Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Search Of Truth, Romans 2:1-8


In chapter 1, Paul established that everyone has some basic
knowledge of God that they are held accountable for. There is a degree of
morality and awareness of God built into everyone that most suppress in order
to do what they want instead of what God wants. But we are all still held
accountable for the way we live because of this “built in” knowledge.


Paul begins debating with an invisible, theoretical opponent
in chapter 2. His argument is not specifically aimed at the Roman church, but
can be applied by them and us. Paul says that everyone who thinks someone is
worthy of condemnation (in their own assessment, anyway) targets themselves for
condemnation as well, because they are guilty of the same kinds of sin Paul
listed (in 1:26-32). (v.1)


We often make mistakes when we assume things about the moral
character of others. But God doesn’t make any errors in judgment. When God
evaluates someone based on their behavior, he gets it right every single time.


So those who decide others should be condemned by God for
their behavior should not think that God doesn’t see and evaluate their own sins,
whether they are obvious or secret. (v.3)


If we ever become frustrated with the sins of others,
impatient for God to condemn them, we need to remember that the same patience,
tolerance and kindness God is extending to them also leads people (including
ourselves) to turn away from our sins and move toward God. (v. 4)


When a person refuses to believe in who Christ is and what
he has done for humanity, and when they refuse to acknowledge their need for
God’s redemption, they “store up wrath” for themselves. Every moment of this kind of
arrogant rebellion is counted against them and added up for the time when
Christ will return (the meaning of “revelation” here) and perfectly and accurately
evaluate the actions of everyone. (v. 5-6)


It should be noted that verse 7 is not teaching that people
can be saved from eternal punishment by their good behavior. But a genuine
trust in Christ results in pursuing “glory”. As the original Greek is used here
for “glory”, it refers to a revealing of what something or someone truly is.
The Greek word for “honor” means “dignity” or “value”. In other words, verse 7 describes “perseverance in doing good” as the way a
person pursues true meaning, purpose and value. But faith is the assumed source
of motivation. For more on the relationship between faith and behavior, see
James 2:14-17.


Getting back to the context, Paul is saying that those who
pursue the purpose God has for them will have eternal life. The Greek word for “life”
here refers not just to “being alive”, but to having the highest and best
existence possible. (v.7)


By contrast, people who make their own agendas (and not God’s)
the highest priority and who reject the truth about God that he has made
obvious to them and instead are persuaded by ideas counter to what is right, will
be punished by God. (v.8)


Next Week- How does God judge those who haven’t heard of


Coffee House Question- What comes to mind when you think of
God’s wrath? What does God’s wrath make you think about God’s character?





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