Yesterday in Romans chapter one, Paul showed us that God had revealed Himself to the world, leaving the world without an excuse for rejecting God. Paul also gave us a list of sins that the world is guilty of committing.
The sins of the world from Romans 1:18-32
Suppressed the truth by their unrighteousness. (18)
Did not glorify God, or show gratitude to God. (21)
Worship idols instead of God. (23)
Sexual impurity, including homosexuality. (24, 26-27)
Filled with all unrighteousness and evil (29)
Greed, envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. (29)
Slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (30)
Undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. (31)
Do all these things and applaud others who do them. (32)
This is a pretty long list that covers every type of sin. Paul is saying that this is the condition of the lost world, the Gentiles; and they have no excuse for their sins. Nor will they when they stand before God for judgment. In the last part of the first chapter, Paul addressed the lost world and shows that they are worthy of being punished.
The Jews would have looked at this list and say that they are righteous, unlike the ungodly Gentiles. Paul knew this and is why in chapter two, Paul turns his attention to addressing the Jews. He wastes no time going straight to the issue.
“Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.”
Romans 2:1 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.2.1.hcsb )
Those that judge others will always be without excuse before the righteous judge. The Jew took pride in being the children of Abraham and having the law that was given through Moses, but they failed in keeping the law. When Paul says that they are guilty of the same thing that they judge others doesn’t mean they did the same sin, but that they sinned.
The Jews were acting like hypocrites. We must know the difference between being a hypocrite and lovingly pointing out sins to others. The type of person that Paul is addressing in chapter 2 is a hypocrite. A hypocrite will stand as judge over sin and want you to face the wrath of God. They are not interested in repentance and reconciliation. On the other hand, someone that comes and lovingly tells you that you are a sinner and points out different sins in your life in hopes that you would repent and turn toward God for salvation; is not the same as a hypocrite. That is being a faithful witness.
What Paul is trying to get everyone to see is that it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, you are guilty of sin before God.
“There is no favoritism with God. All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”
Romans 2:11-12 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.2.11-12.hcsb )
It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew, Christian, or Atheist you will be judged by the righteous Judge, “who shows no favoritism.” Paul goes on to make this point even stronger by saying that the Gentiles who don’t have the law keep it because “the work of the law is written on their hearts.” (15). While the Jews who have the law and show outward expressions of it have failed to be changed inwardly.
We have seen the list of the sins of the world from chapter one above, now Paul is going to list the sins of the hypocrites.
Teach others but fail to teach themselves. (21)
Say not to steal, but steal. (21)
Say not to commit adultery, but commit adultery (22)
Say to detest idols, but rob their temples. (22)
Boast in the law, but break the law. (23)
Is the reason the Gentiles blaspheme the name of God. (24)
They had the law and circumcision but it did them no good because it was just an outward expression without an inward change. That is why Paul called them hypocrites. He ends this chapter by explaining what true circumcision is.
“For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28-29 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.2.28-29.hcsb )
They had the law and circumcision but it did them no good because it was just an outward expression without an inward change.
Through these first two chapters, Paul is setting us up to receive the truth of the gospel by showing us that nobody is righteous by their efforts. The Gentiles are lost in their sin and rejection of God by denying the law that is written on their hearts and rejecting God. The Jews are without hope because they not only failed to keep the law, but they failed to have the inward change of the heart. They took pride in the law and being children of Abraham, but failed to have faith like Abraham.
For Christians today this chapter is a warning that we do not become self-righteous hypocrites. To make sure that we not only have the outward expressions of faith in God but that we allow the word of God and the Holy Spirit to change our hearts; becoming truly circumcised.
In chapter three Paul is going to continue to show us that we are all, Jew and Gentiles, hopeless and lost in our sins without Jesus.