Sermon: The Judgment of God and Self-Righteousness

“The Judgment of God and Self-Righteousness”
Romans 2:1-4
February 21, 2016

Sir Robert Watson Watt was instrumental in the creation of radio detection and ranging (what is commonly called “radar”). As early as 1915, Watson Watt was using radio technology to provide warnings to British pilots in the First World War. But it was 20 years later that he first successfully bounced a radio wave of a short-wave transmitter off a British bomber, proving that radar technology could work. It has been noted that Watson Wyatt’s invention was the single greatest factor in saving the RAF in the Battle of Britain against Germany in 1940. For his efforts, he was knighted, becoming Sir Robert, in 1942.

The epigraph to his story was written in 1956 when Sir Robert was driving in Canada and pulled over for speeding, caught by (you guessed it) a policeman using a radar gun. He then said, “If I’d known what they were going to do with it, I’d never have invented it!” And perhaps more humorously, he later wrote:

Pity Sir Robert Watson Watt
Strange target of his radar plot,
And this, with others I could mention,
A victim of his own invention.
His magical all-seeing eye
Enabled cloud-bound planes to fly.
But now by some ironic twist,
It spots the speeding motorist.
And bites, no doubt with legal wit,
The hand that once created it.

My guess is that others of us could say the same thing — we have been ensnared by our own little plots — also victims of our own invention. This is most true of our own sin, of course. We know that sin is bad, but just how bad is it? Most people will affirm they sin, but just how bad of a problem is it that they sin?

How many times have you shared the gospel with someone, beginning with the problem of sin, had them agree with you that they are sinners, and then immediately affirm, “but I’m not a murderer or rapist or anything” — as if God is only interested in judging the worst of all people, but the generic sins of the masses are completely acceptable to Him?

Is this what God thinks about sin? Will God withhold his judgment from “good” people? Is repentance for sin necessary, or is God a grandfatherly “good guy” who will gladly overlook the infractions of “righteous” people?, One philosopher suggested, “God will forgive…it is his trade.” (Heine)

But the reality of who God is does not correspond to what most people think of God.

As we return this morning to the book of Romans (I hope to be here for quite a while now!), we resume our study in chapter 2. And here Paul is expanding his discussion about the judgment of God that he began in 1:18. In this passage, what Paul says is:

God is right in all His judgments against all sin and sinners.

Context (the book of Romans in five minutes):

  • The theme of the gospel in Romans (1:1-17)
  • Ungodly Gentiles are sinners (1:18-32)
  • “Godly” Jews are Sinners (2:1 – 3:8)

In these initial verses in Romans 2, we will see three realities about sin and judgment.

  1. The Problem of the Self-Righteous (2:1)
  • “Self-righteous” people still sin
  • The sin of self-righteous people is self-condemning
  • Self-righteous sinners need to see their need for a Savior
  1. The Reality of God’s Judgment (2:2-3)
  • God’s judgment is right (v. 2a)
  • God’s judgment is extensive (v. 2b)
  • God’s judgment is inescapable (v. 3)
  1. The Grace of God’s Judgment (2:4)

Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 2:1-4.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.

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