7/31/15: The Goodness of God
I think we misunderstand the depths of God’s goodness. That’s understandable because of the depths of our depravity. We are so far away from knowing Him and His ways that it’s mind-boggling. Still, God puts up with us and keeps plugging away at revealing Himself to us for the purpose of making us the kind of people He wants us to be.
Although Romans chapter one plainly lays out a devastating problem, Romans chapter two comes back with a remedy that involves God’s goodness. In chapter one, we read that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” because of suppression of the truth about God that is “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that [those suppressing the truth] are without excuse” Romans 1:18-20 (NKJ). Chapter one goes on to say that since those folks did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, He gave them up to uncleanness, vile passions, and a debased mind (See verses 24-28). The chapter then ends by saying, “those who practice such things [as are specified in verses 24-31] are deserving of death” Romans 1:32.
After all of that, we should be pretty scared, but thankfully, we can keep reading Romans chapter two. This chapter starts off by sweeping in those who would look down their noses at the folks caught up in the truth-suppression mentioned in chapter one. It’s one thing to speak the truth about God’s truth; it’s quite another to judge a person based upon it. We are not judging one another by reminding each other of God’s standards. We slip over into judgment when we pronounce that there is no hope for deliverance. In Romans 2:1, God tells us that we 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” (NKJ). God is not saying that those folks’ sins are okay; He’s telling us that ours rank just as high.
Now here’s the great news that God is trying to get across to us: every one of us—the wretched truth-suppressors from chapter one and the wretched doing-the-samers of chapter two—is still a candidate for “the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” Romans 2:4. Why? Because “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” Romans 2:5. God’s not blessing us because we’re good; He’s blessing us because He’s good. We need to stop wishing for bad things to happen to those we consider sinful. God’s goodness leads to repentance. And once repentance happens, God “will render to each one according to his deeds.” Thanks to God’s goodness, all of us can receive from Him “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” Romans 2:6-7.
God has not changed His mind about sin. We still need to speak the truth about all sin and pray for all of our deliverance from it. But we mustn’t judge each other as hopeless causes just because we can’t understand each other’s bondages. God’s goodness is as powerful to deliver the drug addict, the adulterer, and the homosexual, as it is to deliver the envious, the racist, and the backbiter.
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