I woke up this morning, opened the paper, and came face-to-face with evil: Gunman kills at least 20 (18 children), charges filed against candidate scam in Florida, Southern Baptist leaders plan release of secret abusers list, and inside China people for disturbing the social order (persecuted for their faith). Reminds me that the list of sinners Paul gave at the end of Chapter two is as fresh as today’s news.
As we journey through the pages of Romans, leaving the list of sins in Chapter one, and now we come to the truth of God’s judgment—His righteous judgment. He judges rightly.
He needs no eyewitnesses, external evidence, or documentation to inform His decision process. Furthermore, He is the witness and the evidence rests in our minds, our souls, and the intentions of our heart.
Is God’s Wrath Right and Just?
He will render to each according to his works: to those who by patience in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality. He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there is wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory, and honor and peace to everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.Romans 2:6-11
Let’s take a few minutes to discuss what we know of judgment and learn what we don’t know. I don’t think we would argue that a judge is a public official appointed to decide cases in the court of law. We expect judges to form and make informed decisions with a sensible (and just) outcome. We expect our judges to judge rightly, fairly, and with justice.
Justice is the impartial assignment of punishment or reward. The system should clearly give every person what they deserve.
What about the Justice System?
But, as we go deeper into the justice system, we discover that there are four types of judgment. Notice carefully how even these types of judgment give us a clue to the heart and character of our God. Justice comes from the character of God. The four types of judgment are:
- Distributive: Determining who gets what.
- Procedural: Determines how fairly people are treated.
- Retributive: Determines punishment for wrongdoing.
- Restorative: Restore relationships to rightness.
Another way we can learn about God’s character and judgment is to take a look at the Hebrew word for judge: “KRINOS”. Unquestionably, it means to separate, to make distinction between, exercise judgment, assume power, to bring to trial, and call to account.
What did Paul Know about Judgment?
Here in Chapter two, Paul is addressing the Christian Jews for their attitude of judgment against the Christian Gentiles. The Hebrews knew and understood the value of judgment. God showed Moses the way of judgments and prepares to put it into action:
You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.Deuteronomy 16:18-20
God knows human heart. We’re wicked and pervert justice. How? Through false witnesses and partial treatment of the rich, at the cost of the poor. He also knows that we accept bribes, commit corporal punishment (killing) against the innocent, bring false charges, and ultimately acquitting the wicked.
God never cuts moral corners or shows partial judgment. He abhors perverted justice. Yes, and the truth is that God’s judgment is different from ours.
God’s judgment is a matter of the heart.
Do we do good out of self-seeking or out of obedience? Real obedience will be rewarded on the last day of Judgment. Praise the Lord for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to make us into new creatures. Our unregenerate soul, by its nature, is disobedient.
With wisdom, understanding, and exceptional experience, an earthly judge will do his best to make the right decision. His decisions will be life changing for the victims and the accused. They should not be subject to bribed, intimidated, or partial. A good human judge reflects, as best he can, the judgment of God.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the awesome God who is not partial and takes no bribes. He executes just for the fatherless and the widow and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.Deuteronomy 10:17-18
But, we are only human. Our souls need rebuke and our hearts need correction. Salvation doesn’t make us immune to God’s judgment. God is just and He is right.
God sees not as we see:
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.2 Chronicles 16:9
… For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.1 Samuel 16:7b
Salvation comes, not because we deserve in, but because when God sees our sins, He sees them covered by the blood of the Lamb.
Outward appearance is no indicator of the mischief inside. Outward appearance cannot predict whether someone will be faithful to obey God or not. Our actions flow from our heart, and the heart refers to our inward moral/spiritual life. This includes our personality, emotions, will, and, yes, reason.
Remember what we learned in Romans 1?
For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven directed against all impiousness and wickedness of men, who, in their wickedness, willfully suppressing the truth that is struggling in their hearts.Romans 1:18
God is in the heart business.
There’s a marked difference between those who live by faith and those who don’t. The Spirit of truth leads the faithful—they refuse to suppress the truth. However, the unfaithful find struggling in their hearts suppressed truth.
The suppressed truth, in the Garden of Eden, brought death. The unsuppressed truth, at the cross, brought eternal life.
Suppressed truth kills.
By faith, we move into an intimate relationship with Christ. His love leads us into all truth. We trust in Him, obey, and submit to His authority. Sadly, the deliberately blind worship false gods, bow to their self-created lies. They live under the shadow of God’s wrath.
But, when the dust clears, it’s a matter of the heart.
God is God and He is holy! He will not and can never tolerate sin. The poison of sin must be annihilated. Yet, because of His great love, our sins are forgiven—not tolerated. He is both righteous and just. We cannot continue in sin and assume we’re immune because of His great mercy.
Sin separates us from God—unconfessed sin harms the heart. God’s love covers a multitude of sins, but let us not fool ourselves into believing we can continue to sin.
God’s judgment is righteous and it is just.
I am not ashamed of the gospel?