High-fives echo in response to the judge’s verdict on the Gentiles: “Guilty as charged.”
Like the last passage, I feel like I’m in a courtroom, but this time slinking down in my seat to avoid apostle-attorney Paul’s piercing gaze as his focus shifts from the Gentiles toward the Jews. No, I’m not Jewish, but Paul didn’t let anyone slide. Probably some Jewish heads nodded their approval when Paul pronounced God’s judgment on the pagan Gentiles. Paul lights into their condemning attitude like a firecracker (verses 1-10).
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” –vs. 1
Despite knowing God’s laws, the Jews failed to live up to it. Their sin may have been hidden in more socially acceptable forms. But Paul faults them for having a stubborn and unrepentant heart, treating God’s great kindness, tolerance, and patience with contempt.
Those who patiently and persistently do God’s will, however, will find eternal life (vs. 7). This may sound like a contradiction to his statement that salvation comes by faith alone (1:16-17), but he is stressing that our deeds follow in grateful response for what God has done.
Again, Paul warns of God’s wrath toward: self-seekers, those who reject the truth, and those who follow evil.
Judgment With or Without the Law
All who sin apart from the Law will also perish apart from the Law, and all who sin under the Law will be judged by the Law.” – vs. 12
Paul weaves his case: Can the religiously privileged Jews expect special treatment because they’ve been given the Mosaic Law? This gave the Jews greater responsibility for following it.
Or could the Gentiles receive an easier verdict for not having God’s Law? Certainly God’s revelation through the Law made His will more fully known. But God made Himself known to the Gentiles through nature and the inner law of conscience.
Paul concludes that all—Jew and Gentile—are guilty of violating God’s Laws. People are condemned for what they do with what they know, not for what they don’t know. God doesn’t play favorites. God patiently waits for our repentance. But a time is appointed when He will judge everyone’s secrets when we stand before His throne. No one will stand apart from the saving grace found in His son, Jesus Christ. (For more on God’s judgment, see John 12:48 and Revelation 20:11-15.)
The sins we’re tempted to point out in others are often the sins we struggle with the most. Like King David, we need to consistently ask God to search our hearts and show us our sin so we can seek His forgiveness.
Those of us who have grown up in Christian families could be considered today’s religiously privileged. Are we focused on living according to what we know? Or are we passing judgment on those around us?