The Moral Man is Without Excuse
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4)
As we look at this passage from the treetops, we see that this entire section (Romans 1:18-3:20) has a singular theme: the Holy Spirit, through the human authorship of the apostle Paul, is proving the universal sinfulness of all mankind.
God does not do this vindictively; He is interested in leading us to the truth of the gospel. As a doctor tells a patient that he has cancer, his ultimate goal is to lead that patient toward healing. If he performs surgery, or as he orders chemotherapy and radiation, it is so the patient may survive. In the same way, God shows us our sinfulness that we might be led to the only cure: the cross of Jesus Christ, and the life that comes to us through faith in Him.
Chapter one in Romans was about the guilt of the heathen or functional atheist (the one who lives as though there is no God). Here in chapter two the guilt of the moral man is revealed.
The moral man is the man who believes that he will be justified by God because he possesses a high moral standard. He is convinced that because he has the ability to evaluate the moral failure in other’s lives, he himself is guiltless. He is a judge, but he is not without sin. He is actually committing the same sins as those he evaluates. As the saying goes, when you point your finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointed right back at you.
King David was incensed by the story told him by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12), but he had committed the same exact kind of sin in his act of adultery with Bathsheba and the cover-up murder of her husband Uriah. His over-the-top anger was a reflection of his personal guilt. Often this is the case with the self-righteous person, he is very upset with the sins he sees in others … which are the same sins he is committing himself.
The moralist has despised God’s mercy and patience, and has failed to realize that God is being good to him so he might turn from his sin and come to faith in Christ.
For Further Review
1. Why is it merciful of God to show us our sin? Why must He prove to our hearts that we are indeed sinners?
2. Who is the moral man described in Romans 2:1-4? Why is he also guilty of sin?
3. How, in the past, have you been guilty of the same kind of sins as the self-righteous moral man? Try to get as specific with your answer as you can; then confess it to God that He might cleanse you (1 John 1:8-10).
4. Where do you see yourself so far in this early section of Romans? Are you a person who has suppressed the truth of God in your rebellion against Him? Or are you the person who judges others, but you have not yet repented yourself? Or are you a person who has trusted Christ and His sacrifice on the cross?