Richard Piles

Good People are Guilty Too!


If you were here last Sunday morning, you know that we looked at the end of Romans 1 and saw that Paul gave us three evidences of when God walks away from an individual.  First, you have the case of idolatry expressed in heterosexual immorality.  Second, you have the case of indecency expressed in homosexuality.  Finally, you have the case of infidelity expressed in a depraved or reprobate mind that leads to blatantly sinful behavior as seen in Romans 1:29-31.

When you hear about sins like idolatry and immorality and homosexuality and having a depraved mind, it is easy to say, “Yes, those people are guilty and deserve what they get.  I am glad I am not like them.”


That mindset was exactly what Paul confronted and condemned here at the beginning of Romans 2 as he wrote to religious Jews who were guilty of their own sins.


Today’s message is entitled “Good People Are Guilty Too,” and is found in Romans 2:1-16.



  1. Jews are guilty before God because of Their Hypocrisy, Romans 2:1-4.

Therefore you 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. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?


As we saw previously, Paul used the word “Therefore” so we need to ask why.  Really, we need to look at that entire first half of verse 1.  Notice he changed subjects.  He spent the second half of chapter 1 talking about “them,” those pagans who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. 


Now, he is talking about and to you.  Who is this?  See Romans 2:17. 


Romans 2:17, 17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God…


These are Jews living in Rome apart of the church.  Notice also what he said about them in 2:1. They are inexcusable or have no excuse or are without excuse.  That is the same thing he said about those pagans who denied that God exists back in Romans 1:20.


Romans 1:20, 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…


So what were these Jews doing that Paul declared them as guilty and without excuse also?  Look at the rest of 2:1. They were judging the pagan Gentiles.  They were being self-righteous.  They were denying their own guilt.  Even though they probably weren’t guilty of these “major sins” like denying the existence of God and idolatry and homosexual immorality, they were “practicing” the same things.  That word “practice” at the end of verse 1 is in the present tense meaning they were currently involved in sinning with the likes of those mentioned in 1:29-31.  Perhaps they were guilty of those “respectable sins” that we as church folk often tolerate today. 


In 2007, Christian author Jerry Bridges wrote a book entitled “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.”  His premise is that no Christian wants any part of abortion or immorality or murder, but what about anxiety and discontentment and ingratitude and gluttony and pride and arrogance and materialism?  We don’t think these sins are that bad, and so we let them slide because they aren’t “major sins.” 


These Jews were the same way.  Therefore, they thought they were not guilty because they weren’t committing “major sins.”  Yet, look at 2:3.  If they answered 2:3 honestly, they had to answer “no.”  In fact, they would face the judgment of God for their sins as well.  Again, these Jews thought they were not guilty because they had not committed the “major sins.”


Secondly, they thought they were not guilty because nothing bad was going on in their lives.  They thought that God must be happy with them because they were successful and prosperous.  Look at 2:4. They saw God’s kindness and tolerance and patience and thought those were signs of God’s favor.  Yet, in reality, what was God trying to do?  God was seeking to lead them to repentance.  He wanted them to change.    


Now this treatment is different than what you and I practice.  When we want changed behavior what do we do?  If we are training a dog well, we use a collar that uses tones or static to correct.  We want the dog to experience some type of memorable deterrent. 


If we are training a child well, we spank.  Both instances are examples of corporal punishment.  That isn’t always how God works.  There are plenty of occasions when God’s kindness is seen and will hopefully lead many to repentance.  We call this common grace. 


Take for example a guy like Bill Maher.  Bill Maher is unapologetically a non-believer.  He doesn’t believe God exists, believes all religion is a scam, and would go straight to hell if he died today denying God.  As a matter of fact, how is Bill Maher even still alive?  See Romans 2:4.


I would say that God is trying to lead him to repentance through kindness, tolerance, and patience.  Again, these Jews thought they were not guilty because they thought God was already pleased with their lives as evidenced by their prosperity and lack of tragedy. 


Thirdly, the Jews thought they were not guilty because they were God’s chosen people.  They were descendants of Abraham.  Therefore, because of their race or nationality, they would receive a free pass. 


It just isn’t so, and Paul makes that crystal clear back in Romans 2:2.  His judgment on the Jews is right and according to the truth because they are guilty of sinning and being sinners.  They are guilty before God because of their hypocrisy.



  1. Jews are guilty before God because of His Impartiality, Romans 2:5-11.

5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.


This next section of the text speaks to the fact that God’s judgment is impartial, but before we get to 2:11 and the consummation of these verses, I want to remind you that God will judge.  Again, Paul indicts such to these Jews in 2:5.  He said their hearts we hard and impenitent, and God will eventually judge them with His wrath.  That is a scary thought.  Again, remember that God will judge.


Also, remember that God will judge everybody, both Jew and Gentile.  Notice 2:6. Paul said that God will render to each person.  No matter who you are and what you have done or have not done, God will judge, and He will judge every individual who has ever lived.


And He will judge every individual on the basis of his or her deeds. I haven’t been to heaven so I don’t know this to be 100% accurate, but I think that from what I have read in the Scriptures, the judgment will go something like this.  God will call every human to answer for his or her deeds.  As soon as He gets down the list in the book of deeds to your first sin, He will then look in the Book of Life to see if He can find your name.  If He does, welcome to heaven, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life with Jesus Christ.  If He doesn’t, you will then be assigned to eternal hell and damnation. 


Paul goes on in 2:7-10 to remind us that those who call on the Lord Jesus to be saved will live good lives.  There will be evidence that they are saved.  2:7 says they will do good.  2:10 says they will do good.  On the other hand, those who have rejected Christ will give their evidence as well.  2:8 says they are self-seeking and do not obey the truth.  2:9 says they will do evil and get their just reward, tribulation and distress. 


Again, Paul is clear in these verses to point out that God is impartial.  He will judge the Jew and the Gentile alike, and He will judge them fairly.  Look at 2:11. God is not partial to anyone.  That verse literally says that God is not impressed with your face or in other words knowing who you are and what you have done.


Listen carefully to me ladies and gentlemen.  When it comes to salvation and eternal life and eternal punishment, God is not impressed with what you have done including all of your good deeds.  He isn’t impressed with your baptism, your church membership, your marriage, your giving record, your church attendance or who your daddy and momma were.  He isn’t impressed with your morality or your business or your hard work or your intellect.  He isn’t impressed with your house or your cars or your vacation homes or hunting leases or golf game.  He just isn’t impressed.


However, He is eternally impressed with His Son, Jesus Christ, and when you receive Him as your Lord and Savior, God then receives you to eternal life.  And when you reject His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior, God then rejects you for eternal life and assigns you to eternal punishment in hell.  The Jews are guilty before God because of His impartiality.



  • The Jews are guilty before God because of Jesus’ Exclusivity, Romans 2:12-16.

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.


This final section reminds us that Jesus Christ is God’s standard of judgment.  In 2:12-13, we see that regardless of Gentiles not having the Law and Jews having the Law, both groups are sinners nonetheless.  2:13 poses no problem in interpretation when you understand that no one does the Law perfectly except Jesus Christ.  Therefore, no one is saved by the Law because no human has been or ever will be perfect. 


2:14-15 lets us know that absolute truth does exist.  2:15 says that Gentiles, the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, has the Law written in their hearts.  The fact of the matter is that we know the difference between right and wrong because God has put it within us.


For example, I can remember being on a mission trip while in college to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and we were talking with a married student there on campus who didn’t believe that absolute truth existed.  After hearing the Gospel, he said that Jesus might be the way for you, but not necessarily for him or anyone else.  Absolute truth didn’t exist. 


My friend then asked this man, if it would be ok for us to murder his wife if we thought it was the right thing to do.  He adamantly objected and thus proved our point that absolute truth does exist.  Humans do know the difference between right and wrong.


However, knowing and keeping the Law will not save anyone because no one can keep the Law perfectly, and it only takes one mistake to be guilty.  See James 2:10.


James 2:10, 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.


If we stumble at one point, we are guilty of breaking the whole Law. 


Yet, Jesus didn’t stumble at any point.  See Matthew 5:17.


Matthew 5:17, 17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.


He fulfilled the Law.  Therefore, when we stand on our own, we stand condemned.  When we stand with Jesus, we stand victoriously, because God’s judgment is through Jesus Christ.    




So where does that leave us today?  Yes, the Jews are guilty, but what about us?  Remember my title?  Good people are guilty too!  I would suspect that in a crowd this large, there are teenagers and adults and senior adults who think they aren’t guilty because they have lived pretty good lives. 


You think because your good deeds are more than your bad deeds, God will be impressed.  Thanks for playing, but you lose. 


Good people are guilty too and the wages of sin is death.  If you are hoping and praying that God might have mercy on your soul even though you have rejected Jesus’ call on your life for salvation, you will spend an eternity in hell when you die.  I beg you today to admit that you are sinner and are guilty and call on the name of the Lord and be saved.


For those of you who know without question that you are guilty, yet saved through your personal relationship with Jesus that has changed your life, let today’s message effect your evangelism. 


When it comes to the issue of salvation, living a good life simply isn’t going to cut it.  There will be hundreds of thousands of good people, your friends and family, in hell because they rejected Jesus Christ as the only way to peace with God.  Let us evangelize fervently and passionately knowing this truth!

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