Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 3
In the last message, we saw how God will judge those who have inverted his truth. We saw how God is gonna judge those who have perverted his gifts. We saw how God will judge those who have darkened minds. And immediately following that pronouncement that we saw in the last message, literally, if Paul was speaking and not writing, you can literally sense that he has not taken a breath. He did not even take a breath in without immediately jumping straight, immediately, upon those moralistic, self-righteous, religious Pharisees, immediately from chapter 1 to chapter 2. There is no division in the original.
Those who probably were saying when they heard Paul talk about those people who will be judged by God who've inverted the truth, who've perverted his gifts, they probably were the ones who were saying, "Atta boy, Paul. Sock it to them, Paul. Whack them on the head by this truth, Paul. We are with you, Paul, because we are not like these wicked people. We are much better. We are good". And that is why, as I said, without even taking a breath, Paul turns immediately and he warned those who have perverted the truth about God and those who are moralistic people, religious, self-righteous Pharisees and says, "You too, busters". Well, that's my word, not his. "You are not going to escape the judgment of God". And that is why, in verse 1, NIV said: "Therefore". Whenever you see the word "therefore" in the Bible, find out why it is there for. It is to tell those moralist do-gooders, religious hypocrites that, "You too are without an excuse".
If you think that God's only going to judge the pagan Gentiles, and you've got a big shock coming to you, for you too are gonna be judged. In fact, your judgment probably going to be much stricter than theirs, why? Because you have refused to acknowledge the Messiah, your Messiah. Jesus said in Matthew 7:1 to 3: "'They notice the speck in somebody else's eye, but they overlook the log that's in their own eye.'" Look at verse 1: "Therefore, you have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else," you need to remember, "at whatever point you judge another person, by that same judgment you are condemning yourself," if you're committing the same sins.
Now, this really needs a lot of explanation. There can be no doubt that in chapter 1, Paul's speaking to pagan Gentiles because that's where the epistle is going to, Rome. But here in chapter 2, he is speaking to the religious Jew, and verse 10 makes that very clear; very, very clear. Both Jews and Gentiles are equal in their sin. Both Jews and Gentiles are equal in their need of salvation. Both Jews and Gentiles are equal in facing of God's judgment. Hear me right, please. The Jews in Paul's day believed that if they go through certain rituals, that if they keep certain days and festivals, that if they keep this holy, high and holy days, all of that is gonna produce righteousness with God. They really did. But even if they failed to keep all these religious rituals, they're still not gonna be condemned like the Gentiles, they did.
Some of the rabbis actually taught that on that day, Abraham is gonna be standing at the gates of hell, and he will not allow any Jew to go in. And that is why Jesus said, "Let me tell you something. I've got news for you". And then he tells them the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Both were Jews. One was righteous. One was living godly. One was not. And he said, "They both ended up in two different destination. Even the one who was tried to appeal to Abraham," which that's what some of the rabbi taught, "didn't work". Abraham said, "No, no, no, no, now you're receiving your judgment".
And that is why Paul tells them, Romans chapter 2, verses 1 to 16, he tells 'em a little bit more about that judgment of God. Three things, first of all, he tells 'em that, "God's judgment is inevitable". It's inevitable, verses 1 to 5. Secondly, he said, "God's judgment is gonna be so fair". It's very fair, verses 6 to 12. And thirdly, "God's judgment will be impartial," verses 13 to 16. Let's look at these very quickly. God's judgment is inevitable. No one anywhere who ever lived on the face of the earth will be able to escape the judgment. One day, when the heavenly courts are opened, there will be no hung jury. There will be no loopholes in the law. There will be no acquittal based on technicalities. There will be no statutes of limitations.
Everyone is gonna stand in the dark. This ploy of pointing to others in order to get their eyes off ourselves will not provide an escape. It's not gonna work in the day of judgment because he sees all secrets of all hearts. Listen to what my friend and mentor, the late John Stott, said about this. He says, "This is, of course, not an invitation to suspend our critical faculties or renounce all rebuke of others". No, that's not at all. But what the Word of God is saying to us is this: "You cannot judge others if you don't judge yourself". Are you with me? You cannot judge others before you judge yourself, why? Because that will be pure hypocrisy. This is double standard.
And my beloved friends, our society is filled with hypocrisy today. I wanna make this very clear to you. I cannot stand here or say to somebody how important it is to be faithful steward, not only of money, but of time, of resources, and of talent, and of all the things that God placed in your hand when I am not a faithful steward. I can't do this. I cannot say to husbands, "You must love your wife as Christ loved the church," when I'm not loving my wife and looking out only for number one. For one thing, she won't let me get away with it. Thank God for that. I cannot tell somebody to develop a lifestyle of repentance, of immediate repentance when you fail and sin, when I'm not practicing it myself, why? Because I am, too, going to be held accountable for the same biblical standards of which I profess.
Now, my beloved, God's judgment is inescapable, and that is why the psalmist in 139 says: "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence"? Today we see immoral people in the media and the entertainment industry, and politicians even, standing in judgment upon the godly people. Isn't that amazing? It's spectacular in many ways. Listen, if they were living up to their moral standards, we'd have been okay. But the sheer hypocrisy is absolutely spectacular. Here's the good news. They will not get away with it. They might get away with it for a day or two, a year or two, ten years or whatever, this lifetime, but they will not get away with it for eternity.
Today, we have some apostate people. These are the people who've known the truth of the gospel, who practice, who preach the truth even, and they turned their back on it. Condemn those of us who love the truth and endeavor to live according to God's truth. They will not get away with it. Verse 5, here's the Youssef translation, "The reason God is patient and he does not whack people on the head as soon as they sin is because he wants 'em to repent". That's a homespun translation, but you'll understand it, right? God longs for people to repent. And because of that longing in his heart, he gives them time again and again and again, and patient with them as he was patient with us. But instead of repentance, they develop sclerosis of the heart.
In fact, that's a word that's used here in the Greek. That's where we get the word from, from the Greek word "sclerosis," from which we get the "hardening of the arteries". In the spiritual realm, it refers to the hardening of the heart, the heart that is no longer responding to the love of God, a heart that had become so insensitive to the conviction and to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, God's judgment is fair. The idea of God's fairness in judgment, the theme runs straight through the Bible, Old and New Testament, straight through the Bible. But before I get to this, I sense that probably some of you, probably some of you, when you heard or read verse 6 of chapter 2 of Romans, you came unglued, right?
And you said, "What? The epistle about salvation by grace alone says that, 'God will judge everyone on the basis of what they've done'"? No, and a million no. Be patient, wait a minute. Wait, I'm gonna explain it to you. What the Apostle Paul is saying is this. The day of judgment is going to be a public occasion, where the public verdict is going to be pronounced. The day of judgment is going to be a day of separation, a day of sifting, a day of sorting out. And while those who have received Jesus Christ as their only Savior and Lord, they will escape the judgment of hell. For the Bible said, "Therefore, there is no condemnation upon those who are in Christ Jesus".
They will escape the judgment of hell, but they will not escape the accountability of God. We'll be held accountable to God. That's what he's talking about. Not works gonna save you, but being a believer, I'm gonna be held accountable of how I lived for God, how faithful I've been to him, how I walked with him. This is what I like to call, it's our award or reward-giving ceremony. There are some people who are gonna get a lump of coal, and some will get crowns. 2 Corinthians 5:10, the Apostle Paul said, "We," you notice he said, "We," talking about himself and me and you and all the believers in Jesus Christ. Said, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ".
This is not the judgment of hell. Let me make sure that you understand this. "But we must stand before the accountability seat of Christ, so each of us may give an account of the stewardship that he handed us". In other words, it's going to mean whether you receive a reward or not. Hear me right, please. The subjective criteria of salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. That can never be changed. This is the gospel. The objective reality of salvation is how we conduct our lives. In other words, the way we lived our lives should testify to our salvation. Matthew 7:16 to 20, Jesus said: "You shall know them by their," what? "You shall know them by their fruit".
That's the deed he's talking about, the fruit. Let me put it another way. A person who's eternally saved through the power and the blood of Jesus Christ through faith alone must give evidence of that salvation. You say, "How you do this"? By doing the work that God has planned for you. Ephesians makes that very clear. "We are created unto good works". We're being reborn unto good works. Each one of us, when we came to Christ and be converted to Christ, we are given certain things to do, not all the same, not all in the same measure, but yours, and that is what you will judged by. Mine, and that's what I'll judged by. Romans 14:12: "Each of us," believers, "each of us shall give an account of himself and herself to God".
Now, beloved, you must understand. Our God is not a prejudiced God. Our God will not judge us on the basis of our ethnic background or educational background or church affiliation or denominational affiliation or any of these labels. No, and a million no. Ah, see, we do that with each other, and we judge each other on a very superficial level, but not God. Look at verses 7 all the way to 10. It tells us that there are two groups of people, the saved and the unsaved. The accountability judgment for those who are saved, and it's gonna be based on: how much did they seek the glory of God? How much did they honor God in their life? How conscious they were of the presence of God in every moment of every day. Two groups of people, two distinct destinations, two different judgments.
Verse 10 and 11 tells us that God's judgment, just like God's salvation, it has certain priorities. It's a priority of time. It's not a priority of people, but a priority of time. Some might be asking, "Well, what are these priorities"? Listen carefully, because God's judgment is so fair, it will be based on how much knowledge a person received. Remember our core verse? I said it's the foundational verse for the whole epistle. Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe: first to the Jew, and second to the Gentiles". Remember that? Here in chapter 2, verse 10, he is saying the same thing in regard to the judgment. The Jews will be judged first, then the Gentiles. It's a priority of time.
You say, "How come"? Because salvation came first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. For thousands of years, the Old Testament repeatedly, repeatedly, it is filled with the pronouncement that the Messiah is coming. Started with Genesis 3:15, all the way through Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel, all saying, "The promised Messiah is coming". And when Jesus came, he said, "I came to the household of Israel". You see, God's redemption was offered first to the Jews, and that is why they will be judged first. Salvation was then offered to the Gentiles. Therefore, they will be judged according to whatever knowledge they may have.
First, God's judgment is inevitable. Secondly, God's judgment is fair. Thirdly, God's judgment is impartial, it's impartial. Paul continues here by saying that the judgment upon the Jews will be first, and then it will be with stricter standards, why? Verse 12: "Because they had the law and the commandments and the prophets". The Jews heard the law read in the synagogue every single Saturday while the Gentiles didn't even know what the law is. But both will face equal and impartial judgment. Both will be judged differently and by different standards, but equally in application.
Beloved, verse 12 of Romans 2. If you've got your Bible, underline it because it levels the playing field between Jews and Gentiles. It levels it. They are in the same category of sin and death. Therefore, they are in the same category of judgment. Hear me right. This is the bottom line of this verse. While everyone will be judged, no one will be judged by the standards that they never knew. "The non-believers will perish because of sin, not ignorance of the law. Those who live under the law will be judged by the law". Listen to me. No one will be judged by what he or she did not know. And that is why we believe that all the babies, when they die, they go heaven. Are you with me?
God shows no partiality in judgment. So the question is, what about the Hindu and the Muslim and the Buddhist and the Animist and all the rest of it? You see, because God's moral law is imprinted on their heart, Paul said, by virtue of being created in God's own image, God's impartial judgment will be based on their heart knowledge. In fact, their conscience will testify and bear witness against them on the day of judgment. Their conscience will testify that they knew what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what's evil, but they kept doing the evil anyway. God's judgment will be so impartial, no one, no one, no one, no one anywhere in the globe could say, "I've got a raw deal". God's deal is a fair deal.
Now, I wanna conclude by giving you four things, summary of the judgment of God, four things. First of all, their rejection of the knowledge of God through his creation will condemn them. You got that? Secondly, their conduct based in their own knowledge of the eternal law imprinted on their hearts, because they're created in God's own image, will condemn them. Thirdly, their conscious, which they have squashed and tried to suppress, will testify against them. Four, their innate knowledge of the right and wrong will condemn them. God's greatest judgment is gonna be upon those who have lived in the West, where there is a church on every corner.
There are Christian radio and television programs all over the place. They're surrounded by Christian witnesses. They're surrounded by friends and family who try to witness to them. Those will suffer the severest judgment than those who have never heard the name of Jesus. The hottest part of hell, if I can say that, is reserved for those who knew the gospel, and they may even followed Jesus for a time, but then they turned their back on him and began to teach falsehood. If you're a person here, and you have never really responded to the incredible love of God, and you know, but you know that he's been calling you and he's inviting you, you can do that today. You can respond today. Those of us who know Jesus and love Jesus, let me plead with you. We don't know the time and the hour in which he either call us home or he comes back. And therefore, I'm pleading with you, walk faithfully with him.