I sometimes wrestle with the deathbed conversion of some very evil people. I have sentenced them, not in court, but in my heart. I have put them behind bars and locked the door. They are forever imprisoned by my revulsion. Then, the impossible happens. They repent; they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. My righteous response might be; God would not let them off that easy, would He? Not after what that person did. After all, grace is for average sinners like you and me, not horrible people like those who have committed murder. I might even think to myself that it is about time someone spoke out against sin. There are times when we must take a stand against sin; after all, we are decent law-abiding folks.
Romans 2:1 … 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 … (NIV1984) Paul is saying that if I think that I am walking on high ground when I point fingers at others, I should think again. Every time I criticize someone, he is saying that I am condemning myself.
It is one thing for me to have an opinion. It is another for me to pass a verdict. It is one thing for me to have a conviction, a passion for righteousness; however, it is another thing to convict the person. It is one thing to be repulsed at the acts of a murderer and we all should be. But it is another thing to claim that I am superior, I am not, or to claim that the murderer is beyond the grace of God. No one is beyond the grace of
I do not believe that the Apostle Paul is saying that we should renounce all criticism and rebuke of others. We are challenged to hate and even to root out sin in our lives. But it is God who judges the sinner. God has called us to despise evil, but He has never called us to despise the evildoer. But, oh, how I would like to put on a judge’s robe and do just that in my mind and heart by slamming down the gavel, “guilty!” But here is the problem. God does not compare me to a murderer. Those evil types are not the standards God uses, He uses His standard, and compared to Him, the apostle will argue, Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NIV1984) That is the reason why God is the One who judges.
There was a time when I thought that ignorance was the best for me. “Stay stupid, do not get too smart with all that Christian stuff, do not listen to my conscience, and I will avoid all sorts of problems.” But we have within our heart an unwritten law. An instinctive knowledge of right and wrong; It is there 24 hours per day. Kind of like the cop on the street, I see the Cop and the first thing that I do is check my speed. Scripture does that to us. It takes it to another level and reminds us that we will be judged by that Cop because we know right from wrong. It dwells in the depth of our soul, and guards us and never leaves us leaderless.
Romans 2:16 … This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (NIV1984) When those who have never accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour stand before God in judgment, there will be nothing that escapes His notice. All secrets will be known to Him. There is nothing that will be hidden. There is nothing that will not be revealed. That is a scary thought. But wait a minute. To know this may sound like bad news and it could be. But, to act based on that news is to be able to counteract the bad news with the good news that Jesus Christ can change our destiny, or anyone else’s for that matter. You see when we come to Christ in sincere repentance and faith He will forgive all our sins, even those secret sins, and totally blot out every sin. The Bible (Hebrews 8:12) teaches us that He remembers them no more. It will never be brought up against us again. We need to know this. We need to act on it. We need to share it with others. We are all without excuse. God has made a way for us to escape judgment. Jesus Christ is the way.
Would you pray this prayer with me … “Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive my sins. I want my life to change. My thoughts and my attitude need to change. I do not have the peace in my heart that I yearn for. I really want that peace, joy and happiness that will fulfill my hearts desire. Please let the Holy Spirit help me be the kind of Christian that will honour Your Name.” Amen