As we continue our study of “the wrath of God,” we must address another very important point, one that applies to those who think they are above that class who will suffer “the wrath of God.”
Paul’s definition of “the wrath of God” does not stop in chapter one. It goes into chapter two, where he says:
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things (Romans 2:1-2).
What is Paul saying here? Who are those that “judge” and who are they judging? We believe the judges he means here are those who condemn the people Paul has described so far in chapter one—the women who have “exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” and “likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful.” These judges are also condemning any who fall under the categories he listed below:
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful (Romans 1:29-31).
What Paul is really saying here is that those who condemn anyone for any reason are really judging them through the law of Good and Evil. Thus they are guilty of the same thing, that is, they are guilty of exchanging God for Satan. How so? By condemning others, they break God’s law of unconditional love. God’s law of unconditional love offers unconditional and impartial mercy and grace to all—and that includes even all those who are listed above. God is not in the business of condemning anyone. Period. Why? Because God does not operate by Good and Evil; He operates by agape love. There is no condemnation in agape. Do you remember how Peter said that even “angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord” (2 Peter 2:11)?
Therefore, Paul says to those who condemn others: “for you who judge practice the same things.” This does not mean that those who judge homosexuals, for instance, practice homosexuality. It means they are operating by the same law of Good and Evil, which is a condemnatory law.
But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things (Romans 2:2).
What is the judgment of God against those who judge others? God gives them up too. He hands them over to the jurisdiction of condemnation because condemnation belongs to Satan’s jurisdiction. Satan is the accuser. Those who condemn others in this passage consider themselves highly moral and in line with God. And they see especially homosexuals as being highly immoral. Therefore, they consider themselves superior to those they see as worthy of contempt and punishment.
There are two places in the Old Testament that reveal how homosexuality was perceived to be utterly immoral in the past. The first is in the story of Lot in Genesis chapter nineteen. The second is in the story of the Levite and his concubine in Judges chapter nineteen. In both stories, homosexual men came to the house of a relative or descendent of Abraham, asking to engage in homosexual relations with visiting men—in Lot’s case the men in question were angels. Both Lot and the concubine’s father thought it highly immoral to allow such a thing. But in their code of ethics, in their morality, it was not immoral to give their daughters to these men—and some of these girls were virgins! To them it was more moral to allow their daughters to be gang raped than to allow their male visitors to be sodomized.
But what Paul is saying here is that those who judge and condemn even homosexuals—who traditionally are thought to be the most immoral class of people—are moralists who themselves have fallen into Satan’s trap. By judging and condemning homosexuals, they are in effect using Satan’s law or moral standard of Good and Evil. Notice how Paul continues to address this issue:
And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:3-11, emphasis added).
Again, Paul is saying to all of us who think we are any better than those we condemn: “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” In other words, do you think that by accusing and condemning you will remain in God’s jurisdiction? Do you think you will escape the judgment of God, meaning that God won’t give you over to the real god you follow? No, God reads our hearts, and knows where we belong. If we are more in line with Satan’s law of Good and Evil than God’s law of agape love, then God hands us over to the god we have chosen. If ever there was a sobering warning, this is it. Please understand what this means!
Those who condemn others “in accordance” with their “hardness” and “impenitent” hearts “are treasuring up” for themselves “wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds.” How will God “render to each one according to his deeds?” Will He reward them if they are good? Will He punish them if they are evil? No, this is not what Paul is saying. Here will come into play these words from Jesus:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1-2).
We will be judged by whatever system of “judgment” we ourselves use. There are two kinds of judgment: God’s righteous judgment, which is grace, freedom, and mercy. And there is Satan’s judgment, which is condemnation and punishment. The judgment we use places us either in the kingdom of God—righteous judgment—or the government of Satan—condemnation. By judging and condemning others we are “treasuring up wrath for ourselves for the day of wrath”—the day when God gives us up after He has done everything to help us see that grace and mercy are the principles of life. By rejecting them, we will have chosen Satan’s jurisdiction of punishment.
God’s righteous judgment will be to allow us to reap the consequences of our choice of government—“for there is no partiality with God.” All have the liberty to exercise their freedom, and all will reap the consequences of their choices. This is “the wrath of God”—to honor our choices and to allow us to experience the consequences of those choices. This is the same thing the following verses are telling us:
Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them,
For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
For the reward of his hands shall be given him (Isaiah 3:10-11).
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:27).