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The Sinful Heart
1. God's X-ray picture of the human heart. At the close of the first chapter of Romans, there is such a graphic description of the heart of sin, that we can scarcely refrain from using it as an introduction to our study in the second chapter of Romans.
(1) God describes the heart in the Old Testament along the same line, when He says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
(2) In the New Testament, in Romans, we have this plain fact demonstrated, that God knows the heart, and knows how to describe it. He says: "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness," etc. Turn to Romans 1:29-45.1.31 and read for yourself the full description.
(3) The human heart as seen by its actions. This is set forth in Romans 3:1-45.3.31 . The wicked, "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: * * with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood."
(4) Our Lord's own description of the hitman heart. Christ said: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."
(5) To the above four descriptions, we add a fifth. In Galatians it is written: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like."
2. What God's X-ray pictures suggest.
(1) They suggest that there is nothing in a man which can merit redemption. The heart of sin cannot make a plea to God for redemption, on the basis of its own inherent purity. There is only one way that the sinner can come to God, that way is by the acknowledgment of his sin.
(2) They suggest the impossibility of the heart of sin producing righteousness. An evil heart cannot bring forth good fruit, any more than a corrupt tree could bring forth good fruit. It is impossible for a bitter fountain to emit sweet water. It is just as impossible for those accustomed to doing evil, to learn to do good. The only hope of a sinner lies in regeneration not in reformation.
(3) They suggest that one sinner cannot sit in judgment and condemn another sinner. This is true, for the simple reason that all have sinned. The pot, dare not call the kettle black; the hunchback, dare not point the finger of scorn at the stoop shouldered. If a sinner rises up to condemn another sinner; in the same breath, he condemns himself, for he is doing the same things.
(4) They suggest that. God's judgment against the ungodly is altogether righteous. There is nothing left for a holy God to do, than to refuse the unholy the right to His sacred presence; there is nothing else that a holy God can do than to refuse the guilty, a shadow of comfort at the judgment.
It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit in Romans 2:3 says: "Thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?"
(5) They suggest and anticipate the fiat of God's righteous judgment as expressed in Romans 3:19 : "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." They suggest, also, the truth of the statement of the next verse, "Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight."
I. GOD'S RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS (Romans 2:2 )
In our last study we spoke briefly of the judgments of God. We wish now to emphasize a distinctive phase of those judgments.
1. God's judgments are according to truth.
(1) This is made possible by God's all knowledge. There is nothing that is not naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. When we are judged in an earthly court, witnesses both for and against the criminal, are brought forth. The judge, or the jury, know nothing of the situation excepting what is presented in the court. For this cause much judgment is not according to truth.
Men judge from outward appearances, they judge from hearsay, they judge from reports; God looks upon the heart, He knows what is in a man, He knows our down-sitting and our uprising, He understands our thoughts afar off.
(2) This is made possible because God is Truth. He can judge according to the truth, because He, Himself, is Truth, and is true. The Judge of all the earth, cannot do ought but right
2. God's judgments are based upon what we have done. He renders to both saints and sinners, according to their deeds. We are not saved by our works, nor lost by our works. We are saved by grace, and we are lost because we reject the Son of God.
We who are saved are judged according to our works, whether they be good or bad. Our judgment will take place in the air at the Second Coming of Christ.
The unsaved are likewise judged according to their works. When the white throne judgment is set, and the wicked dead are raised, the books will be opened and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works.
3. No one living can by any means escape the judgments of God. Of the righteous, it is written: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ"; again, it is written, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
The same necessity is thrust upon the ungodly.
II. A DESCRIPTION OF THE TENDER HEART OF GOD (Romans 2:4 )
It seems almost passing wonderful, that, in the midst of the verses in Romans 2:1-45.2.29 , which describe man's inexcusable-ness in his sin, and God's dire judgment against his sin, we should find a verse of such tender and compassionate love. It is as though in a wilderness overgrown with thorns and thistles, we should find the most glorious of rose bushes, in full bloom.
Here is the verse which nestles so strangely, and yet so majestically, in the midst of the thunderings of wrath: "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
1. The goodness of God. God is good. His goodness never shines so brilliantly as when it is displayed over against the dark picture of man's badness.
God is not only good, but He is rich in goodness. We think of the story of David and how he sent to the place of no pasture, and brought Mephibosheth to his palace. Even so, God hath sent forth His Spirit into the world, calling upon sinners to come under the touch and sway of His love.
2. The forbearance of God. When we think of God's forbearance, we think of how He has kept back His judgments against the sinner, giving him every opportunity to turn from his sin and to repent. Surely love beareth all things, and is kind. Love never faileth.
3. The longsuffering of God. This attribute of Deity is more than goodness and forbearance, it is both of these throughout a long period of time.
We read that "the longsuffering of God waited * * while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."
The earth certainly could not have been any more corrupted, than it was; the hearts of men could not have been any harder, than were theirs; and yet, God waited and waited.
III. A DESCRIPTION OF THE HARD AND IMPENITENT HEART (Romans 2:5 )
If God's goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering was made to glow with added glory, as it was thrown over against the picture of a sinful heart; so, also, does the picture of the hard and impenitent heart of a sinner, stand forth when it is thrown over against the goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering of God.
1. Sin is augmented, when grace is refused. At best the sinful heart is bad; but, when love and mercy and grace throw open to a sinful life the possibility of salvation, then with that salvation refused, the sinful heart takes upon itself the character of adamant. How hard is that heart that rejects mercy.
If the table had not been set, and the invitation, come and dine, had not been sent forth; then, the one who died in hunger could be pitied. When, however, all things are prepared, and the feast is ready with a cordial invitation extended to all; the one who dies of starvation, is to be condemned, rather than pitied.
2. Sin's final picture. We have already studied God's X-ray of the human heart. We have yet this further message to consider.
(1) The hard heart. A heart is hard, when it is untouched and unmoved by the Calvary anguish of the Son of God. A heart is hard, when it is impervious to the nail prints, the thorn-crowned brow, and the plea, "Father, forgive them."
(2) The impenitent heart. The heart is impenitent, when, in its hardness, it refuses the Saviour's plea, the Spirit's call, and the admonition of the ministers of God.
IV. GOD'S CALL TO REPENTANCE (Romans 2:4 , l.c)
1. The call to repentance is the call of the whole Bible. There are some, today, who are claiming that repentance holds no part, and has no place in the salvation of a lost sinner. To this we cannot agree.
(1) At Pentecost when the people said: "What shall we do?" Peter cried, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you." Repentance certainly had its place in this the first hour of the Church's existence.
(2) We pass rapidly on to the heart of Paul's ministry. It was at Athens that Paul cried out, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent."
(3) In giving instructions to young Timothy the Apostle Paul in the Holy Ghost said: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, * * if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
(4) The Apostle Peter in his Second Epistle said: "That God was not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
(5) When Paul summed up his ministry and how he taught publicly from house to house, he said that he testified: "Both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." He also commanded that repentance should be preached.
2. The call to repentance means, primarily, a new way of thinking about sin and about God, which is followed by a new way of action. The sinner, seeing himself a sinner, turns away from his sins, at the same time he turns in faith unto the Lord Jesus, as the One who saves him from his sins.
Leaving our sins cannot save us; however, those who are saved, are saved away from their sins. It is necessary to come out of the world in order to come into the spiritual life. It is necessary to come out of sin in order to come into salvation.
V. THE LOT OF THE SAVED AND THE LOST CONTRASTED (Romans 2:6-45.2.10 )
1. The rewards of the saved. Those who have turned from sin, and unto God; those who have accepted the Gospel of God concerning the Son of God, which is the power of God unto salvation, as set forth in the first chapter of Romans; will, according to Romans 2:6 , stand before God to receive the things done in their bodies. Romans 2:6 says: "Who will render to every man according to his deeds."
"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life." In Romans 2:10 , these words are added: "But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good."
Let us remember that our "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love."
2. The rewards of the unsaved. We now come to those who have despised the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering. We come to those who have hardened their hearts, and stiffened their necks, even to the impenitent. God says of these, whom He calls the "contentious," and, those "who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness"; that He will render "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil."
3. There is a distinction between rewards. There are some people who are ever ready to acclaim the truth of rewards to saints; who are just as ready to disclaim the truth of God's rewards to the wicked.
The same Bible and the same Spirit which says that the righteous will go into life everlasting, acclaims that the wicked will be cast into hell.
The same Spirit who describes the abode of the righteous, as everlasting; acclaims the abode of the wicked, as everlasting.
VI. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE REDEEMED (Romans 2:7 )
Our verse says: "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality."
1. The redeemed are not, herein, trying to be saved by works. The fact that the redeemed are seeking for such a high, and holy quest, doth not, in the least, suggest that they are trying to seek salvation by any other method than by grace through faith in the Blood of Christ.
Paul speaks of seeking to win Christ, and yet Paul was saved.
Paul speaks of so running that he might attain; and yet Paul knew whom he believed, and that He (Christ) was able to keep that which he had committed unto Him against that day.
Paul speaks of pressing forward to the prize that lay before, and yet Paul knew he was redeemed.
2. What then is the believer's quest?
(1) He is seeking for glory. A great vision is stored away in that one word, "glory." God, is the Father of glory; the Spirit, is the Spirit of Glory; Jesus Christ, is the Lord of glory. When Christ comes He comes in the glory of His Father, and of the holy angels.
The Millennial Kingdom, is a kingdom of glory. The New Jerusalem which lies beyond the Millennial Kingdom, will be a city of glory. The glory and honor of the nations, will be brought into it. The City is described as having the glory of God. It is also said: "For the glory of God did lighten it."
Saints are pressing forward that they may be enthroned with Christ, in the midst of His glory.
(2) He is seeking for honor. The Word of God tells us that some of those who run will be rejected, while others will receive the incorruptible crown. Paul then admonishes, "So run, that ye may obtain."
Let us remember there are some who will stand before Jesus Christ disapproved, castaways. Some will draw back from before Him at His Coming. Enlightened saints seek for glory and honor.
3. He is seeking for immortality. Immortality in the Scriptures refers to the body. The Apostle Paul, in the Spirit, gives us his own quest. When speaking of his ambition, he says: "Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." Then the Apostle adds: "Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of His Spirit."
With all of this before Paul, he said: "Wherefore we labour that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him."
VII. THE FINALITIES OF THE UNREDEEMED (Romans 2:8-45.2.9 )
Whatever we may believe about hell, there are certain things which are plainly taught in the Word of God.
1. Hell will be a place of indignation and wrath. Upon the wicked, God will pour forth His judgments. Hell is called, in this chapter, "The day of wrath." The Lord Jesus Christ is described in His Second Coming as coming "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2. Hell will be a place of tribulation and anguish.
God never overpaints His pictures.
The same verse we quoted a moment ago, likewise says: that when the Lord comes "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, * * who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."
John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of the wicked who "worship the beast * * and receive his mark * *. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."
With these words concluded, the angel continued to say: "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night."
After "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire." which is called "the second death"; we read these words: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
The freezing-point is equally the melting-point. Thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit is critical for either process. Which it shall be depends on which way things are going. If the temperature is falling, water will freeze at thirty-two degrees. If the temperature is rising, ice will melt at thirty-two degrees. The same temperature may either freeze or melt. Barely pass it, and you may get opposite results. That it is thirty-two degrees out of doors does not indicate whether it is freezing or melting.
The same individuals under precisely the same influences may be becoming exactly opposite. Under gospel rays the spiritual thermometer is either rising or falling. It is growing either warmer or colder. At the critical point some hearts melt, soften, relent, yield, give way, begin to flow in the channels of the Divine will; but other hearts congeal, stiffen, harden, cease their better movements, stand still like a rock. With a rising temperature the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; but with a falling thermometer it becomes a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. Rev. Frederic Campbell.
The Wrath and Judgments of God
Romans 1:32 ; Romans 2:1-45.2.12
As we listen to the pulsings of twentieth century thought, we find that God is not only being denied by many, but his wrath against unrighteousness and His judgments against sin are being generally set aside by the ungodly.
A study of the Word of God reveals that God's love and goodness in no sense lessens the severity of His judgment against the ungodly.
Grace does not make justice negligible; it rather makes it more severe. Love does not make sin less sinful, nor does it make sin's punishment less severe. Mercy in no wise lessens wrath.
What grace does, is to make God's love operative by sustaining every legal demand of the Law for righteousness, by the death of a Substitute. Grace transferred wrath from the sinner to the Saviour. Grace not only sustained the Law, but it fully met the righteous judgments of God against the sinner for his sins, by placing stripes due the ungodly upon the God-sent Son.
He who mocks at the righteousness of God's wrath, and the honor of God's judgments, should stop at the Cross and behold the agonies of the Son of God, as He went His weary way around the cycle of His sufferings, the Just dying for the unjust.
He who denies hell, would make Heaven impossible; for Christ's descent into hades only makes the believer's ascent into Heaven possible.
When the world believes that there is no judgment for sin; no punishment for the wicked then sin will run riot on the earth. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
The wicked have set themselves against faith in any Divine justice ever overtaking them; they have tried to persuade themselves that God doth not know, or that if He does know, He is good and does not punish the guilty; yet these same wicked men have never failed to call down judgment on the heads of those who sin against themselves.
If law, judgment, and punishment is removed from any land, red-handed murder and repine will rule the day.
We will bring out various aspects of God's wrath and of His judgments against sin, which should help students to understand better some things we may not have considered from God's viewpoint.
Hasten, sinner, to be blest!
Stay not for the morrow's sun,
Lest perdition thee arrest,
Ere the morrow is begun.
I. THE FACT OF GOD'S WRATH (Romans 1:18 )
The wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men is not a matter of conjecture, and of discussion pro and cons for it is a revealed wrath. This is the statement of our text.
The preceding verse says that the "righteousness" of God is also revealed in the Gospel of Christ. In Romans 1:20 God's eternal power and Godhead is said to be clearly seen, so that also is revealed.
The man who rebels against the revelation of God's wrath as set forth in Romans 1:18 , must of necessity, therefore, rebel against God's righteousness, and even against God's eternal power and Godhead.
There is no room for finding fault because God has revealed His wrath. It is fact and not fancy. It is impossible for men to live in ungodliness that is, a wrong relationship with God: and in unrighteousness that is, with wrong relationships toward men, without meriting the wrath of God.
All down through the ages God has manifested His wrath against sin, whether it be sin toward God or sin toward man. In the very beginning God's wrath fell on Adam and he was expelled from the garden. Cain came next under the wrath of God and he cried, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." Soon the whole world became evil and was corrupted before God and it was overthrown with the flood. The Tower of Babel, the mark of man's vaulted pride was cast down; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown; the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea; the seven nations dwelling in the land of Canaan with the cup of their iniquity full were destroyed, and thus the wrath of God swept on and still it sweeps.
Our theme is correct for God's wrath is a fact and not a fancy. Men cannot live as they list, giving vent to every desire of the flesh, without paying the penalty thereof.
The hand of God is still writing our judgment and condemnation on the wall.
So our deeds are recorded
There's a Hand that's writing now:
Sinner, give your heart to Jesus
To His royal mandate bow;
For the day is approaching
It must come to one and all,
When the sinner's condemnation
Will be written on the wall.
II. THE WORKERS OF INIQUITY ARE INEXCUSABLE (Romans 1:20 ; Romans 2:1 )
The world is full of excuses. Cain was one of the first to excuse his sin by saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" There is scarcely a sin toward God or man, be it ever so vile, but what man will seek to excuse himself. Our first verse says that men are without excuse. Our second verse says, "Thou art inexcusable, O man."
The wicked may proclaim that their wicked deeds cannot be avoided, but God says, "They are without excuse." One man says that his fiery temper and uncontrollable wrath was inherited from his parents, but God says, "Thou art inexcusable." Another man says that the lusts of the flesh were dominant in his nature and that he could not but yield to their desire, but God says that he is without excuse. Man says that he did not know any better, that his sins are sins of ignorance, but God says that he cannot thus excuse himself.
No matter what power sin may have in the life of any of the ungodly; no matter what sway of the world; no matter what power of Satan; the sinner is without excuse because God has provided a way of escape from all of these.
Why should man continue in sin, or remain a dupe and slave to sin's power, when the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth a Gospel that saves from these very things.
"For the Lion of Judah shall break every chain,
And give us the victory again and again."
Even the heathen, who have never known of the Gospel are without excuse, because they have not lived according to the light which they possess. When they knew God they glorified Him not as God neither were thankful. The very ignorance in which they now dwell is due to the fact that when they professed themselves to be wise, they became fools. When they changed His glory into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. When they had the truth of God, they changed it into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.
The world cannot plead that it did not know that the wrath of God was revealed against sin, ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, because the wreckage of God's judgment has covered the world with its debris.
There is no excuse that men can bring in honor because God has dealt fairly and squarely and above board with all sin and iniquity.
Look unto Me, and be ye saved!
Look, men of nations all;
Look, rich and poor; look, old and young;
Look sinners, great and small!
Look unto Him, and be ye saved!
O weary, troubled soul,
Oh, look to Jesus while you may;
One look will make thee whole!
III. THE WICKED ARE WORTHY OF DEATH (Romans 1:32 )
We have just been noticing the fact that man is inexcusable for his sin. We are now to consider that man is worthy of the judgment which God places upon him. If man had the least excuse for sinning just to that extent God's judgment would not be just. The opposite is also true. If the wicked are worthy of death, they are necessarily without excuse in their sins.
The Bible teaches that death is the wages of sin. A man is reaping no more than what he has sown. According to this, the sinner so to speak, is the author of his own destruction. He, himself, gathers the fuel to feed the fire which shall for ever torment his soul. He sows the seed of the maddened brain; he plants the germ that develops the woes and the miseries, the gnashing of teeth and the wailing of hopeless despair.
The wicked are worthy of death. They are receiving no more than their due. They are only being paid for their deeds. God does not have any pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would that all men everywhere should repent. He is not a tyrant who with ruthless rage casts the just to the tormentors. He, even goes so far as to open the door of hope in the valley of Achor. He offers salvation by the way of the Cross to the vilest of the vile.
Man is worthy of death because man has rejected proffers of mercy. He has spurned the opportunity of righteousness. He has given a deaf ear to the call of the Gospel.
Instead of heeding what he hears, he has given himself over to unrighteousness, being filled with fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Men who live in these things are worthy of death.
IV. GOD'S JUDGMENTS CANNOT BE ESCAPED (Romans 2:3 )
The argument as God has given it to us is steadily mounting up. The net is being more tightly drawn, and the sinner is being more surely entangled in his unrighteousness. Sometimes the sinner will recognize that he is inexcusable, he will even concede that he is worthy of death, and yet he will seek to escape his just punishment.
There are criminals all over the land who have evaded justice. There are men everywhere who are trying to hide their sins. Men need, however, to know that they cannot deceive God.
Where can the sinner go, that God will not find him? God has said, "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down." All things which a man doeth, and all things which a man is in his heart, are naked and open unto Him with whom we have to do.
Our Lord looks down from Heaven and all things are before His eye. He knows our downsitting and our uprising. He understands our thoughts afar off. Our God is acquainted with all our ways. There is not a word in our tongue but what He knows it altogether. How can men hide from God? for He has beset them behind and before. Where may men fly from His Spirit? or where may they hide from His presence? Listen to the Word of God, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee: but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb" (Psalms 139:8-19.139.13 ).
It is useless to evade the issue. The wicked must stand before the Great White Throne and face the records of their lives. They cannot escape meeting God.
Where will you spend Eternity
Those years that have no end?
Will it be where you are debarred
Ever to know and see the Lord?
Ever to have His great reward?
V. THERE IS A SET DAY OF WRATH (Romans 2:5 ; Romans 2:16 )
In the fifth verse we read that man is treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. In the sixteenth verse we read that there is a day when God shall judge the secrets of men.
1. This is the day of grace. We are convinced that God frequently judges unrighteousness now, and sends terrific manifestations of wrath, but these are no more than suggestive of the great sorrow and travail which awaits the wicked.
In this age for the most part, God is allowing men to reap no more than the wreckage which his own sin now involves. God is now calling men to repentance. God is now proffering grace. Heralders of the Gospel are being commanded to go to the ends of the world and to preach to every creature the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Songs of salvation are being sung. Altar calls are being made, the Holy Spirit is striving with men. We can still say, "Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation."
When Christ entered Nazareth, He said in the Temple, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor." He was reading from the Prophet Isaiah and He read on through the most gracious of words until He came to the expression "and the day of vengeance of our God." Before He read these latter words, He suddenly stopped, and said, of the words which He had just spoken, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." He did not read the statement concerning the day of vengeance because He knew that that day of vengeance had not yet come.
2. The day of vengeance and of judgment is a set day. The angel of God's grace who has hastened before giving proffers of mercy and of salvation must soon step aside, that the angel of His wrath may unsheath his sword.
Time is gliding swiftly by,
Death and judgment draweth nigh,
To the arms of Jesus fly:
Be in time!
Oh, I pray you count the cost,
Ere the fatal line be crossed,
And your soul in hell be lost:
Be in time!
Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice:
Be in time!
Come from darkness into light;
Come, let Jesus make you right;
Come, and start for Heaven tonight,
Be in time!
VI. WRATH IS INCREASED BY KNOWLEDGE (Romans 1:19 ; Romans 1:21 ; Romans 1:32 )
It was because that, when men knew God, yet glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, that God gave them up. If man had been ignorant and had not known God it would have been different. However, man not only knew God but He also knew the judgment of God.
If no ray of light, revealing God both in grace and in judgment, had ever come to man, sin had not been reckoned against him.
That which makes sin exceedingly sinful is its willfulness; its stubborn refusal to accept the right.
It is because men love darkness rather than light that their darkness is made the darker; it is because men refuse righteousness that God gives them up to iniquity. He who knew not his master's will and did it not was beaten with few stripes. While he who knew his master's will and did it not was beaten with many stripes.
In the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for Chorazin and Bethsaida for, "if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."
In the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for Capernaum, not but that Sodom was morally more vile, but that Capernaum had been exalted unto Heaven by the presence, the words, and the miracle working of the Son of God, which Sodom had never known. Christ said to Capernaum, "If the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."
Sinners who live in this day of grace with the blazing light of the glory of God's grace bursting full around them should beware lest they by their refusal are treasuring up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath. In the silent midnight watches,
List thy bosom's door!
How it knocketh, knocketh, knocketh,
Say not 'tis thy pulse is beating
'Tis thy heart of sin;
'Tis thy Saviour knocks, and crieth,
"Rise, and let Me in!"
Death comes down with reckless footsteps
To the hall and hut;
Think you death will tarry knocking
When the door is shut?
Jesus waiteth, waiteth, waiteth;
But the door is fast:
Grieved, away thy Saviour goeth,
Death breaks in at last.
Then 'tis time to stand entreating
Christ to let thee in;
At the gate of Heaven beating,
Wailing for thy sin!
Nay! alas, thou guilty creature.
Hast thou then forgot?
Jesus waited long to know thee,
Now He knows thee not!
VII. THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER (Romans 2:2 ; Romans 2:5 )
The day of wrath of which we have just heard will bring forth the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. God's judgments will be according to truth.
At the Great White Throne no sinner will be able to say that he got more than his dues, nor will he receive less. Those who are contentious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness will receive indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. Mark the word, this will befall every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile.
All the wicked, all unbelievers, all the fearful and the abominable and murderers will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and yet all shall receive according to the sins done in the body.
When the dead small and great stand before God, the Books which carry the records of their earth deeds will be opened, and every man will be judged out of those things which were written in the Book according to their works.
When death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, and God's judgments are completed, there will be no room for disputes and no reasons for an appeal to a higher court. God's judgments are not only final but they are eternally just.
IN A RING OF FIRE
An ungodly European was once trying to convince a convert in India that his religion was of no use, and that he never would be any the better for it. "What, after all," said the scoffer, "has your Jesus done for you?"
"He has saved me!" said the native, with great animation: "He has saved me!"
"And what is that?" said the European.
"Step with me to the door," was the reply, "and I will show you." So saying, he took him outside of the house, picked up a quantity of dry leaves and straw (of which there were plenty close at hand), and made a large circle of them. He then sought for a worm; and, having found one, he placed it in the center of the ring. Forthwith he applied a lighted match to the material that surrounded it, the scoffer looking on all the time with no little astonishment. As the heat of the fire approached the poor worm, it began to writhe and show symptoms of distress, but could not get out of the burning ring. The man darted his hand through the smoke, plucked the worm out of its dangerous position, and placed it on the green grass, out of reach of all danger.
"There," said he, "that is what the blessed Jesus has done for me: I was exposed to the flames of hell there was no possibility of escape; I was condemned and ready to perish, and He rescued me by dying for my sins, thus snatching me as a brand from the burning; and He has given me, a poor dying worm, a place near His heart,"
Can you thus speak of yourself as saved fay the death of Jesus? Are you able to say, like the poor native, "He has saved me"? It not, we entreat you to come now, as a sinner, to Jesus, who is at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and He will give you rest. Take shelter in His blood, and you will be cleansed from sin, and delivered from the wrath to come.
"When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6 ).
"Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom" (Job 33:24 ).
"Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back" (Isaiah 38:17 ).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Romans 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent