The 2nd chapter of Romans personalizes the reality of willful blindness in a “virtuous” person, and it ought to cause great introspection. In this chapter, the word “you” is used 27 times within 12 out of a total of 29 verses. That’s on average over 2 times per statement which is fairly confrontational. It becomes very clear that the message is directed at the reader, whomever the reader is. Since this letter is written to believers, we ought to really pay attention to what the Holy Spirit (through Paul) wanted to be precise about. Perhaps we will notice the specific contrast between: the “they” from chapter 1; and, the “you” in chapter 2. Remember this is one letter. If anything, chapter 2 reminds me that in of myself alone, there is no difference between “them” and “me” in the sight of God. Oh, but God! Thank you for the blood of Jesus Christ. This chapter reminds me to be thankful for the circumcision of the heart even though the tearing away of my flesh is utterly humiliating to my pride. But that’s the point, isn’t it?
The truth is, in the sight of God, no one is righteous without His imputation of righteousness by His grace through faith (Romans 3:22 b to 23). But glory to God, the distinction that brings the change of classification in His sight is His grace and His pardon through faith where He declares us just (or justified).
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8 to 9).
Here’s what my study has cemented in my heart. I’ve organized it using the following summations:
|Part 1||Point 1: We need to ensure we do not judge; we have no right! (Verses 1 to 5);|
Point 2: We should live knowing every person will be judged; even the moral person (Verses 6 to 16);
|Part 2||Covered in Separate “Lite” Blog|
Point 3: We have to avoid being religious; this leads to blindness and doubts (Verses 17 to 24); and,
Point 4: We are required to seek value and reward from God; the reward of the covenant through heart circumcision (Verses 25 to 29).
When you prepare for the imminent, you are more likely to realize additional benefits than inattentiveness yields. Let’s get started.
First Point: We need to ensure we do not judge; we have no right!
(Please review Romans 2:1 to 5).
Verses 1 to 3 address the fact that we are no better because, at the core, we all have a heart issue that we cannot fix ourselves. Why does anyone think that they are better than another? We all break God’s law. That said, this does not mean we should ignore or condone sin.
God’s judgment is based on absolute truth; this is something we finite beings can not do. We may look at the fruit, facts, evidence, and testimony, but we still lack the ability to see every perspective, factor, and motivation and we are unable to see the future. And to top it off, when we proclaim a judgment on someone, we disregard God’s grace and show Him contempt. Grace after all is one of His characteristics. God’s grace is the very reason that anyone has come to faith in Jesus Christ. It is written:
- “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
I have been guilty of wanting to help God administer justice. Being anxious to rid my surroundings of injustice and corruption which at the foundation demonstrates a lack of patience (at the very least) in my Saviour or even mistrust of His character. How patient He is with me even when I insult His very nature. LORD, thank you for your patience.
It is Scriptural that those who love evil, continue to do evil when they can get away with it. (Refer to Ecclesiastes 8:11). That said, Jesus said,
- “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1 to 2).
Jesus gave us a strict warning saying:
- “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; … “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:35, 43 to 48).
This is very sobering! A person who is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit can not intentionally take it upon themselves to administer justice that causes harm to another. In addition, if you intentionally withhold forgiveness and grace, you will suffer loss at the Judgement Seat of Christ. For the person who doesn’t know any better, they will still have consequences although less than the one who should have known better.
Consider this for a moment. The context of this passage (also stated in Matthew 24:42 to 51) is the end times when evil is rampant. Jesus had just told the disciples that just before Jesus catches His bride away and up to the point of His second coming to execute justice on the earth, the society would mirror the days of Noah (Matthew 24:38, Genesis 6:5 and 8).
Regardless of what is going on in culture, churches, and families, God holds the believer accountable to be forgiving and to refrain from judging another because He is the only righteous judge; and, we are merely humans who are incapable of knowing the heart of another.
I find our LORD very gracious in that He will send others into our lives to point out our willful blindness so that we can repent. I think of David who was a man who pursued God’s heart. When he was not doing what he was supposed to be doing, David fell into temptation. He had an affair with a married woman and then arranged to have her husband killed to cover his sin. Our gracious LORD sent a confronting word to David to cause his repentance. Let us review this account briefly.
- “Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. ‘I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! ‘Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ … So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. “However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill.” (2nd Samuel 12:7 to 15)
Before we go on to the next verses in the Romans 2 study, we should really take note of a few observations from this passage:
- God sent word to cause a heart correction because God is merciful and longs to forgive those who love Him.
- David had no problem judging another man while he was committing sin and being unrepentant.
- Willful and unrepentant sin shows hatred for God’s commandments and ultimately shows contempt for the LORD.
- The LORD forgives and will also allow consequences.
You see friends, our goodness and roles (even God-anointed ones) cannot spare us from God’s righteous judgment. In fact, unrepentance and stubborn pride in which we judge others will only add to the wrath of God. Romans 2:5 says:
- “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,”
A key message in Romans 2 is that we must also turn from the old ways and obey what God has said in His Word. Part of this repentance is acknowledging the need Jesus Christ as personal Saviour; the other part is to submit in obedience to the Word.
Saving faith is the same as obedience. Unbelief is the same as disobedience
The moral person practices the same sins in their heart as the pagan unbelieving person. Their sin may be different in scope and manifestation, but at the root, it is the same.
You see, saving faith must result in a change of direction and therefore behaviour. If a person places total reliance on Jesus Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, their ways (however gradual or immediate) must change and align with the One they are reliant on.
- …”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).
The justified fully understand that they are sinners who have been forgiven by God’s grace through faith; and, they are participating with the Holy Spirit to grow in obedience to the Word. May we all pray like David in Psalm 51 which is a Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. I encourage you to read this.
Second Point: We should live knowing every person will be judged; even moral and religious people.
Please concentrate your focus now on Romans 2 verses 2 to 16.
I thank the LORD for His Word. There is so much comfort in knowing that the One who died for my sin, is my Judge. The Father gave the requirement of “faith” to be declared just, and then gave the Son of God the job of judging because He was also fully human; He is the Son of Man.
- “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:22 to 29).
Let’s analyze this next passage looking for consistency with John 5. Romans 2:5 b to 11 states:
- … God … “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:5b to 11).
It is true that God is good and gracious. God gives every person a common grace. (Matthew 5:45 and Psalm 145:9). He is merciful and gracious in providing a path to eternal life for anyone who is willing to take it (refer to John 3:16).
In the same way He has a common grace; God has a common justice. As such, each person will be judged using the same criteria with eternal outcomes based on how they lived their lives. In Romans 2 verse 2 we read that:
- “… we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth ….”
So at this point, I would like to look at 5 elements of God’s Judgment against humanity that are applied individually at the end of one’s mortal life (note: there may be more criteria outside of this study). You will find the next discussion threads listed in Romans 2, specifically verses:2, 4 to 6, 11 to 12, and 15 to 16.
At the end of my study, I will conclude with a passage of Scripture that will demonstrate God’s grace to those who (1) rely fully on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross for justification; and, (2) in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s teaching of the Word for fruit bearing sanctification. I assure you, if you are the LORD’s follower, this passage will rouse you to worship God deeply for His plan and covenant!
For now, let’s begin with my first point about what the Scripture says about God’s judgment.
1. Judgment is Rendered by Truth:
When we hear this, one may automatically ask what is truth and how does it impact our eternity?
- “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).
- Jesus also said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17).
- In Ephesians 4:21 it says “the truth is in Jesus:”
So, we have the most significant destination-determining criteria which will determine which judgment a person attends. Scripture states that a person can only be declared just (or righteous) by God through faith (Romans 2:17) in the Gospel of God (or the fulfillment of the prophesied resurrected Messiah). Refer to Deuteronomy 18:15 to 18, John 4:23 to 26, and 1st Corinthians 15). If the gospel and truth are both in Jesus, then we understand that He is the embodiment of truth in fullness and scope (Colossians 1:19 to 20 and Colossians 2:9 to 10).
As such, when we individually stand before our Judge, our eternal destination will be final and based on His righteous requirement of faith as the one and only way to pardon the guilty verdict. The justified to eternal life in Christ with God; and, the unjustified in the place of torment originally prepared for the fallen angels with the enemy of our souls (Matthew 25:41; Isaiah 5:13 to 14; and 2nd Peter 2:4).
Because the species has been corrupted, upon death a human being’s spirit automatically goes to hell or heaven based on God’s righteous judgment of “faith” in God’s Gospel. Just to add some clarity, let’s look at the opposite of faith as used in Scripture. I believe it will help us as we navigate this topic.
“Unbelief” in scripture (based on Strong’s Definitions G543) is the Greek word “apeítheia” which means obstinate and rebellious disbelief or disobedience.
To see how the words “unbelief” and “disobedience” are used interchangeably, please look up Romans 11:30 and 32, Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:6, and Hebrews 4:6 and 11. In each of these cases, the person in this state is not on their way to heaven.
Scripture shows us that our unchanging God has consistently dealt with willful ignorance and disobedience the same way. When you have a moment, please compare Hosea 4:1 to 2 and 6 with Romans 1:28 and 32).
If one truly has the deep conviction that God is who He says He is in Scripture and that He does what He says He’ll do, then the outcomes are either (1)obedience or (2) a depraved mind unto disobedience. Those who are declared just will live by faith by God’s revelation from faith to faith; from glory to glory. As it says in 2nd Corinthians 3:16 to 18, the Spirit of the LORD brings freedom from sin and transforms us.
But wait a minute! Truth impacts more than our eternal destination. It impacts how we experience it. It determines the heights of blessedness for the redeemed; and, the depths of regret and suffering for the lost. We will be judged for the amount of truth or light we have been given. What did we do with the revelation gifted to us?
Romans 2:5 b to 11, explains that the pagan person (described in Romans 1) and the moral person (saved or not) will not escape God’s judgment.
The non-believer and disobedient will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of time (Revelation 20:11 to 15). Scripture states that those who refuse to believe and obey God’s Word will be tormented even prior to Hell being thrown into the Lake of Fire. When reading the passage in Luke 16 (starting at verse 23), we see that the destination was fixed prior to the judgment, that the tormented were aware of why they were there (unbelief), and that they could not escape.
The obedient believer will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10) and the truth will be applied to every aspect of our lives. A huge challenge for people who are generally decent is that they may not know the truth about themselves. We can be blind to aspects of our own failures and assume we know the truth. Assuming we know the truth keeps us away from discovering the truth because we do not seek something we presume to possess.
Let’s look at Romans 2, verses 4 and 5 again. I’ll refer to the New Living Translation this time.
- “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
In all cases, when God’s goodness and longsuffering are taken for granted or ignored, a person who is hardening their heart stores up punishment. When we consider this, we have to ask ourselves whether a believer can perpetually maintain a hard heart and refuse to stop sinning. If repentance and faith result in a change of direction towards obedience to Christ, is this possible? A person who surrenders to the LORD and places their faith in Him has already been judged (pardoned or justified granting access to heaven). Here it is in Scripture:
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1 and 2).
The truth is, without living our lives in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and based on Scripture (with eternity in mind), we may blindly go about our lives not considering that we are heaping up our rewards whether those rewards are: (1) good with some loss (as in the case of the justified); or, (2) bad (as is the case for the unrepentant unjustified).
With the first and most significant point completed, let’s move on to the remaining 4 elements of judgment defined by Scripture. We’ll move through these more quickly.
2. Judgment is Rendered by Deeds:
Do works and attitudes matter? There are a number of Scriptures that teach us that our works matter. Romans 2:6, Proverbs 24:12, and Isaiah 3:10 and 11 all agree wtih this next passage:
- “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7 and 8).
Are there any distinctions between the pardoned and the unpardoned?
The non-believer and disobedient is a self-seeker or an idolater (one who does not obey the truth but obeys unrighteousness). Such a person is striving after their heart’s desires above the will of God which Scripture states is actually seeking God’s indignation and wrath resulting in tribulation and anguish. (Refer to Romans 2:8 and 9, John 3:36, 2nd Thessalonians 1:8, John 3:19-20, Hebrews 3:12 to 13).
The obedient believer who has received eternal life is seeking imperishable treasure, glory honour by continually doing good (Refer to Romans 2:7 and 10, Luke 8:15, Luke 21:19, Romans 8:25).
This next point should awaken the apathetic or idle.
3. Judgment is Rendered Impartially:
How will we answer for how we lived our lives? There is no favoritism or partiality in God (Romans 2:11). The judgment will be based on what they have done with time, treasure, talents, and how much light they had. The LORD will show no regard to ethnic background nor any other consideration. (Refer to Deuteronomy 10:17 and Job 34:19 and Galatians 6:7 and 8.)
The non-believer and disobedient will give an account for their actions and entire life. I have not found a Scripture that discusses specific degrees of suffering but I recommend reading 2nd Thessalonians 1:6 to 9 which explains it will include flaming fire with unending destruction without any goodness and mercy. This sounds as though there will be no relief whatsoever. This makes me weep for those who refuse to submit to the LORD who has given every person time to choose a way of life (the choice to love self or to love the Lord). I also note that Jesus had mentioned some who did not follow Him will do better than others who likewise did not obey on the day of Judgment (Matthew 11:21 to 24). If I were asked to elaborate on the differences between punishments for the disobedient, I would decline because I do not know.
The obedient believer will receive an inheritance from the Lord as long as the believer has done it for the LORD heartily (more on this later). Sin prior to regeneration is not remembered (Psalms 103:12, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:2 and 17, and 1st John 1:7). Praise God! If the regenerated soul has done wrong while in Christ, it will be repaid through loss of reward. (Colossians 3:23 to 25; 2nd Corinthians 5:10). Here it is very worthwhile to read the parable of the minas found in Luke 19 verses 11 to 27.
Now, this next element has been wrongly labeled “legalism”. It should be labeled fruit.
4. Judgment is Rendered based on Obedience:
Doesn’t grace cover it all? So many people are deceived or misunderstand what Scripture says about grace. God’s grace is His Divine illumination of the goodness of God that influences the human heart to understand their need for the Saviour and sparks faith in the LORD. God’s grace is His good will, loving-kindness, and merciful favour that attracts lost souls to Christ and is the sufficiency and strength for believers to continue in obedience, affection, and fruitfulness. With this in mind consider the following Scriptures:
- “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:14 to 15).
- “But as you abound in everything (in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us) see that you abound in this grace also.” (2nd Corinthians 8:7).
- “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9).
- “But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” (James 4:6).
- “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4).
God’s mercy forgives us for our sins and His grace gives us what we do not deserve (His goodness, His blessedness, His eternal life and presence, and as such enables faith).
As it is written:
- “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (1st John 3:7 to 9).
So, we see, grace brings you to faith; and, faith to the practice of righteousness with all liberty (free from the bondage of sin and free from religious law).
The non-believer and disobedient are subject to this verse. “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;” (Romans 2:12 and 13). From this, we understand that judgment has nothing to do with any religious observation. Just as there will be people who do not have any religious conviction, there will be work’s based and faith-professing people who have a great deal of knowledge but lack submission to the Holy Spirit. This is (1) trusting in one’s merit, or (2) rebellion which places one’s desires above God’s (idolatry). Knowledge can deceive us and give us a false sense of security. The enemy of our souls and his minions have a clear knowledge of the reality of God but do not come to repentance although they tremble (Refer to James 2:19). The disobedient have their consciences seared (Refer to 1st Timothy 4:1 and 2.) We ought to pray that those we interact with will submit to Christ because He will … cleanse … [the] conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
The obedient believer will love the LORD God with their heart, soul, all their strength, and with all their mind, and ‘their neighbor as themselves (Luke 10:27). The believer will grow in this by the power of the Holy Spirit because this is impossible without God’s grace; His supernatural influence on our hearts. The believer will be imperfectly obedient as the Holy Spirit perfects them as the fruit of the Spirit grows within their lives.
- “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:18 to 25).
It is also to be noted that a believer is to continue in the sanctification process with the Holy Spirit. We are to continually and habitually practice righteousness and good as led by the Holy Spirit and as outlined in the Word of God. Having been justified, and participating in sanctification, we will obtain glorification which is the end state of our salvation, when we share in Christ’s character. Can you imagine? Wow! Consider these passages of Scripture:
- “For we walk by faith, not by sight. … Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2nd Corinthians 5:7, and 9 to 10).
- “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:13 to 14).
- “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight; if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven….” (Colossians 1:21 to 23).
Later I will go deeper into the grace of the LORD. Let’s move on to our final element of judgment.
5. Judgment is Rendered by the Secrets of the Heart:
Do motives matter? So frequently when I chew on the meat of God’s Word, I see the need for His sanctifying work in my heart. The psalmist captured this well:
- “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them, Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:7 to 14)
We have all done something, said something, or believed something that we have regretted and would prefer to remain undisclosed. Jesus said:
- “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” (Luke 8:16 to 18 from the New Living Translation).
What serious statements. Every secret and presumptuous sin of the heart will be exposed in the light of the LORD on the day of judgment. We are responsible to repent for all wrongdoing and for all areas where we fall short of God’s glory. There have been times that I’ve wanted to give myself a break because I know it is impossible for a human being to be perfect while still in this body. Yet, when I consider the LORD’s warning to consider how I consume Scripture, I see that it is better to yield to the discipline of the LORD. If I engage the Word passively and do not pay close attention to what the Holy Spirit would like to develop or prune in my heart, I may become blind to my faults. Either way, I will have to account for my life, so I would rather go through the pruning now and have the opportunity to develop more fruit than stand before the Word of God and have Him ask why I wouldn’t listen.
The truth is that God has given every person a conscience which is supposed to be an indicator of when our thoughts and behaviors are not right or holy.
The non-believer and disobedient still have a moral compass although it is possible to hush it and even scorch it until it is virtually dead. While societies try to create normative morals, the heart of a human being generally knows when something is unethical (when an action seeks to do harm or is dishonorable). Even atheistic and agnostic cultures have laws that govern people. It is interesting to watch societies redefine laws to broaden and narrow what it desires to be acceptable. Barbaric and murderous societies created norms surrounding their practices as well; today, the majority of the planet would consider these behaviors unacceptable. But are there times when it is right? Haven’t our societies defined acceptable times to take the life of another? Where are the lines drawn and by whom? Those who do not accept that a Creator God has defined righteousness for humanity will inevitably revert to barbarianism at some point of extreme crisis where the value of the individual life is devalued (as history has demonstrated). Regardless of societal or cultural constructs, God will judge every person based on the moral law that was originally written in their hearts (Romans 2:15) and He will judge the things that appeared to have remained secret.
The obedient believer has a better hope.
- “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [Now listen and celebrate this next verse]. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1st John 1:5 to 10).
Praise God! You see, the obedient believer comes into the light and admits to the LORD that they have sinned. They take accountability before the LORD and do not try to hide it. They do not justify it and they are willing participants of the LORD’s discipline. So, although we may not like admitting our shortcomings, if we are believers, we will participate in this process. When the LORD cleanses us, we have cleared consciences and freedom.
The challenge is that there is an accuser (whether the enemy of our souls or our own doubt of forgiveness). But, hear me now, you have to love the fact the LORD has already answered that for us. It is written:
- “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (1st John 3:20 to 23).
Ok, I promised you some inspiring hope at the end of my study which largely focused on judgment. Here it is. God’s Word is beautiful and offers the best promises.
- “Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. … But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God.”
- “That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant. … And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.”
- “And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” … And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. … Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The LORD will judge his own people.” … So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.“ (These Scriptures are various passages from Hebrews 8 through 10 from the New Living Translations that explains it all).
Praise God! What hope! What promises! What an outcome for those saved by grace through saving faith; from faith to faith through love.
For those who have not received God’s gift of Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, it is as simple as telling God you believe Jesus is the resurrected Messiah and then asking Him to forgive your sin. As time goes by you need to grow in your faith which will result in turning away from all your sinful patterns, BUT with the help of the HOLY SPIRT because you can’t do it alone. Truth be known, at first we all like our sin and none of us will ever be good enough! If you need evidence of who Jesus Christ is, you should evaluate the Scripture for yourself. Please visit DESIRINGFRUITFULNESS.CA/CHOICES for historical proof which was documented and preserved for thousands of years.
Or you can review the 4 SIMPLE STEPS or concepts to help you ask the LORD to bring you into right standing with Him. The steps are designed to help you know why a prayer of repentance is necessary. There are no “specific words” to pray, but there is a process to coming to faith.
All Scripture in this blog is from the New King James Version unless otherwise specified.