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#5 No Excuses!

September 8, 2008

America is a nation of excuse makers. We have an excuse for everything. Nothing we ever do is our fault. And if we are caught we just go to rehab and all is forgotten. Then there are the laws that were established to keep the peace. But again we break them without a thought. “Who goes 55 anymore? I’m in a hurry! The Police will understand. Besides, I’ve got my radar detector on…” “Stop signs are an inconvenience. There was no one at the intersection when I got there.” “It’s not really robbery; that was actually my stuff.” And so it goes.

 

This is all part of the downward spiral of sin that everyone partakes of. As we saw last week it begins with ingratitude for the blessings of God which in turn produces blindness and a desire for worthless things such as the worship of idols, which in turn leads to a whole deluge of vices “kakia”: wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws.

 

And we are right back to my opening statements. People only feel bad when their caught and only because they have been caught. Otherwise they would continue in the same pattern of wickedness. And if they are let go with a slap on the wrist they will see that there are no consequences to pay and they will feel vindicated in returning to their life of crime.

 

I say crime because even if they aren’t out robbing banks they are still breaking God’s commandments and the soul that sins shall surely die, he is condemned already and will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account! Trust me, if they don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the sentence will be eternal death in the lake of fire!

 

In fact, I want you to think with me for a moment. Consider all the excuses that you make for your behavior or misbehavior. Think of how freely you offer such nonsensical drivel to each other as to why you did such and such. You do not bat an eye, do not hesitate to spout off some excuse as to why you did what you know to be wrong.

 

Now I want you to consider standing before the judgment bar of God and I want you to picture yourself offering the same excuses to God as to why sinned in such and such a fashion. Offer to Him those reasons why you ‘are the way you are’. Let me here you tell God that “He’s just going to have to deal with it.” Let me hear you tell God that “He made you this way.” Trust me; were you to stand before God you would not even consider opening your mouth. 

 

In fact verse 1 of our text tells us that we have no excuse for our behavior, especially when we know what is right and willingly do the wrong thing. Listen to the Apostle Paul as he heaps coals of fire upon our heads.

 

He says, 1 “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. That’s a fine way to talk to someone isn’t it! We’re not supposed to condemn anyone. In fact it is considered a hate crime to tell someone of the love of God and the mercy and deliverance to be found in Jesus Christ. The problem is that we are bringing light to bear on the darkness that resides in the souls of men. Jesus said that they would hate the light and will not willingly come to the light lest their evil deeds be exposed.

 

But all the while they are applauding, encouraging the same behavior in others. This is what we saw in verse 32 of chapter 1  where Paul declares that litany of sins and then says that although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

 

Now you have heard of people who talk out of both sides of their mouths right? Consider then what Paul says in chapter 2 and verse 1. These same people who are practicing sin and are applauding those who follow suit, are at the same time condemning others who practice the same sins. That’s like a brain twister. “I’m doing this and I like the fact that he is doing this but to look good to others I’m going to condemn his actions while at the same time condoning them!”

 

Do you see how skewed the brain of a lost sinner is? They cannot think straight about anything. They cannot see anything in its true light for they are wandering in darkness, their foolish minds have been darkened and in that state, black becomes white and white, black. Good becomes evil and evil good. This is why homosexuality, which is a sin in the eyes of God and carries with it the due penalty for their error; the disease Aids, is now looked upon as a good thing while a the same time, Jesus Christ, who loved the world so much that He died upon a cross to save His people from their sins, is now an evil man and His followers are partakers of His evil.

 

This is just so upside-down.

 

But the world is condemning itself for their sins. Christians don’t have to say a word!  It is all so evident! Indeed it is evident to them because God has made it evident to them so they are without excuse. What does this mean? It means they are in grave danger. They are heading for a cliff and they don’t know it!

 

But we know and we must tell them. We must warn them of the impending danger. But when we do speak it should, it must be in love. We must have a love for lost souls to the point that we would tell them that they are going the wrong way. We must love them and tell them that there is salvation, deliverance to be found in the person of Jesus Christ if they will but call upon His name. The Bible says, for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Ro 10:13)    

 

Now this is considered a hate crime in many countries! Good is a crime, evil is condoned, encouraged, applauded. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. Why? Because the Judge of all the earth will do right! His judgments are just and pure. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil. Indeed, hell was created for those who would rather wallow in the dunghill of their sin. And it is a place of eternal torment. Interestingly, Jesus said that sinners love darkness. He said that they would not come to the light because they preferred the darkness. Now hell is described in the bible as a place of outer darkness! If sinners remain in their unrepentant state they will get what they think they want most; DARKNESS!  Only this place of darkness will be full of torment and never ending agony where the gnawing worm of conscience never dies and the fire of torment is never quenched.

 

Consider the witness of a man who, instead of fighting or offering excuses, humbled himself before the Lord and found mercy. David, a man after God’s own heart was able, by the grace of God, to see the truth about himself. And having seen into his own sin blackened heart he says in (Ps 51:4) “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, (David is saying, “I have broken Your Holy Law O Lord”) So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

 

Notice that David didn’t pass the buck. He didn’t offer excuses for his sin and understand that he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to cover it up. When he was confronted by Nathan the Prophet he didn’t have Nathan’s head cut off for saying such a hateful thing. He didn’t have him burned at the stake as the inquisitors did. No, David looked at himself and saw his wickedness and guilt and he bowed before God and pled for mercy. And he found it!

 

Are we so sensitive to our own sin that we must kill in order to eradicate our sense of guilt? Are we so proud of our positions in this life that we care nothing for the next. The Pharisees did this! They couldn’t stand Jesus and they hated what He said so they killed Him.

 

Men and women have been killing His followers ever since, all because they hate the message of love, forgiveness, deliverance from sin and an eternal home of peace in Heaven. All the while they are practicing all forms of evil and are calling it good. They have raised up all sorts of idols in their hearts and they have called them ‘god’. This ‘god’ is nothing but a lie.

 

Men have come up with all kinds of ‘doctrine’ that have ‘come from these gods.’ But it is all false and upside-down. This is why the world is the way it is. This is why men practice sin, applaud others and at the same time condemn them for doing the same things they are doing. And the True God speaks to the world saying 3 “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

 

4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? You see, it’s not the doctrine of hell that leads men to repentance. Now we must tell men the bad news so that the good news will be just that! And Paul is saying that after we tell them the bad news, we are to tell them the good news. In other words we must declare the whole council of God, tell them the whole truth so they will know, so they will see. They must see the fires of hell burning in the distance and they must be shown the Cross upon which Jesus died, that it’s a shelter in which we can hide. We must demonstrate to them His grace so free. And we must show them that it is sufficient to free, the wickedest sinner, who comes to believe. The kindness and mercy of God is what leads men to repentance.

 

In verse 5 Paul tells us that men won’t hear. And we know the reason. The Bible tells us they are dead in trespasses and sins and God must resurrect them from spiritual death to spiritual life so they can understand the things of the spirit of God. God must move upon the surface of their souls and breathe into them the breath of life or they will not believe.

 

But” as it stands, “because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

 

People are sinning against their own souls. They think they are so wonderfully intelligent, that they are so advanced and all and they are just so blind to the truth. More than that, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness to their own damnation. Consider the words of Jonathan Edwards concerning the truth that dwells in the hearts of sinful mankind.

 

There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them.

 

The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, (Isa. 57:20). For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone. Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies.

 

God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope.

 

There are black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose.

 

It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; (behold the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience…and remember that it is the kindness of God that is leading you to repentance). But your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.”  

 

These are hard words to say the least. But they are true words as well. The day is coming when all of mankind will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. he will separate the nations as  shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep, His children, all believers on His right. And the lost, all who trusted in themselves, who trusted in their ‘god’ or who believed that there is no God, all who practiced a lie, these will find themselves on His left side.  

 

On that day we read in verse 9 tells us the truth, that There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, (This means that there is no way out, no reprieve, not even a hope of a way out. It is appointed unto man to die once and after that to face judgment. And when the sentence is pronounced, when the heavenly gavel is dropped eternity begins. For the lost it means eternal torment. And herein lies the distinction between the lost and the saved, just like there was a distinction made between the Egyptians and the Israelites during the time of judgment when God visited that land in power and might.

 

God’s children, Christians have spent their lives in service to Jesus Christ. This service earns them nothing, salvation wise: they gain nothing by their works. They score no points in heaven because the works already done between the Father and the Son. God has accomplished our salvation and so as we enter our eternal reward verse 10 tells us, “but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, who practices righteousness, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. The characteristic of the Christian is the practice of righteousness, not to score points with God or to look good to our fellow man, but simply because we love Jesus and want to serve Him. Ours is a service of love.

 

To those who would boast of their works Paul says, 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

 

He anticipates and answers excuses, to the Jew first, and also to the gentile. The Jews might reply, “We should be excused because we know the law and obey it for we are the chosen people of God through the covenant of the Law made on Mount Sinai. The Gentiles might reply, “We should be excused because we did not know the Law. We plead ignorance. To both excuses the Apostle answers NO!

 

First he addresses the arrogant Jews who gloried in the Law which they had received and which as the boasted, they had heeded and obeyed. According to their argument, God should give credit to them and charge the heathen with what is evil. They reasoned that since they were the seed of Abraham, they should share in his reward with him. To this Paul says, “There is no partiality with God!” Plus the fact that is not the physical children of Abraham who will inherit the kingdom, but the spiritual children of Abraham: those who have the faith of Abraham.

 

Then Paul crushes the pride of the heathen, (that’s us) who gloried in their excuse that they didn’t know about any law. According to them, they did not deserve wrath because they were poor ignorant heathen. But Paul tells them that they will perish without the law. And as to their ignorance; note again the words of (Romans 1:18-20)  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  

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