An exposition of Romans 2:1-16. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Bapitst Church on Sunday morning, November 15, 2009.
Sermon Notes »
As he walked confidently into the Temple he was very aware of all who were present. He was shocked and a little bit offended by the man he saw over in the corner. A traitor. A Roman sympathizer. No doubt a thief as were all tax collectors. Having surveyed the room he took his stance in a prominent place and, in the words of Jesus, he “prayed to himself” saying, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get…” Meanwhile the tax collector could not bring himself to look up, overcome with grief he cried out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” It was the tax collector who went home justified in the sight of God not the other. Jesus told this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. How are we made right with God? Just what is required for us to be at peace with our Maker? That’s what the gospel is all about and the gospel is the focus of Paul’s letter to the church at Roman.
He was writing a letter of introduction. He wanted them to know what he was preaching. His great desire was to come to Rome that he might minister there. He desired to see a harvest in the capital city of the Empire. He also desired to be ministered to by the folks in Rome. He said to them, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” It is in the gospel, he said, that the righteousness of God is revealed. This righteousness that God provides is obtained by faith thus the just shall live by faith. Paul’s gospel, his good news, is that God himself provides all that is necessary for your salvation. His point being that you and I could never be good enough on our own. Why? Because we are sinners. Now the easiest thing in the world is to get someone to admit that they’re a sinner. “Well, no one is perfect,” they will say. The problem is most have no idea what that really means. Actually the problem is twofold. First we don’t understand that God is holy. We don’t understand that He is distinctly different from us, transcendent and perfect, pure and righteous. And second, we don’t understand the depth of our sin.
In Romans chapter 1 Paul pulls back the curtain and reveals man’s natural condition. He exposes our depravity. God has revealed himself in the creation. Nature screams, “There is a God!” But we suppress that truth. We push it down refusing to acknowledge God as God. We do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks. In fact we exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. As a result God gives us over to a depraved mind. A rejected, condemned and abandoned mind. One that leads to profound sensual perversion, an endless variety of sin and a warped, twisted sense of morality. Paul paints a dark picture of the heart of man. He is laying out that piece of black velvet against which the gospel will shine in all its brilliance. Having dealt with the flagrant, openly corrupt heathen he now turns his attention to the “righteous sinner.” Our text is found in Romans 2:1-16.
Text: Romans 2:1-16
There is some question concerning what group Paul is talking about in this section.
Is it the moral philosophers of Greece and Rome?
The moral pagans?
They looked down on “idol worshipers” as unsophisticated and crude.
They taught the principles of virtue and sought an ideal life through reason.
Others believe that he has turned his attention from the pagans to the Jews.
Certainly he does address the Jews directly but that is not until 2:17.
I think it best to understand he is addressing the hypocrite both Jew and Gentile!
He is address that person who thinks things are just fine between them and the Almighty.
Let’s work our way through the text and see what we find along the way.
- First, we discover that a respectable life of merely external holiness invited the full fury of God’s wrath. (2:1-5)
You may be tempted to cry, “That’s not fair.” Paul anticipated that objection and he addresses it beginning with verse 6.
- God, the righteous Judge, knows all things and judges accordingly. (2:6-10)
Let me point out quickly the last thing we note in our text because it is directly related this one…
- God’s judgment is informed, enlightened and impartial. (2:11-16)
So where does this leave us? What is it we need to understand?
- If you are a Christian – if you’ve turned from your sin and thrown yourself on the mercy of God in Christ – you ought to give thanks.
- If you are not a Christian – you’ve never turned from your sin and trusted wholly in Christ and in Him alone – you must flee to Christ now!