Romans 2:4 • 4Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (NKJV; emphasis mine)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
In typical Apostle Paul fashion, the “slave of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1.1) laid it on the line to the Romans. In the first chapter of his letter to Rome, Paul declares that the righteous will live by faith (1:17), that God’s anger will burn against everything wicked (1:18-25) and every sinful person is without excuse because God’s character can be clearly discerned through His creation (1:20).
Paul takes us through the timeline of sin starting with the willful ignoring of God and turning instead to man’s idea of wisdom (1:21) which is the fool’s worship of the creation rather than the Creator (1:23). Then Paul starts to really scare us.
God will eventually let you have your sin if you want it bad enough.
In 1:24, he reveals that God eventually must declare to the rebellious sinner, “fine, you want your sin, you can have it… along with every consequence that comes with it”. At some point in the unrepentant sinners life, God finally allows them to have what they crave: impurity, wickedness and degradation. With humans being such sensual creatures, this inevitably leads to gross sexual immorality. Paul’s words in verses 26-29 effectively end any controversy about God’s opinion of homosexuality.
However, lest we become to smug in condemning the sin of homosexuality, Paul goes on to list other sinful results of leaving God out of the picture:
Romans 1:29-32 • 29being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? “Those who practice such things are deserving of death”. I absolutely cringe, and am ashamed when I see “Christians” holding up signs that say “God hates fags” or “Homo’s deserve to die”. I want to get about a dozen more signs that say “Gossips deserve to die” and “God hates the proud, too”. How quick we are to jump on sin that “other people” commit.
Which is exactly why Paul writes the next verse:
Romans 2:1 • 1Therefore 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. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
The world wrongly uses this verse, and others like Luke 6.37, to proclaim that we are not to “judge”. If I had a buck for every time I’ve heard, “the Bible says don’t judge!”, I’d make Solomon look like a pauper. But that’s not what the Bible says, or means. We are supposed to judge using God’s standard (revealed in Scripture) and without hypocrisy. Notice that Paul says we condemn ourselves when we judge someone else when we are doing the very same thing. Christians should be very careful, and very self-evaluating/examining when judging sin.
That brings us to my main point today. With everything we’ve discussed so far in mind, read these verses:
Romans 2:3-6 • 3And 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? 4Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: (NKJV; emphasis mine)
God is not mocked. Whatever we practice, we will be judged for (Gal 6.7) and we will pay the consequences for. There is no escape. True Christians are not judged in the sense of whether or not they will be saved and in heaven. That was settled at the moment that Christ’s atoning blood was applied to you (justification) and His righteousness covered you (imputation).
Now, let me stop here and say that I realize these verses are NOT talking about true Believers. They are specifically talking about those who reject God. But there is still application for us as Christians. We will not escape God’s judgment on that Great Day when our lives will be examined for the good works we’ve done (or not done) for the Lord (1Cor 3.2-15). We also cannot escape the earthly consequences of our sin.
When we sin, we are in essence… despising God’s
goodness, mercy, patience, kindness and restraint.
When we sin, we despise God. We despise His mercy, His patience, His goodness and His restraint. How? Because we take it all for granted. Just because we aren’t struck down with lightning two seconds after sinning, we tend to be lenient and passive about sin. It’s part of our sinful nature.
I just sinned and nothing bad happened to me…
so it must not be that big of a deal to God.
We are SO much like little hard-headed children. Imagine your young child getting caught robbing the cookie jar. “Now son, I’m going to let you have that one, but you better not get in the cookie jar again without asking or you’ll get punished”.
In a child’s mind, they think, “wow, nothing really bad happened. I think I’ll just help myself to another.” So you catch him again and say, “son! I told you to ask. Now I’m trying to be patient and teach you to ask permission. Don’t think you can just disobey and get away with it.”
In the boy’s mind, the consequences have still been mild or non-existent. He is “despising” your patience and restraint. So he goes for the cookies again. Well, you know the rest of the story. A good parent will have to administer punishment to teach the child that you cannot “escape judgment” when you disobey. (Some “super-parents” out there are thinking about now, “you shouldn’t have given them multiple chances to start with. You should tell a child ONE time, and then follow through with the punishment.” I’ve raised three kids, and all I can say is…. I’M GLAD THAT GOD DOESN’T TREAT US THAT WAY. God has already “told us once” about sin [the Bible]. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t hammer us with “zero tolerance” every time we sin? If God models patience, mercy and restraint towards us, then there is certainly an appropriate measure that we can show at times to our children as well. A proper balance with parental discipline will model God’s relationship to the child as he grows up and out from under your supervision and comes under God’s.)
However, when we continue to sin, we are like the child who abuses his parent’s patience. We despise God’s mercy, restraint and kindness thinking, “well, I got away with that sin; nothing happened to me.” That’s a very dangerous habit because:
- We will have every action revealed on the Day of Judgment (Rom 2.16)
- We will suffer loss of reward because of our sin (1Cor 3.15)
- We will suffer consequences during this life (Gal 6.7)
- Sin ignored will grow and bring death of all sorts (James 1.15)
All of us have that one sin that constantly dogs us (Heb 12.1). Fortunately, God does not strike us with lightning every time we repeat this sin over and over. However, because of His patience, restraint and mercy, we must be VERY VERY careful that we do not “despise God” and mistake His patience for passiveness or permissiveness.
God’s restraint-kindness is intended to lead us to repentance.
God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance… it is not “permission” to sin, or a declaration that your sin is “no big deal”. Everytime you sin, thank God that He did not choose to give you what you really deserve – death and punishment. Rather than despising God’s goodness and taking sin lightly, praise God for His patience and mercy, and turn from your sin (repentance).
Lord God, Help us to avail ourselves of your loving patience, and repent of our sin. Help us not to think that sin is no big deal just because lightning doesn’t strike us every time. Help us to never despise your rich kindness by abusing your patience and restraint. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: Even sin that appears to have “no consequence” does. If you look deep enough, or wait long enough, every sin has negative consequences. We also take God’s patience for granted when we sin, despising His mercy and restraint. We should repent, and praise Him for His long suffering. How awful would it be if God chose to punish us in the way we deserve, each and every time we sinned?
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?