Read Romans 2:1-16
God’s Goodness To Little Goody Two-Shoes
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering,
not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
~Romans 2:4 (NKJV)
Going Deeper: It is one thing to be a willfully sinful pagan (see blog entry on Romans 1:18-32 — http://raynoah.com/2009/09/03/romans-bad-news/), but it is quite another to be an odiously sinful religionist, which is the type of person Paul turns his theological guns on here in this passage. This one is of that tribe of people who fill the pews of churches every Sunday, perhaps sitting inconspicuously right next to you—self-righteous, smugly sanctimonious, and self-absorbed. As John McClintock quipped, “The Pharisees are not all dead yet, and are not all Jews.”
To be an intolerant, hypocritical, pious religionist is perhaps the worst enemy to the advancement of the kingdom of God. These types say one thing, but do another. They spout piety, yet behave anyway but. They sit in judgment over the evil of the world, yet their hearts are full of the very evil they condemn. They make church all about them, and very little about reaching a lost world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And more than any other repelling factor, these religious do-gooders keep seekers from church, sully the reputation of God before a watching world, and solidify the excuses of sinners not to darken the doorway of the church because “of all the hypocrites who go there.”
But, as Paul says in Romans 2:1-4, these religious moralists are without excuse, because the theological knowledge they possess brings them an even greater accountability before God. The very judgment that God has pronounced on willful pagans will fall upon these folks as well. (Romans 2:3). It is these who will likely hear those haunting words spoken by our Lord, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 25:41) In truth, it is they who never really knew the God in whose name they sat in judgment over the world.
So just what is their problem? Mainly, their self-righteousness has led them to focus only on the external acts of religious piety while ignoring the more important inner core of the heart—love, devotion and purity—that so greatly matters to God. In so doing, they have minimized their own sinfulness before a holy God, and have lost whatever connection with him they might have once, if ever, enjoyed. According to Romans 1:5, their hearts have become “hardened”, (“stubborn”—NIV), which in the Greek language is the word, sklayrotace. It is the word from which we get sclerosis, the hardening of the arteries—a silent, invisible but deadly condition. That is exactly what the religious, hypocritical, judgmental moralist has, and that indeed is a problem.
Even while blind to their own sickly condition (Revelation 3:17), yet again, good news is still present. Paul says in Romans 2:4 that God’s common grace (“goodness”) is upon even these people. He has allowed them space to come to the truth rather than face the judgment they deserve (“forbearance”). He has given then a period of time (“patience”) for his grace and forbearance to bring a change of heart, behavior and life-direction (“repentance”).
Isn’t is amazing that God’s grace is still reaching out to the most annoying sinners of all—that sanctimonious saint sitting in his pew, turning people away from God right and left by his religious hypocrisy and spiritual hostility? Yet our stubbornly loving God continues to woo even these goody two-shoes to himself. Lord have mercy!
So here’s the deal, dear friend: Let’s make sure you and I are not in that camp. Open up your heart to God right now and ask him to examine you. Don’t let hardening of the spiritual arteries lead you down that path. There are enough goody two-shoes in your church—it doesn’t need one more.
Neither does a world that God so desperately desires to redeem!
“A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual
man is easy on others and hard on himself.”