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? —Romans 2:3

In Romans 2, Paul explored this question: why is the self-righteous person guilty before God? First, Paul said, he is guilty because of his condemnation of others. Second, Paul said, he is guilty because of his hypocritical conduct. “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who 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?” (2:1-3). The self-righteous person is guilty because he condemns activity in others that he condones in himself. Such a person will not escape God’s judgment.

Paul was not saying you can never speak out against any sin that you have committed yourself. Look at Paul’s own example. Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a murderer of Christians; he called himself in 1 Timothy 1:15 the chief of all sinners. Yet Paul spoke out against sin. Here is the difference: Paul confessed his sin, and he found the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He repented; he turned away from his sin. He did not condemn sin in others that he condoned in his own life, and the same is true for you and me. Sometimes those who have committed a sin are in the best position to speak out against that sin once they have repented. Paul was saying, “Do not have two standards–one by which you judge others, and one by which you judge yourself. You will not escape the judgment of God.”

The self-righteous person engages in selective obedience. He thinks, “As long as I am not guilty of this, then I am okay with God.” The problem is, God does not grade on a curve. God demands 100% compliance with His law. In Galatians 3:10, Paul said, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.'” James said the same thing: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (2:10-11).

Think of God’s law as one of those huge chains that are used to keep an ocean liner in dock. Imagine one of those chains has 660 links in it, the number of God’s laws. What happens if just one of those links in the chain is broken? It sets the entire ship adrift. That is what James was saying. If you keep 659 of God’s laws, but break one of them, you are guilty of breaking all of God’s law. You say, “That is impossible! Who can keep all of God’s law?” Exactly. We all stand in need of the grace of God, but the self-righteous person does not understand that.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Religious … Right in Hell” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.