Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: The plight of the ungodly will be most clearly revealed in the "Day of Wrath".
Introduction: We have been looking into the second stage of Paul's case against humanity. He has argued that men are wilful, not ignorant. And he is arguing that men are foolish in their arrogance. Some actually think that their ability to criticize others signals their own escape from the judgment of God. We saw in our study last week that God has a process of attraction for men called, by the translators of the NASB, "the kindness of God". Rather than being a statement about their impunity (many think that just because the hammer doesn't fall when it is deserved and because their life is "good" in many respects, this means that God is pleased with them), it is a statement about God's reluctance to execute justice in their case. Rather than being a basis for impenitence, it is designed by God to be a basis for repentance. This is just another example out of many of how twisted man's perspective has become.
This evening we are going to proceed into Paul's statement about the "reality" of what is happening in distinction from what men "think" is happening. Men "think" that God is satisfied with their imposition of their moral judgments upon others while at the same time rejecting the same morality for themselves. It's the classic form of the preacher who enters into loud tirades against sexual immorality while visiting the prostitutes down the street. So, what is the "reality"?
November 16, 2004
- I. First, There is a "Standard" By Which the Self-Righteous Function.
- A. It is first, a "standard" of "stubbornness" (NASB).
- 1. This is probably a faulty translation.
- a. There is a picturesque word for "stubbornness" tied into the word Paul used here.
- 1) The word he used has the fundamental idea of something that lacks pliability: it is "hard" or "rigid" or "unyielding" or "stiff" or any manner of words that indicate that when one touches what is "sklerotatos" the immediate impression is that of an incapacity to accept any kind of impression. It is even used in the realm of taste to refer to something that is "bitter" or that creates a revulsion in one's mouth.
- 2) From that original word came two combination terms.
- a) One of the combination terms mixed the idea of "hardness" with the realm of one's value system so that it came out "hard-hearted".
- b) The other of the combination terms mixed the idea of "hardness" with the physical part of the body known as the neck so that it came out as "stiff-necked".
- b. The classic association of "stubbornness" to biblical imagery is more closely associated with "stiff-necked" than with "hard-hearted".
- c. The text associates the word with the heart -- thus making the NASB a flawed translation at this point.
- 2. The "standard" introduced by the word translated "stubbornness" is not so much a matter of being stubborn as it is a matter of being so committed to a flawed system of values that it turns the "kindness" of God into a validation of one's self-righteousness.
- a. The issue here is that the self-righteous are over-committed to the notion of status by means of stepping on others.
- b. When one succeeds in achieving status by that means (rather than being stepped upon by another more powerful), the self-righteous are self-vindicated ... thinking that their successful achievement means that their method is acceptable to the Universe.
- c. The bottom line in "hardness" is the "harshness" that is exercised toward others in a self-exalting way.
- B. It is, second, a standard of "impenitence".
- 1. Paul has already declared that God's "kindness" is designed to lead men to "repentance".
- 2. But, in the value system of man's heart, the humiliation that is involved in "repentance" is too contradictory to the accepted method of self-elevation.
- 3. Thus, the "impenitence" is pretty much fully focused on that half of repentance that has to do with the mountains of arrogance. Paul is talking about the "social climbers".
- II. Second, There is a Divine Response to This Standard of Function.
- A. It is not a time-framed response.
- 1. In "time", God tends toward the exercise of "kindness" more than the execution of Justice.
- 2. But, all of "time" is inexorably moving to a final climax.
- B. It is a Final Revelation.
- 1. Paul says that there is a day of "Revelation of the Righteous Judgment of God".
- a. The point of such a day is that, apparently, the righteous judgment of God is not typically seen now.
- b. But, the divine plan includes a precise manifestation of true Justice so that everyone who witnesses it will never, afterwards, wonder what "Justice" means.
- 2. It forever eliminates the confusion we now live with in respect to how the balance of "kindness" and "severity" is going to work out.
- C. It is the Execution of Judgment Based Upon Performance.
- 1. Paul says that God is going to "give to each one according to the standard of his works".
- 2. A bit later (2:16) Paul adds the final issue of discernment: the Hidden Motives.
- 3. But, the point is, God is going to ultimately deliver the exact requirements of pure justice upon those who lived impenitently in this world.
- D. It is called "The Day of Wrath".
- III. Third, the Present is Producing the Future.
- A. Paul says that the "impenitent" are "stacking up wrath".
- 1. The imagery is that of a vast storehouse into which is stored the just due for every action man ever takes.
- 2. The longer a man lives and acts, the greater the amount of consequences for the doing.
- B. Paul only applies this "present" to the "future" of those who are "impenitent".
- 1. This teaching is not about how God is going to judge His Church and the saints of the ages.
- 2. This teaching is about the "Day of Wrath".