In chapter one, Paul gave a list of all the sins of those whom “God gave over.” He included unrighteousness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossiping, slander, insolence, hatred for God, arrogance, boasting, being disobedient to parents, lack of understanding, untrustworthiness, and lack of love and mercy. Now in chapter two he warns his Gentile readers that whether they have committed any of those sins or not, they still stand before God as guilty. Even in our passing of judgment on those who practice such sins, we reveal our own guilt. Like those professing Roman Christians, we may not have been given over by God to impurity, degrading passions, or depraved minds, but we still find many of those same sins evident in our lives. And each time we do find them showing up in our lives, and we do nothing about them, Paul warns us that we are storing up wrath (Vs 5). Paul uses the them of the coming judgment of God a lot in this book. It is a warning.
If we are truly believers and we sin, which we will, there is something that needs to happen. Paul makes it clear in verse four: “Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?” As followers of Christ, we have received God’s kindness in the form of His mercy and grace. He has not given us what we deserve: death. But instead, He has given us what we don’t deserve: forgiveness of sin and eternal life. He has shown us great patience. This kindness has a purpose though. It is to lead us to repentance. Repentance is to change one’s mind, and it includes the idea of reformation. He kindness is intended to lead us to a different way of thinking and a changed life style. Our lives are no longer to be characterized by that list of sins from chapter one.
To live in continued sin is to live with a stubborn and unrepentant heart. It is to show contempt for the kindness God has shown. And that kind of life, according to Paul, will be judged harshly by God, because He “will render to each according to his deeds” (Vs 6). “He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.” (Vs 7-8 – NLT). Eternal life or anger and wrath. Only those who live a life of repentance, based on their understanding of and appreciation for the kindness of God, will enjoy eternal life. An unrepentant life is the sign of an unsaved life. When we are saved by Christ, our eyes are opened to the reality of our own sinfulness and the awesomeness of God’s grace. That comprehension of His kindness, His giving us what we don’t deserve instead of what we did deserve, it what leads us to repent – to turn from our old way of thinking about sin. We will choose to do good instead of evil. And because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the power to do so.
I love how The Message paraphrases this verse: “Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”
Father, thank You for your incredible kindness that You showered on me through Your grace and mercy. But never let me take that kindness lightly. I don’t want to live in unrepentant sin. I don’t want to stubbornly cling to my old way of life as if Your kindness means nothing. I want my life to reflect the radical life-change available to me because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men