables of the money changers? Because it wasn’t even legitimate business. They were charging exorbitant prices for necessary sacrificial animals. Here Paul is alluding to the same thing. Oh, these self-righteous Pharisees, these religious leaders, they had pomp, but underneath they would do anything they could get away with.
“Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?… Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written (now this is tough language). For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” In other words, it was very profitable to be a Jew, they had The Word of God, as we are going to see in Chapter 3 and verse 1 in just a moment. But they ignored all that.
“And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law (in other words Paul is saying, “You bring me a saved Gentile and he will make you blush with shame.”)? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly (now we are speaking in the spiritual realm); neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh (but the true spiritual person, and here Paul is calling him a Jew): But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart (that’s spiritual circumcision), in the spirit, and not in the letter (keeping the law); whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
I’ve always told you that circumcision cuts off that which is superfluous in the flesh, so what is superfluous in the spirit? The old Adam. And so at Salvation our old Adam is cut off, and it becomes a heart circumcision. Now Chapter 3 – the final condemnation.
“WHAT advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
They had so much going for them. They had the Covenant promises, they had the Old Testament, they had the prophets, they had the Psalms, the Temple, the priesthood, that was all going for them. But Paul says that still wasn’t the important thing. The most important was that unto them were committed the oracles of God. I always make the point that Luke was not a Gentile, he had to be a Jew, and if he wasn’t a full Jew he was at least one-half. Because the Scripture makes a point of the fact that only Jews wrote this Book, by inspiration of course. Now come all the way down to verse 5:
“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)”
Is God going to be unfair when He one day will pour out His wrath on Christ-rejecting mankind? No! Because He’s paid the price. Every human being has had his sin debt paid in full at the Cross. Every person that has ever lived has already, so far as God is concerned had reconciliation accomplished. And all they have to do is believe it. This is why God will have every right in the world to pour out His wrath. He’s done everything possible to make everything as simple as possible so that lost humanity can come back to Him.
“God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Even though he was a religious man and a religious zealot of Judaism, yet God had to tell Saul of Tarsus that he was a sinner. He was undone.
“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) `Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.'”
Some time ago, I read a commentary on Romans Chapter 6 by a British Theologian of a bygone day, and he made the claim that if we teach and proclaim the Gospel of Grace as this Book intended it to be taught, then we are going to be accused by some, just like Paul says here that he was slanderously accused. They are going to tell us that if that is the way it is then you’re telling me I can live as ungodly as I want so that I can check out the Grace of God. No, that’s not what it means. It just simply means that no matter how deep a sinner goes, God’s Grace is always greater, and that is never license to see how far we can go.
Now here is where I wanted to end up this lesson. The final verdict. The Prosecuting Attorney has laid out all His reasons. He has categorized the human race into these three areas, now look what the Scripture says:
“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin: As it is written, `There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.'” Do you see that? That is the final verdict, and to carry it a little further look at verses 22 and 23.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (that verse makes a level playing field. No one can say they have a better or lesser advantage because the Scripture says that there is no difference): For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”