Romans - The Gospel of God Impartial Justice P1 - Chap 2 vs 6-11
Impartial Justice vs 6-16
In vs 6-11 Paul deals with God’s impartial judgment in terms of its recompense which will be determined by our works. As we have noticed, Paul is not particularly defining every specific occasion of judgment, but the fact of it. He certainly is not saying that there is but one final judgment at the end of earth’s history when all saved and unsaved will appear before God. Neither is there any suggestion in vs 7 and 10 that eternal life is earned by human merit. The foolish idea that if good deeds outweigh or are more than their opposite on the Day of Judgment a person will be accepted with God. Such an idea is foreign to the Bible. The fundamental issue undergirding what Paul says here about works, is repentance and faith. True repentance always includes faith. The presence or absence of it determines the character of our works and their outcome. This ought to be obvious from vs 4-5. Paul is reminding his audience that privilege and the goodness of God experienced are not enough. Repentance is what God looks for, but sadly, hardness and impenitence marked the Jew. If repentance and faith is the key to justification then what the Jew is condemned for lacking must be clearly present in the experience of those referred to in vs 7 and 10.
The Day of Recompense for Deeds Done vs 6-11
The Basis of God’s Judgment v 6 Works count with God. How a person lives matters for eternity. The common thread of all of God’s judgment is that it is rendered according to works. What makes the difference between the righteous and the unrighteous is not only the character of their works, but the foundation upon which their works are built. There is a cause and effect relationship between attitude and deeds. Therefore, just as disobedience to ‘the truth’ (v 8) undergirds the lifestyle of those who ‘do evil’ (v 9) so obedience to the truth undergirds the lifestyle of those who ‘work good’ (v 10). Paul is in no way contradicting what he writes elsewhere (Eph 2 vs 8-9) by suggesting that good works by themselves earn eternal life – not at all. Rather, and this is always important to keep in mind when reading Romans, he is continuing to expound his Old Testament ‘text’ – ‘the just shall live by faith’ – Romans 1 v 17 and what he states in vs 7 and 10 describe what living by faith looks like in every era. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews quotes from Habakkuk 2:4 also at Hebrews 10 v 38. If in Romans the emphasis is upon the life of thejust in Hebrews it is on the life of faith. The writer goes on in Hebrews chapter 11 to give numerous examples of the faithful from Abel on reminding his audience and us that it is the life of faith that pleases God as Hebrews 11 v 6 says.
The Recompense of God’s Judgment vs 7-10 Paul’s focus here is upon the character, pursuitandultimate outcome for the godly and ungodly on their day of judgment. Regarding what he says in vs 7 and 10 we must distinguish between the present possession of eternal life as the free gift of God – Rom 6:23 and the ultimate realization of eternal life to be experienced when the saints of the Church age enter heaven with Christ in glorified bodies or when the kingdom saints enter the literal kingdom in resurrected or changed bodies. The ultimate recompense is what Paul has in view in these verses. The believer in every age, justified by faith, will be marked by ‘by patient continuance in doing good’ and will ‘seek for glory, honor, and immortality’ and for them the outcome of such a life of faith will be entrance into eternal life and the experience of ‘glory, honor, and peace’ not earned by human merit but granted by divine grace for the life that honours God. The believer, as opposed to the unbeliever, seeks to live for God’s glory in order to please Him and in so doing has the incentive of what God has promised to them who love Him. Paul writes for example at chapter 6 vs 22-23:
'But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord'.
So, just as the self-seeking who ‘do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness’ will experience deserved ‘indignation and wrath’ – by their disobedience and deeds they have demonstrated the righteousness of God’s judgment upon them, by contrast, the just will experience promised ‘glory, honour, and peace’ – not earned by their effort or merit, but as the recompense for the life of faith which is a recompense of grace not of debt. Their obedience and deeds demonstrate the righteousness of God’s recompense toward them. Hebrews 11 vs 5-6 speak of Enoch, one of the earliest saints in the Biblical record, and says this concerning him: 'By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him'.
Also, the writer of Hebrews says of Moses:
'By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible' - Heb 11 v 24-27.
True are the words of James 1 v 12: ‘blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him’ (KJV).
The Impartially of God’s Judgment v 11 God’s judgment is impartial and unbiased; the Jews and Greeks will be treated the same ‘for there is no partiality with God’ v 11 which corresponds to Deuteronomy 10 v 17 – ‘For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.’ The Jews though, through whom the Messiah came (Rom 9 v 5) and who had the offer of salvation first (Rom 1 v 16), will be accountable first having had the greater privilege.
This exposition continues in the next message where we will consider The Day of Judgment for Secrets Concealed vs 12-16. AJC