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Romans 2.1

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Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

In Romans 1, Paul takes great pain to point out to us that every human who rejects God slips down a death spiral, that without God their condition is hopeless. This is why Paul is not ashamed of the good news that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, Redeemer, Healer, Prosperer, Lord, Protector, Comforter and Friend. Because everyone needs a Saviour.

In Romans 2, Paul deals with the biggest problem in people becoming Christians: organized religion. Since I have started feeding on the Word of God and realizing how much God loves me, I have developed an absolute hatred for religion. There is not an atheist or secular humanist on this planet that hates religion as much as I do.

Religion is a system of behaving to attempt to impress God. Whether it is a Muslim praying five times a day, a Hindu offering food to an idol, or a Christian tithing – if the motivation behind your behaviour is to impress God it is religion. Religion always leads to depression, failure, bondage and sin. Religion always leads to comparing yourself with other people, something the Bible describes as foolish (2 Cor. 10.12). It always leads to making judgments on other people, something that is a symptom of pride. Religion always leads to pride, and pride goeth before destruction (Proverbs 16.18). Religion is evil.

Christianity as it should be is resting on the completed work of Christ on the cross. It is knowing that I do not have to impress God because I already impress God because of Jesus. If I do anything for God it is because He loves me and I love Him; never because I am scared of Him or because I need to placate Him. The wrath of God and the justice of God are taken care of because of the gospel which is the message of Romans 1.

Romans 2 is setting out to prove that religion does not mean you do not need the grace and mercy of God. We know instantly that Paul is talking about religious people in chapter 2 of Romans because he is speaking to those “that judgest”, and that is religious people. The reason why more people are in the pub than in the church is because non-religious people are – on the whole – non-judgmental and they accept people as they are. Do you remember the old sitcom “Cheers” set in a pub, it used to begin with the lyrics:

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

That is why more people are down the pub than in church because with a few notable exceptions in church people do not know your name, are not glad you came and try their hardest to hide that they have the same troubles as you because they are terrified of being judged. It is not Christ, the friend of sinners, the merciful, the Redeemer, the one who eternally makes intercession for us, that makes people like that it is religion. It is the stinking lie that you have to reach a certain standard or do a certain thing to impress God.

Paul takes his first swipe at religion here in this verse: if you judge people according to a standard, you are inexcusable. The Greek word here is anapologētos, which literally is: without apology. Apologetos in the Greek means a defense or justification for your actions.

People in the Roman church, just like in my church and your church, often when they have done things wrong and sinned against God and man do not rest in the truth that they are justified by faith in Christ and have peace with God (Romans 5.1), but rather try to hide the seriousness of their sin by comparing themselves with other people and judging other people:

I might have lost my temper at my wife, but at least I provide for her, unlike Bob in the church.
I might have eaten too much cake, but at least I don’t have a glass of wine like her.
I might have had a glass of wine, but at least I am not a greedy glutton like him.
I might have had an affair, but I tithe and turn up every week – most people in here don’t care for this church and do that!
I might have an anger problem, but I am a deacon, not like everyone who is not a deacon.

It is a horrible attitude for two reasons. Firstly and obviously, it means that church becomes just another rat race. You can never be the holy building God wants you to be while one stone is thinking it is better than the other stones. Every stone is needed, and it is need in the shape it is to fit into the master plan for the building. No one wants to go to church where the leaders are smug, where the ushers are sneering and where people do not genuinely love them.

Secondly, it means that people are self-justifying. They are acting in a way to impress God. It totally bypasses the work of Christ. In Romans 1-5, Paul is showing the Romans – in the most powerful way ever put to paper by any individual in all of history – how to enjoy being made righteous. One of the key ways is to realize that righteousness frees you from religion.

Then Paul says something so accurate and powerful: if you judge someone, you condemn yourself because you do the same things. Look at the verse in some modern translations:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (NLT)

THEREFORE YOU have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. (AMP)

Therefore, anyone of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. (Holman Christian Standard)

Whenever you judge another person for their sin, two things are true:

1. You are condemning yourself.

If you are pointing out the sin in another and holding it against them, you are saying implicitly that Jesus Christ’s redemptive power is not enough to deal with sin. If someone comes to your church for healing and you tell them God cannot heal them when they are wearing ripped jeans (I have heard someone say that to someone), you are saying that the blood of Jesus is less powerful than rips in clothes! The blood of Jesus is more powerful than ripped jeans! The blood of Jesus is more powerful than alcohol, than drugs, than adultery, than immorality. Healing is a fact achieved for us by Christ – there is no minimum standard necessary to receive healing.

But the minute you set a standard, you condemn yourself because you are not perfect. The next time you come to the Lord for healing, the devil will jump in there and your own conscience will jump in there and tell you that you had a lustful thought, you had an angry thought, you haven’t prayed enough, you aren’t good enough and your faith will not be enough to overcome this because you are the one that said there was a standard. Yes, you set the standard in such a way that you are doing better than Mr Jones, so you should be more blessed than Mr Jones, but by setting a standard you are being legalistic and you obscure Christ and His redemption, so when you come to the Lord you condemn yourself and make it impossible to receive from God.

If you are telling other people they are not good enough for God, but you are coming to God on grace alone, then you are double minded (see James 1 to find out what you will receive from God being double minded!)

2. You do the same things!

This is very difficult to misunderstand. When someone in the church starts aggressively judging someone in sexual immorality, that person according to Romans 2, does the same things.

One of the main reasons why some Christians are so judgmental of people living in sin is that they secretly want to! They live the life in their mind, never letting it out and hide it away. This is what religion does to people: because it makes God this critical wrathful Judge, it keeps people away from Him. People who know the Father, who walk with Him, genuinely do not want to sin. Like Moses they would give up the pleasures of sin in a second just to be known as one of God’s people and enjoy fellowship with Him (Hebrews 11.25). They know that God is more wonderful than any passing folly.

Religious people keep away from God: He is painted as a God of wrath with exacting standards who we have to continually impress or be attacked. I would stay away from God if He were like that, but He is not: He is humble, He is gentle, He is gracious. He redeemed us and He loved us and He gave the most precious thing He had to set us free! But religion tells people that God needs to be impressed.

So religious people have no relationship with God, they only have relationship with rules. Their hearts are still wicked and selfish as they have never been given a new heart. They have no intimate relationship with God, so they turn to rules and try and keep the rules. But their heart is not in it. So on the outside they have never committed adultery, but on the inside they are burning with lust. Jesus said that if you look at a woman with lust and imagine having sex with her, you have committed adultery of the heart (Matthew 5.28). The reason someone committing adultery of the heart disdains and hates and judges someone committing adultery is because they are jealous: their heart’s desire is to commit adultery. They do not do it not because they know the love of God, but because they are terrified of the punishment of God. They are only keeping the rules because of fear.

They are like the little boy who tells Jimmy angrily that he cannot come out to play because “Mum won’t let me.” Everything on the inside of the little boy wants to go and play, but he is scared of his mother. As soon as mother’s back is turned, the boy will be out the house. If mum does not turn her back, Jimmy will not have a good relationship with mum, but sulk and hate her. That sums up many Christians relationship with God perfectly.

When your secret heart desire is to commit a sin, you hate and judge the people who do commit that sin because you are jealous.

Christians who are not religious, who love God and know God loves them, do not want to commit adultery. They are not stupid – they know that breaking a marraige covenant would cause so much pain in the world they will not do it. They do not want to catch STDs, or hurt their families, or bring pain into their life. They trust God to satisfy them with one woman or one man, they believe God’s plan for sex and marriage works because they know God and they know He is love and that He is wiser than them! They walk with God and do not fill their minds with thoughts of adultery. They are not avoiding adultery to make God love them, because they know God loves them.

When someone like that meets someone in adultery, they do not condemn them. (John 8.1-11, compare Jesus’ reaction of love with the Pharisees’ reaction of judgment – that story sums up what I am saying here perfectly). They love them. They do not want them to commit adultery because they do not want them to be in pain, but if they keep doing it they will still love them. They will still know their name, they will still welcome them. But because our churches do not show the unconditional love that the pubs do, people are going to go “where everybody knows their name” and stay away from church in droves.

Religion kills. It stops people from accessing the grace of God for themselves and it then means that they stop others receiving that grace. Hopefully as we examine Romans 2 we are going to see how destructive religion is and get out of it. Religious death is just the same as Conscienceless death (Romans 1) and has the same negative effects. But when we reject religion and accept redemption and righteousness, we enjoy life, we enjoy God, and good things happen to us.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.9

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For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Let’s start with what Paul says first: he serves God with his spirit. This means that Paul is always serving God because he serves God from the inside.

He doesn’t need a crowd to listen to him to serve God, he can serve God chained up in prison. Sometimes we think that we have to do great things on earth to impress God – but God is impressed by our spirit, by us worshipping, praising and praying for people. Also – if you do mighty public works without your spirit being humble and pure before God you are wasting your time – you gain nothing (see 1 Cor. 13).

You can serve God right now – lift your hands to heaven and thank Him for making a wonderful day, pray for someone who has persecuted you and ask God to bless them and show them honour, then speak life over your family and your church. How easy it is to serve God!

Paul says that without ceasing he prayed for the Roman church. This word without ceasing is adialeiptōs in the Greek. This word is only used four times in the New Testament:

Romans 1.9 – without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers

1 Thess 1.2-3 – We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus
Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thess 2.13 – For this cause also we thank God without ceasing

1 Thess 5.17 – Pray without ceasing

Notice that this word is only used in the Bible in the context of our relationship with God. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17), and incase we dismiss this command as an ideal and not reality Paul says clearly in Romans 1.9 that he prayed without ceasing for the Roman church.

Now this does not mean that Paul prayed non-stop for the Roman Christians. It does not mean that whenever you found Paul he was lying prostrate praying in tongues for the Romans.

Firstly, Paul slept, he ate, he drank, he was a worker, he was a preacher. You cannot pray non-stop and nor can I. There is no Biblical command to pray non-stop.

The devil likes to get in to these sorts of commands and condemn us for not praying enough. He misquotes the Scripture to make you feel like rubbish.

Listen when God convicts us it is always three things:

1) Redemptive
2) Specific
3) Achievable

If the Holy Spirit says “Every day before you leave the house pray in tongues for 20 minutes” that is probably God because it is redemptive (it is something positive), it is specific (you can easily tell if you have done it or not) and it is achievable.

The devil is the one that says “you must pray more” – he wouldn’t dare tell you when to pray or give you a method of prayer or a goal, he just wants you to feel like rubbish. You must be more loving is another one of his phrases.

You cannot pray non-stop so stop feeling guilty that you don’t.

Let me explain what without ceasing means: it means without an intermission. Have you ever been to the cinema (I know all you holy people have never been to the cinema!) when there is a long film with an intermission: it is a break where something else happens.

You should pray without a break where something else happens. It means without an interruption to your prayer. Look at Strong’s Concordance:

Adverb from adialeiptos; uninterruptedly
When you read without ceasing in your Bible, translate it in your mind to without interruptions.

When you pray, you should be operating in faith and love. What praying without interruptions means is that just because you are not in your prayer time, don’t drop the faith and the love.

Let me try and make it practical for you so you can grasp this. Imagine you are praying for one of your children. You know that prayer must be in faith and you know that faith comes from hearing the Word so you search the Scriptures for a Scripture for your child. Maybe your child is having difficulties or starting to rebel.

Imagine you find Isaiah 54.13, which says great shall be the peace of thy children. So you go to prayer:

Father, thank you for Bob. Thank you that your Word says that His peace shall be great. He is not controlled by fear but by peace. He shall not have a broken life, but a peaceful life. He is a man of peace, and brings peace with him. Amen.

Now to pray for Bob without ceasing doesn’t mean that you pray non-stop, no drinking, no thinking, no sleeping, no anything that stops you praying and never doing anything else. Imagine if Paul prayed for the Romans like that and if pray without ceasing meant that, then Paul would never have prayed for the Thessalonians because that would mean to cease praying for the Romans! This is clearly not what pray without ceasing means.

To pray for Bob without ceasing means that after you have finished praying, you don’t phone Sister Bucketmouth and say “Man, what am I going to do with Bob? I can’t get a handle on him, it’s getting worse.” If you say contrary to your prayer, you have interrupted your prayer. You have failed to pray without interruption.

You have interrupted your prayer of faith with doubt, fear, worry and unbelief. You are undoing your prayer!

Listen: Paul prayed (and gave thanks – read Romans 1.8 and 9 together) for the Romans without ceasing. When he finished praying for them and thanking God for them, he did not go:

“Well, those Romans, it is so tough being church in Rome, I don’t know how they have made it. I hope they keep making it, I better go there and sort them out… you no what kind of mess they will be in without me…”

No – he refused to interrupt his prayer. He didn’t pray for his bills to be met on Sunday and get up Monday and worry and fret – he never interrupted his prayer. He didn’t pray in faith for the church to be revived and then tell his friend what a bunch of unspiritual fools they were down at the church as soon as he said amen.

Paul didn’t quit being thankful and appreciative for the church when he finished praying. He didn’t take faith and love into the prayer closet and leave them in there.

No – God was and is His witness, he refused to interrupt his prayers.

My encouragement to you today is this:

Pray without interruption (1 Thessalonians 5.17, Ben Conway Translation)

Do not let anything interrupt your prayers. When you have offered up your prayer in faith and love, don’t go and speak something in doubt and hatred. Don’t interrupt your prayers.

God doen’t interrupt prayers, He answers them. But if in the process of that answer manifesting, you interrupt yourself, then you are the one stopping the answer from manifesting.

You don’t have to pray non-stop, you need to pray and keep the attitudes of faith and love non-stop.

I hope this clarifies for you and helps you realize that 1 Thess. 5.17 is a command you can obey, and should obey, I hope it stops the devil ever thumping you on the head with this Scripture!

But more than that, I hope it helps you pray the prayer of faith for yourself, for friends, for enemies and for entire churches and see your answers manifest because you refuse to interrupt yourself.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Your Debt Is Wiped Out (T L Osborn)

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Your Debt Is Wiped Out

Jesus assumed our guilt when He suffered the
full penalty of our sins, in our name, in our place in His death for us on the cross. The entire debt against the one who believes on Christ is wiped out. Such a person shall never have to face God’s judgment for sin. Jesus said, I say emphatically that anyone who believes in God who sent me has eternal life. And will never be damned [or condemned or judged] for his or her sins, but has already passed out of death into life. John 5:24LB

There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus-Romans 8:1

for who shall accuse those whom God has chosen? God himself declares them not guilty! Can anyone, then, condemn them?…Jesus Christ is the one who died [for them]…who then can separate us from the love of Christ? Rom.8:33-35TEV As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.Psa.103:12 God is love.1Jo.4:8

God’s love never gives up on us.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,2Peter 3:9 God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.John 3:16 The gospel [the good news] is the power of God to everyone who believes.Romans 1:16 If any one is in Christ, that person is a new creature. Old things are passed away; all things are become new. 2Co.5:17

You can be a product of GOD’S LOVE-PLAN.

Whose Righteousness? (Andrew Wommack)

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The word “righteousness” has become a religious cliché that has lost its meaning to many people. Even Christians are confused about what righteousness is and how to receive it. This has left our society without a clear understanding of what it takes to have a relationship with God. This is reflected in our nation’s moral collapse. It’s imperative that we get back to the basics of righteousness.

“Righteousness” and its counterpart, “righteous,” appear 540 times in 520 verses of the Bible. In contrast, “faith,” “faithfulness,” and “faithful” are only used 348 times in 328 verses. This means that there are 1.5 times as many scriptures about righteousness as there are about faith. Righteousness is important.

A layman’s definition of righteousness is simply, “right standing with God.” Righteousness is the condition of being in right relationship with the Lord. This can only happen through TOTAL faith and dependence upon Christ. There is no other way, and there is nothing we can add to our faith to obtain right relationship with the Lord (Rom. 11:6).

One of the things that blinds people to a true understanding of righteousness is confusion about how we become right in the sight of God. It is commonly thought that our actions are the determining factor in God’s judgment of our righteousness. That’s not true. There is a relationship between our actions and our right standing with God, but right relationship with God produces actions, not the other way around. That is to say, we are not made righteous by what we do.

Righteousness is a gift that comes from the Lord to those who accept what Jesus has done for them by faith (Rom. 5:17-18). The gift of salvation produces a changed heart that, in turn, changes our actions. Actions cannot change our hearts. It’s the heart of man that God looks upon (1 Sam. 16:7), and we must be righteous in our hearts to truly worship God (John 4:24).

The mistake of thinking that doing right makes us right is the same error the Pharisees made. Religion has always preached that if we clean up our actions, our hearts will become clean too. Jesus taught just the opposite (Matt. 23:25-26). It’s through a changed heart that our actions change. The heart is the issue. Actions are only an indication of what is in our hearts. Actions are the fruit the heart produces.

Modern-day Christianity often puts the emphasis on actions instead of issues of the heart. This is reflected in Christians’ excessive efforts to legislate change in people’s actions instead of changing their hearts by the preaching of the Gospel. It’s the Gospel that contains the power of God, not political action groups (Rom. 1:16). Laws only affect actions. The Gospel changes hearts. Once hearts are changed, actions change.

Contrary to popular belief, Christianity does not promote receiving justice from the Lord. Praise God for that! The Lord has a much better plan. We get what we believe.

I once developed pictures in a photography studio for a living. People would come into the studio to look at their proofs and say things like, “This picture doesn’t do me justice.” I never had the nerve to say this, but I often thought, Lady, you don’t need justice, you need mercy.

That’s the way it is with God. We sometimes call for justice but that’s not what we need. As the Scriptures say, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6). Again, in Romans 3:23 the Scriptures say, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

The wonderful plan of salvation is that those who put their faith in Jesus and what He did for us get what He deserves. On the other hand, those who do not put their total faith in Christ will ultimately get what they deserve. Believe me, that is not what they want. Religion has subtly instructed people to trust in their own goodness instead of God’s. This will never work. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

The Biblical story of the handwriting on the wall illustrates this point (Dan. 5:1-31). Belshazzar was the king of Babylon. His father, Nebuchadnezzar, had conquered the nation of Israel and brought all the wealth of the temple, along with most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, back to Babylon. During an extravagant feast, with 1,000 of his lords in attendance, Belshazzar chose to toast his gods using the golden vessels from the temple in Jerusalem, which was in open defiance of the God of Israel.

The Lord moved swiftly and dramatically by creating an image of a man’s hand, with fingers that wrote on the wall in front of Belshazzar and all his guests. Belshazzar called on all his magicians and wise men to decipher the writing, but none could. Then the queen reminded Belshazzar about Daniel who had interpreted the dreams and visions of Nebuchadnezzar when no one else could. Daniel was summoned and the writing explained.

The message from God revealed that Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances and was found wanting. Therefore, his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians. This came to pass that very night. Belshazzar was overthrown, and Darius, the Mede (Persian), took control.

If we were weighed in the balances against God’s righteousness as Belshazzar was, we too would come up short. God’s righteousness is always more in quantity and quality than ours will ever be. Our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness (Is. 64:6).

Someone might say, “That’s not fair. No one can compete with God’s righteousness.” That’s exactly right! However, God’s righteousness is the standard by which everyone must be measured. So then, how can anyone be saved? The answer is that no one can be saved, if they are trusting in their own righteousness. We all must have a righteousness that exceeds anything we could ever produce through our own effort. That’s where Jesus enters.

Jesus was in right relationship with God as no one else can be. He is the Son of God. He is God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16). He is holy and pure and without sin, yet He became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), through no wrongdoing on His part. He took our sin in His own body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:4-5).

In return for Jesus taking our sin, those who put their faith in Him get His righteousness instead of their own. It’s not our actions that make us acceptable to the Father. It’s our trust in Jesus that imparts the righteousness of Jesus into our born-again spirits that makes us in right standing with God.

Those who don’t understand this righteousness, which comes from God as a gift, become frustrated trying to establish their own righteousness through good works (Rom. 10:3). It won’t work. It’s an all or nothing situation (Rom. 11:6). We must trust completely in what Jesus did for us to obtain right relationship with God. Any trust in our own goodness will void the atonement Christ made for us (Gal. 5:4).

This is precisely the condition of millions of people in the body of Christ today. They receive salvation by putting total faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, but then they return to believing that the Lord still relates to them on the basis of their works, even after their salvation. That’s not true.

Colossians 2:6 says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” That means if you were saved by putting faith in God’s grace alone, then you maintain that relationship in the same way. Some people sing “Just As I Am Without One Plea” when they are born again. They need to sing this song all the way through their Christian lives.

Failure to understand this truth is at the root of all guilt and condemnation. Satan’s only inroad into our lives is sin. If we understand our right standing with God on the basis of what Jesus did for us, and not by our own actions, then Satan’s power to condemn is gone. Those who live with a feeling of unworthiness are not trusting in God’s righteousness but are looking to their own actions to obtain right standing with God. That will never work.

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