The movie “Up in the Air” was about the character played by George Clooney whose job it was to fly around to all these companies that were downsizing, and then personally lay-off all these people. The reactions of the people is sad, sometimes funny, but always filled with emotion. Along comes a whipper-snapper out of college and convinces the President of George Clooney’s company that they can save a lot of money by laying off these people via a computer video-conference.

In one of the trials to see how it would work, the young person tells a 30 year employee that he is laid-off.  The guy goes ballistic, starts yelling, where are you, and starts looking behind the computer monitor and eventually throws it down and storms out of the room. The problem with their plan was that taking someone’s livelihood is a very personal thing. It was better to do it “face-to-face.”

In this digital world, you can talk to your friends instantly via email, Facebook, Twitter, and certainly you can find comfort and strength through digital contact. Churches are even sprouting up that don’t have a building, the Pastor preaches and teaches from his home or an office, people can talk to each other online, they can give donations online. The whole service is online. This world may get more and more impersonal, but there will always be a need for that face to face contact. When you are in a real crisis, or you have an emotional need, you need someone looking at you, being with you, touching you, offering you strength and encouragement.

God wants us to know that He wants to be our “face-to-face” God. He is not some impersonal, unfeeling, lightning bolt tossing God. He has shown His love for us in the face of His Son Jesus Christ.

Face to Face With The Son of God

We must realize our need to see the face of Jesus because we are dealing with the most personal subject of all in Romans 2, our sins. The Psalmist wrote in Ps 27:8 “You have said, “Seek my face.” And he responded, “My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

In Romans 2, God is talking forcefully about something very personal-our sins. You can only have one of two reactions as a result of looking at our verses this morning, you will either turn away from the face of Jesus Christ, or your will humbly turn to His face.

The truth is that we will all have an exit interview when we depart this life. The one conducting that interview will be the one whom this week almost 2000 years ago, was beaten, scourged, and crucified until His face was no longer recognizable. But when you have your exit interview, you will know who He is!

The question before us as we consider the Passion week of Jesus Christ: Are you ready to for your Face to Face Meeting With the Son of God?

Verse 1: Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

1.  We Must Guard Against a Condemning Heart

The world is depraved in practice and debased in their thinking, yet we have no excuse to judge them. Paul uses “krino” – To judge, to form and express a judgment or opinion as to any person or thing, more commonly unfavorable. By implication to condemn. CWSD. Paul is saying to watch our condemning heart. For when our heart condemns others, we reveal that we are guilty as well.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3 (ESV)

When we condemn others we reveal by our heart attitude that we may be guilty of the same sin which led to the behavior we are condemning. Judging hearts reveal that we are guilty of practicing the same thing

Here is how a condemning heart can infect us and make us guilty of the same sin.

“I’ll never be like my father!”

A young man grew up with a scoundrel for a father. He was a drunkard, he cheated on his wife, and he neglected the children. When this young man was thinking about marriage, he said in his heart “I’ll NEVER be like my father!” He certainly wasn’t “like” his father as far as outward actions were concerned. He didn’t drink, he was faithful to his wife, and he was an excellent father to his children. However, his wife started becoming distant. There was obvious trouble in their marriage. One day the wife let lose “You are just like your father!” He was heartbroken. How could that be he asked?

The problem in his life was that when he made his father the “standard of comparison” for his life, and condemned him in his heart, he set up an emotional focus that tainted his heart. Sure, he refused to do the outward things that his father did, but inwardly, his was just like his father! His wife was focusing on his ATTITUDES when she said he was just like his father. She told him you are bitter, proud, selfish and unloving. Only when he confessed his sin, forgave and thanked God for his father was he able to see that destructive emotional focus changed. He began to focus on Jesus Christ! Only by giving his heart to Jesus was a change effected.

Verse 2, 3 & 4: We know that the judgment(decision) of God rightly falls (IS ACCORDING TO Christ’s TRUTH Standard) on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge (condemn) those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment (decision) of God? Or do you presume (look down your nose)on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

2.  We Must Guard Against a Proud Heart

In these verses Paul is addressing the Jew who believes himself to be “Morally Upright”, the gentile who believes he practices the correct “religion”. God says to “Check your heart” – blessings do not guarantee your status with Him. No one will escape the judgment (krimo-meaning decision) of  God. God will examine our hearts and will make a decision (judgment) regarding our eternity, and it is based on The Standard, the Truth that Jesus Christ came to reveal.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37 (ESV)

The Judgment here is (krima),  a decision rendered whether good or bad. (Wuest). Presume (despise in KJV) means to look down one’s nose.  It amounts to contempt of God’s goodness if a man does not know (or ignores) that His goodness does not mean the approval of his sins, but to lead him to repentance. This very ignorance is contempt for God.

Verse 5: But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

3.  Your Heart Determines the Face you Will See

Sin reveals the nature of your heart:

  • Judging others
  • Expecting special treatment
  • Thinking you are better because you are blessed
  • Being Confident in your “stuff”

God says you must Believe in Your Heart

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); Romans 10:8 (ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

Faith comes from your heart

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Mark 11:22-23 (ESV)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)

The condition of your heart will be the focus of God’s decision about your eternity. The only way your heart can pass the “exit interview” is if it has become NEW. You must be “born again”! If you refuse to honor God, your heart will become hard and unrepentant. Such a hard heart is storing up wrath for the day of judgment, when you see God face to face!

God’s Righteous Judgment Will be Revealed

  • The Day of God’s Wrath is Coming

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:15-17 (ESV)

Verse 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10: He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

4.  Your Works Reveal Your Heart and Determine Your Rewards

This is not a contradiction from being saved by grace. This is a reinforcement of James, as well as a condemnation of those who believe they will be saved by their works. This will be made more apparent as we work through Romans 3.

Our works must proceed from a heart that has been made righteous. Our “well-doing”  is motivated by honor, glory and immortality. Our heart is uncorrupted.

  • Results in eternal life
  • glory, honor and peace
  • Simply having knowledge or feelings but no works is not enough.

If we remain as we normally are, we will be self-seeking, motivated by disobedience of the truth and unrighteousness. We will experience God’s:

  • Wrath and fury
  • tribulation and distress

Paul is simply building his case that we ALL need a Savior. There is none righteous, no not one!

Verse 11 & 12: For God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

5.  God Never Makes Exceptions

God judges each one by the same standards. How often do we hear at funerals: “If anyone is good enough for heaven, it’ll be Uncle Harry.” The truth is that NO ONE is good enough for heaven. There are no exception clauses, no special provisions. God judges each of us the same. There will be no exceptions, no “special cases”!

  • If you are ignorant of God’s Law, God will judge you by your own law
  • If you have God’s Law, God will judge you by that Law

You may think you are the exception, that your righteousness is enough. You will wake up in hell holding your church membership.
You will wake up in hell holding your baptism certificate. You will wake up in hell holding your giving receipt. God is no one to trifle with or ignore. God looks at your heart! God KNOWS your heart!

  • Not how many verses you have memorized
  • He knows the obedience of your heart.
  • He knows the pride of your heart.

Verse 13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

6.  Righteousness and Works are Inseparable

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law for all those who accept Him as their RIGHTEOUSNESS!

  • Do you walk the talk
  • Do you Live the Word
  • There is no division of heart and works
  • The justified heart is revealed in righteous works
  • Faith that Works is a real faith
  • Paul is building a case here, which will lead to Jesus Christ in US as the fulfiulment of the Law!

God will declare us righteous or justified on the basis of our heart works. In the case of dikaióō, it means to bring out the fact that a person is righteous. CWSD

Do You Have Both of Your Oars?

1,975 years ago Jesus Christ invited us to “Walk with me. Teach with me. Feed others with me. Wash feet with me. Also feed me. Give me water. Clothe me. Visit me. Follow Me!” He commanded. He Wanted Acts of Faith! No thoughts of faith. No feelings of faith. No commands to intense sincerity or intense convictions of faith (apart from works by themselves.)

It appears that God is not “into” a faith that sits in a pew. He is “into” a faith that acts, a faith that works, not a “faith” that just thinks or feels, no matter how strongly or sincerely.

  • Works will never transport anyone into the Kingdom of God. (Pharisees?)
  • Simply adding works to an existing “faith” (trying to “beef up” or somehow enhance our belief/so-called “faith”) will not please God. (Legalism)
  • The only thing that will please God … righteousness by faith. What kind of righteousness?The kind that doesn’t sit in the pew thinking “how holy I am”, but a righteousness that is evident by the works that it produces.

If you or I are not seeing in our lives the proof of a faith that is alive — the proof being works of faith — the solution is NOT to run around trying to score points with Him by working and serving. That would be the fruitless concentrating on the result:  (like stapling apples to a tree in order to make it an apple tree.) The solution is to drop to our knees and allow our hearts to marinate in His presence daily (the Word, prayer, fellowship, teaching, …) in such a way that we begin to take on His heart … (fertilizing the tree such that it bears fruit) … our heart begins to look like His, to reflect His. THEN, once we begin to share His love of serving, we can be confident that the Holy Spirit is transforming our heart. .

Verse 14 & 15: For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

7.  Face to Face with our Judge, We will have no Excuse

  • Even Ignorant Gentiles have a law written not on stones but on their heart
  • Their conscience bears witness
  • Conflicting thoughts accuse and excuse
  • Mental illness, guilt, depression are all signs of the violation of God’s moral law.

Verse 16: on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

8.  God Will Judge the Secrets of Our Heart by Jesus Christ

God will judge the world through Jesus Christ, as Jesus Himself declared: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, John 5:22

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 (ESV)

Paul in verses 17-29 proceeds to take apart any misconception that righteousness and the approval of God has anything  to do with what they are or what they do.

vs 23: They boast in the law but they break the law.

You boast in your belief in God’s Word but you break God’s Word. If you want to be upright before God, it must be because of a changed heart, by the Spirit, not by your effort.

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Romans 2:28-29 (ESV)

You are not a Christian because everyone looks at you and says, you are a Christian. You may be faithful, you may pray, you may tithe, you may be the most moral person in the world. But if you do not have a New Heart, If you have not been born again of God’s Holy Spirit, you are simply seeking the praise of man. You are doing instead of BEING!

  • Jesus Christ is our Judge.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV)

  • Jesus Christ has set the Standard

Do you have the righteousness of Jesus? Can you say you have defeated Satan in every area of your life? Can you say you have never lied, stolen, lusted, coveted in your heart?

God will one day reveal the secrets of your heart.

What Secrets Are You Hiding?

Unless you have the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the wrath of God is upon you even now. You are but a breath away from experiencing the wrath of Almighty God! Pastor, that is cruel! How can you speak to me that way? Don’t you know I give a lot of money to God’s works? Don’t you know that I pray for this church? Don’t you know that I am a good person?

That may be, and we appreciate it, but my concern for each one in this church is that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and that you realize it is not by any of your works that give you favor with God. It is only because of Jesus Christ that your sins have been forgiven, and you have been born again by your faith in Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to face Jesus Christ? Are you ready to look upon Him? Are you ready to place your fingers in his side, to feel the scars on His hands. Do you want to know what God thinks of your sin, even your self-righteous works?

Look at the face of the Crucified Christ.

  • I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:6-7 (ESV)
  • Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2 (ESV)
  • Just as there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness– Isaiah 52:14 (NIV)
  • But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Psalms 22:6-8 (ESV)

You are Face to Face With the Wrath of God!

  • If you want to face the wrath of God, then turn away from Jesus. Turn away from the crucified one. Spit upon him, pull his beard, pound the crown of thorns on his head.
  • Here, take the cat of nine and peel the flesh from his back. Beat him until he is not recognizable.
  • Here, mock him, gamble for his robe. Treat him like the dog you think he is.
  • Perhaps you say I would never do that. I’m, too good.
  • Your good works are as filthy rags to God.
  • If you depend upon any of your efforts to get to heaven, you might as well start whipping Jesus, because you are saying that His crucifixion wasn’t good enough. You need to help Jesus out.

We all have a face to face with Jesus Christ. We will know what God thinks of our self-righteousness when we gaze upon the face of Jesus.

  • He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.   John 3:36 (KJV)
  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;  Romans 1:18 (KJV)
  • But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.   Romans 2:5 (ESV)
  • For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,   1 Thessalonians 5:9 (ESV)


Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ, who died for me?

Face to face shall I behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory
I shall see Him by and by!

Face to face! oh, blissful moment!
Face to face to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ, who loves me so.


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