Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man (Part VI)

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;” (Romans 3:9)

Paul is probably referring back to the heathen man described in chapter one. After having done such a thorough job of putting on display the guilt of all mankind, no more room exists for boasting. Neither the moral man nor the most devout Jew can boast of his goodness, because he shares the same wicked heart and the same shortcomings of the most depraved man. All mankind is basically wicked.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)

The Holy Spirit has brought the discussion full circle. He will now describe the general bent of all humanity. As this list of sins and shortcomings is read, the temptation may exist to say, “But I'm not as wicked as this list describes!” However, one must remember that man's standards are infinitely lower than God's. The thought, desire, or motive can condemn just as easily as the action. If given its own way, the flesh would plummet as far into sin as it possibly could. Only God's grace and merciful intervention have prevented the complete demise of all mankind.

As it is written....” When this phrase appears in the New Testament, the tense of the verb is in the perfect, the strongest tense possible in the Greek text. The action is viewed as having taken place with the results being, in this case, irreversible. IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN! Oh, the power and enduring nature of God's everlasting Word! Man can choose to ignore what he is about to read. He can choose to persist in self-justification and pride if he so desires, but someday he will be forced to face his Maker in judgment if he neglects the Savior, because, “It has been written”!

There is none righteous, no, not one.” This simple statement puts to bed any argument that man might attain to righteousness on his own. In and of himself, he is void of justification. If he is to be righteous before God, his righteousness will have to be imparted, a subject soon to be discussed. This verse echoes the saying of Solomon, the Old Testament preacher, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20).”

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Apart from divine intervention and enlightenment, no mortal truly understands and grasps the things of righteousness. The natural (lost) man does not receive or desire the things of God (I Corinthians 2:14). He must be drawn (John 6:44), convicted (John 16:8), and enlightened to truth (Acts 16:14). The verb used for seeketh is intensive. It means to seek out or search for. Man does not naturally seek God with great intensity. After their sin, Adam and Eve did not seek after God; God sought after them. This pattern has not changed.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” The verb doeth is in the present continuous tense. This means that the action is viewed as repetitive. Most people would argue, “I do good most of the time. I only mess up on occasion.” Even if this were true, it is not good enough. To meet God's holy standard, the good works must be the unbroken fruits of an intrinsically good character. The line of good deeds springing from a flawless nature must be continual, complete, and flawless! This can be said of none but the Lord Jesus Christ.

Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:” In general, mankind does not recognize the evils of the mouth. The mouth and the tongue are a conduit for the wickedness of the heart. As a body part, the tongue is not evil. It is spoken of as evil because it aids the evil heart of man in carrying out wickedness. God likens the throat to an open grave with all of the rot and stink that such a picture entails. The text says that the tongue has used three things: deceit, cursing, and bitterness. Every man has been guilty of these things to one degree or another. Words can be the most hurtful and the most harmful things of all. No wonder that God likens the tongue and its ways to the venom of a snake! If it were possible for a man to be perfectly just in every other area of his life, surely his tongue would remain the unconquered territory.

Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known:” A literal translation of the first part of this passage would read, “Swift (are) the feet of them.” The speedy nature of the desire to do evil is emphasized. How quick is man to hate, judge, and condemn. Judgment is not evil, but man's judgment is motivated by a desire to destroy, not restore. Not much time passed before man's blood was poured upon a young earth. Not even one generation had passed before God said to Cain, “...What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground (Genesis 4:10).” Wherever man is found, destruction and misery are right beside him. The lost world says, “More education and better living conditions will curb or put an end to crime,” but God says that such are man's ways. Such is his very nature because of his rebellion against God. The word for known has the idea of coming to realize or to know by experience. Apart from the saving grace of God, man has never truly experienced the ways of peace that righteousness has to offer. Man does not come by peace naturally. He must be taught it through Scripture. He must choose to humble himself to it. Everything in man fights against the peace of God.

There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This final statement stands as a summary of mankind's root issue. He simply does not fear God. This word for fear is the word from which phobia is derived. Many have attempted to explain away the fear of God as nothing more than a healthy respect; however, this dilutes the force of the statement. God isn't to be feared because He possesses some oppressive or vindictive character trait; He is to be feared because His primary attribute is holiness (Isaiah 57:15). Man, being utterly depraved and completely worthy of damnation ought to fear his High and Holy Creator; however, he does not. The fear of God leads a man to life (Proverbs 14:27), yet, as a whole, mankind is without it. Men fear one another, the unknown, pain, death, sorrow, hunger, hardship, but they fail to fear the one who is able to deliver from the very grip of damnation itself.

Should any man still choose to argue that he is worthy of entering heaven's gates, let him refer to this final list. Through the movement of the Holy Spirit, Paul has nicely summarized the nature of man. A nature in which all share a part.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man (Part V)

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” (Romans 3:5-6)

The if contained in the first part of the sentence has the idea of an assumed truth. It may be understood in the sense of since. Man, being plagued with faults, will continually fail and misuse God's grace. The word commend in this context means to demonstrate. Man's faults and failures open a door for God's righteousness and holiness to be seen. The grammatical structure of the question “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?” is such that it is expecting a no answer. A literal translation would read thus, “Is God unrighteous, the one who is inflicting wrath? No!” Although man's failures provide a stage for God's holiness to be manifested this does not mean that God approves of such behavior. The text goes on to say, “God forbid!” If God took pleasure in the fact that man's sin demonstrates His righteousness, world-wide judgment would not be needed.

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” (Romans 3:7-8)

Again, the structure of the Greek text renders the if more in the sense of since. The context also helps make this clear, since all men are found liars and only God can ultimately receive the glory. The question is asked in somewhat of a sarcastic sense “...why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Paul is not seeking justification for himself or his Jewish brethren. He is attempting, through questions, to demonstrate that man cannot be justified by works, nor can he disregard his moral failures and simply take pleasure in his sin and adopt a warped sense of satisfaction that his sin “adorns” the grace of God. The phrase my lie is emphatic. Paul is taking full ownership of his failures. All men are liars before God, and until an individual is willing to fully own his own failures, he will not find redemption. Until the eternal state comes, the world will always know those who attempt to find excuses for their failures; yet, in the end, each and every man must own his own sin.

Verse 8 would seem to indicate that Paul was being accused of a misuse of God's grace and holiness (a subject which will be dealt with at length in chapter 6). Apparently, the religious opposition was attempting to twist Paul's message of grace into a message of license. One can just hear them now, “Well, if no one can keep the law, and if God's righteousness is demonstrated by my failures, then let's sin more, because apparently the more I sin the greater God is shown to be!” Such an interpretation perverts the arguments of the previous verses. This type of argument and twisting of truth is nothing more than a straw-man, erected for the purpose of masking the truth and justifying selfish desires. Such truth-abusers will always be around, at least until Christ comes back! Paul goes on to say that such a person who holds this view is worthy of damnation. Anyone who truly believes and practices such a philosophy deserves to reap the results.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man (Part IV)

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:3-4)

The phrase without effect means to nullify, abolish, bring to nought, or render ineffective. God's truth is not changed simply because men choose not to believe. According to Galatians 3:24, God intended for the Old Testament law to drive a man toward faith in Christ as it revealed man's deficiency. As a whole, the Jewish nation did not take this path, but instead, they chose to believe in their own ability. Nevertheless, God's truth stands fast. Man does not control the validity of God's word. Eternal truth is not affected by a majority of unbelievers. God did not change His message in the Old Testament simply because people were not accepting of it. He consistently pointed men to the heart of His law even though they consistently rejected it. In fact, the text goes on and says, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.” The phrase, “God forbid” is a combination of two words indicating an impossibility. The name God does not actually appear in the text at all; however, in order to drive home the strength of this statement, it is routinely translated “God forbid.” Man may bask in his sin for a short time, but in the end, God is always justified. When going face to face in judgment, man will always be found to be untrue. it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” This verse is a quotation from Psalm 51. In this Psalm, David is found crying out to God in repentance concerning his sin with Bathsheba. David chose his own way, but in the end, he paid the price. God is not mocked. Often, unrighteousness seems to prevail, but God's words will always prevail. The phrase when thou art judged has the idea of being criticized. Man is consistently criticizing God, and much of this criticism is spurred on by the hypocrisy of the religious, but God is not subject to such criticism. Every knee shall bow to Him.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man (Part III)

For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” (Romans 2:25-27)

From this point to the end of chapter two, the text focuses on two kinds of people: the self-righteous performer of the law and the reverent protector of the law. The verb translated keep in the first part of verse 25, is focusing on performance. It means to do or to perform some act. The self-righteous Pharisee took great pride in his circumcision, believing that it set him apart from the heathen and gave him special graces as a performer of the law. Judaism teaches that righteousness is obtained through keeping the commandments and traditions of men. If it were possible for a man to flawlessly keep God's commandments without violating a single one through action, feeling or motive, the act of circumcision would be spiritually profitable because such a man would be utterly sinless; however, outside of Jesus Christ, no man has obtained such lofty standards. At some point in time, every one has violated God's law either directly or indirectly; thus, the verse continues on and says “... but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” The tense of the verb is made is in the perfect which is the strongest tense in biblical Greek. The tense and the context combined give the sense that the action mentioned cannot be reversed through the deeds of the flesh. Once a man has violated God's law, even in the smallest sense, he is forever condemned as a hell-bound sinner apart from God's intervention. The self-righteous performer of the law may continuously boast of his good deeds, but his wicked heart betrays him, and it has left him spiritually “uncircumcised.” These principles hold true for any man seeking to be justified by works. Paul is focusing on the Jew, but the world has always been filled with people who “believe in themselves.”

The text continues on and says, “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” The verb here which is also translated keep is a different word than the previous verb. This verb means to guard, watch, defend, or keep (in the sense of guarding). The noun form of this verb may be seen in the word phylacteries which is found in Matthew 23:5. A phylactery is a small box which houses portions of Scripture and is worn by devout Jews. The Scripture is “guarded” by this box; thus, the sense of keeping watch over can be seen in the verb form of this word. The word for righteousness is literally righteous deeds or righteous requirements. This individual is vastly different from the self-focused performer. This man sees the beauty and value of God's righteousness in the law. Through genuine conversion of the soul, he reaches out and makes God's law his own through humble submission to God's righteousness. Jesus spoke of such an individual as this when He said “...(these) are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).” This man is not merely a performer; his heart has been spiritually circumcised by faith in Jesus Christ. He sees the value of God's holiness, righteousness, and love in the law; therefore, he humbles himself before God and “guards” the law of God in his heart, not for justification, but out of a heart of true conversion. Such a man fulfills the righteous requirements of the law because God is the one who imparts His righteousness to that man and declares him to be justified. The main difference between the two men is this, the first is attempting to proudly perform the law for salvation and the second is reverently following the law because of salvation.

A truly converted individual brings condemnation to the self-righteous performer, because, through his changed lifestyle, he brings to light the hypocrisy of the religious, but unconverted, man.

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” 
(Romans 2:28-29)

As is often the case, these verses are emphatic, “Not the one on the outside a Jew is!” With enough effort, anyone may carry out religious ritual. The world is filled with hardworking, moral people whose dedication to religious things leaves many others looking quite feeble; however, their motive is self, not God. A man may be known for good works and outstanding ethics, but why is he thus? Who is he seeking to please? Others may be fooled but God is not. The Bible commands all to be done to God's glory; therefore, religious dedication for selfish reasons does not profit in an eternal sense. The Holy Spirit declares that circumcision ultimately has nothing to do with the flesh but with the heart. Biblically speaking, physical circumcision was intended to be a sign of what should take place in the heart through conversion. In Genesis 15:6, God imputes righteousness to Abraham for his faith. This happened before Abraham was circumcised. Abraham allowed God to circumcise his heart and afterward God gave him the covenant of physical circumcision.

The second part is also emphatic, “But (strong contrast)! The one on the inside a Jew (is)!” In Isaiah 56:3-5, God says, “Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.” God cares about the heart! Who has ever humbled himself before God and thought such an action to be a mistake?!

...and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Verses concerning spiritual circumcision are numerous. Deuteronomy 10:16 says, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Ezekiel 44:9 declares that no one who is unconverted will taint God's sanctuary in the Millennial Kingdom, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.” Man loves to avoid the spirit and focus on the appearance, but such are not God's ways. Man's spirit must be converted through faith in Jesus Christ. The letter of the law does not bring life; it brings death. The letter of the law has been fulfilled by none but Jesus Christ. The self-righteous performer may fool many, but he cannot fool God. The reverent protector of the law recognizes his spiritual deficiency and heeds the warnings of the law while fleeing to the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ. Such an individual shall receive praise from the only one who is worthy of being pleased, this is God Almighty.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man (Part II)

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (Romans 2:21-23)

How hopeless is man's plight apart from the imputed righteousness of God! These three verses proclaim the condemnation of the religious man. He is condemned by what he teaches, preaches and says. He is also condemned by what he abhors and boasts. The sins mentioned here are directly aimed at the hypocrisies of Paul's Jewish brethren. They were masters at setting lofty standards for others, but they themselves were covetous and hateful, as Jesus said, “...they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers (Matthew 23:4).”
They would steal from others by charging enormous fees for sacrificial animals. They were masters at making the worship of God a burdensome and grievous thing. So much was the case that Christ drove the moneygrubbers from the temple and rebuked them for turning God's house into a “den of thieves.” Adultery was also commonplace among the Jewish leadership. The Pharisees thought nothing of breaking marriage vows for personal lust or gain. So common was the practice that the Pharisees posed this question to the Savior, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause (Matthew 19:3)?” They claimed to abhor idol worship, but they served the god of covetousness by plundering heathen temples. The word for commit sacrilege literally means to rob temples. The Jews of Paul's day would seize upon the temples of the heathen and close them down through the guise of hating idolatry; however, they kept the plunder for themselves. One can only imagine the consternation this hypocrisy caused in the eyes of the heathen. These hypocrisies and their resulting condemnation are not isolated to the Jewish audience of Paul's day. These scenarios fit any man who goes about to establish his own righteousness while forsaking the righteousness of God. Sadly, the carnal Christian can operate on the same principles as the religious man. How many believers have cast aside their spouse for self-will and pleasure? How many believers descry idol worship yet can never have enough? Yes, the religious man is condemned, but the believer must not fail to see that he is not above such self-righteous and hypocritical behavior.

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Romans 2:24)

In the Greek text, this statement is very emphatic. A literal translation would read, “For the name of God through you is blasphemed!” The agency of the blasphemy is being emphasized. God's people who should have been a light were found to be a great stumblingblock. The religious man's destructive ways are not limited to his own life. Others always suffer. How many souls are not in heaven because of such behavior? Only God knows the answer to that question. A rebellious Christian can find themselves in this same awful position. Disobedience toward God can have devastating affects on others. The lost man's view of God is often shaped by what he observes in the behavior of a believer.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Condemnation of the Religious Man

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” (Romans 2:17-20)

The condemnation of the religious man is now presented. The context is the Jewish person who believes that he can be justified through the performance of the law; yet, the principles apply to any individual who seeks to obtain acceptance by works. In these verses may be seen the unregenerate church-goer who is proud of his goodness. Sadly, the principles also apply to the carnal Christian who has forgotten that Christ is his sufficiency and judges all things based upon the standard of his own supposed goodness. The characteristics of this religious performer are first presented. He has a religious title, he rests in the deeds of the law that he believes he is fulfilling, he boasts in God, he thinks he knows all about God's will, he critically “tests” and “proves out” things that are supposed to be spiritually excellent, and he does all based upon his being “instructed out of the law.” The word instructed literally means catechized. This religious man is characterized by much knowledge, but one thing is noticeably lacking from his credentials; he is not humble. He does not rest in God's righteousness but in his own. He boasts in God but shows no repentance toward God. He thinks he knows God's will but misses the heart of God's will for man which is to “ the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind....” and to “ thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37, 39).” He spends long hours with his head in the spiritual clouds “proving the things that are more excellent,” and yet he is blind to the great biblical theme of brokenness before God.

The text says that the religious man is confident. This verb means to be persuaded. The tense of this verb carries with it the idea of some action that has been performed in the past with the results of that action carrying forward into the future. The religious man's confidence in himself is very strong. He is positive that he is a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor (disciplinarian) of the foolish, and a teacher of the spiritually ignorant; yet, he is nothing more than a stumblingblock to those who would come to God in repentant faith. The religious man has a form of knowledge and truth, but he does not possess the true understanding of such things, because he fails to view them through the eyes of humility. Any man can carry Scripture and study it; yet, not many men choose to allow Scripture to carry them. Truth and knowledge are intended to bring a man to the feet of God; when truth and knowledge are not permitted to perform their rightful function, they are a mere form of what could be, but not what is. The religious man is so close to the truth and yet so far away. He understands the outline of knowledge and truth. He can recognize their shape in the dark shadows, but he has no intimate relationship with them. His proud heart blinds him to the humble truth of God. Like any other man, the religious man's primary issue is pride.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Condemnation of the Moral Man (Part V)

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” (Romans 2:12)

No one has an excuse for their sin. The most secluded and primitive individual is no more justified before God than is the hypocrite who is aware of right and wrong.

(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)

The next three verses are parenthetical to what was spoken in verse twelve. These verses are here to expound upon the truth given in verse twelve. Having knowledge of God's law does little for a man if that knowledge does not affect the heart and the hands. Anyone can hear truth, but the one who applies it through repentant faith will be the one whom God declares righteous. The verb translated shall be justified, means to declare righteous. God will clothe, with His righteousness, all those who will acknowledge their sin and flee to Him for forgiveness.

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:” (Romans 2:14)

The character and essence of law's nature is being emphasized in this verse. A literal translation will quickly bring out this emphasis. “For when Gentiles, the ones not having law (general principles of law emphasized), by nature the things of the law (God's specific written law) might do, these, not having law (principles of law emphasized), to themselves are law (principle of law emphasized).” Not every nation has God's ten commandments in front of them; however, every nation to one degree or another has a code of conduct that shares the same law-based principles of God's written law. The Jew does not have the monopoly on God's law. God gave His written law to Israel, but other peoples of foreign nations often operate according to the same principles upon which God's ten commandments were written.

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” (Romans 2:15)

This unwritten law is the conscience which God has given to every man. The conscience is designed to give man some awareness of right and wrong lest he be hopelessly beyond conviction. The conscience cannot deliver. It is a goad not a redeemer. When a man becomes convicted by his conscience because of wrong behavior, he is exposed to the fact that he is a sinner who has broken God's law. Everyone has been given a conscience; therefore, all are accountable before God.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16)

This verse goes right along with verse twelve. If the parenthetical verses were removed for a moment, the main thought would read, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;...In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Christ's second coming seems to be in view. Over and over, the glorified Savior is pictured as having eyes as a flame of fire. In the Scriptures, fire often depicts judgment. No man's works are hidden from the all-seeing eye of God. Christ knows the deeds of everyone, and He will judge every lost sinner according to God's truth. Paul says that this truth of coming judgment is “according to my gospel.” Paul preached the love and forgiveness of God, but he also preached the wrath and judgment of God. He did not fail to make it clear that judgment day is coming. A gospel that will not make the lost sinner aware of coming judgment is just as lacking as a gospel that shuns to declare God's love.

By this point, the moral man has been left without a leg to stand on. The heathen man is condemned, but so is the moral hypocrite who would view himself as good. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Condemnation of the Moral Man (Part IV)

"But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;" (Romans 2:8-9)

On the other hand, there are those who reject the ways of righteousness and have not known the salvation of God. These people are referred to as "them that are contentious." The text says that they "do not obey the truth." The verb for do not obey is a word that means not persuaded. It has the idea of not obeying because of not believing. The text goes on to say that they do "obey unrighteousness." The verb form here is very similar except that it means to be persuaded. It carries with it the idea of obeying because of believing. These individuals are not persuaded concerning the way of repentance, but they are persuaded concerning the ways of unrighteousness. Disbelief is not an inability. It is a sin. With some, it is more blatant. With others, it is more subtle. Some are less aware of their choice to disbelieve; however, all disbelief towards God's word is sin. Every person believes in something. Disbelief in God's promises is a choice to lean upon one's own understanding. Such disbelief is promised the reward of indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish. This indignation is the seething hot anger of God. An individual does not have to be the worst sinner to be under this wrath. Everyone outside of belief in Christ is in danger of immediate judgment. The word for anguish is interesting. It consists of two words which, when combined, form the meaning of narrowness. The result of this basic meaning gives birth to the idea of anguish and trouble. When a person chooses to reject the straight and narrow path of belief, he places himself in a narrow place of destruction. The road funnels down to the final destination of judgment in hellfire. These fearful judgments are directed toward the "soul of man." Ultimately, this is the most fearful judgment. The body can be afflicted, causing great anguish, but the most frightening judgment is the condemnation of the soul. The hypocrite who rejects the way of godly fear brings damnation to his soul.
The verb for doeth means to work out or produce. A man is known by his fruit. The unbeliever is characterized by continuously producing that which is against God's interest.

"But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God." (Romans 2:10-11)

In similar fashion, the one who is in Christ is characterized by working that which is good. This text is not claiming good works as a means of salvation but as a fruit of salvation. God's righteous judgment will ensure that all unbelief is punished and that all belief is rewarded. He is does not respect the faces of people. Respect of persons consists of two words. One means face, and the other means receiving or credit. God gives credit to no man's face. He is not impressed with the self-righteous countenance; He is only impressed by the broken countenance, for thus saith the LORD, "...but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Isaiah 66:2)."