No Excuse, No Escape (Part 2)

Romans 2:1-3

Tom Pennington  •  March 8, 2015
Audio
  • Share:

Well, this morning we are going, eventually, to return to Romans 2, but that's not where I want start, because in response to a request from Moses, God makes what is a monumental declaration of His own character. It's found in Exodus 34, where I invite you to turn as we begin this morning. Exodus 34, you're familiar, of course, with Moses's request and God's answer. Let's look at Exodus 34:5,

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with Moses as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him [showed him some of His, a visible display, of His glory,] and He proclaimed, [that is, He gave Moses a verbal revelation of His character,] "Yahweh, [that is the One who simply is, He is,] He is Elohim, [He is Almighty God,] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and truth; who keeps steadfast love for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."

This was God's great declaration of His nature. In response, verse 8, "Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship."

Now, this foundational expression of God's being became the central confession of Old Testament saints. It occurs no less than six other times in the Old Testament. In this amazing revelation of God's nature there is what appears on the surface to be, a great conflict within the very character of God. It is what one author called, "The great riddle of the Old Testament." Did you see it? Look at verse 7. On the one hand, God "forgives iniquity, transgression and sin," but then immediately God says, "I will by no means leave the guilty unpunished."

Now, those two lines together provide us with a balanced view of God's response to human sin. By juxtaposing these two seemingly contradictory ideas, God intends to teach us an absolutely crucial truth about His character. It is this, God cannot forgive sin without first satisfying the demands of His justice. God cannot forgive sin without first satisfying the demands of His justice. You see, God's character, specifically that attribute in God we called His justice, demands the punishment of all who sin. Because sin is a violation not only of God's Law, but of His very character, because His Law reflects His character. And so, there is within God, a sense of justice that says, wherever there is a violation of Law, it must be punished. You see, God can't just decide to forgive you and then do it. To do that would compromise His justice. The claims of God's justice must be satisfied. So how can God, at the same time, forgive sinners and yet not leave the guilty unpunished? That's the riddle of the Old Testament.

There is only one solution. For God to forgive sin, someone has to satisfy the demands of God's justice in the sinner's place. The writer of Hebrews couldn't be more clear in Hebrews 9:22 when he says, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." There is no forgiveness from God without the shedding of blood. Somebody has to pay. God's justice demands it.

But when it comes to this idea of a substitute there are two problems. The first problem is that to qualify as a substitute for others, the substitute had to be perfectly innocent with no crimes of his own that deserved to be punished. Otherwise, how could he substitute for others? The other problem was, somehow the sinner's guilt had to be transferred from him to the innocent substitute. This is where the Old Testament animal sacrificial system comes in, because it pictured both of those realities. It pictured the transfer of guilt from the sinner to another and it pictured the innocent, that without blemish animal, who had not willingly violated God's Law, dying in the place of the guilty.

I think sometimes when we read our Bibles we read them in, sort of, a sterile way and we don't fully appreciate the reality. Let me just remind you what it would've been like if you had lived in Old Testament times and you had committed a sin against God. You would need to offer one of the individual sacrifices for sin, the guilt offering. Here's how it would have worked. You would have brought an animal without blemish, without spot, no visible external issues, to the forecourt of the Temple. There you would've met the priest and in the presence of the priest you would have laid your hands on the head of that animal and confessed your sin, your hands remaining on the head of that animal as you recited before God the sins that you had committed against Him. When you were done with the transfer of your guilt to that animal in that symbolic way, the priest would've handed you the knife and you would've taken that animal in your arm and you would, with your own hand, have slit its throat. You would have taken its life.

You see, the picture was graphically clear. In laying your hands on the head of that animal you were transferring your guilt to your innocent substitute and then the animal died in your place. As a result of that then, God could forgive your sin because the demands of His justice had been met. Someone, in this case something, had paid and, of course, those animals never could take away sin. The writer of Hebrews makes that clear, the blood of bulls and goats can't take away sin. That was merely a picture what the Messiah would be the perfect fulfillment of.

In Isaiah 53, the writer of Isaiah puts it this way in verse 10, Isaiah the prophet says, "the Lord was pleased to crush Him," speaking of the Messiah, "putting Him to grief," listen to this, "if He," that is, the Messiah, "would render Himself as a guilt offering." And it goes on to say, He would bear the sins of His people. You see, He was the perfect fulfillment of the guilt offering. When Jesus died on the cross, if you have come to believe in Him, it's as if you laid your hands on His head, your guilt transferred to Him, and then ultimately God killed Jesus, but you killed Him as well, as He died as the innocent substitute in your place, satisfying the wrath of God, and then God could forgive you.

Sadly, many people fail to understand this foundational reality in the character of God. They think God can just, kind of, wave His hand, just say, you're forgiven. They have no idea what's really at stake. The justice of God, the very character of God, is at stake. Listen to me, God cannot, God will not, overlook a single sin of a single person. His justice will not allow it. Not even those who claim to be attached to Him, who know His word, who agree with His assessment of sin, who try to live, sort of, outwardly moral lives, like the Jews in the first century.

Perhaps nowhere in Scripture is the basic principal of God's justice clearer than in Romans 2, where we turn this morning, Romans 2. Now let me just remind you, with verse 1 of chapter 2 we began a new section. Paul turns his guns, he changes targets, in this chapter. In chapter 1 his target was unbelieving pagans. In chapter 2, beginning in verse 1 through chapter 3 verse 8, his target is the Jews. Those who attach themselves to the true God. Those who had His Law. Those who lived outwardly, in many cases, moral lives. Paul here indicts them as well.

You see, Paul's point in this section is that even those who claim to worship the true God still lack true righteousness. They are guilty before God and they desperately need the gospel, the gospel of justification by faith alone, every bit as much as any pagan idolater in chapter 1. Paul says, that Jews, that all outwardly religious people connected to the true God, need the gospel for three reasons.

Now, last week we began to examine just the first reason. That's found in verses 1 to 16. It's this, knowing what is sinful and condemning it in others will not allow you to escape God's wrath. The Jews thought, because they saw sin in others and because they didn't commit it at the same gross level, they were safe. They were committing the same sins as pagans in chapter 1, but somehow they thought that they would escape God's judgment. Now, what would lead them, what would lead anyone, to that terribly mistaken conclusion? It's because they had flawed views of God.

And so, Paul sets out here to correct their flawed views of God, beginning with their flawed view of God's justice in verses 1 to 3. They had a skewed perspective about the justice of God. Let's read it together, Romans 1, or excuse me, chapter 2, verses 1 through 3.

Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

They had a flawed view of God's justice.

Now, last time we saw the first way that manifests itself. They had a flawed view of God's justice by mistaking self-righteousness for real righteousness. They thought because they saw what was sinful, pointed it out in others, didn't commit it at the same gross level, they were okay. Look at verse 1, "Therefore," that goes back to verse 32 of chapter 1 and the expression, "all who practice these things are worthy of judgment, are worthy of God's wrath." "Therefore you have no excuse." "No excuse" is literally, you have no defense, no legal defense before God. Now, notice how Paul identifies the ones he's talking about here in verse 1, "everyone of you who passes judgment."

Everyone here this morning claims, in some way, to be attached to the true God. Okay, you're not, by definition, an idolater, you're in a church where there are Christians, where the Christian gospel is being preached. You have, to some extent, have connected yourself to the God of the Bible. But if you then, sit in judgment on the sins of others, if you have ever criticized the sins that other people have committed, then you have destroyed any defense for yourself before God. That's what Paul is saying. Why? Look at verse 1, "for," because, "in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself." Condemn here means you pass a sentence of guilty on yourself. Why? "For you who judge practice the same things."

As I showed you last week, there isn't a single one of us in this room who hasn't broken every one of the Ten Commandments, if not in outward act, at least in heart, and we've done so repeatedly. So, we pick up the newspaper, we listen to the news, and we hear about the sin in our culture, and we shake our heads and we throw up our hands, can you imagine that people are doing that? And Paul says, you're doing the same things, maybe in a different way, maybe within your heart, but you are equally guilty. Moral, religious people who are attached to the true God, but who sit in judgment on the sins of others, in so doing, are condemning themselves. They're declaring themselves to be guilty, because we do the same things.

Now there's a second way that we express a flawed view of God's justice and this brings us to new ground today. We do so by forgetting the perfection of God's justice. We see this in verse 2, "And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things." "We know." This is the first time of many that we will meet this expression in the book of Romans. Paul uses this expression "we know" when he is fully confident that he and his listeners share a common ground. We both agree on this is what he's saying.

Now what in this case is it that they agree on? Let me translate verse 2 literally for you. Look at your Bible and let me read it as it appears in the original. "And we know that the judgment of God," and notice the NAS marginal note here, "we know that the judgment of God is according to truth upon those who practice such things." It is, "according to truth." Now, notice first of all, judgment, the word judgment. This does not refer to the process of judging, the judge hearing the case, examining the evidence, etc. Rather, this word judgment refers to the judge's final decision, to his verdict. So we could translate it, "the verdict of God is according to truth."

Now, obviously, the key phrase here is that little expression "according to truth." What does that mean? Well, Paul uses it, I think, here, in a rich, multifaceted way. He is making for us a very large point about the justice of God. The verdict of God is according to truth. He's saying that God's legal decision about every person who will ever stand before Him in His courtroom will be according to truth. Now, what does that mean? Well, let's see if we can unpack that a little bit, because there are several things implied in it.

First of all, when he says it's according to truth he means that God always knows the exact reality. "According to truth" means that His verdict is always according to reality. It's always according to how things really are. His verdict always reflects the precise facts of the case. You know, human justice is often thwarted because all of the facts are not known, or they're not fully known, or they're misunderstood. That never happens with God, that's Paul's point, because God knows everything. Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching." "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." Hebrews 4:13, "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."

There is no dark corner in your life. There is no hidden place that God does not see. He sees and knows every action, every sinful act. God knows. Job 10:14, Job says, "If I sin, then You would take note of me," God, "and would not acquit me of my guilt." When I sin, when you sin, God takes note. Proverbs 5:21, "The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and," listen to this, "He watches all his paths." That word path is a familiar Old Testament word. It means your predictable patterns of behavior. The path you go over in your life again and again. In other words, God knows every habit that you have.

God sees all our acts of sin, even those that we intend to hide. Psalm 90:8, the Psalmist says, "You have placed our iniquities," God, "before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence." Listen, the blazing, penetrating omniscience of God sees everything. God has never missed, not one sinful act you or I have ever committed. His head has never been turned. He's never been unaware. He has always seen.

He's also heard every word. Our Lord makes this really sobering statement in Matthew 12:36. Jesus says, "I tell you that every careless word," singular, "that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment." That's Jesus. God has heard every single word that's ever left your mouth and Jesus says, you'll give an accounting for it when you stand before God.

He also knows every thought, not merely your actions and your words, but every thought. Psalm 44:21, the Psalmist says, "If we had extended our hands to a strange god." In other words, if we had thought about worshiping some other god, "Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart." Psalm 139:2, the Psalmist says, "You understand my thought from afar." Listen, God knows what you think and He knows what you think before you think it. Isaiah 66:18, "I know their thoughts," God says. Jeremiah 17:10, "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the result of his deeds." Not one single thought that has ever crossed your mind has ever been shielded from the all-knowing mind of God. He knows every one of them, every motive. First Corinthians 4:5, Paul says, "don't go passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts." God doesn't merely know what you do, He knows why you do it.

So God, listen carefully, God knows everything and here's something you've got to wrap your mind around because it's so contrary to us, God remembers everything. Not only does God see every sin of motive and thought and attitude and word and action, but God actually keeps a record of them. In Revelation 20 the apostle John is talking about the great white throne of judgment, before which every unbeliever will stand, and here's how he describes it. This is Revelation 20:12, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small," so, in other words, it doesn't matter whether you're really important are not really important, every single human being who hasn't believed in Jesus will be at this judgment, "standing before the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life." What are these books? Well, the first time we meet these books is back in Daniel 7:10. What are they? Well, John goes on to explain. In verse 12 he says, "and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." The books are a record of human sin.

Not only does God see everything, know everything, every attitude, every thought, every word, every act, but God keeps record of them. Now, whether this is actually a written record, whether there are actually books in heaven on which these things are recorded or not, we can't be sure. It may simply be a way to illustrate the omniscience of God, that God knows everything and He never forgets. But either way, the point is, not one sin will ever go unnoticed and unpunished. There is a record, at the very least, in the mind of God. He knows everything and He never, ever forgets, not one thing.

So understand then, that when Paul says God's judgment is "according to truth," he is saying that God has seen every sin you have ever committed, every sinful act, every sinful thought, every sinful motive; He remembers it all. He doesn't forget, not even one little tiny peccadillo of a sin. If you stand before God without Jesus Christ, God will use His perfect memory of everything in its precise reality to decide your eternal fate. It's not going to be based on part of the evidence. It's going be based on His perfect penetrating knowledge of everything. The point is, if you are not in Christ and you stand before God on your own merits, you don't stand a chance.

When Paul says, "His judgment is according to truth," secondly, he also means that God always uses the same standard. God always uses the same standard. Now, implied in verse 2 is the fact that God will someday render a verdict on every human life. I say this because it's so important for you to let it settle in your mind. If you are not a Christian, please listen to me if you are not a Christian. What Paul is saying, representing God Himself, is that someday you personally, individually, alone, will stand before God your creator and you will give an account of your life. And when you do, God will evaluate you by the same perfect standard that He uses with everyone else. You see, in human judgment, the standard often varies, from one period of time to another, from one nation to another, even from one judge to another, but that's never true with God's justice. God has only one standard and that is perfect obedience to His Law.

Look at chapter 2 of Romans and verse 6, "He will render to each person according to his deeds." Now, how is God going to evaluate your deeds, against what standard? Well, we're going to get there, but beginning in verse 12 and running down through verse 16, Paul makes it clear that here's the standard, it is the Law of God. It is either the Law of God written on the pages of Scripture, if you have that, or if you don't have that, it's the Law of God written in every heart, but either way, the standard against which your needs will be evaluated is God's Law. That's the standard for every person. When you stand before God without Christ, He will judge you on how you kept His Law. Now, that raises an important question. How much of God's Law do you have to keep? Well, of course, the most popular idea of that is 51 percent, because all you have to do is make the scales slightly tip. If your good outweighs your bad, then it's okay, 51 percent and you're in. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

How much do you have to keep? Turn to Galatians 3. Paul here is dealing with the Judaizers, a group of people who confess Jesus as Messiah, but who believe their keeping of the Law would make them acceptable to God, and so he's dealing with that. Look at Galatians 3:10, "For as many as are of the works of the Law," that is, if you want by your keeping of the Law to be right with God, "you are under a curse, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not abide by," what? By what? "All things written in the book of the law, to perform them." You are cursed if you don't abide by all the Law.

Turn over to chapter 5 verse 3, "And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision." This was one of the commands of the Old Testament for the Jews. And this is what the Judaizers said, we need to be circumcised, that's part of how we become acceptable with God. Paul says, look, if you want to go down that path, then you are under obligation to keep, what? The whole Law. You can't just pick and choose.

Turn to James 2. James 2:8, James says,

If you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, [and he quotes from Leviticus,] "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," [that's, of course, the second great commandment according to our Lord,] you are doing well. But if you show partiality, [that is, if there's ever a time in your life when you show partiality or prejudice toward someone based on the color of their skin, the way they dress, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the house they live in, if you evaluate somebody based on external factors,] you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [Now watch the next verse.] For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

You see the context of that statement? Paul says, listen, if you live your whole life and you keep God's Law perfectly, but one time in your life you show partiality or prejudice against someone based on those external factors, you have sinned and you're guilty of breaking it all. Why? Because what's the standard? Perfect love for God and perfect love for others. And if you ever fail once you've not shown perfect love for God or perfect love for others.

God will not grade you at the judgment based on a curve. There are going to be no scales at the judgment of God. There's either pass or fail and if you have ever sinned one time, you will fail. God always uses the same perfect standard, perfect obedience to His Law.

When Paul says God's verdict is "according to truth," he also means, thirdly, that God always reaches a righteous verdict. I think this is really the heart of Paul's point in verse 2. God is just in His person and therefore, God always does justice. Psalm 89:14, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne." If you could ask God, God, what really lies at the foundation of your sovereign rule of the universe? God would say, My justice, everything I do is justice. Genesis 18:25, Abraham says to God, "Far be it from You to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from you, God! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal in justice?" And, of course, the answer is, of course He will. In Deuteronomy 32:4 Moses writes of God, "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; He is a God without injustice." Job 34:12, Elihu says, "Surely, God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice." Even here, in Romans 9:14, Paul says, "There is no injustice with God."

Now, what's the point of all of those Scriptures? It's to tell us that whenever God is called to rule upon a case He always renders a righteous verdict. Nothing sways Him. There are no special privileges for anyone in God's courtroom. He cannot, based on His own character, twist or pervert justice for anyone. He is not a respecter of persons. He is completely impartial in His legal decisions. He is uninfluenced by anything but His Law and the facts of the case. Look at verse 11 of Romans 2, "there is no partiality with God." This is one of the basic principles of God's justice. He deals with everyone in perfect conformity with His Law and the facts.

Now, in the context of Romans 2, Paul is making sure that the moral, religious Jews who claim to worship the true God, he's making sure they know that they will be judged by the same standard as the unbelieving pagans in chapter 1. There are not two standards for two different groups of people. God doesn't play favorites. And it's so important for you to understand that. You know, I think some people think because, you know, they try to be a good person, I mean they go to church sometimes, when they get a chance, that somehow God's going to judge them by a different standard. Paul says, please don't misunderstand, that's not going to happen. If you don't know Jesus Christ and if you sin, you can expect God to reach just as righteous a verdict in your case, as with the most idolatrous, awful-living pagan.

There's a fourth thing that I think Paul means when he says God's judgment is "according to truth" and that is, God always carries out the just punishment. You see, God's verdict always stands. Once God makes a righteous verdict, it stands. There are no appeals. He's never overturned on appeal. There are no appeals, because He always makes the right decision. He never gets it wrong. And when He arrives at the right verdict, and this is sobering, God always executes the sentence that He gives the guilty.

Listen again to Exodus 34:7, God says this of Himself, "I will by no means leave the guilty unpunished." God says, I'm going to punish the guilty, I have to, I'm compelled by My character. Ecclesiastes 12:14, "God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." Jeremiah 32:19, "the Lord's eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to every one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds." No exceptions. God gives everybody what they deserve. You will get what you deserve. Colossians 3:25, "he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."

I'm afraid too often our own view of God's justice is skewed by mistaking self-righteousness for real righteousness, verse 1, by forgetting the perfection of God's justice, verse 2, and thirdly, by presuming our own exemption from God's judgment in verse 3. Look at verse 3, "But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?" Now the word suppose here is the Greek word that Paul will use extensively in chapter 4, where it is translated credit. It's a mathematical word, a financial word. We could translate like this, in the context, "Have you really come to this calculation?" And then Paul reminds us of to whom he speaks, verse 3, "when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself." You see, when you condemn pagans for their sins, but commit the same sins, Paul says, do you really think God's not going to be just with you? You're going to escape God's judgment? Paul wants us to see how ridiculous it is for anyone to think that he or she can escape the divine justice, to think that somehow God's going to, kind of, twist His rules for us.

Now, in Greek the pronoun you is emphatic here. We could paraphrase it like this. Do you really expect God to treat you in a special way? Do you really think that you, of all people, will escape? John Calvin, never one to mince words, says this about this verse. "They are extremely besotted who think that they can escape the judgment of God." Now, we don't use the word besotted very often, so let me give you a, sort of, paraphrase, a colloquialism of that. You're on something. That's what he's saying. You are on something if you think you're going to escape God's judgment. "They are extremely besotted who think that they can escape the judgment of God, though they allow not others to escape their own judgment."

Now, Paul explains why we expect God to judge others, but doubt God's punishment of our sins. Back in verse 2 we saw that. It's because we forget that God will judge us according to what is true about us and not our, sort of, inflated self-perspective. We assume that God's going to treat us differently than He treats everyone else. This is how the Jews of the first century thought. The Jews believed the primary grounds on which God accepted them was the covenant that He had made with Abraham. They believed the Abrahamic covenant secured salvation for all of the physical descendants of Abraham. As long as they were circumcised and generally acknowledged the Law, they believed God would treat them not as individuals, but as the community of His people. The Jews were convinced that God's corporate election of them as a nation, combined with their own sincere intention to obey God's Law, gave them all the salvation they needed. For example, the Mishnah puts it this way, Jewish writing, "All Israelites have a share in the world to come."

Justin Martyr was a great Christian second century preacher and he had a series of debates with a Jewish apologist named Trypho. And in one of those debates Justin Martyr said this to Trypho about the Jews, he said, "They beguile themselves and you, supposing that the everlasting kingdom will be assuredly given to those who are of Abraham after the flesh, although they be sinners and faithless and disobedient toward God." So Jewish people then, regarded themselves on an entirely different level from the Gentiles, but Paul here wants them to know that their racial and ethnic relationship to Abraham would not protect them from the judgment of God. And in fact, in Romans 4, as we'll see, God will use Abraham to show that a relationship with God, even in the Old Testament, was based on a saving relationship only possible through a response of faith to God's grace and God's grace in providing a substitute to satisfy His justice, and that brings us back to where we started.

The only way for God to forgive a sinner is for God to punish an innocent substitute in his place, God's justice demands it, and that is exactly what Jesus Christ did. Look at Romans 3. Romans 3:24, "Being justified," being declared right with God, "as a gift by His grace," and this is only possible, "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." Now, how did Christ make this possible? "Whom," that is Jesus Christ, "God publicly displayed," that's the cross, God made a spectacle out of Jesus Christ, "as a propitiation," as the satisfaction of God's just wrath against sin, and that was accomplished, "in His blood," that is, in His violent death as a substitute, and it's ours, "through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time," now watch this, here's why God had to display Christ as the satisfaction of His justice and His wrath, "so that," verse 26, "God could be," at the same time, both "just," He could protect His justice, and yet still "justify" guilty, ungodly sinners.

Do you understand the cross was the only way? It was the only way. God couldn't just forgive you. He had to satisfy His justice so that He could forgive you. And when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, it's as if your hands are laid on the head of Jesus Christ and your guilt, all of those sins that God knows, that He remembers, are transferred to the Son of God, and then He dies to satisfy God's justice against you, and because of that, there's none left for you. "There is, therefore," verse 1 of chapter 8, "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." This was the only way.

Now think about human justice for a moment. What are the common ways that the guilty escape human justice? We see it all the time, don't we? People who are guilty walk scot-free. How does that happen in human justice? Well, sometimes it's because the facts aren't known, or at least they aren't fully understood. Sometimes it's because the judge doesn't decide according to the law. Sometimes it's because the sentence, although it was properly arrived at, the verdict was properly made, the sentence is not carried out.

What Paul wants us to know, is that when it comes to God's courtroom, not one of those things will ever happen. The judgment of God is always according to truth. And one of two things will happen. Either you will face God's justice on your own, with His perfect memory of everything you have ever thought, ever said, or ever done, and that will be what He will use to compare against the ruler of His Law and you won't stand a chance, or you will come to the place in your life where you are willing to repent of your sin, your rebellion against God your Creator, and to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior, and your guilt, in a miracle of grace, will be transferred on to Christ, and He will have paid the debt in full. Those are the only two options. Everyone in this room here this morning, right now, either still is under the justice of God and will one day face it, or has had the justice of God fully satisfied in the death of His Son.

The judgment of God is "according to truth."

Let's pray together.

Father, we are humbled by this study, our time together this morning. Forgive us for thinking so lightly of Your justice. Father, forgive us for in any way undermining it or weakening it in our thoughts. Father, may our time together today remind us that You are a God of perfect, unsullied, uncompromising, unchanging justice, that it is the foundation of Your throne.

And thank You, O God, that in Your great wisdom, because You are also gracious and loving, You found a way, the only way, in which You could be both the one who by no means leaves the guilty unpunished and yet forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that was by making Jesus the guilt offering in our place.

Father, for those of us in Christ, I pray that You would fill our hearts with joy and praise. Bless You, O God, that there is none of Your justice left for us. Because Jesus paid the debt in full, Your justice was fully satisfied in Him.

And Father, I pray for those here today who are not truly believers, who are not in Christ, help them to see, O God, help them to see the reality, help them to see how they really stand before You and what it will really be like, and may they, before this day is out, find a quiet place and cry out to You, call upon You, to let Jesus be their substitute. I pray it in Jesus's name, amen.