Paul’s letter to the Roman church starts in chapter 1 with a Word about unsaved society at large. He talks about the results of rejecting the true knowledge of Jesus Christ.
As we enter chapter 2, Paul shifts a little and starts speaking directly to those in the godless world around us. That’s who the apostle is speaking to in verses 1 through 16.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
Let me repeat myself. This passage was not written to believers. It is a Word to the unsaved. He’s explaining the foolishness of ungodly people judging one another.
I know of believers who were living sinful lives. Then a concerned brother or sister comes to them and tries to help restore them. The sinning believer immediately quotes this verse and says, “The Bible says not to judge, so stop judging me.”
A quick look at Paul’s other letters will show the fallacy of this remark.
Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.
1 Corinthians 5:3
This was concerning a believer in the Corinthian church who was involved in an affair with someone else’s wife. Look at what Paul also said.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
The fact is, believers are supposed to judge the actions of other believers. In that way we can lovingly warn them of the result of what they’re doing.
What I’m not supposed to judge is your motives. I don’t know what you’re thinking. So I’m not to judge you based upon what I perceive your intentions are.
Also, we’re not to judge the lives of the unsaved people around us. Sinners are going to sin. It’s not our job to tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.
For the most part, the unsaved know that there’s something wrong with their lives. What they need to hear is the love, forgiveness, and salvation that are only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Too often the church is accused, and rightly so, of preaching a word of condemnation. On the contrary, my place is to preach the Good News of Christ. That’s what will draw people to the cross.
Getting back to the verse in Romans above, Paul points out the foolishness of what goes on in the world. It’s full of people who are condemning one another. He says that when they pass judgment on someone, they’re actually giving themselves a guilty verdict.
That’s because, in God’s eyes, they’re habitually practicing the same wrong behaviors.
So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
It should be obvious now, from this last passage that Paul is speaking to the unsaved. We need to hear God’s heart. The goal of all this is repentance.
In dealing with the world, our goal should be the same – introduce them to the love of the Savior.
Question: What is your attitude toward our godless society?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi