V1. You may know people who know exactly how others should act. They enjoy telling about the shortcomings of others. These aren’t the people who live in the loose manner described in chapter one, but when they see others who live like that, they condemn them. It doesn’t cross their minds that by doing this they are condemning themselves because the same things are present in their hearts.
An example of this is found in John 8 (Jn 8:1-111But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and [began] to teach them.3The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center [of the court],4they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.5Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”6They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him [be the] first to throw a stone at her.”8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.9When they heard it, they [began] to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center [of the court].10Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”>). The leaders of the people of Israel came to the Lord Jesus with a woman caught in the act of adultery. In answering their question regarding what was to be done with her, the Lord said: “He who is without sin among you, let him [be the] first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:77But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him [be the] first to throw a stone at her.”). Upon hearing this they all went out! Not one of the accusers was blameless. In their hearts they had all committed the same sin. This is indeed true for every person who thinks he isn’t guilty of the terrible sins he points out in others.
V2-3. But we, you and I, know they will not escape the judgment of God which will come upon them in righteousness. A day will come when “God will judge the secrets of men” (see verse 16). Then it will become clear how God has always viewed things.
V4. Fortunately, there is another side to the matter. There is the kindness of God by which you and every other believer have come to repentance. What a riches of ”kindness and tolerance and patience” are present with God! God didn’t want you to continue on the road of ruin. He met you and let you see what you were doing and what would become of you. Your conscience was made active and it made you acknowledge that God’s judgment would have to strike you.
“Repentance” is seeing yourself as God sees you and accepting His judgment over you as rightly deserved. You once had high thoughts of yourself and low thoughts of God. This has radically changed in you and now you think of yourself more lowly, and more highly of God. This is really just the starting point for the rest of your life, but you need to continue to learn this more and more. This new view of yourself and God has been given to you by His kindness.
V5. People who pass by God’s kindness display their stubborn and unrepentant heart. Such a person feels he is good enough by himself to appear before God. Even though deeds can appear good in our eyes, all deeds done with an unrepentant heart form an ever-increasing mound over which God’s judgment will come in the day of wrath.
V6-8. God will righteously judge the deeds of man and render them for all they have done. He gives “eternal life” to everyone who seeks “for glory, honor and immortality” by persisting in doing good deeds according to God’s standards. But God will pour out His “wrath and indignation” on all who have followed the natural inclinations of their hearts and have not considered His rights.
In both of these situations, each person has shown what he pursues in life. This is the way God acts with people who have set up standards and values for their lives. But no man has received eternal life from God as a reward for his exemplary and faultless life, for there never has been such a man. Only the Lord Jesus was perfect, and He who deserved life, entered into death. He voluntarily did this. And now He, Who is eternal life Himself, gives this eternal life to everyone who admits his inability to earn it himself.
Now read Romans 2:1-8 again.
Reflection: Think about a way to present the gospel to someone who thinks he is doing everything right.