Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are that judge: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself…
Hitherto Paul had carried his Jewish reader with him, for the Jews were glad to condemn the Gentiles. From the high tribunal of their Law they "judged" the misdeeds of the heathen. And, in the exercise of this censorious spirit of judgment, they would perhaps catch at the idea (Romans 1:20) that the heathen were without excuse by reason of their possible knowledge of God. But how quickly does the relentless logic of the apostle turn back this truth upon themselves! "Without excuse," because they might have known God's will? "Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man that judgest!" For the very judging implied a knowledge of the wrong, and by that knowledge they were self-condemned. We have here - the false hope of the Jew; the just judgment of God.
I. THE FALSE HOPE OF THE JEW. The Jew was greatly privileged, and God had shown him marvellous mercy. On either of these grounds, or both, he looked for exemption from judgment and wrath.
1. The chief hope of the Jew was founded upon the election of grace; he was called from among the nations to subserve a special purpose of God, and he fondly thought that he was called to security and bliss. He was singled out for service; he thought that he was singled out for inevitable salvation. He reckoned to escape altogether the judgment of God; he proudly deemed himself exempt by his very birth even from an inquiry into character.
2. But if perchance not quite so blind to spiritual claims, yet did not God's very goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, the wealth of which had been lavished upon the Jew, incline him to a careless ease, which was virtually presumptuous contempt? God had taught his wrath against unrighteousness, but he had also shown his mercy. Why not riot in the mercy. The old apology of God of the human heart," God is good; he will forgive."
II. THE JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD. But "let God be true, and every man a liar!" Neither pride of birth, nor the affluence of God's love, shall be security against just judgment.
1. God's judgment is true. (Ver. 2.) It proceeds upon the eternal principles of right; therefore an exemption on the ground of privilege, "respect of persons," is impossible. "The righteous God trieth the hearts" (Psalm 7:9).
2. God's true judgment condemns the evil and rewards the good.
(1) Now: "is against them that practise such things."
(2) "The day shall declare it:" manifested judgment. There is an "end" towards which all things are tending - an end which shall also be a beginning. Reason and revelation point to this. The law of future retribution is the same with the law of present judgment: "to every man according to his works." According to what a man is in himself shall he be regarded by God. And the deeds declare the man. So, then:
(a) To the good, "eternal life," "glory, honour, peace;"
(b) to the evil, "wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish."
3. God's goodness, therefore, does but seek to prepare the way for the exercise of judgment. He must condemn the evil, both now and then, and therefore he will seek to lead men from their evil that he may not condemn. The doctrine of justification is wrapped up in this; for if God can but change a man's self, the obliteration of the past is provided for in Christ. The deep damnation of those who think to pervert such saving love; instead of a wealth of love, there shall be a wealth of wrath for them! Let us learn the danger : of a blinded conscience - because we, forsooth, are "Christians," therefore we are saved! and of a hardened heart - God's very love, if we will not read its meaning, may be our death. Eternally, and without any exception, "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.