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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 2

Verses 1-16

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week, Paul took the time to paint a clear picture of the universal depravity of humanity. Condemning 1st the Gentiles (last week); now the Jews (2:1-3:8); all people(3:9-20).
    2. Gentiles(idolatry & sexual perversion); Jews (holier than though attitude); All people (all equally condemned before God)
    3. God’s judgment is based on 3 divine standards - truth (2-4), impartiality (5-11), and Jesus Christ Himself (12-16) - which are absolute and infinite, condemning every person.
      1. Yet still some will say/think… Some Jews thought, but I’m not as bad as some! - Answer: Yes, you do the same things, you’re just more refined in how you sin.Some Gentiles thought, but I should be acquitted on the grounds of Ignorance! - Answer: No, you have a conscience & nature around you.
    4. The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through 4 decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California. During the conversion, her 3 massive smoke-stacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the 3/4-inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than 30 coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away.
      1. There was no substance, only an exterior appearance! [thats this 1st group] “No substance, only an exterior appearance!”
  2. HYPOCRITICAL JUDGMENT! (1-3)
    1. Ever been a member of the Holier-Than-Thou-Club? (oh, were a full fledged member huh!)
    2. (1) “Judging others” is often misunderstood. Some believe we should never make a moral decision about anyone.
      1. Should we never confront anyone about legitimate sin in their life? Yes! (in love)
      2. But what he’s saying is spiritual introspection is necessary before spiritual confrontation?
    3. A Hypocrite has been defined as...Someone who complains there is too much sex & violence in his DVD collection.
      1. ​​​​​​​In a Connecticut city, 53 residents of a certain neighborhood signed a petition to stop reckless driving on their streets. The police set a watch. A few nights later 5 violators were caught. All 5 had signed the petition! :) ha!
      2. A Hypocrite says, “Mary is always criticizing others!”
      3. We don’t become righteous by pointing out the sins of others.
        1. If you see another stumble or fall, let your first thought be…of all men you are most likely to stumble or fall in that same manner.
      4. We are congenitally blind to our own faults. We have amnesia when it comes to our past sins. We rationalize it (that’s not pornography…it’s art!).We rename it something more palatable (affair/adultery; white lie/lie; prayer request/ gossip)
      5. We might be righteous in our own eyes but it doesn’t mean we are in God’s!
      6. I find it very easy to cover up my own failures by criticizing others! How about you?
        1. “How rarely we weigh our neighbor in the same balance in which we weigh ourselves!” Thomas a Kempis
          1. Whom do you judge more...yourself or others?
  3. GOD’S GOODNESS! (4)
    1. ​​​​​​​It’s possible that God’s...Goodness/kindness may refer to how He overlooks our Past sins; & Forbearance/tolerance our Present sins; & Longsuffering/patience our Future sins. (Spurgeon Quote)
    2. Notice it is not the badness of man but the goodness of God that brings a person to repentance!
      1. So, me living w/Guilt on overload won’t do it?…Nope!
      2. How about Shame that would make a sailor blush?... Nope!
      3. The prodigal came to repentance, not when he thought of his badness but of his father’s goodness! But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (Lk.15:17)
        1. “When the dove was weary, she remembered the ark & flew into Noah's hand at once!” (Spurg)
    3. Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
    4. Goodness = “what is suitable or fitting to a need.” Are you grateful for God’s Goodness?
  4. FAITH PROVED BY WORKS! (5-11)
    1. ​​​​​​​(5) Hardness = (sklērōsis/sclerosis) abnormal hardening of body tissue. (multiple sclerosis) a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.
      1. Spiritual sense - abnormal hardening of your heart!
    2. Slowly treasuring up. There’s been times while filling my little pond in my back yard, I turn on the valve to fill it up & forget & walk away. Every moment it is slowly rising, but it’s quiet. It is barely noticed. It keeps slowly swelling until it busts over the edge if I’m not watching it & starts flooding my backyard. [accidentally let the bathtub run over? Sink?]
      1. It is like adding drops of water to a full glass of water to see how many you can get in before it rushes over.
      2. So is the hard & unrepentant heart. Drop by drop it stores up wrath for itself. - Not realizing it is like a stream dammed up. Gathering force…One day the dike is going to break!
      3. One of Isaac Watts' stanzas reads: Thousands make a wretched choice, And rather starve than come.
    3. (7-9) Not one sin escapes the righteous wrath of God. Sin is always paid for!
      1. Either by Christ, who was punished for our sins; Or, by the sinners who reject Him & suffer eternal punishment.
    4. (10) A person’s doing good shows that his heart is regenerate. Is my faith proved by my works?
  5. HIDING BEHIND RELIGION! (12-16)
    1. ​​​​​​​Could the Jews expect preferential treatment for having the law? Or, Could the Gentiles plead special consideration for not having it?
    2. (13) External rituals do not guarantee internal changes!
      1. William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony of pilgrims, insisted, "Those who believe in the Holy Scriptures are bound to observe its teachings. Those who do not are to be bound by its consequences."
      2. A salty pagan, full of the juices of life, is a hundred times dearer to God, and also far more attractive to men, than a scribe who knows his Bible...in whom none of this results in repentance, action, and above all, death of the self. A terrible curse hangs over the know-it-all who does nothing.” (Helmut Thielicke)
      3. We modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct…It is easier to pray, "Lord, help me to carry my cross daily" then to pick up the cross and carry it. A.W.Tozer
    3. (14,15) Moral Gentiles who do by nature things required by the Law, show that the Law is not to be found only on tablets of stone but is also inscribed in their hearts and is reflected in their actions, consciences, and thoughts.
    4. (15) Your conscience accuses or excuses you!
      1. “Many people have only their bad memory to thank for their clear conscience.”
      2. Cowardice asks the question...Is it safe? Consensus asks the question...Is it popular? Conscience asks...Is it right? (MLK, Jr)
      3. Conscience is defined as...an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one's behavior. (Websters)
      4. “My conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God, and to go against conscience or Scripture is neither right nor safe.” Martin Luther
      5. Conscience is an important part of human nature, but it is not an absolutely trustworthy indicator of what is right. [Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio’s conscience.The Blue Fairy said, “Now, remember, Pinocchio: be a good boy. And always let your conscience be your guide”]
        1. One’s conscience can be good (Acts 23:1) & clear (Acts 24:16); but it can also be guilty (Heb.10:22), corrupted (Titus1:15), weak (1 Cor. 8:7,10,12), and seared (1 Tim. 4:2)
        2. All people need to trust the Lord Jesus Christ so that “the blood of Christ” might “cleanse their conscience. (Heb. 9:14)
          1. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
      6. An uneasy Conscience is a hair in the mouth. - Mark Twain
      7. Conscience is the still small voice that makes you feel still smaller.
      8. Conscience is a sacred sanctuary where God alone may enter as judge!
      9. Conscience is a 3-pointed thing in my heart that turns around when I do something wrong, and the points hurt a lot. But if I keep doing bad, the points eventually wear off,…and then it doesn't hurt any more.
    5. True guilt is a valuable asset for living.
      1. It helps us when we hurt others or betray our own standards and values.
      2. God uses guilt to influence us to change our minds about what we are doing, leading us to repentance.
      3. If we never felt guilt, we would not follow rules or standards, obey the law, or have good relationships with loved ones.
    6. (16) As we talk about God’s judgment…let’s recap:
      1. He does it honestly(2) – W/o partiality(11); & no secret is hidden from Him(16).
      2. God revealed Himself to the Jews through the Law of Moses written on stone tablets; to the Gentiles by writing it on their hearts.
      3. God is The Great Log & Stain Remover: He removes logs from our eyes, & the stain of sin from our lives!
        1. ​​​​​​​Like w/a stain on a carpet, I remember George Tally taught me, you aren’t suppose to rub out a stain, it must be lifted out!
        2. Have you been frustrated trying to run our some sin of your past??
        3. Are you ready this morning to let Christ lift it our? (Today?)

Verses 17-29

  1. Intro:
    1. Justice Conf: Kel in booth taking sign ups, answering questions.
    2. Communion this month: (not today) But, this Wed the 8th & Wed the 22nd.
    3. A woman once came to Gandhi and asked him to please tell her son to give up eating sugar. Gandhi asked the woman to bring the boy back in a week. Exactly one week later the woman returned, and Gandhi said to the boy, “Please give up eating sugar.” The woman thanked the Mahatma, and, as she turned to go, asked him why he had not said those words a week ago.” Gandhi replied, “Because a week ago, I had not given up eating sugar.”Preach what you Practice!
    4. Outline: Religious Overconfidence; False Security in Association; A Matter of the Heart.
  2. RELIGIOUS OVERCONFIDENCE! (17-24)
    1. We are favored by God. We are a privileged people. Knowledgeable about Scripture. Models of morality.
    2. Do I tell others what is right but then do what is wrong?
      1. There seems to be 2 main categories here: Their Spiritual Advantages(17,18); & Their Privileges(19,20).
    3. Spiritual Advantages! (17,18)
      1. They rested on the Law. [rest = rely on, finding rest or support in something]
      2. They had a special relationship w/God. [you brag about your God relationship]
      3. They knew His will.
      4. They approve only the most excellent of moral standards.
    4. Their Privileges! (19,20)
      1. ​​​​​​​They were a guide to the spiritually blind.
      2. They were a light to those in darkness.
      3. They were an instructor for the foolish.
      4. They were a teacher of babes.
        1. 1st category deals w/their relationship w/God; the 2nd w/others.
    5. Is having the law the same as living the law? (nope!)
      1. Theres a big difference between: Profession & Possession; between Preaching & Practice; between Religion & Reality.
      2. Greater knowledge brings greater accountability to act on that knowledge.
    6. Paul is about to prick their pompous balloon of pride & presumption.
    7. (21-24) A shocking gap stood between their profession & their practice!
    8. They not only failed to practice what they preached; they did the exact opposite of what they preached.
      1. Do you not Teach yourself? - [you have to know the truth to teach it, so will you venture to teach it w/o applying it yourself?]
      2. Do you Steal? - [8th commandment]
      3. Do you commit Adultery? - [7th commandment]
      4. Do you Rob temples? - [commit some irreverent act against a holy place] [not Giving?]
      5. Do you dishonor God through breaking the law? - [It becomes an empty gesture when you break the very Law that you were just bragging about] (i.e. “God, you have a wonderful Law, I just refuse to obey it!”)
    9. You teach the right, you preach the right, you say the right, you abhor God’s rivals, and you boast in Him alone. Yes, but what do you do? Don’t hide behind the creeds and confessions.
    10. Hypocrisy in the church today:

      When we talk about prayer but never pray.
      When we believe tithing is right but never tithe.

      When we want to belong to the church but never attend.
      When we say the Bible is God's Word to man but never read it.
      When we criticize others for things they we do ourselves.

      When we stay away from church for trivial reasons and sing, "Oh, How I Love Jesus."
      When they continue in sin all their lives but expect to go to heaven in the end.
    11. (24) "Millions of Christians live in a sentimental haze of vague piety, with soft organ music trembling in the lovely light from stained-glass windows. Their religion is a pleasant thing of emotional quiver, divorced from the intellect, divorced from the will, and demanding little except lip service to a few harmless platitudes. "I suspect that Satan has called off his attempt to convert people to agnosticism. After all, if a person travels far enough away from Christianity, he or she is always in danger of seeing it in perspective and deciding that it is true. It is much safer, from Satan's point of view, to vaccinate a person with a mild case of Christianity so as to protect him from the real disease." (Howard Hendricks, Faith in Tough Times, Preaching Today, Tape 140.)
    12. Do I practice what I preach?
    13. Do I only preach what I practice?
    14. Do I expect more of others than I do of myself?
    15. The Jews had certain practices they put too much weight in…but so does the Church!
      1. Look at this list of the practices & traditions that have become a fixed part of the evangelical landscape in America - the things that mark individuals & congregations as evangelical Christians: [quoted from Swindoll, Romans, Pg.45]
        1. Defending the Bible as true; Baptism & the Lord’s Supper; Scripture Memorization; Participation in high-profile evangelism rallies; Political activism; Tithing; Lists of “do’s & don’t”; Christian lingo; Church Building programs; Altar calls in the worship service; To be overly expressive in responses from the preaching.
          1. None of these are bad in & of themselves. Some in fact are vital to the life & ministry of the church. But, can any of them save an individual? Can any of them take the place of faith in Christ’s life, death, & res.? No, they can’t.
      2. We had a Christian school that used to be in our league many years ago that wouldn’t pray with us before our sporting events. Come to find out the won’t pray with anyone in their own organization, unless they were of the same synod!!!
        1. Though they wouldn’t pray w/us...Yet, they came to seek our advice how we work the combination of our Church & School!
        2. We can all find certain practices they we put too much weight in.
  3. ​​​​​​​FALSE SECURITY IN ASSOCIATION! (25-27)
    1. ​​​​​​​I am a Jew! I go to Calvary Chapel! I was born in the tent at CCCM. :)
    2. Circumcision, a ceremonial rite the Jews treasured as a sign & guarantee of Gods favor.
      1. A sign of their faith. A symbol of their faith.
      2. Picture, what baptism is to us, a wonderful symbol of our faith in Christ.
      3. Or, a wedding ring between God & his people.
        1. These are just both symbols. Its possible for someone to have been baptized & yet not really a believer. And the same if someone picked up someone else's wedding ring & put it on...that doesn’t make them married to their spouse.
    3. A person was only a Jew if he was one inwardly. The circumcision that counted was a circumcision of the heart. [a new heart created by the H.S. that brings eternal life]
      1. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deut.30:6
      2. So spiritually, authentic circumcision was the “cutting away” of the old sinful nature. Have you cut away your old sinful nature? (repented of your sin)
    4. You’ve heard of guilt by association...this is guilt by thinking association means anything.
      1. I think the Baptist have their issues. The Pentecostals theirs. The Emergent church theirs. The Catholic church theirs. Those that just preach a social gospel have theirs. Cite any religious affiliation here. But, what about Calvary Chapel. We have mass produced in the last 4 decades an arrogant lot!
        1. ​​​​​​​We arrogantly thought for years we invented verse by verse teaching. We arrogantly thought that was the only way to teach Scripture, forgetting that we have no record of Jesus ever teaching that way.We arrogantly thought that we had cornered the market of conversions throughout the 70’s & 80’s during our “denominations” boom. [Was it not to the credit of the Spirit of God]
        2. Do you know how many conversations I’ve had with pastor friends in town regarding former C.C. Parishioners who now attend their churches, in which all their church practices are compared to C.C. “Calvary doesn’t do it that way!” (then go back to a Calvary)
          1. The time I spoke at RCC & the guy who came up & said, “finally some good ol verse by verse teaching!” [I wanted to cry & throw up] [Ps: I did a topical]
        3. Do you think by saying, “I started in the tent back at big Calvary” means anything, to anybody? Do you think it does to God? Chuck? [No! He would say, I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of my children walking in truth. 2 Jn.4] Not walking in a Calvary.
    5. So it’s not a matter of having Religious Overconfidence; Or, a matter of having False Security in an Association; But it is a A Matter of the Heart.
  4. A MATTER OF THE HEART! (28-29)
    1. ​​​​​​​We might deceived ourselves by being familiar with the truth or our religious affiliation...but God is not fooled at all!
      1. Let’s spring back almost 2600 years ago & listen in on a conversation with God & His man “Zeek”. Ez.33:30-32
      2. As for you, son of man(Ezek), the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.
        1. Pastors worse nightmare. People coming to hear you preach, people talking about your sermon…but they don’t do anything about what they hear!
        2. Imagine calling a watchman’s warnings “a very lovely song”. [Pastor, when you call us to repentance of sin…I hear Barry Manilow singing Mandy! WHAT?]
        3. They didn’t take God’s word seriously.
        4. Isaiah said it this way, These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Is.29:13
          1. Mt.15:8,9 Jesus said, “Isaiah was right when he said…”
        5. Complimenting the preacher is not the same as obeying the Master!!! (www)
        6. Sensuality hears & does nothing. Spirituality hears & obeys! G. Campbell Morgan
    2. So we all need to go to the heart of the matter.
      1. God’s word is surgical. It is meant to pierce hearts.
    3. (29) Note play on words: Jew = Praise!
      1. From whom do I seek my praise? (man or God)
    4. Luke 18:9-14 The Parable of Statue Man & Sponge Man!
    5. (9) As one said, “If Grace is like rain, then one man here is a Statue & one is a Sponge!”
      1. Can you picture that? (Both being rained on, yet 1 repelling water, the other absorbing it)
    6. (10) 2 men went up to the temple to pray – each was a man; only a man!
      1. Whenever a man crosses the threshold of the temple/church, that is how they are listed by high heaven!
        1. Employer can sit next to employee; & cop next to ex-convict.
      2. Both went up to pray, & right there in their prayers the difference was revealed.
    7. STATUE MAN! (11-12)
    8. (11) Stood & prayed with himself. I’m fully convinced, Jesus was hilarious! [Listen to His satire, wit, irony]
      1. This man essentially prayed a “self-eulogy”! (tribute)
      2. A long list of personal achievements. [Note: “I” 5 x’s]
      3. Isn’t it interesting that one could feel glad that he doesn’t sin in one way, while he is sinning in another & perhaps worse way! (Griffith Thomas; pg.274)
      4. He had an intellectual conviction to come pray, but yet doesn’t make contact with God. [Hell is full of intellectual conviction!]
    9. God? – Well, at last he started with that…but he never made another ref to Him.
    10. (12) Fasting requirement was only once a year at day of Atonement.
      1. Wow! Here, twice a week! (104 x’s a year)
    11. Tithes of all, not just of field & stall.
      1. I guess he not only knew this, but was determined God should know it from him, & others around also.
        1. When all is said & done, I guess he not only prayed to himself, but he also tithed to his own savings account, & fasted for his own health!
      2. Interesting, you can do all the right things but to no avail if it’s w/the wrong heart.
        1. Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility! JJ
      3. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices.
      4. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the story of the Pharisee and the publican, said, “Children, let’s bow our heads and thank God we are not like the Pharisee!”
        1. The Pharisee’s prayer showed he was self-centered; showed he was conceited; showed his morality was based on negatives; showed his worship was based on externals.
    12. SPONGE MAN! (13,14) [Or yes, you can call him Bob!]
    13. (13) Standing afar off – not front & center, off in a corner it seems.
    14. Would not…raise his eyes – Faith looks away…not at self!
    15. (13b) God – He starts the same way, but attitude is totally different.
    16. He does use “me”, but immediately is followed up by a description of the person referred to, a sinner! [Oh, how he hated his sin!]
      1. The publican’s prayer showed he was humble before God and man; showed he was more aware of his own sins than those of others; showed he was not concerned about obtaining material wealth; showed he was conscious of his standing before God.
    17. (14) What a shock for His listeners to hear the sinner walked away justified & not the holy man!
      1. God relates to those who lost their pride & humbled themselves in repentance!
    18. Balloon Illustration:
      1. Statue Man - [Blow up balloon w/each of his statements; Pop at end!]
        1. God, I thank You that I am not like other men(blow) extortioners(blow), unjust(blow), adulterers (blow), or even as this tax collector(blow). I fast twice a week (blow); I give tithes of all that I possess (blow).
        2. He was puffed upfilled with his own hot air! Pop it!
      2. Sponge Man - No hot air, “love is not puffed up”. [Limp; can’t pop an empty balloon]
        1. Humble = lowly, the idea is “close to the ground”.
        2. He likes us empty, not full of ourselves.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Romans 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/romans-2.html. 2017.