COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 2: 1-11
Sunday, February 20, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 2: 1-11
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 2: 1-11
(1) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (2) But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. (3) 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? (4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteousness judgment of God; (6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (11) For there is no respect of persons with God.
Verse 1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. While the apostle has his eye chiefly on the Jews in this chapter, it is not his design to speak only of them, as it appears by his beginning of this verse, “O man.” He uses the universal term “man,” not, O Jews! As well as “whosoever thou art” both here and also in verses 3, 6, 9, 10 and 16. This reproof is directed against all hypocrites of mankind, whether Jew or Gentile. The hypocrite exhibits a show of sanctity before men and even is so foolish as to think his professed morality renders him acceptable in the sight of God. But Paul, after having stated the grosser vices in chapter 1:18-32, that he might prove that none are just before God, now attacks all pretenders and lost religionists, who boast of not being as bad as those in that first catalogue of corruption. Paul censures them, not for their judging and condemning sin and idolatry, but for being guilty in their hearts, and often in their deeds, of the same things for which they condemned others. God’s holy Law declares all men to be guilty before Him (Rom. , 23). They are inexcusable, because they themselves knew the judgment of God, and yet transgressed the Law. They did not consent to these terrible vices of others and seemed to be avowedly even an enemy and reprove of wicked evil; yet they are not themselves free from them, if they really examine themselves, they must admit guilt and bring forth no defense. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught in His Sermon on the Mount that when you condemn the sins of others and are in your heart guilty of the same transgressions, you condemn yourself and are inexcusable before God (Matt. 5: 21-22, 27-28).
All men know that those who sin are worthy of death; that they who commit sin are without excuse, however censorious their self-conceit may render them towards others. “The profane often justly reprehends professors of religion for things which he and they alike practice. The self-righteous moralist and formalist often justly condemn the irreligion of the openly wicked, when in heart they are all alike. All such will be judged out of their own mouths (Luke )” (William S. Plumer). They were doubly deserving of condemnation; for they were guilty of the same vices which they blamed and reproved in others. It is the most absurd, and most unreasonable thing in the world, for any to think they can escape God’s judgment for such sins, or the like, for which others cannot escape their sharp censure. If you think men are strict, you know nothing of the strictness of a Holy God. They did the same things because they were not in a right state of mind; for sin properly belongs to the mind. They condemned themselves on this account.
Verse 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. We (all men) know assuredly, and it is evident, both from Scripture and reason, that God’s judgment, both here and here after, is true and upright. Man must judge by the outward appearance, and he is often deceived by it; it is otherwise by God who sees and knows all, even the thoughts and intents of the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; Heb. ). Paul’s design was to shake the hypocrites off from their self-complacencies, that they might not think that they gain any thing, though they are applauded by the world, and though they regard themselves guiltless; for a far different trial awaits them by God. He charges them with inward impurity and summons them to the tribunal of God, to whom darkness itself is not hid, and by whose judgment the case of sinners must be determined. God judges righteous judgment; He judges of persons and things, not as they are in appearance, but as they are in reality. His judgment is according to truth as will appear in two ways, because He will punish sin without any respect of persons in whomsoever it will be found; and He will not heed outward appearances, nor be satisfied with any outward work, except what has proceeded from real sincerity of heart. The mask of feigned sanctity will not prevent Him from visiting secret wickedness with judgment. “The soul that sinneth shall surely die” for “God will by no means clear the guilty.”
Truth in Hebrew means often the inward integrity of the heart, and thus stands opposed not only to gross falsehood, but also to the outward appearance of good works. We are true to the souls of hypocrites when they are told that God will take an account, not only of their disguised righteousness, but also of their secret motives and feelings. The privileges of those who have enjoyed a Divine revelation (Scripture), being an aggravation of guilt, will be no shield from punishment: and the disadvantages of those who have been destitute of a Divine revelation, though they lessen guilt, will by no means secure impunity. Only in Christ is the true believer free from condemnation because His righteousness is imputed to him (Rom. ; 2 Cor. ).
Verse 3 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 ? You know that in your conscience you cannot deny your iniquity if you examine yourself and submit to the scrutiny of God’s tribunal. You pretend to be better than those who commit the more vile iniquities hiding behind your fictitious sanctity; for men of this class will with astounding security trust in themselves, except their vain confidence be shaken from them by the truth applied to their hearts. What folly and madness is it to imagine, that your own evil deeds should escape the judgment of God “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John ). The refuge which men are always disposed to seek in their supposed advantages of religious professions, belonging to the church, church activities, etc., is a vain refuge. God looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart and His judgments are righteous and true. All men are sinners and guilty before God and must be clothed in perfect righteousness and covered by a sufficient atonement in order to escape (Job 25:4-6). Everyone must be judged according to his own works, and all who are not savingly joined to Christ (in Christ) shall perish (Rom. 8:1, 33, and 34). If then, man cannot escape his own judgment of himself, how can he escape the judgment of God? If forced to condemn ourselves, how much more will the infinitely Holy Jehovah condemn us? Since our sins are subject to the judgment of men, much more are they to that of God, who is the only
TRUE JUDGE of all. Men are indeed led by a Divine instinct to condemn all evil deeds; but this is only an obscure and faint resemblance of the divine judgment. They are deluded, who think that they can escape the judgment of God, though they allow not others to escape His judgment. “It is not without an emphatical meaning that he repeats the word man; it is for the purpose of presenting a comparison between man and God” (John Calvin).
Verse 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? This chapter, especially the first 16 verses, sets forth those principles by which God will act in the Day of Judgment. The first is, he who condemns in others, what he does himself, thereby condemns himself (verse 1). Second, the judgment of God will be according to the real state of the case, everything being taken into impartial consideration (verse 2). Third, the special goodness of God, whether exercised toward a particular individual or a nation, forms no ground of exemption from merited punishment, but when unimproved will only serve to aggravate their condemnation (verses 3-5). As hypocrites are commonly transported with prosperity, as though they have merited the Lord’s kindness by their supposed good deeds, and become thus hardened in their contempt of God, the Apostle anticipates their arrogance, and proves, by an argument taken from a reason of an opposite kind, that there is no ground for them to think that God, on account of their outward prosperity, is propitious to them, since the design of His goodness is far different, and that is, to bring sinners unto Himself. Where then the fear of God does not rule, baseless confidence, on account of prosperity, is contempt and a mockery of His great goodness. Hence it follows, that a greater punishment will be inflicted on those whom God has in this life favored with His goodness; because, in addition to their other wickedness, they have the goodness of Jehovah. And though all the gifts of God are so many evidences of His goodness, yet the ungodly absurdly congratulate themselves on their prosperity, as though they were dear to Him, while He kindly and bountifully supports them.
The Jews imagined that their descent from Abraham (Matt. 3:9; John ), and the special favors they enjoyed from Jehovah would secure them immunity from God’s judgment. In that they erred fatally. Nor are they by any means alone in cherishing such a vain delusion. It is a very common assumption on the part of the children of disobedience that the showering of Heaven’s providential bounties upon them is a sure sign there is nothing for them to fear. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. ). They make the kindness of God a license to continue in sin and regard His longsuffering as indifference to their wickedness. Because their lives are spared and prolonged when many of their acquaintances living a careless life are cut off, or because they are given a large amount of worldly goods, they conclude that God will never deal severely with them. They greatly err, for in their hardness and after their impenitent heart they are treasuring up wrath (their cup is being filled) to be dealt with at the day of wrath of God’s righteous judgment.
The goodness of God is a general term for His kindliness and generosity and the riches show the high value and abundance of them. The principal reference is to Jehovah’s providential blessings and bounties unto the children of men, and which are despised by them when their hearts are unaffected upon the receiving of them. The riches of His forbearance manifest the restraint which our Lord exercises in not immediately executing His vengeance upon such baseless ingrates. The riches of His longsuffering describes the great wonder of the extent of His forbearance in delaying the punishment of those who so greatly abuse His mercies even as He still grants them “space to repent” (Rev. 2:21). Sinner, think not that present immunity from punishment signifies that you may continue to defy God with impunity for the prolongation of your day of opportunity and the continuation of God’s mercies designed to lead you to repentance.
This verse is not speaking from the viewpoint of God’s eternal purpose, nor is its design to teach us how repentance is effectually wrought in the elect. The Holy Ghost is not speaking here of men’s ignorance of His gracious making of sinner’s willing in the day of His power; drawing them by the cords of love and making them willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against the Three-One God, but rather of their failure to perceive the design of His moral government. It is not the Divine decree which is in view, but the moral tendency of God’s providential dispensations. Though the Divine bounties bestowed upon the unregenerate do not soften their hearts, and though the wondrous patience of God with them does not move them to forsake their sins, yet such is the design or moral tendency of both. These mercies and benefits, which should have turned them to God in true repentance and faith, serve only to harden them in their presumption and false profession. This goodness of God ought to produce repentance in all and the reason it doesn’t is solely the fault of their depraved nature. They are without excuse and their case is aggravated in proportion to the mercies they have abused.
“Not knowing”: Sinful man fails to understand the gracious design of the One who is his daily Benefactor because such is the carnal stupidity and moral insensibility of his depraved nature. He neither discerns the trend of God’s kindness nor comprehends his own duty with reference thereto because he is either so filled with self-righteousness as to consider temporal blessings are his due, or so foolish as to draw an entirely false inference from them. The great majority of religious professors and non-professors alike insanely regard God’s goodness as a mark of leniency, or as His indifference to their deplorable conduct. Because of the depraved nature of man God’s very patience hardens his heart and causes him to continue in sin, supposing that He will ever be tolerant with him, even though he goes on defying his sovereign Creator unto the end of his days. Man’s “not knowing” means in a practical way, not duly improving on this truth. Because Divine justice lingers in its execution the wicked assume it has no real existence and is nothing but empty threats. In reality God instead holds back the wrath of His hand and prolongs His demand for man to repent: “Let it alone this year . . . if it bear fruit well; and if not, after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:7-9).
Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward but God is good and doeth good and man is the recipient of much from His hand which relieves his misery, for God in sovereign mercy is over all the works of His hands. He gives all their daily bread and even daily leadeth man with benefits but most receive them without thankfulness and with callous unconcern: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib” (Isa. 1:5) but multitudes do not know their Creator and Provider and refuse to recognize His hand that ministers their needs to them. God in great patience affords time and opportunity for repentance and furnishes motives and encouragement thereto—revealing our responsibility unto One so good, but instead of bowing in heartfelt gratitude to Him man’s depravity and perversity prevents the improvement of His forbearance to their eternal souls. Depraved man hardens his heart and closes his ears to his Master and continues on in his rebellion against Him who is good and gracious. Comparatively few appear thankful for His mercies, and acknowledge with their lips the Lord’s goodness; but they stop there—there is no repentance, no reformation of life.
Oh how different it is with the elect, the regenerate! The goodness of Goes does lead them to true repentance. Their broken and contrite hearts are affected with even His temporal blessings as they are lead to sincerely exclaim: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant” (Gen. 32:10). The Divine blessings the true believers receive, so far from hardening and causing them presumptuously to proceed in rebellion, melt them at Christ’s feet, and cause them to ask: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Psa. 116:12). And they are brought to cry from their hearts, Lord, “what wilt thou have me do?”
Though the present plan of writing this commentary precludes possibility of going into the subject of repentance extensively, for that would require a book in itself, we do offer more than a few pages to this vital new covenant blessing. We shall make a few observations under four heads: 1.That Repentance Is A Responsibility That Must Be Preached In Our Day. 2. What Is True Repentance? 3. False And Deceitful Repentance. 4. True Evangelical Repentance And Its Leading Characters.
1. That Repentance Is A Responsibility That Must Be Preached In Our Day. Evangelical repentance, godly repentance, is a missing note in present day preaching and that is alarming for it is absolutely necessary to salvation. In looking through the Holy Scriptures we find everywhere that there is no salvation without it. Our Lord Jesus Himself demanded it “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” and He came preaching repentance and faith, showing that these two graces are inseparable and that there can be no true faith without true repentance (Mark 1:14-15), for in the very nature of the case it is impossible for an impenitent heart to believe savingly (Matt.21:32). The Apostle was a called bond slave of the Lord Christ and sold out to giving his life, his all, to the preaching of the Gospel and in so doing preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). These two graces were not preached as conditions of salvation, as many teach, but they are covenant blessings, fruits of the Holy Spirit, and infallible tokens of grace here and glory to come. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to make this true and sincere repentance effective in the believer’s mind. It was predicted by the prophet as it would be the immediate consequence of the Lord’s pouring out, in the Gospel days, a spirit of grace and supplication upon God’s elect (Zech. 12:20). And wherever the Holy Ghost has shed His gracious influence and produced these effects, under the preceding instance of His ministry, in “convincing the heart of sin,” the soul will be involuntarily led to bitterly mourn over its fallen and corrupt nature, and “repent in dust and ashes.” Our Lord Jesus was exalted as a Prince and Saviour, “to give repentance to Israel and remission of sins,” (Acts 5:31) and we find the apostles rejoicing upon every occasion, when this blessed gift of the Holy Spirit was imparted (Acts 11:18). And Paul, when recommending to Timothy the manner in which he should labor for the spiritual welfare of his hearers, places all his hopes of the success of his ministry upon this foundation, “if God peradventure would give them repentance to the acknowledgement of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). Then the Lord Jesus gives us His command for preaching repentance throughout the entirety of this Gospel age in His giving God’s method of saving sinners by Him. “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations” (Luke 24:47). Those who know the preciousness of Christ, have any regard to the glory of God, and love for immortals souls, will make this the rule of their preaching; for this doctrine, where known, and experienced in the heart, makes a true Christian. Evangelical repentance flows from an eye that has been enabled to see, an opened hearing ear, and an understanding heart: And is an evidence and effect of Gospel faith (Matt. ).
2. What Is True Repentance? Its leading elements are conviction, contrition, and confession. Where real repentance is present in the heart there is a true sense of sin, a sincere sorrow for sin and its heinousness actions, a true loathing of sin and self; and a holy shame of sin. It is a clean turn around—a change of mind that goes much deeper and includes far more than a mere change of opinion or creed. It is the necessary effect of a new heart. Repentance consists of a radical change of mind about God, about sin, about self, about false religion, about the world. Previously the Three-One God was resisted, now He is owned as rightful Lord (1 Thes. 1:9). Previously sin was delighted in, but now it is hated and mourned over (Psa. 97:10). Previously self was esteemed, but now it is abhorred (John ). Previously we were of the world and its friendship was sought and prized, now our hearts have been divorced from the world and we regard it as our enemy (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). The impenitent see no beauty in Christ that they should desire Him, but a broken and contrite heart sees Him as altogether precious and perfectly suited to his new desires (1 Pet. 2:7). Repentance is called by many names in Scripture: such as, the afflicting of our souls (Lev. ), humbling ourselves (2 Chron. ), a broken heart (Psa. 51:17), a contrite spirit (Isa. 66:2), a smiting upon the thigh (Jer. 31:9), Mourning (Zech. ), weeping bitterly (Matt. 26:75). Our Romans 2:4 verse means that it is by God’s goodness that repentance is wrought in us by the gracious operations of His Spirit and it is a sense of His goodness which melts and breaks our hard and stubborn hearts.
Repentance is a mighty work, a difficult work, a work above our power. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, and that made the world, is required to break the heart and turn the heart of a sinner. Depraved man is unwilling and unable to break his own heart; unable and unwilling to turn to the Lord; as unable to repent as he is to raise his own spiritually dead soul. As the Puritan Thomas Brooks so well said, “Repentance is a flower that grows not in nature’s garden.” “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. ). Repentance is a gift that comes down from heaven in Holy Ghost power (Acts ). It is a work done by God in the soul as it must be for no mortal has the power to repent.
In our last two heads on repentance we hope to show the leading characters, which distinguish the true and sincere repentance that comes from God, from the false and deceitful form, which is all too commonly relied on in the religious world.
3. False And Deceitful Repentance. There is such a thing as false, legal repentance in which there is no hatred of past transgressions, but mere remorse over their consequences and distress over what may result from their iniquity, God’s dreadful wrath. The sinner may tremble under the dread of damnation and it may even be said of him that he repented. Judas thus repented himself, and said I have sinned. But his grief was the “sorrow of the world” which “worketh death” (Matt. 27:3 & 2 Cor. ). On the contrary, the great feature of true repentance which arises from the Spirit of grace in the heart, is an irreconcilable hatred of sin—sin as the cause of separation from God and the cause of all misery, accompanied with the most heart wrenching sorrow, for having offended a so infinitely gracious and merciful God. Judas was filled with horrors but he was totally without godly sorrow; God was not in his heart. True repentance melts the sinner and turns him to God, but false repentance, such as Judas performed, was unto damnation and he fled from the presence of God and “went out and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5). Natural fears, legal terrors and desire for security may excite “the sorrow of the world,” without the grace of true repentance. The man who has lost his reputation by dishonesty, or broken his constitution by intemperance; he who has reduced himself to poverty by extravagance (as the prodigal son), or ruined his family by dissipation; in short, whosoever by his vices of any kind has brought misery upon himself — no man can but look back with sorrow upon such conduct productive of evils. But if this is all the cause of his distress, it is evident there is no regard to God in it; it all arises from merely personal and worldly considerations; there is no compunction or heart for a life of ingratitude and rebellion against the Holy One; no sorrow for having slighted the sufferings of the blessed Redeemer for sin; nor distress for having grieved the Holy Spirit. In this false faith the only motives which induce sorrow are present pain and the presage of future punishment and the Apostle Paul says that every species of repentance induced by such causes are but the sorrow of the world that worketh eternal separation from God 2 Cor. 7:10. False repentance is man concerned solely for his own welfare and security from future punishment. It is all about, or the effect of, fear and dread of punishment. They like to talk about being “saved from Hell” and if they reform from one sin they still love the cause of their misery and find their delight in other sins. False repentance is purely mechanical for the heart and life remains the same as before. It is a reformation but for a season and has no real life changing effects, plus, it is partial and intends no more than what may be hoped to compensate for past sins without a real change of heart and life.
4. True Evangelical Repentance And Its Leading Characters. But if we analyze the repentance which arises from the operation of the blessed Spirit in the heart, we find all those properties which prove it to be pure and genuine. The true penitent has an eye principally to God in all the causes and motives of his sorrow. The language of his heart is, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. ). He cries with David, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned” in the 51st Psalm where he pleads to be every way reconciled to God and made anew by receiving a “broken spirit and a contrite heart” from His hand. The greatest distress of the truly awakened sinner arises from his consciousness of his deep depravity and guilt and in true repentance he is brought to the place of bemoaning himself and turning from self to God (Jer. 31:18-19). The truly penitent are not induced so much by the fear of punishment as the dread of sin: not for this reason only, that he is conscious of being liable to the awful judgment of God, but that he is a guilty wretch and he is sensible he justly deserves damnation. With Job he is brought to abhor self in true repentance and brokenness before God (Job 42:5-6) and though in the contemplation of the rich mercies of Christ, he is led to hope that God will forgive him, yet he cannot forgive himself.
True spiritual repentance that is produced by the godly sorrow that the Holy Ghost works in the sinner has the following marks: (1) A deep sense of sin, produced by the Spirit’s application to the sinner’s inward parts of the spirituality of the Law, for only by the Law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 7:7), for “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Guiltiness felt, and the consciousness of being obnoxious to punishment is followed by: (2) Sorrow for sin, as its misery is revealed by the Holy Ghost in the revealed light of Christ’s sufferings. The sinner looks on the Crucified Lord Jesus, Whom he has pierced, and that sinner mourns (Zech. 12:10), and the heart-felt grief which brings such stress to his mind is for his sin as the dreadful thing which wounded and slew the blessed Son of God; and this produces: (3) A true hatred of all sin, as its malignity and vileness becomes more and more known, under the teaching of the convincing Holy Ghost. A real hatred of all sin is one sure effect of the application of the Blood of Atonement to the conscience. Then on this pathway to penitence there is: (4) Brokenhearted confession of sin unto God, all sin, hiding nothing, but seeking for remission and cleansing from the hands from HIM Who delights to show mercy by pardoning sinners. True confession of sin in true repentance is followed by: (5) Forsaking of sin. Indeed, repentance is the act of the sinner turning from sin to the Saviour, relying on the promise. “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. ).
“Be assured, O soul, there shall be a performance of all things that are promised of the Lord, to him that believeth. That same Jesus, who gives the soul, the humbling view of self, and by repentance, to turn to Him, will give it the joyful knowledge of Himself, by the remission of sins, through faith in His blood. Repentance and remission of sins are joined together in preaching: they can never be separated in the experience of the heart. So sure as repentance is given, to any soul, by the Spirit of Jesus, that soul is forgiven by God the Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph.1:7)” (William Mason).
Verse 5 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. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. ). The sinner sees that God does not strike immediately when he commits sin, retribution does not overtake him, and he hardens his heart still further. The depraved, stubborn, hardhearted sinner trusts his own supposed righteousness and works while he continues in rebellion against God’s longsuffering. The Scriptures place the sin of the heart very much in hardness of heart (Mark ).
The special benefits that man was favored with by the Lord adds to their condemnation for by their continued impenitence and foolishly thinking that judgment will never fall upon them, they are but amassing an ever-accumulating stock of Divine wrath. If God waits to punish sin and man despises His waiting and ignores His motive, then he has added to the cause of wrath, i.e., the wrath accumulates. It is not the grossly wicked who are in view but it is those who boast of their good life and their profession (as seen in vs. 7-10), yet they provoke more and more the wrath of God against themselves; by heaping up sins, they heap up His judgment upon themselves. The measure of their iniquity is not full but “Their feet shall slide in due time” (Deut. 32:35) — they have a vain confidence now, but their feet will slide and at the other end of life are the final judgment and the depths of hell. Although the present age is not without its tokens of God’s righteous judgment, it is now more or less in abeyance, but there is a set time, an appointed Day, when it shall be made fully manifest. It is spoken of as the end of the Day of Judgment, that grand consummation of God’s moral government of the world, and the day for the bringing all things to their designed ultimate issue. The end of the Day of Judgment is not to find out what is just, as it is with human judgments, but it is to manifest what is just; to make known God’s justice in the judgment which He will execute, to men’s own consciences, and to the world. And therefore that day is called “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
We shall have much more to say regarding this final General Judgment in verse 16 of this chapter. We close the comments on this 5th verse with a quote from Thomas Shepard as he says concerning this General judgment: “God’s justice calls for it. This world is the stage where God’s patience and bounty act their parts, and hence every man will profess and conceive, because he feels it, that God is merciful. But God’s justice is questioned; men think God to be all mercy, and no justice; all honey, and no sting. Now, the wicked prosper in all their ways, are never punished, but live and die in peace; whereas the godly are daily afflicted and reviled. Therefore, because this attribute suffers a total eclipse almost, now, there must come a day wherein it must shine out before the entire world in the glory of it.”
Verse 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds. This revelation of God’s wrath is not immediate. It is a wrath to come in the day or wrath. The Apostle Paul at Athens, while explaining how God has delayed His punishment and overlooked the times of ignorance, i.e., passed over them temporarily, but now He demands all men repent, because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Who is God and ordained to be the Judge of all men, for this judgment will be universal on that day. Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God (Rom. ) that the rights of God may be enforced upon moral agents. In the day of the revelation of His righteous judgment, God “will render to every man according to his deeds.” Then will be fulfilled that word of the Lord Christ “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John ). Men are responsible to employ in God’s service the faculties He has given them (Matt. 25:14-30; Luke ). They are responsible to improve the opportunities God has afforded them (Matt. 11:20-24; Luke 19:41-42).
The Holy Ghost, here in this verse, demolishes every vestige of hope that some may foolishly have of escape from judgment, by plainly saying that every human being will have to give an account of his or her deeds to God (Rom. 2:9; Matt. 25:32; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10; and Rev. 20:12). Two shocks await every false professor and everyone who goes through this life indifferent toward sin. They will be horrified to find that all that lies ahead of them is judgment and that nothing of the past is any longer secret, but all is open to God, to them and to all others. While the formal review of each person’s past will await “The Great Day of God’s Wrath,” he discovers immediately upon dying that he is in a state of misery, in a place of no privileges such as we have on earth, and he has no covering for his sins, no relief from his woes, no hoped-for answers to his prayers, and no way of escape from the future day of righteous reckoning and explanation of what he deserves. The unsaved do not immediately get rid of their deceptive ideas about God, about prayer, or about the standards by which we, in this life, as well as the next, are reckoned wrong in God’s sight. In fact the rich man of Luke 16, the unsaved of Matt. 25:41-46, as well as all that we foresee in the horrifying, symbolic pictures of Rev. 11:18-19; 16:12-21; and 19:19-21, all show that this deceived state continues right up until they will hear the Lord’s final, last terrible word, “Depart,” when the public display of sin and righteousness has ended, before the great white throne. Deceived professors and sinners who ignored, excused or falsely imagined that their good life or their little profession will atone for their sins, will be shocked to discover that judgment is not primarily for acts or words of evil, BUT FOR MOTIVES
AND INTENTS OR OBJECTIVES.
For the saints of God there are rewards — not the reward of merit, for there is none — but the reward of grace, and not of debt. The Greek word “attoo8vai” imports not only a just retribution, but a free gift, as in Matt. 20:8. Good works are the rule of his proceeding, not the cause of his retribution: see Luke 17:10. It is our Lord above that worketh all our works in us (Isa. 26:12; John 15:5). As the great Puritan John Trapp said, “We do what we do; but it is He that causeth us so to do.”
Verse 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life. The final judgment will turn on character alone. “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). This denotes the enduring and progressive character of the new life in the saints of God. As Charles Hodge says, “God will render eternal life to the good, indignation and wrath to the wicked, without distinction of persons; to the Jews no less than to the Gentiles.” The words of this verse are descriptive of the saints of God who have the true principles of grace implanted in them by the inward saving work and power of the Holy Ghost. Natural men seek after the glory and approval of the world and make worldly glory the scope of their actions but these renewed persons exhibit the character of those who have, in faith and perseverance, sought the glory of God in Christ, “to be glorious within and without, by the grace and righteousness of Christ here, and to enjoy eternal glory with Him hereafter” (John Gill). They seek that honour which abides in Christ, and immorality in Christ, or the resurrection of life. (Phil. 3:10-11). God will render to them eternal life!
The Roman Catholics, and many other work mongers, mishandle this passage and make great noise regarding their great error built around it. They have sought to show that God is going to find some merit in the works of man as they blindly ignore the Biblical teaching that mankind is divided into two classes: those who by God’s grace obey Him and those who refuse to be submitted to Him. The heavenly aspirations which characterize the righteous are not found through their works or in a hard and “impenitent heart” (v. 5), but are the fruit of a restored relationship with our Holy Triune God through Christ (Ezek. 36:26-27). It is of these who show this fruit of regeneration in their souls that God is speaking. No one has them, for all are sinful and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Obedience and perseverance are the invariable marks of those who cherish a living hope (Col. 1:22-23).
Verses 7 and 10 describe the true saints of God while 8 and 9 describe the unregenerate and the false professors. This 7th verse does not discuss means or methods of showing a genuine desire for a better disposition and destiny, but says where God as Judge views the desire He gives eternal life. We end our comments on this verse with a lengthy quote of Donald Grey Barnhouse: “God’s line of demarcation is sharply drawn at the Cross of Jesus Christ. On one side there is a group that is characterized as seekers after glory, honor and incorruption. To them, at the end of their persevering pursuit of well doing, there shall come the glory of the eternal reward. On the other side is the rest of humanity. They may be subdivided into evil unbelievers and not so evil unbelievers, but the result is the same. They shall come into the condemnation of God’s just wrath which shall be exercised according to truth and righteousness against those who know Him not, and who obey not the Gospel of His Son (2 Thes. 1:8). Yes, there are two classes of people, characterized by two modes of life, and the judgment of God will be in accordance with truth, and on the basis of these two modes of life, which stem from the Cross. The moment that the truth of God is declared it divides men. It does it by bringing out one group into the truth of God and revealing that the others remain as they always have been. You are either the servant of truth or the foe of truth. It is impossible to be neutral toward the Divine revelation. Christ declared, ‘He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad’ (Matt. ).
“In spite of appearances, we may boldly say that every individual who has been born again must thereby be in the class of those who are doing good, who are seekers of glory, and honor, and incorruption. If this be not the case, it is inevitable that the individual is not a believer in the Bible sense at all. There is, therefore, no uncertainty as to the inclusion of every one of the saints — for that is what the Bible calls the believers — in the class of seekers after glory, honor, and incorruption. The later chapters (of Romans) will show that the individual is brought into that class not by human efforts, but by Divine grace. It is by the creation within us of the Divine nature that we become essentially the doers of good and the seekers after glory. The good that the Christian does is not the cause of his going to Heaven, but is the proof of the existence within him of the life which God communicates through Christ . . . for salvation is entirely a work of grace, and our continuance in the pursuit of well doing stems as much from the grace of God as does our first step toward the Lord Jesus in salvation.”
Verse 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. In contrast with those who manifested in their character the inward graces of regeneration the apostle shows that the other sort of persons is contentious, rebellious and stubborn. They contend for victory and to prove themselves correct rather than for truth. They are hypocrites and “strive about words to no profit; are quarrelsome, and sow discord among men and in the churches” (John Gill). They are self-seeking, self-willed, self-righteous and disobedient to the God of truth, the Gospel of truth. They are consumed with selfishness, ambition, party spirit, and malice. They stand in malicious opposition to God, His law and requirements.
By the word truth is meant the revealed will of God and they do not like to retain Him in the knowledge He revealed of Himself through nature, nor regard and submit to the revelation given in the Gospel. The ungodly, whether religious professors or rank sinners prefer to be in bondage to sin rather than bow in humble submission to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. Whatever obedience they may pretend in their hypocrisy, in their hearts they never cease to clamor and struggle against God’s word. For as the openly wicked scoff at the truth, so the hypocrites oppose it by their artificial modes of worship. The apostle denounces those who bring reproach on the name of God by boasting in circumcision and an intellectual knowledge of His Law as the Jews did while they failed to show the life or love which must mark those who are really vitally joined to God in Christ by the eternal covenant of grace and the ties of genuine faith. All outward signs like circumcision, baptism, church membership, or free will decisions are only degraded tokens, fraud and deception.
All that know not God and obey not the Gospel obey unrighteousness. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), and is therefore a direct attack upon the authority of the Lawgiver, which calls forth His righteous reaction of ‘wrath and indignation.” The very Holy character of God demands that sin shall be punished (2 Thes. 1:7-10). Sin is not ignorance; it is rebellion, lawlessness and lawless attitude. It is refusal to walk in the light you have. As Rolfe Barnard stated, “Sin is absolutely willful, for sin means you are trying to live in God’s world as if you were God.” “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. ) and God Himself has declared that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish shall be upon all sinners. Man, whatever he likes to think of himself, is a wretched sinner, exposed to the eye of a Holy God, and lying helpless, even while filled with dreams of pride, before the wrath of God. Eternal punishment, eternal separation from God, eternal doom is the wage of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ had more to say about eternal punishment upon unbelievers than all of His apostles. The Holy Ghost, speaking through His servant Paul, here tells men that they are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, describing it as a day of indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish. In the first chapter there was a lengthy list of sins describing the terrible bestiality coming from the hearts of sinful men in their departure from God. But here the description could fit a preacher of human righteousness, professor, or religious hypocrite. The man of contention, regardless of his profession, has the general current of his life outside the revealed will of God and as they fight truth within their heart, they will ultimately be contending against those who proclaim the truth (James -16).
Verse 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. The wrath of God in its fiercest form is reserved for all those who have an attitude of opposition to the truth of Jehovah as revealed in the Scriptures. We are told in Psalms 138:2 that God has magnified His Word above all His Name so we see what a terrible thing it is to be of contention, contending against God in willful rebellion against His Holy Word. Those who begin with an attitude of rebellion and a life lived in disobedience to the truth are seen to be ‘obedient unto unrighteousness.’ They do not think there is unrighteousness in their life but that is because they measure themselves, not by the Holy Word and Law of God, but by their own standards. Reader, if you are not cleaving to the righteousness of Christ as a helpless sinner, you are obeying unrighteousness.
The 8th and 9th verses show us the nature of the eternal punishment that awaits all unbelievers and evil doers. Indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish are the four words used here to describe the eternal punishment of the impenitent. “Indignation” means to breathe violently and shows that God will break forth as a heat, as a consuming fire, against the rebellious, disobedient, unrighteous opposers of Him. It is a rapid, explosive wrath while the next word “wrath” signifies God’s settled displeasure, a developing anger that will eternally exhibit itself in punishing the rebel. In Romans these rebels are shown to be vessels into which the swelling sap of God’s rising wrath shall be poured. The third word is “Tribulation” and it pictures Christ as treading the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. The fourth and last word is “anguish” which is rendered sometimes as distress. It gives the idea of being confined in prison in dire calamity and extreme affliction.
There is a tendency today (in the enthusiasm created by speculation as to the future of the Jewish people) to regard the Jew as being a “special case” for the Divine favor despite their obdurate unbelief in the Deity of Christ. But there are no exceptions, and there is no difference. They who do not honor Christ as God do not honor God at all, and must suffer the pains of eternal woe in consequence. Modern sects and religions must share with unbelieving Jews and modernistic professors and theologians, the fate of all the wicked who do not know Christ as God and who refuse to submit themselves to His scepter. No exceptions exist for neither race, nor genealogy, nor orthodoxy, nor intellect, will provide a shelter in the judgment, from the fiery indignation of God and the wrath of the Lamb. Those who plead for a Jewish precedence over the rest of mankind had better attend to the Word which says, “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.”
The crowning fact and key to the mystery of all being is given in John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into his hands.” Would we know why God does a certain thing? It is because He loves the Son. This is the reason behind the election of grace; behind creation itself. For this reason the world was made and history directed ceaselessly in its course to its great consummating goal. “The Father loveth the Son and hath given (from all eternity) all things into His hands.” Our Lord Himself declares “All things are delivered unto me of my Father” (Matt. ), and again, “I have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18). And yet again, “All power is given me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:19). It is part of the eternal act of Deity that to the Son should be imparted the Father’s Name, power and wisdom. The eternal destiny of all intelligent creatures, men, angels and devils, depends upon Him of Whom John the evangelist declares, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). All destiny is thus determined in the Son. All the decisions of history and conclusions reached in this world are His. Jewish unbelief is clearly in view as is the unbelief of the Gentile world. “Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile.”There is an unbelief which places the soul finally beyond the boundary of Divine mercy — a sin which has no forgiveness, neither in this world nor in that which is to come. The “evil” that man doeth spoken of here and in all the Word of God is quite simply that which displeases God. It is that for which every unbeliever is damned for eternity. The Jew foolishly imagined that the mere possession of privilege was in itself a certain protection against damnation.
We conclude the comments on this 9th verse with a timely quote by Rolfe Barnard: “There is only one other thing, but thank God there is one other thing which God uses to punish sin, and that’s blood. One drop of Christ’s blood — oh, one drop of Christ’s precious blood — just one drop satisfied God’s eternal justice more than 20 million years of burning fire . . . God looks at the blood and passes over those whose sins are covered by His blood. Thanks be unto God. Some of us sing that little couplet: ‘My only hope, my only plea, Christ Jesus died and He died for me,’ and that’s our faith, and that’s our trust, and our only trust and our only hope, but thank God, it abides forever.”
Verse 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. John Gill wrote in his great commentary, “But glory, honour, and peace . . . Which are so many words for the everlasting happiness of the saints; which is a crown of glory, that fadeth not away; an honour exceeding that of the greatest potentates upon earth, since such that enjoy it will be kings and priests and sit with Christ on His throne to all eternity. It is a peace that passes all understanding, all which will be rendered to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile; which none without Christ, and His grace and the strength of nature does or can do; not that good works are causes of salvation, but are testimonies of faith and fruits of grace, with which salvation is connected, whether they be found in Jews or Gentiles — for neither grace nor salvation are peculiar to any nation or set of people.” The mercy of God will be upon all men in Christ Jesus for there is no respect of persons with God (Rom. -23; -13).
The “glory” that the saints of God seek is the glory of God. What happens to the saint is of no consequence to them if only the Three-One God be glorified. But when the day of earthly life is over, the Father gives the saints glory, a glory that shall be upon every child of God. Peter tells us in his first epistle () that God raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave Him glory. In the last evening of his physical life upon this earth Christ says, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22).
The “honor” which the saints seek here below is not honor for themselves. The whole Scripture is the story of the company of men and women who have turned away from earthly honors, and count them as dung for Christ’s sake. Christ said, “I receive not honour from men . . . How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:41, 44). He further declared that the Father had given Him the exalted position of judgment in order that all men should honor Him, even as they honor the Father (John 5:22-23). The mark of the true believer is that he bows in reverence to God the Son as well as God the Father (John 17:3) and honors them in their Oneness. The true saint of God will never give the Father a position superior to that which he gives to God the Son. And when we have sought to honor the Son the Triune God will place beside Himself those who thus honor the Lord Christ. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:21).
Finally, for the incorruption and purity which the saints seek they shall receive “peace.” In this life the believer has been promised tribulation (Acts ) because he seeks incorruption, purity of life. It is the seeking of incorruption, purity of life, purity of doctrine that reveals the characteristics of a renewed sinner. In that eternal day there will be given glory for glory, honor for honor, and peace for incorruption for the saints shall have entered into His holiness and that will bring peace for evermore.“Glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good. They that carry themselves well either in suffering or working for God, shall have glory, and honour, and peace from God. No man needs blow a trumpet in his own praise, when he hath done well, as the Pharisees did (Matt 6). What we do well the Lord will report to all the world” (Joseph Caryl).
Verse 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. The fact that God is not a respecter of persons is often used by the free willers against Calvinism as if it were a complete refutation of sovereign election. The unlearned and unstable in the truths of free grace salvation so clearly taught throughout the entire Scripture, wrest this, as they do other Scriptures; and bring this declaration of Paul’s, to subvert the fundamental truths of the Gospel, and the only way of salvation, which all the apostles taught, namely, by “election, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
God’s electing grace proves beyond doubt that He is no respecter of persons. As A. W. Pink said: “The seven sons of Jesse, though older and physically superior to David, are passed by while the young shepherd-boy is exalted to
’s throne. The scribes and lawyers pass unnoticed, and ignorant fishermen are chosen to be the apostles of the Lamb. Divine truth is hidden from the wise and prudent and is revealed to babes instead. The great majority of the wise and noble are ignored, while the weak, the base, the despised, are called and saved. Truly, God is no respecter of persons or He would not have saved me.” This is a most comfortable truth to those who feel in their hearts themselves to be the vilest of the human race. There is nothing, in the person of any one above another that can claim respect in the sight of God. This the natural Jew and false professors do to their own peril. All are alike corrupt and become abominable. There is, naturally, no fear of God before our eyes. There is none that doeth good; no not one. There is no difference. Jew and Gentile, publican and Pharisee, outwardly devout, and openly profane, are all upon one level, in point of justification before God. Enlightened souls see and mournfully own this, in deep humility and self abasement. Proud Pharisees challenge, and claim respect from God, because, they think, their persons and characters are more amiable in His sight than others. The only question which will be before the court in the judgment of the last day will be: Are you and I in Christ? If we are found at that day to be in Christ, all will go well with us, but if we are found then not to be in Christ, according to the teaching of our Lord in Matt. 25, our lot for all eternity will be with the devil and his followers. Israel
All persons, Jew and Gentile, with a new heart which truly loves and fears the Lord, will be with Christ and the saints of God for ever, while the pretenders, the hypocrites, will be judged for what they really are inwardly and cast into the lake of fire forever. Regardless of all claims and pretensions we are not in Christ unless we have a principle of true holiness in our hearts wherein we love the Lord our God and have in us a reverential fear which is born of that love. RCLVC
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 2:1-11
Verses 1 – 3. Judge not, hypocritically. This form of unlawful judgment was particularly before our Lord on this occasion, as appears from the verses which immediately follow. The one who is quick to detect the minor faults of others while blind to or unconcerned about his own graver sins is dishonest, pretending to be very precise while giving free rein to his own lusts. Such two-facedness is most reprehensible in the sight of God, and to all right-minded people too (Rom. 2:1). No matter what may be his social standing, his educational advantages, his religious profession, the one who is guilty of partiality, who censures in others that which he allows in himself, is inexcusable and self-condemned. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
A desire to disgrace others never sprang from grace. — George Swinnock (1627-1673).
There are many who want to be saved from the consequences of their sin, who do not want to be saved from the love of it. Many want to be delivered from sin’s curse and sin’s wages, who do not want to bow their neck to the yoke of Christ. There are many who are attracted by the Gospel message and see the way of salvation, which are still possessing a craving for this present evil age. How great the need for care, lest by an inadequate presentation of the truth of the Gospel we deceive these souls into a false profession. There is a grave danger that many people will make a mistake of substituting an emotional religious crisis for a born again experience. To preach Christ as Saviour without preaching Christ as Lord makes a mockery of the Gospel and the entire Christian life. There must be true repentance (Acts -23). THE
SON OF GOD DOES NOT SAVE REBELS. There must be true submission (repentance) before there can be salvation. What a parody of the Gospel when many are told to ‘trust Jesus to take them to Heaven when they die,’ who nevertheless are living in the practice of sin and rebellion against His laws. The grace of God does not give deliverance to the sinner from the penalty of his sins and then give him liberty to live a life of sin. Paul tells us that the pardoning grace of God TEACHES us to live a life of HOLINESS. Read Titus 2:11-15. — Scottish Evangelist James A. Stewart (d. 1975).
The Judge Himself is inflexibly just. In the high court of Divine justice God takes the law in its strictest and sternest aspect, and judges rightly according to the letter. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
I had rather that true and faithful teachers should rebuke and condemn me, and reprove my ways, than that hypocrites should flatter me and applaud me as a saint. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
For although they refuse to admit that they are enemies of God and of one another when it concerns themselves, they constantly pass this very judgment upon one another. It is of this very corrupt but also very revealing business among men that the apostle writes Rom. 2:1-3. — Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965).
Sin never calls a truce or lays down the weapons of its rebellion, but persists in its active hostility to God. If Divine grace does not work a miracle in subduing such enmity and planting in the heart a contrary principle which opposes it, what must be the doom of such creatures. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Mortal man, however, however inimical he may be, cannot carry his enmity beyond death, but the power of God is not confined to such narrow limits. We often escape from men; we cannot escape the judgment of God. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Verse 4. We preach repentance as a fruit of the Spirit, or else we greatly err. — C H Spurgeon (1834-1892).
When men truly believe in Christ they also turn away from their sins, for someone has so ably said, “Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith.” You do not have one without the other. It is God that sinners have sinned against; they have broken His holy Law and hated His righteous Person (Rom. -32). So it is toward God that sinners must repent. Men are only saved by the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, so it is toward Him that they must look in faith, trusting in Him alone as Saviour. “Repentance of sin and faith in divine pardon are the warp and woof of the fabric of real conversion,” said Spurgeon. — W. F. Bell
Repentance includes self-abhorrence; as a man not only loathes poison, but the very dish or vessel that smells of it (Ezek. 29:43). — Brookes.
Oh, cry to God that your repentance be not mere natural remorse; a ‘repentance’ not worthy of the name, for it gives God no glory (Rev. 16:9). When men are caught in iniquity and punished, they repent. When the errors of his life have been exposed, every man will feel a temporary sorrow and shame. But allow him to evade punishment and he returns to his old ways. — Wylie
W Fulton (b. 1939).
Repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation as well as other graces. True repentance is a continued spring, where the waters of godly sorrow are always flowing. “My sins are ever before me.” A true penitent is often casting his eyes back to the days of his former vanity. “I was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,” saith the apostle. Repentance is a continued act of turning, a repentance never to be repented of, a turning never to turn again to folly. A true penitent can as easily content himself with one act of faith, or one act of love, as he can with one act of repentance. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
The most faithful admonitions are ignored by us unless God is pleased to sanctify them to us. Only in His light can we see ourselves. It was an additional mercy which wrought in them godly sorrow, which in turn caused them to mourn for their sins and put right what was wrong; it is the goodness of God which leads to repentance. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
This repentance Jesus is exalted to give (Luke 24:47). This makes a proud sinner humble. Remission of sin makes a poor sinner, a happy saint. Hath Christ obtained remission of sins by His blood? hath He commanded this should be preached in His name? is He exalted to give it? hath He brought the poor sinner, by His Spirit, to His feet to sue for it? and will He refuse to make that soul happy , in the sense of it? Never, never, let such a thought be indulged any poor, sensible sinner. We read no such hard lines in His Word. We find no such dejecting views from His life and death. The doctrine He prescribed is a lively transcript, of all that was in His loving heart. — William Mason (1719-1791).
“And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. ). But this is a day that was never read of, a day wherein conversion is frequent without repentance; such a conversion as it is; and therefore doth the
now swarm with them that religiously name the name of Christ and yet depart not from iniquity. Alas! All homes, all tables, all shops have hanging up in them the sign of the want of repentance (Eccl. -28). To say nothing of the talk, of the beds and the backs of most that profess; by which of these is it one of a thousand for men, and for women one of ten thousand, do show that they have repentance? No marvel, then, that the name of Christ is so frequently mentioned there, where iniquity dwells; yea, reigns, and that with the consent of the mind. I would not be austere, but were wearing of gold, putting on of apparel, dressing up houses, decking of children, learning of compliments, boldness in women, worse in men, wanton behavior, lascivious words, and tempting carriages, signs of repentance, then I must say the fruits of repentance swarm in our land; but if these be none of the fruits of repentance, then, O the multitude of professors that religiously name the name of Christ and do not depart from iniquity. — John Bunyan (1628-1688). Church of God
The saint is a penitent until he reaches Heaven. — R. L Dabney (1820-1898).
Every mercy, whether spiritual or temporal, has been forfeited by sin; thus it is impossible ever to die to sin without a true sense of sin, a godly sorrow for it, a hatred of it, and self loathing because of it. — Tom L. Daniel (1906-1972).
Verse 5. There are no impenitent people in the
. — J. C. Ryle (1816-1900). kingdom of Heaven
God’s wrath is in the Bible is always judicial — that is, it is the wrath of the Judge, administering justice. Cruelty is always immoral, but the explicit presupposition of all that we find in the Bible — and in Edward’s sermons, for that matter — on the torment of those who experience the fullness of God’s wrath is that each receives precisely what he deserves — Anon
There is something peculiarly heinous in sinning against the mercy of God more than other attributes. There is such base and horrid ingratitude, in being the worse to God, because He is a being of infinite goodness and grace, that it above all things renders wickedness vile and detestable. This ought to win us, and engage us to serve God better; but instead of that, to sin against Him the more, has something inexpressibly bad in it, and does in a peculiar manner enhance guilt, and increase wrath, as seems to be intimated in Rom. 2:4-5. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Verse 6. This is the day and the scene whereof the apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans, “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.” For the records are all there; and we may be well assured that God’s accounts are both complete and exact. — Philip Mauro (1859-1952).
No one is redeemed except through unmerited mercy, and no one is condemned except through merited judgment. — Augustine (354-430).
The thought of eternity particularly delights those assured of grace, while it terrifies others. — J. A. Bengel (1687-1752).
The Bible’s proclamation of God’s work as Judge is part of its witness to His character. It confirms what is said elsewhere of His moral perfection, His righteousness and justice, His wisdom, omniscience, and omnipotence. It shows us also that the heart of the justice which expresses God’s nature is retribution, the rendering to men what they have deserved; for this is the essence of the Judge’s task. To reward good with good, and evil with evil, is natural to God. So, when the New Testament speaks of the final judgment, it always represents it in terms of retribution. God will judge all men, it says, ‘according to their works’ (Matt. 16:27 & Rev. 20:12f). Paul here (
2:6-11) shows the retributive principle applies throughout: Christians, as well as non-Christians, will receive “according to their works.” Christians are explicitly included in the reference when Paul says ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). — Anonymous. Rom.
Those who will not deliver themselves into the hand of God’s mercy cannot be delivered out of the hand of His justice. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
Verse 7. Every true Christian preserves in the way of universal obedience, and diligent and
earnest service of God, through all the various kinds of trials that he meets with, to the end of life. That all true saints, all that do obtain eternal life, do thus persevere in the practice of religion, and the service of God, is a doctrine so abundantly taught in the Scripture, that particularly to rehearse all the texts which imply it would be endless. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Everything about us is passing away and coming to an end, and our life’s race is apt to end any moment of any day. We have no lease on life. It is a journey from the cradle to the grave, from time to eternity, and ere we are aware we shall have arrived at our final destination — Heaven for the righteous and Hell for the unsaved sinner. This is the clear teaching of the Bible, our only infallible source of information. —
I. C. Herendeen (1893-1992).
Having the Word of God is a wonderful boon if we rightly use it, but it will lead to terrible trouble and additional torment to every soul that fails to respond to it in continuing repentance, loving obedience and persistent search after fuller immortality and life. — J. R. Boyd (d. 1994).
The root of all steadfastness is in consecration to God. — Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910).
No labor is servile when the Lord’s approval is the paramount consideration. — Geoffrey B.
The pure in heart shall see God; all others are but blind bats. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
No sin is secret and none is forgiven except those that are under Christ’s blood. — J. R. Boyd (d. 1994).
Verse 8. At the heart of everything that the Bible says are two great truths, which belong inseparably together — the majesty of the law of God, and sin as an offence against that law. — J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).
Righteousness is a delight to God in the same proportion as iniquity is an abomination to Him. But how He rules and overrules, by His secret counsel, all those things that are done wickedly by man, it is not ours to define. But it is ours to be assured and to declare that in whatsoever God doeth He never deviates from His own perfect justice! — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Satan is not fighting churches; he is joining them. He does more harm by sowing tares than by pulling up wheat. He accomplishes more by imitation than by outright opposition. — Vance Havner (1901-1986).
Unbelief is not failure in intellectual apprehension. It is disobedience in the presence of the clear commands of God. — G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945).
Verse 9. Ungodly men who live under the Gospel, notwithstanding any moral sincerity they may have, are worse, and more provoking enemies of God, than the very heathen, who never sinned against Gospel light and mercy. This is very manifest by the Scriptures, particularly Matt. 10:13-14; Amos 3:2;
2:9; 2 Pet. 2:21; Rev. 3:15-16. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). Rom.
Vain are the dreams of infatuated mortals who suppose that the only punishment to be endured for sin is in this present life. — J. L. Dagg (1794-1884).
Suffering that is penal can never come to an end, because guilt is the reason for its infliction, and guilt once incurred never ceases to be . . . One sin makes guilt, and guilt makes Hell. — W. G. T. Shedd (1820-1894).
Those who demand nothing more than a God of justice get precisely what they ask; the Bible calls it Hell. — Anonymous
In Psa. 9:17; Matt. 23:33; Mark 9:43-48; 2 Pet. 2:4, the word Hell evidently denotes the place of the future and everlasting misery of the ungodly, consisting, in part at least, in the eternal separation of the soul from God , and from the presence of His glory, and in the suffering of inconceivable anguish and remorse forever and ever. These sufferings are described with all the force and vividness which language or imagination can supply. — John Eadie (1810-1876).
Verse 10. God’s goodness is the root of all goodness; and our goodness, if we have any, springs out of His goodness. — William Tyndale (1494-1536).
I have taken my good deeds and bad deeds and thrown them together in a heap, and fled from them both to Christ, and in Him I have peace. — David Dickson (1583-1662).
Glory, honour, and peace are descriptive terms for eternal life. It is a life glorious in itself, an object of reverence or regard to others, and a source of unspeakable blessedness or peace. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
God will get glory out of every human life. Man may glorify God voluntarily, by love and obedience, but if he will not do this he will be compelled to glorify God by his rejection and punishment. — Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921).
Verse 11. “But God is no respecter of persons;” that is, He will not be bribed. He will give righteous judgment. — John Gadsby (1808-1893).
Some will be ready to sneeringly ask, “Does not the Bible declare that God is no respecter of persons: how then can He make a selection from among men?” The calumniators of Divine predestination suppose that either the Scriptures are inconsistent with themselves, or that in His election God has regard to merits. Let us first quote from Calvin: “The Scripture denies that God is a respecter of persons, in a different sense from that in which they understand it; for by the word person it signifies not a man, but those things in a man which, being conspicuous to the eyes, usually conciliate favor, honor, and dignity, or attract hatred, contempt, and disgrace. Such are riches, power, nobility, magistracy, country, elegance of form, on the one hand; and on the other hand poverty, necessity, ignoble birth, slovenliness, contempt, and the like. Thus Peter and Paul declare that God is not a respecter of persons because He makes no difference between the Jew and the Greek, to reject one and receive the other, merely on account of his nation (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11). So James uses the same language when he asserts that God in His judgment pays no regard to riches (2:5). There will, therefore, be no contradiction in our affirming that according to the good pleasure of His will, God chooses whom He will as His children, irrespective of all merit, while He rejects and reprobates others. Yet, for the sake of further satisfaction, the matter will be explained in the following manner. They ask how it happens, that of two persons distinguished from each other by no merit, God, in His election, leaves one and takes another. I, on the other hand, ask them, whether they suppose him that is taken to possess any thing that can attract the favor of God? If they confess that he has not, as indeed they must, it will follow, that God looks not at man, but derives His motive to favor him from His own goodness. God’s election of one man, therefore, while He rejects another, proceeds not from any respect of man, but solely from His own mercy; which may freely display and exert itself wherever and whenever it pleases” (end of Calvin). — A.W. Pink (1886-1952).
But saith Moses “The Lord your God is a mighty and terrible God, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward” (Deut. ). What reward can we give, to procure God’s regard, bribe His justice, or avert His wrath? Do we, naturally, fear God and work His righteousness? Lay thine hand upon thy heart. Judge, O sinner, as in the sight of God. Say, was this thy natural conduct and practice? God knoweth, to hate Him and work wickedness, is natural to thee, and all men. But yet, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, be he who, or what he may, is accepted with God. For, this is a full proof of being “accepted in the Beloved.” The Lord puts His fear in our heart, according to covenant promise (Jer. 32:40). He renews us in righteousness and true holiness. Hence our practice is agreeable to our state. Prayers and alms come up before the Lord, as a memorial of what He has done on the heart. — William Mason (1719-1791).