World English Bible translation
2:1Therefore you are without excuse, man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. 2:2 We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 2:3 Do you know this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Paul now addresses religious people. There were probably some in his audience nodding their heads in agreement with him that sinful people would be just as Paul had described them to this point. But surely Paul is not writing about me because I have never murdered another person. I am not a homosexual nor am I known to be a gossip or a covetous person. Other people think well of me and believe me to be a moral person. I have a right to look at other people who quite obviously do not even attempt to live by God's rules and to judge them. Surely God prefers me to those who don't go to church or try to act religious.
It is precisely this attitude that Paul begins to address in this passage and throughout the rest of this chapter. "For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things." Paul's main point of this section is that the sin that I commit is no worse or no better than the sin that you commit. My sin is not less because it is more socially acceptable or because it is less public. Can I escape God's judgment if I can point to others that are "worse" than me? Does that make my sin any less offensive to God?
Paul's answer to these questions is that all sin is essentially the same sin. All sin derives from a rejection of God. Even though I know God and understand what God would want me to do, I do not do it. Instead, I gratify my own desires. All sin begins with the greatest of sin. Even the least sin begins with rejecting God's authority in my life and that is the greatest of all sins.
So, do I have the moral authority to judge any other person and condemn them before God? No, I do not. My sin is just as hideous in the sight of a holy and righteous God because all of our sin begins with idolatry.
But, perhaps you might be one of those rare persons whose lives do not seem to be very sinful. I have known very decent people. I have known people who never seem to raise their voices, who do not often speak ill of another person and that are genuinely kind persons. The best of them have been older Christians who have spent years under the direction and supervision of the Spirit of God.
But, I have never once met a person without sin. In even the best of us there is some flaw. Perhaps it might be some little envy or the inability to forgive a past offense. In any case, there is sin in the hearts of even the sweetest, kindest persons. And many of the older Christians who seem so genuinely decent and kind will be the first to tell you that they were not always so and that, in their hearts, they still struggle with the same sins that they have always struggled against.
Does this mean that we are without hope? No, it means that without God's active participation in our lives we are without hope. There is none of us that can escape God's judgment. But, through faith, God offers us a righteousness that is based on the love that the Father has for His Son. God is merciful to us even through we have sinned in the past and will continue to sin in the future.
Have you ever judged another person? Do you understand that before a holy God we would all be condemned were it not for His mercy and grace? Even you?
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