Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, August 24, 2015
Good Guys and Bad Guys – Part 1 of 2
Would a fair and just God ever condemn a “good” person? Skeptics of Christianity have always claimed that a just God would never judge and condemn “good” people. You know who I mean – the good deed doers, those living a clean and moral life, and those who appear to be the most righteous. Will they face God’s wrath and judgment just because they have not accepted Jesus Christ? The issue I would like to address today and tomorrow is how God views “good” people.
At the end of Romans Chapter 1, Paul paints a vivid description of the “bad guys” – people who have succumbed to total self-indulgence and all kinds of sexual perversions (Romans 1:18-32). When these verses are read out loud today, the response from Christians is usually predictable. As Paul finishes his scathing discourse, most of us are cheering and saying a hearty “Amen! Those God-haters, those idolaters, those perverts deserve death. You’re right God. Let ‘em fry!”
Before we become too impassioned and self-righteous over God’s judgment of the wicked, be forewarned that God is about to give us all our comeuppance in Chapter 2, where the text gets a lot more sobering and personal. These words apply to us today every bit as much as they did to the Romans, but first let’s take a jump back in time to imagine how this letter to the Church in Rome was playing out in Paul’s day.
Understand what is going on in Rome. Paul had never visited this church personally, but he knew the church well by its reputation. Paul knew the church was made up of a very diverse population of people – Roman citizens, slaves of various types, Gentiles of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds, former Jewish proselytes, and a large contingency of former traditional Jews who had been transplanted in the capital of Rome.
Paul knew that once this letter arrived in Rome, it would be read publicly in a church service by either the pastor or an elder. Paul knew there may even be some unconverted, unconvinced Jews in the audience who are analyzing the new movement called “Christianity.” Paul knew these skeptics would be particularly hard to convince because they had become self-righteous and proud. After all “they were Jews, blood descendants of Abraham”, and they had the Law in their possession. These people were feeling pretty self-confident and self-content.
Therefore, we can picture at least two very distinct groups of people in the church at Rome on the day this letter arrived from the famed Apostle Paul – the self-righteous Jewish “Good Guys” and the pagan, Gentile “Bad Guys”. On one side of the church sat all the Gentiles. These are people who were formerly involved in every imaginable form of demonism, idolatry, immorality, and sexual perversion. The Jews viewed the Gentiles as a destitute and dysfunctional group of people, despite their allegiance to Christ. Their backgrounds and pasts were sordid and perverse. Formerly, they were idolaters in the pagan temples of Rome, prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, ex-convicts, alcoholics, homosexuals and lesbians, slaves, runaway slaves, witches and druids, corrupt government officials, thieves, and so on.
On the other side of the aisle sat the “Jews”, both saved and unsaved. They were self-righteous and confident in their religious status. After all, they were the direct descendants of Abraham. They were God’s chosen people, and they had the Law, the Temple, and the sign of circumcision. They were the “Good Guys”, the “good” people, who were the “moralists” who felt their behavior was normal according to the Law.
It was to these two groups to whom the Pastor or Elder began reading Paul’s letter in the church at Rome. The Jews were really enjoying Chapter 1, where Paul is preaching hard to the corrupt Gentiles. He is exposing the “Bad Guys” – their reprobate thinking, debased lifestyle, debauchery and perversion – and he concludes by saying “these people deserve judgment, condemnation and death”.
Oh, how the Jews are loving it! They’re saying “Amen Paul. That’s right. C’mon. Hit them again. Preach it, Paul!” All the time they are looking down their self-righteous noses across the aisle, knowing that in the Gentile section of the church sits a crowd of people who used to be the kind of people Paul is describing in Chapter 1. The Jews are thinking, “Those savage Gentiles, they’re all a bunch of moral-misfits. Listen to all the sin and debauchery they get themselves into. They are worse than we thought. Am I ever glad I was born a Jew and have impeccable moral standards.”
However, the moralistic Jews are about to be blind-sided by unsuspected Truths in God’s Holy Word. To be fair, let’s confess: We’ve all been self-righteous in our thinking at some point and have been quick to point out our own moral goodness while condemning the sins of others. God, however, looks at “good” and “bad” people – the Good Guys” and the Bad Guys” – differently than we do.
The stage is set, so stay tuned for tomorrow’s conclusion to this Biblical drama and the answer to the question, “Would a just God ever condemn a “good” person?”
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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