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Category Archives: Romans Verse by Verse

Romans 2.13

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(For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

This is a verse that without paying careful attention to context and to systematic theology is one that you could easily take to mean the exact opposite of what Paul actually means.

Paul is talking to religious people.  He has essentially just told that God has no favourites and that they will be judged by the law.  They think because they know the law they will escape condemnation and be welcomed into heaven.  There are still people like that in the world today – I go to church, I will therefore go to heaven.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  You cannot be justified by hearing the law.  You cannot be just (righteous) by hearing the law.  It does not matter how many times I stand up in the pulpit and tell people “Do not lie”, that will NEVER make them right with God.

So many preachers seem to have no idea of this Biblical truth: you cannot be made righteous by hearing the law.  I could get in the pulpit and go to people “Do not lie”, “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not steal” and it would not make anyone right with God.  It might make someone feel guilty or condemned, it might make someone feel out of sorts, depressed and sad, but it will never make someone right with God.

Yet today there are whole sections of the church where if you go to their churches and conferences, you will be a hearer of the law.  They will tell you what to do, what the law says, what holiness is all about.  I was in discussion with someone about one of these preachers once and they say “I love that preacher, when he preaches it is like a kick in the kidneys”.  Who wants a kick in the kidneys?  Who goes to church to be told how vile and horrible they are and how much they have broken the law?

Yet some people want to get involved with sermons that tear them to pieces.  Some people venerate sermons that are hard-hitting and condemning.  One example is a sermon once preached called Sinners in the Hands of Angry God.  We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God.  God’s not an angry God – He is a loving Father.  Sending Jesus to redeem us was HIS IDEA!  The man who preached that we were sinners in the hands of an angry God depressed people in his church so much people went and killed themselves!  When he was told, he said that God made them kill themselves.   That’s not Biblical – and no matter how much law you hear, it will never make you right with God.

But religious people think because they have heard the law, they are right with God.  Because they went to church heard the sermon and now feel like dirt, they think they are right with God.  Everyone else who has not heard the legalistic message of the law is not right with God, and being religious they then judge everyone else.  Especially if you know about grace and love and you have some joy and some contentment and some security in your walk with God.  They want to drag you down to their level and have you meditate on how evil you are.  There is one guy even calls his radio ministry “Wretched” to emphasis that we are wretches.  That is true without God’s grace and goodness, but we are never without God’s grace and goodness.

But then Paul says this: you are made righteous by obeying the law.  Now, in several places in Romans Paul makes it more than clear that we are not made righteous by obeying the law.  But here Paul says: doers of the law will be made righteous (justified).

How can this make sense?  It makes sense when you realize the point Paul is trying to make: if you want to use the law to be made righteous, you need to do it.  Yes, all of it.  Every single bit.  Just hearing a message on the law is not enough, you need to put it perfectly into practise.  Paul is trying to take the sails out of the wind of the religious people by saying just hearing a condemning message is not enough – you need to put it entirely into practise!

If you cannot obey God perfectly and obey the entire law of Moses perfectly, then you are never going to be made righteous listening to the law.  So, go and listen to the gospel instead.  The word gospel means good news – find a preacher preaching good news.  Find someone preaching life and faith, find someone preaching repentance and the kingdom.  Stay clear from people who punch you in the kidneys and find someone who places a hand on your shoulder and tells you: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Romans 2.12

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12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

Ever been asked what about the lost who never heard the gospel?  Ever wondered what will happen to them?

This short verse tells us four wonderful truths about what will happen to them and what God is like:

1. This verse tells us that God is fair.  He will never judge someone by something they did not know.  If you never knew the law of God, if you have never been told about God’s holiness and justice and standards, you will not be judged by that standard.  God is utterly just in the way He deals with people.  Do you know that the Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah on judgement day will be dealt with less harshly than Capernaum (Matt. 11.24) – why? Because when God judges He does not judge by the level of darkness, but by the amount of light rejected.  So we know that those who have never heard will not be accountable for what they have never heard.

2. This verse tells us that those who have never heard will still perish.  This is a sobering thought.  Although they will not be judged as harshly as people who have had revival and had miracles done in their city and rejected the Holy Spirit, they still will be judged.  They still will perish.  The Greek word here for perish means to be put over into eternal misery in hell.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on Romans says this about Romans 2.12:

As many as have sinned without law shall perish without law; that is, the unbelieving Gentiles, who had no other guide but natural conscience, no other motive but common mercies, and had not the law of Moses nor any supernatural revelation, shall not be reckoned with for the transgression of the law they never had, nor come under the aggravation of the Jews’ sin against and judgment by the written law; but they shall be judged by, as they sin against, the law of nature, not only as it is in their hearts, corrupted, defaced, and imprisoned in unrighteousness, but as in the uncorrupt original the Judge keeps by him.

Those without the law of Moses and without the revelation of who God is still through their conscience and through the evidence of creation know there is a God.  Because they rejected that God and worshipped idols they will perish.  This should inspire you to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Believe God to send you to the nations to preach the good news.  Expect God to enable you to go – or at the very least find someone else who is going and pray for them and give them money and encourage them.

3.  This verse tells us that if you sin in the law you will be judged by the law.  So many religious people are law-obsessed.  They are living by the law.  That is a dangerous place to be – because James 2.10 tells us if we break any one law we break it all.  The law is a complete whole, not to be divided up.  If you try and live by it and fail on one point, you will be judged more harshly than if you did not know about the law.  Religious people like to judge others, but Paul here is turning it on them and saying: you will be judged more harshly because you have broken the law and you know the law.  You think you are so learned, but the more you learn about God’s law the harsher you will be judged.  It doesn’t make sense to a religious person that a nice village like Capernaum where the all lived decent lives and nodded to God will be judged more harshly than Sodom and Gomorrah where they were homosexual, were happy to rape virgin girls and were happy to rape angels.  But Jesus tells them that if the miracles done in Capernaum were done in Sodom they would have changed.  Sodom didn’t have a chance – but Capernaum had chance after chance and rejected them all.

Capernaum represents the religiosu people today.  They don’t do anything but judge.  You are too happy, you are too sad.  You are not holy enough, you are a fanatic.  You are too loud, you are too quiet.  The presence and power of God is in their midst and they simply ignore it.  The greatest preacher who ever lived on planet earth came to their village to hold the greatest miracle crusade of all time and they rejected it because his father had the wrong job.   Sodom and Gomorrah represent the world today: a lost, rebellious, harsh, vile, selfish group of people – who IF THEY SEE LOVE AND MIRACLES WILL CHANGE!  Jesus didn’t say go into all the church with the gospel, He said go into all the WORLD.

4. This verse tells us that God holds you accountable for what you know – not other people.  So many people take the law and use it to judge everyone else in the world.  Jesus said that the world will not even be judged by the law, but you will.  If you are a religious person, if you don’t know that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins you will be judged by the full force of God’s law.  Don’t let that happen – believe in the gospel.  Realize that Jesus Christ took all your sins on the cross and your way to heaven is by grace alone – not your goodness but God’s.  Then when you accept this for yourself, you will not judge and attack other people, you will love them and tell them about the wondrous grace of God that you found has saved you.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Twas blind but now I see

Romans 2.11

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For there is no respect of persons with God. (KJV)

For God does not show favoritism. (NIV)

For God does not show favoritism. (NLT)

Here is a great memory verse. Firstly, it is only six words long in the NIV and NLT – anyone can put this verse in their brain and make it stay there if they want to! Secondly, it is one of the most powerful truths in Scripture and one of the most neglected and disbelieved.

Most people’s basic way of thinking about God is that He does have favourites. That God has some people who are His special pets and if they pray, then well – it will happen; but for the rest of us, we win some, we lose some and we lose more than we win. Seriously: this is what most people think.

A long time ago, I was preaching in a healing service in an Assemblies of God church. There were about 40-50 people in the room. A lady came forward for prayer who had very severe arthritis. I perceived in my spirit that she had faith for healing and would be healed there and then.

I said to the church “Who believes Jesus is the Healer?”

Being a lively, Pentecostal church there was a chorus of amens.

I said “Who believes Jesus Christ is the same today as He was in the Bible?”

Another round of amens.

I said “Who believes that Jesus Christ is going to heal this lady right now through the laying on of hands?”

More amens, some clapping.

I said “Who will get up out of their chair and lay their hands on this lady and watch her be healed in Jesus’ name?”

Utter silence. Everyone looking at the floor. No one looked at me let alone got out of their seat. In the end I had to lay hands on the lady. As I did, she crashed to the floor and got up totally healed.

The church were praising God, but I was perplexed. Don’t get me wrong – I was more than happy the lady was healed, but why did not one person out of maybe 40 Spirit filled, tongue talking, born again, on fire Christians get up and lay their hands on the lady.

After that service, I asked the Lord to explain this to me and in His graciousness He did. He showed me that everyone in the room believed that God could heal the sick. However, they did not believe that God could heal the sick through them, only through me. They actually thought that I was God’s favourite. That I had some special hotline to God, some secret power that they did not.

Nothing could be further from the truth – I work miracles by the hearing of the Word and the ministry of the Spirit (Galatians 3.1-5, John 14.12). And all believers can do the same (Mark 16.18).

God does not have favourites. God does not prefer rich people. God does not prefer apostles and prophets. God does not prefer more powerful people. God does not prefer pastors. God does not prefer someone who prayed today. God does not prefer men to women or women to men. God is not sexist, not racist, not prejudiced one bit.

the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities

Look at this verse in the Amplified translation:

For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].

God loves you as much as He loves Jesus. God adores you. God will answer your prayer. God will heal your sick body. God will get you out of this financial mess.

If you can find God doing it for anyone, you can ask God to do it for you knowing that He will.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 2.10

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Romans 2.10

but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Do you want to know what heaven will be like? Do you want to know how good it is going to be?

Firstly, as a Christian the Lord has removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103.12). Our judgment day will never include judgment for any of our sins (Isaiah 54.7-8) because Jesus was made sin so we could be made righteous (2 Cor. 5.21).

However, we will be paid for what we have done in this body. Every time we serve God, every time we give someone a glass of water, every time we tell someone the gospel, every time we pray for a friend, every time we say something encouraging, every tongues message, every prophecy, every time you lay hands on someone – God rewards you for that. And all those rewards are being stocked up in heaven for you for when you get there.

In Romans 2.10 Paul sums up this heavenly reward with three beautiful words: glory, honour and peace.

Heaven for the Christian is a place for glory, honour and peace.

Glory means brightness, and specifically the brightness of God. Have you ever been in prayer, or maybe listening to a powerful sermon and you have in your spirit simply sensed the brightness and the beauty and the weight of God? That is the glory of God. Some people have seen it as a cloud, but it is actually invisible – the cloud is simply the manifestation of the glory. You can have the glory in the room and there be nothing to see in the natural, but if you are spiritually in tune you will know it is there.

That is what heaven is going to be like for us, but a million times more. It is going to literally be glorious. You will be bathed in the presence of God and His brightness and intensity. And the more works you do on earth, the brighter that glory will be when you get to heaven.

Honour is your rank. This is not a popular teaching at the moment in our nations which are leaning towards socialism (remember Animal Farm? all men are equal?) but the fact is God operates a kingdom not a democracy. Within the kingdom, some people are of a higher rank than others. They are not more valuable, but they have a different and more important role. In heaven when you meet people who have done mighty exploits on earth – people who have endured torture, people who have changed nations, people who have faithfully put out flowers in their church week after week – you will naturally through your redeemed and non-self-seeking heart show them the respect and reverence they are due. And when people meet you they will show you the respect you are due.

One of the most beautiful things about heaven is that we will all receive the respect and honour for what we have done. On earth, we are not respected for what we do – in fact, by the world we are despised and persecuted. I read an article recently about a Christan couple whose daughter was raped. They told a journalist that they forgave the rapist and he tore strips off them for daring to say such a thing. Yet in heaven when we meet this couple we will show them respect as the honour for their action will be on them and around them. As we perceive it, we will naturally show them their due respect. What a wonderful place! What a wonderful time!

Peace is the Greek word eirene. I am just going to let you see Strong’s definition of this word as I doubt anything I say could improve on this:

1) a state of national tranquillity
a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war
2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
4) of the Messiah’s peace
a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)
5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

In heaven you will have total tranquility, no rage, no war. There will be no one in heaven you are in disharmony with, that you owe something to, that you feel uncomfortable around. You will be secure, safe and prosperous.

Now think on this: all you have to do is one good deed today and when you die you will enter an eternity with more glory, honour and peace than what it would otherwise be. If that does not inspire you to go and do something wonderful for someone, I do not know what will.

Romans 2.8-9

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8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

There are people in this world who do not receive Jesus Christ and His righteousness. They give a whole host of reasons: religious reasons, intellectual reaons, reasons regarding the defects in Christians, reasons to do with their sophistication or reasons to do with their anger.

You have heard some of these reasons and so have I:

“There are too many hypocrites in the church”
“Where did Cain’s wife come from?”
“If there is a God why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
“If there is a God why is there pain and suffering in my life?”
“Religion is for wimps”
“Evolution has proved there is no God”
“I am a Muslim / Hindu/ Jehovah’s Witness, etc…”

But this verse is clear: the reason why people do not obey the truth of the gospel is that they are contentious. The word here translated contentious is eritheia,which means partisanship or putting yourself first. This word is normally translated strife in the New Testament and is found in the list of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5.20); James tells us that where eritheia is there is every evil work (James 3.16); and Php. 2.3 says to do nothing out of an attitude to eritheia. It is clear that eritheia is bad news!

The Bauer/Danker Greek-English Lexicon has an interesting comment about this word. It says that the word is only used in ancient Greek outside of the Bible by Aristotle. According to the BDAG Aristotle uses the word to “denote a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means”. The picture is one of a politician doing everything he can to gain power and influence, not caring about other people, not listening to other people – on the outside he may look sophisticated, intelligent and sympathetic, but it is all an act! Inside all they are doing is selfish – no wonder they cause strife and grief wherever they go.

The fact is it is this self-promoting attitude why people do not become Christians. It is not the intellectual excuses, it is not the fault of Christians – it is their own self-promoting attitude why they are not obeying the truth. It is their attitude that they know more than God Himself that is the cause for them rejecting Him. No one on judgment day will stand before God and say “it was those hypocritcal Christians”. They will fall on their face, aware of their selfish, strifeful, self-promoting lifestyle that rejected the gospel because they could not bear the implications that they needed the grace and mercy of Jesus.

The more you hold on to this self-promoting attitude, the more three things develop in your life: unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. Unirghteousness in this context means injustice – you treat some people different from others. This could manefest as racism or sexism, or it could be someone that judges and shuns someone for a sin that they commit themselves.

Indignation means a bubbling passionate anger. One of the hallmarks of someone who has rejected Christ is that they end up out of control of their temper.

Wrath is where your anger leads you to hurt people, either with your words or with your actions.

Now, what happens when you step into this self-serving, unfair, angry attitude and reject the goodness of God? The NIV translation of v.9 is stark: There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil.

Now, that is actually not – in context – talking about in this life. If you go and read vv. 5-6 you will see that this verse is referring to judgment day. If you reject the goodness and mercy of God, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ, then when you die you will suffer trouble and distress. Every human who is not born again when they die will suffer trouble and distress.

The word trouble is the word normally used for tribulations and means pressure. The word for distress literally means a narrow place. The Greek says that this pressure and this narrow place are going to be brought into our soul: our mind, will and emotions.

There is a hell and hell is real. If you reject Jesus you will be eternally in a place where your mind is under pressure and afflicted. You will be in a narrow place – in other words you will never be able to turn around and change direction. Hell will be a place where your emotions, your thoughts, every part of your personality will be in pain. You will regret your self-promoting attitude, you will endure the pain of knowing that at any time you could have turned to Christ.

Hell is a real place. Do not end up in hell – turn to Christ and ask for His mercy. Believe in what He did on the cross to take your sin and death so that you can have righteousness and life.

The other thing I want you to know is that there are parts of hell that are worse than others. Just like in heaven some people have better rewards, in hell some people have worse punishment. v. 6 says that God will give to each people according to what they have done. If you have been more proud, more self-seeking and destroyed more people in life then you will have a greater punishment in hell. You will experience more anguish, more distress, more pain from the fire.

However, the good news is that Jesus descended into hell and suffered the agony of hell (Acts 2.42) so that you do not have to. You can call on the name of the Lord and be saved, no matter how many sins you have committed, no matter how bad you are. You could be a thief and a robber nailed to a cross and simply call His name and when you die you will be with the Lord in heaven. Praise Him for His grace forever!

Romans 2.7

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To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

This verse continues the theme that was introduced in the previous verse: we will be rewarded for our actions. This is an important truth and must be explored and investigated. Yesterday we made it clear that in terms of going to heaven it is grace alone, but in terms of our reward in heaven it is according to what we have done. Romans 2.7 in the NIV says: To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Now as we have established: persistence in doing good does not give eternal life in the sense of whether we are saved or not, but this verse is talking about the amount of life we will have – it is talking about our reward in heaven.

This is vital to understand so let us look at a number of Scriptures that back this up. The first is this: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5.10)

All Christians are going to have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, sometimes called the bema seat. Now, this is not the judgment of whether you go to heaven or hell, but the judgment of our works so Christ can determine with fairness and justice what reward we should have in heaven.

Your reward in heaven depends entirely on what you do on earth. In Revelation 22.12 Jesus says He is coming quickly with His reward: to give to everyone according to their work. Jesus is going to reward everyone – reward you – according to your works.

Let me say again because it is so true: you cannot get eternal life by your works. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, these two verses make it abundantly clear that you will be rewarded in heaven on the basis of your works.

Eternal life can be used in Scripture to mean the rewards we have for service on earth. Look at Mark 10.29-30:

So Jesus answered them and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or land, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

The more you give and invest your life into God’s kingdom on earth means the more reward you have in heaven (also see 1 Cor. 3.8).

Now one of the ways rewards are talked about in the New Testament is as crowns. The New Testament talks about 5 crowns that are given to people for 5 different tasks. Let us look at these 5 crowns and ensure that we are working as hard as we can to achieve maximum reward in heaven.

Crown 1: The Crown of Righteousness

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim. 4.7-8)

This is the crown of righteousness – given to people who love the appearing of the Lord and finish their course. Some Christians get weary of doing good, tired of helping others, and end up letting their walk with God and their destiny and calling fall by the wayside. They will still get into heaven, but they will not receive the crown of righteousness.

That is not what I expect of you – I expect you to continue to do all you can to serve God, I don’t expect you to have a moral failure half way through your ministry. I am praying for everyone reading this to have the wisdom to choose God and choose life and be finishers and not just starters and receive a crown of righteousness from heaven.

Crown 2: The Crown Incorruptible

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Cor. 9.25)

This crown is for people who strive for the mastery. In this passage, Paul is comparing being a Christian to being an athlete – only the most focussed athletes can win a prize. Paul is saying treat your destiny and your calling as a Christian in the same way an athlete treats a race: everything else must be sub-ordinate to the race. If a TV programme is in the way of the race, stop watching it. If a relationship is in the way of winning the race, end it. If an attitude is in the way, change it now.

This crown is for people who seek to live for God and fulfill their destiny with all their heart.

Crown 3: The Crown of Life

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Rev. 2.10)

This crown is for people who endure under testing and persecution. If you maintani your walk with Christ, your integrity, your love for others and your spiritual zeal when people attack you, call you names, persecute you then you will in heaven receive the crown of life. Some commentators think this crown is only for people who actually become martyrs for Christ, but I believe that it is for anyone who is faithful unto death – anyone who is faithful no matter the consequences whether they throw you into prison, try you, tribulate you or martyr you.

Crown 4: The Crown of Rejoicing

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thess 2.19)

This crown is lovely. Paul says what is our crown of rejoicing when Christ comes, and the answer to his question is the Thessalonian church. Your crown of rejoicing reward in heaven is the people that you have led to the Lord or helped come to the Lord. When you get to heaven, all of those people are going to make you so happy, and in addition to the sheer joy of those people being in heaven, you will receive a reward from Christ as He is more pleased than you are that the people are there!

Crown 5: The Crown of Glory

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Pet 5.2-4)

This crown is for feeding the flock of God out of pure motives – not for money or because you feel guilty or forced – but because you love the church of God. Every time you teach another Christian, every time you show another Christian how to develop in their walk with God you are adding to the size of your crown of glory.

When Jesus returns He is coming with His rewards. He is not coming to blast Christians and find out what they have done wrong – He is coming to find out what we have done right and give us rewards for those things. Use your time wisely, it is short. Ensure that you are living right, witnessing to the lost, building up and teaching the church and run to win.
You could be in for some major rewards in heaven!

Romans 2.6

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Romans 2.6
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

This is possibly one of the most ignored truths and yet is one of the most important teachings in the whole of the Bible, and I would never say such a thing lightly.

The NIV says ‘God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”‘. There is no escaping what this verse is saying: you and I are going to be rewarded based on our actions.

Now at first this seems incongruent with the rest of the New Testament. Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that you cannot be saved according to your actions: salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The entire Reformation of the church revolved around this key issue: you CANNOT be saved by works, you can only be saved by believing in the sacrificial and redemptive death and resurrection of the Lord Christ Jesus. And I believe that, and the Bible teaches that: salvation is by grace alone. And most churches that have come from the Reformation: evangelical and Protestant churches will teach and believe this wonderful Biblical truth.

In addition, if you read Galatians 3, you will find that we are baptised in the Holy Spirit by grace alone. You cannot deserve the filling of the Holy Spirit, but you can believe for it. Galatians goes on to say that you cannot deserve miracles, but you can believe for them and work miracles by faith.

It seems that the entire Christian life is grace, but then in Romans 2 we find this short little verse that says “God will reward us for what we have done” (CEV). Is this verse wrong? Clearly not! But how do we fit it into the idea that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?

The answer is remarkably simple. You enter heaven only by the grace of God – you are not good enough to enter heaven because you have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). However, on the cross Jesus Christ became sin for you so that you could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).

Only by believing in Jesus can you be born again – made righteous – and enter heaven (John 3.16, Romans 5.1). The Bible says that as far as the east is from the west, that is how far God has removed our sins from us (Psalm 103.2).

However – and this is a wonderful truth that has been much neglected – when we enter heaven God will render to us according to what we have done. There are rewards in heaven, and those of us who work hard on earth will be given greater rewards than those on earth.

I want to make this clear: getting into heaven – only by the free grace of God and because of what Jesus did. Mark 16.16 says if you believe you are saved and if you believe not you are damned. Nothing to do with actions at all. Rewards in heaven – based on what you have done on this earth.

Let’s look a little bit at the Greek to get a deeper understanding of this verse. The Greek word for render here is apodidōmi which means to give what is due or to give exact compensation. I love that – God is just and fair. In heaven what you receive as your reward will be totally fair to your life. There will no injustice in heaven. That is beautiful and one of the things that makes heaven heavenly in my mind. Where the KJV says “every man”, the Greek means every individual. You are not going to rewarded for what I have done or not rewarded because I held you back. This is a personal, individual reward for your work from heaven.

So what are we rewarded for? Is it our good lifes, our judging others, our church attendance? Well, the verse says that we are rendered according to our deeds. The word deeds is the Greek word ergon which means either employment or productivity.

Employment is about doing the right job. If you are employed to clean the floor by a company, it does not matter how clean you get the windows, you cannot say that your employment was successful. It would take too much time to discuss how to find out God’s will for your life, but I tell you the truth: you need to find out what God has called you to do and do it – otherwise you will get to heaven with no reward! This is also very freeing – if God has called you to clean the floor then you will given a full reward if the floor is clean, and you do not have to worry about the windows – remember, this reward is personal to your employment. Do you know your employment contract with the Lord? What has He called – indeed crafted – you to do?

Productivity is about what you create and generate. Although part of this reward is personal and due to your calling and destiny, all Christians are supposed to be fruitful Christians. You should be reproducing what you are. If you are Spirit filled and a tongue talker, who have you led into the baptism in the Holy Spirit ever? If you are a teacher of God’s Word who have you fed into so much that now they can teach? And most importantly of all – if you are a born again Christian redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus, how many people have you led into that grace and into the new birth?

Your punishment is not going to happen – your sins and you are separate and that will not change. If you are born again, no hell for you. However, you now have the rest of your life to build a reward in heaven. Find out what you are called to do, find out how to be more fruitful. Your eternal destiny depends on it.

Romans 2.5

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5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

When you are religious you think that your behaviour is all that counts before God. If you behave well, God loves you, if you misbehave God hates you. As we said about the last verse religious people are judgmental and mean.

Also discussing the last verse we established that people are religious because they hate the goodness of God. In this verse we find out that when people hate the goodness of God and become religious that they develop a hard and impenitent heart.

This is a disaster place to be: a drunkard, a thug and a prostitute all know they are sinners and when they hear the grace of God in the gospel they can repent and change. Someone with an impenitent heart cannot even know they have sinned: religion’s worst problem is that it is totally deceptive. It makes you think you are heaven bound when you are hell bound. It makes you think you are kind when you are horrendous. It makes you think you are pleasing God when you are storing up wrath for yourself.

Let’s take this verse to pieces and examine what it means:

1. Religious people have a hard heart.

This word means harsh or intolerable. It means you cannot change, you are unyielding, you will be unforgiving and cruel. Whenever you think that you relate to God by performance you will be cruel to people. It is a fact. Your heart becomes harsh because you start to see God as harsh. You act like whatever you think God is like and if you think God is harsh and mean, you will be harsh and mean to people.

2. Religious people have an impenitent heart.

This word means someone who is unable to change their mind. Religious people are unable to change their mind about anything. If someone is in their bad books, they are never going to be in their good books because religious people never change their mind.

If they grew up in a church that says that tongues is not for today, it does not matter what they read in the Bible about tongues they will never believe it because that would mean changing their mind.

Stubbornness and religion go hand in hand. If you are struggling with being stubborn, check your view of God: do you think that you impress God with your behaviour? Do you think that God is capricious and mean? If you do, get into the Bible and realize that God is a good God.

3. Religious people heap up trouble for themselves.

This word in the KJV is translated “treasurest up” because the Greek word is generally used to describe someone who is building up a pile of treasure or making themselves rich. However, metaphorically this word is used for someone who is following a lifestyle that ends up in a particular direction.

For example if someone is taking drugs, it is not difficult to predict where they will end up unless they change direction. We know that this is true for obvious sins like sexual immorality, drug taking or fits of rage and anger. However, the Bible here is teaching us that this is also true for religion.

If you think that you can impress God with your behaviour and even worse that your behaviour does impress God, then you will never come to God for His grace and mercy. You will always look to yourself and never to Christ.

Your direction will eventually be wrath – the accurate and precise judgment of God for your actions. Even your best actions are filthy rags. Your only righteousness that will enable you to escape the wrath of God is the righteousness of Jesus. If you continue in your good works you will end up in hell.

4. Religious people will be judged on the day of judgment.

This is great news for religious people. It might not sound like great news at first, but think about it: God could judge everyone right now but He does not. This is the age of grace. If someone as religious and spiteful and destructive as Saul could become the apostle of grace and kindness Paul, then anyone can change. Anyone can move into grace, receive Jesus, stop trying to live on their pathetic self-righteousness and start living as a king in the righteousness of God.

5. When God judges religious people, He will be right!

The Bible here calls God’s judgment righteous judgment. This means that God will never judge someone based on His mood, His bias or anything other than an accurate and precise assessment of someone’s actions.

If you live your life in a selfish way, focused on your righteousness and your goodness and never repenting for what you have done wrong and never trusting in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then you will end up in hell and it is right that you end up there.

The only way to enter heaven is through Jesus. Religious people still think that they can enter themselves because of their goodness. Some religious people think that it is just their goodness, others think it is some Jesus and some their goodness – both are completely and utterly wrong. It is only Jesus. If your trust is in something else you are in trouble, and it is right you are in trouble.

I urge you: put your trust in Jesus. ALONE!

Romans 2.4

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Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Paul is talking still about religious people: about people who come to God on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of what He has done. Religion ruins lives.

As we have seen in verses 1-3, religion leads you to judge people for things that you do yourself. It leads you to criticise people for doing things wrong that you do yourself. It leads you to having a double standard for judging people – if person X commits sin Y then you condemn them and judge them. When you commit the same sin, you justify yourself because of your motivation or your other good works. In short, religion makes you judgmental, critical, acerbic and rude. No-one likes a religious person.

Jesus on the other hand is gracious, kind, redemptive, helpful, gentle and easy to live with. If people truly know Jesus they are great people to be around. They are easy to live with, they are kind, patient and gentle.

Religion is awful.

Now, this verse contains some wonderful instruction. It explains why religious people are so condemning, judgmental and hypocritical.

The reason is this: they hate the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering. Never, ever hate God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering.

Let’s look at these three elements of God individually:

1. God’s goodness

The Greek word for goodness is chrēstotēs. It can be translated as goodness or benignity or kindness. It means that God is never mean, never malicious, never hurtful. It means that God does not have plans to harm us, does not want revenge on us when we sin, is not holding back anything from us.

It means God is good and good means good. God loves us and God is for us. You can cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. He adores you. He only wants to do good for you, He only speaks good words about you, He only acts for your good. He truly is awesome!

Religious people do not realize that God is rich in goodness. They think that if you do something wrong, God will immediately withhold His blessing and get revenge. Some religious people will tell you that God is behind all the evil in the world. Others will tell you that you are not healed or not wealthy because of your sin or your lack of goodness or lack of service.

All these ideas have their root in despising the goodness of God and not having a clue of who God really is!

2. God’s forbearance

The Greek word for forbearance is anochē. It means the ability to put up with things. God is rich in forbearance. God is tolerant.

If you have messed up today, God is not looking to get you and beat you up for it. God is rich in the ability to put up with things. Look how much you did wrong before you were born again! God put up with all of that, and still when you repented and believed accepted you fully and made you fully righteous.

Now you are in God’s family: He puts up with anything you do.

Religious people are not tolerant. They will not put up with anything. If you sin you are out the door. Heaven forbid if you do something wrong that people find out about. If you break the religious community rules you will be shunned. That is what religious people are like: they will turn on you as quickly as you can imagine. They are not tolerant because they do not know the tolerance of God. God is gracious! God can put up with things.

The more you realize the goodness and graciousness of God, the easier it is to develop a real genuine relationship with Him.

3. God’s longsuffering

God’s forbearance is God’s ability to put up with anything you do wrong and not shun you or kick you out of the community. It is a form of mercy: God’s mercy is God’s ability not to treat you as your sins deserve.

God’s longsuffering is God’s ability to love you and care about you and passionately desire to be with you no matter what you have done. It is a form of God’s grace. God’s mercy is not giving you what you deserve, God’s grace is giving you what you do not deserve.

God’s longsuffering is God’s ability to love you and bless you even when you do not deserve it. It comes from the Greek word makrothymia, which is translated patience or longsuffering in the KJV. It comes from two words: makro, meaning long; and thymos which means passion or heat.

Listen: even on your worst day, God still feels passion for you. He is the God of macro-passion. He dotes on you, cares for you, loves you passionately.

Religious people cannot deal with this. They cannot sustain their passion for God or for people. They cloak their lack of passion for God and for people with religious cliches. They hate people who turn up and who pray with passion, preach with passion, love with passion, serve with passion. Religious people portray an austere God, not a God hot with passion.

There is even a doctrine many churches in the UK teach called impassibility. This means that God cannot experience pain or pleasure from our actions. It is heresy – the Bible is clear: he CAN be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Hebrews 4.15). Not only that: it leads to people not being able to understand God, so it stops people having a real relationship with Him.

Muslims also teach that God has no emotions, no passion, no heat. It is simply not true: God can be made happy by your actions. God can be grieved by your actions.

Listen: God adores you. He is passionate about you. When you fail and you feel pain, He feels it more. His love for you is boundless, it is passionate, it is red-hot. He adores you.

Conclusion

When you realize that God is good, longsuffering and tolerant you start to enjoy His company. It is when you accept the lie that God is some short-fused difficult to please monster that you run far far away from Him.

People often get worried and concerned when you teach that God is good, that God forgives, that God does not hold sin against you. They start to panic: if you do that they say, people will do whatever they want. They will live in sin and rebel.

That is absolutely not true. It is the truth that sets people free. When the truth that God is good and kind is preached, it leads people to repentance. The Greek word for repentance means to change your thinking.

It is ONLY when you realize that God is good, can you actually change your life and live a pure, holy, loving, kind life. Religious people do not live a pure life, they are critical hypocrites. They are cruel, mean and condemning. If you sin they will judge you and fail to love you. They are not godly. They have a form of godliness, but no power. People who think that God is out to get them may look holy, they ARE NOT.

When you realize that God is good and that He adores you, that does not make you want to go and do what you want. It makes you want to tell God how much you love Him, to go and show that love and goodness to some stranger, to go and serve your family, to honour His life and goodness and to go and preach the gospel to the world.

I adjure you: NEVER NEVER NEVER despise the riches of God’s goodness, God’s forbearance and God’s longsuffering. Rather enjoy those riches and share them with the world!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 2.2-3

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But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Religious people often think that they are immune from laws that apply to everyone else, as if their religious rituals and rites make them immune.

If you read 2 Chronicles 26.1-15 you will the story of Uzziah, and it is a wonderful story of a brilliant king. He was a man of vision, a man who sought the Lord, a man who built many wonderful things. You could preach many sermons on these verses about the need to have a vision, the need to seek the Lord, the need to be bold and build great things for God and do great things for God.

But I want to focus on what happens next because we need to know what to do when we prosper. We need to know how to avoid the pitfalls of success. God wants us to succeed, and God will heal you, bless you, prosper you and make you a success. If you spend time in his Word you will be a good success and everything you do will prosper. Look at what happens next to Uzziah:

But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honoured by the LORD God.

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead so they hurried him out. Indeed he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house where he was relieved of responsibilities, leprous and excluded from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. Uzziah rested with his fathers and was buried near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for people said, “He had leprosy.” – 2 Chronicles 26.16ff

The Bible said as long as Uzziah sought the Lord he prospered. But at the height of his success, he went wrong. We have had in the charismatic church far too many people go wrong at the height of their success. And one of the reasons why some people go wrong is religious pride.

Now I am only writing this to people who are seeking the Lord and increasing in success because if you do not really care about the things of God, this problem will never happen to you. If you read 2 Chronicles 26.16 you find that when Uzziah got pride into his life he went to the temple of God. His pride led him to the temple of God – not to the world. This is not worldly pride; most Christians would be too smart to fall for worldly pride. This is religious pride – it goes to church, it prays and it wraps itself up in the pretence of being Biblical.

And one of the greatest problems of religious pride is that it makes you think that the rules that apply to every one do not apply to you. That what you judge and condemn other people for doing you will have no consequences for.

Uzziah knew his history – as a king he would have had to have known the history of his nation. In his case, it was even more important because the history of Israel is the history of a God who makes and keeps promises to people. Uzziah knew the stories of Abraham, Moses, Saul and David probably better than most Christians do today. Uzziah must have known that Saul offered a sacrifice he was not supposed to and stepped into a calling that was not his – and Uzziah must have known that this action cost Saul the kingdom. (The story is found in 1 Samuel 13, and contains one of the most important statements that will prevent religious pride: “To obey is better than sacrifice.”)

Uzziah knew that Saul tried to fulfil a priestly role and it cost him the kingdom. Yet Uzziah thought he could repeat Saul’s sin and not have Saul’s consequences. Why? Religious Pride!

When I was a teenager I remember reading in the newspaper about the Bishop of Gallaway who mysteriously vanished. When he was found again, it transpired that he had run away with a married woman. When he was interviewed in the newspaper, I remember he actually said that because he had spent 20 years sacrificing and serving God he was entitled to a weekend off. This was a blatant example of religious pride: the bishop saw the source of his serving God and sacrifice as himself, not the grace of God. He thought that he was above the rules that applied to other people because of his great service to God.

Now I am sure that most people reading this would never assume because they have twenty years good service they are entitled to a dirty weekend! However, we do act at times like we are exempt from rules that apply to other people. More recently in a discussion with a pastor he told me that he never tithed or gave offerings because he was in full time ministry and had given his life to Jesus. This is an example of making yourself exempt from rules that apply to others, because of his “great” sacrifice. It is religious pride.

I think sometimes we treat our religious services like a Tesco Clubcard. If we do enough religious works, we get enough points and we can trade them in for something we like. I can watch this rubbish on TV because I prayed this morning. I can be rude to that person because I lead worship at church and it is hard work.

This is the message of Romans 2: God does not work on a points system. It is all grace. So stop condemning other people. Stop pointing out how other people are unclean and unworthy – of course they are and so are you. Let’s realize we all need the grace of God and start showing that grace to the church and the world.

To serve God fully, we need a vision of God. We will never have a commissioning to bring the Word of God to this nation; we will never have a revelation of God’s holiness and goodness until we deal with the attitude of Uzziah – the attitude of religious pride – and eradicate it from our lives:

In the year king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim: each one had six wings, with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet and with two he flew.

And one cried to another and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Selah.

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