“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. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 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? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 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, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. 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 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the does of the law will be justified; 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, 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) in the day when God will judge the secrets of those by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Legalists always judge other people, while they are not able to keep the law
Let’s talk about the law. Paul the Apostle said to the Jews who rested in the law, “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. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 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?” (Romans 2:1-3) Legalists think that they honor God well. These kinds of people do not believe in God with their hearts, but with their false pride that is based on their own deeds. These people like to judge others and are good at it. However, while they judge others with God’s words, they don’t realize that they are exactly the same as those being criticized and make the same mistakes.
For example, they don’t keep the Sabbath day holy, though they tell others to keep it according to God’s Commandments. They tell others to obey and keep the law, but they themselves don’t keep it. Paul the Apostle said to these kinds of people, “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?” (Romans 2:3)
Legalists cannot be saved before God. The law can never deliver us, so God will judge us if our religious lives are based on the law. Legalistic lives cause the wrath of God. Those who have not been saved have legalistic faiths. They tell others to live in certain ways, according to the law, but they shouldn’t say such things these days.
A long time ago, most Christians in our country used to be like that. Legalistic ministers used to rebuke women who had permed hairstyle, saying they would be sent to hell. If we were under the instruction of ministers who taught church members with the deeds of the law in this way, we would certainly believe that those with permed hair would automatically go to hell. This was something that happened only about 15-20 years ago. If a woman used lipstick, it meant that she would be sent to purgatory under the instruction of such ministers.
These people were legalists. They physically appeared to be holy before God; teaching people not to use lipstick or have permed hair, to always walk gently, and to neither buy or sell any goods. These legalists told believers which things were right or wrong in the views of God’s words, while they themselves were hypocrites.
The Jews were just like this
The Jews were just like that. They judged the Gentiles with the law, saying things like, “They don’t know God and serve idols. They are damned to hell and are brutal people.” However, they themselves loved the material things of this world along with other foreign gods more than God.
“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.” The Jews judged others according to the law, but they never followed their own teachings. Furthermore, those who don’t believe in God’s righteousness or have the salvation of Jesus in their hearts, think they live exactly according to God’s word, but they are just like the Jews.
Legalists will be judged
People from younger generations here have probably never led religious lives in this manner. However, those of the older generations have probably heard the sermons based on the law. Ministers used to scold those who had permed hairstyle just because it looked lewd. Ministers cannot do such a thing these days. It became the target of criticism to say such words as ‘the righteous’ or ‘be sanctified completely’ a long time ago. Nowadays though, many people generally use the expression ‘the righteous.’ This means that Christianity has changed. False teachers cannot tell random lies because even their congregations have been delivered the true gospel through books and tapes. Therefore, they cannot speak to their hearers without reason.
The most important thing to know is that legalists who ignore the perfect salvation of Jesus Christ and who lead religious lives according to the law will be judged before God.
Verse 4 talks about God’s judgment. Let’s read it, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” God will judge legalists. Brethrens, the legalistic faith opposes God. Legalists oppose the love of God with criterions that are based on their own deeds. Legalists ignore the gospel of salvation that states that God has forgiven all their sins and iniquities through the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.
Those who lead religious lives according to the law will be judged before God. However, many people lead their religious lives according to the law before God’s presence. We must not think, ‘We are exempted from His judgment because we have been saved.’ Paul the Apostle said that legalists could not be saved, but would instead be perished and judged. We must know what kinds of people lead religious lives according to the law so that we can come up with a plan to deliver the gospel to them.
There are many legalists in the world including the Jews
Paul the Apostle didn’t only talk about the fact that Jesus washed away all the sins of the world. He also spoke about how people who lead religious lives within the law, such as the Jews, oppose God and will be judged. They ignore God’s love, through which He showed sympathy for us. They ignore the gospel of the remission of sins, which states that God has blotted out all the sins of the world for we were pitiful in His eyes.
Aren’t there many legalists around you who lead religious lives such as this? There are many legalists who believe that God feels no mercy for the world and that He didn’t washed away all our sins. Nevertheless, there are some who accept God’s love and are called to be ‘the righteous’ before Him. There are also those legalists who ignore His righteousness and despise God’s salvation with their own thoughts, even at this very moment. The latter is an absolute majority, and they look coldly upon the former.
I want you to know that there are many people around you who ignore the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering just like the Jews did. Is it true or false? ─Yes, there are many people like this.─ A legalist despises others in front of God. What do legalists despise? God’s perfect salvation.
So many people who are living in this world despise the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, including the Jews. The Jews are the people of Israel. They say, “How is He the Son of God? He is just one of the prophets.” They acknowledge Jesus only up to this point. The Israelites despised the Son of God and slapped Jesus’ cheek with their hands, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy” (Matthew 26:65). They also despise Him now. The Jews despise God because they don’t believe in His Son. It’s understandable that the Israelites disregarded Jesus because they did not believe in Him. However, what do legalists among the Gentiles despise? They despise the riches of God’s love and righteousness.
Legalists live based on their own deeds
In a legalistic denomination, the legalists teach their followers to turn the left cheek after being slapped on the right cheek. They should never get angry. They are also instructed on how to preach the doctrine, to walk gently, how to smile, and so on. They think they know all about the Scriptures and insist that their original sin was forgiven, but they receive the forgiveness of daily sins by offering repentance prayers every single day.
Something like this is also a faith based on the law. These things also make people despise the riches of God’s love and salvation. They say, “You are so proud to say you have no sin, that you are righteous, and that you have received the forgiveness of all sins by believing Jesus washed them away!” They think that God calls them to be righteous, even if they are not actually righteous. All legalists believe these false Christian doctrines. Therefore, we must keep away from such legalists.
After believing in Jesus, is it legalistic to receive the forgiveness of daily sins through repentance prayers? Or isn’t it? ─Yes, it is.─ Does it derive from the law of deeds or doesn’t it? ─Yes, it does.─ It’s not of faith. People who declare that they live by the deeds of the word are legalists. There are a countless number of people like this around us.
Paul the Apostle received the complete remission of sins by just believing in Jesus Christ. However, the Israelites, who believed in the Old Testament according to the law, believed in Judaism. Were all those who became one of these people a legalist or not? They were the ones who followed the law; teaching outward deeds, such as how one should walk, what one should do, or what one should not do.
Therefore, Paul the Apostle blamed these people in acrid tones. He did this in a well-mannered way. Today’s Christians lead legalistic lives according to the law as well. They believe that, though they are sanctified by faith, their sins are forgiven daily when they offer repentance prayers for their sins. They are legalists and their faiths are of the law.
Many pastors are good at preaching, saying, “We are saved by faith.” However, they say in the end, “But we must confess what we have sinned and repent.” These pastors are legalists. They depend on their own deeds for their salvations, while not believing or relying themselves on Jesus Christ.
Were we legalists before we were saved? ─Yes, we were.─ Before we were born again, we thought doing good deeds could save us. There are many people in this world who think in this way. God tells them to repent. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). However, these people do not repent. How stubborn they are! So, Paul the Apostle once again talks to the stubborn.
Legalists declare that they are sinners until they die
Let’s look at Romans 2:5, “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.” God’s wrath will be treasured up until the day when God’s righteous judgment will finally be revealed on legalists.
However, legalists are so stubborn that they would confess that they are sinners before God even if they had knives pointed to their throats. When faced with danger, they would still confess that they are sinners before God. Some people declare that they are permanent sinners before God until the day they die. How stubborn they are! They say that they are sinners because they can’t live according to God’s word, even if they believe in Jesus Christ.
What does God say? He says, “Because you cannot live according to the words, I saved you. I blotted out all your sins and saved you absolutely.” They neither possess the faith in Jesus Christ nor try to accept God’s righteousness to be delivered from their sins. Instead, they insist that they are sinners until the day they die because they try to be saved by both the deeds of the law and the faith in Jesus Christ. They must know that the time will come when they will be judged for their own faiths and deeds.
“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” (Romans 2:5). Paul the Apostle meant, “How stubborn you are. You are to be judged for your hard and impenitent hearts. You are treasuring up His wrath.” Jesus Christ blotted out all our sins, regardless of whether one believes this or not. Thus everyone can be saved from all his/her sins through Jesus Christ. We were saved by our true faiths in the fact that Jesus Christ washed away all our sins. We could not live according to the law while we repented our daily sins to receive His forgiveness, so we returned to Jesus Christ from the Gentile religions. We are destined to sin until the day we die, so we cannot become righteous by the deeds of the law, but by the faith in the Lord.
Do you declare that you are righteous until you die in front of God? Or do you declare that you cannot but remain a sinner until you die? ─We declare that we are righteous.─ Is this merely possible through brainwashing? Some people may say that this is like brainwashing. Who would possibly fall for this kind of indoctrination? No one.
Let’s assume that somebody indoctrinates you every single day. You would resist strongly by saying, “Why is that? So? So what?” Wouldn’t most people react in this way? We come to believe in something only when we heartily confirm that it is true. If a person tries to deceive us into believing in anything that is not biblical with beautiful words, it would never work. Not even the slightest bit. We know that humans are very stubborn, but we become meek and believe in the truth if it is of the word of God.
How stubborn legalists are
How stubborn they are. They declare that they are sinners until the last minutes of their lives. There are many people who believe in Judaism. Are there many people among today’s Christians who believe in Judaism actually? Or aren’t there? ─There are many.─ “Lord, a sinner came here. Please forgive my sins.” There are many who declare that they are sinners before God because they look at their weaknesses and daily sins with their own thoughts, even if there are over a billion Christians in the world and ten million Christians here in Korea. These people are law-abiders.
Legalists are like the Pharisees
I was also a legalist before I believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I used to think, “How can I become righteous while sinning everyday?” This is not so nowadays. Many people you know behave stubbornly. Where do these kinds of people go, according to the Bible? They will end up in hell for they have gathered up God’s wrath because of their hard and impenitent hearts. Legalists must also repent once to convert themselves while living in this world by giving thanks and truly believe that Jesus Christ blotted out all their sins.
However, they are too stubborn to repent. These people deserve pity. They don’t repent even though they should. There are so many people who behave just like the Pharisees. They gently greet people in front of church saying, “How are you? How have you been?” while holding the Bible under their arms. They have their eyes halfway closed in an arrogant manner when they meet people on Sundays. They try to look even more divine than Jesus. How good would it be if they were actually divine like this every single day?
Do you know what wives of legalistic pastors say? They say they are happy when their husbands preach a sermon on the pulpit because their husbands speak in gentle words saying things in such “holy and merciful” manners. However, they change as soon as they get home. Once, a wife of a legalistic pastor made herself a home at the back of the pulpit, taking with her the oven, blankets and rice, because her husband was like a hoodlum at home but gentle at the back of the pulpit. The pastor asked her what she was doing there. His wife said that she liked it there because he was gentle and his voice sounded soft behind the pulpit, but at home he would change and harass her.
We must preach the gospel
Frankly speaking, I lost many marks from my wife. This is because my wife says, “The only thing you ever care about is the gospel.” I cannot do everything well because I am not a perfect man. The first thing that I must do well is the work of God. Secondly, I must take care of my home. Thirdly, I must run other errands. These are my preferential orders. This is not only because I am a pastor. I do so because I take charge in serving the gospel. I cannot serve the gospel after taking care of all my affairs. So, I lay a strong emphasis on preaching the gospel and take care of all my other affairs after preaching the gospel. I don’t think I could preach the gospel while finishing up all my affairs anyway.
Legalists act like angels when they stand on the pulpit. They teach believers to weep over their sins. Every legalist should receive the forgiveness of sins after believing in Jesus because only then can one truly be happy that he/she has become sinless. This is the only way one’s soul can be happy. People sin and do immoral things while carrying on with their lives, and thus if one has sin in his/her heart, it would be even worse than hell for him/her. God judges these kinds of people.
I cannot help saying that many people are treasuring up wrath before God. Those who neither repent, convert nor believe in Jesus Christ, while pretending to truly believe, will be judged by God’s wrath. They cannot deceive God. We cannot deceive, whether we have true faiths before Him or not. We will get judged if we do not believe. The wrath of God is revealed to those who don’t possess faith. They will be burnt in the sizzling fires of hell. There are many people who will be burnt in hell due to their unbelief.
Therefore, we must preach the gospel. We should also continuously spread the word of God. Every time we gather together, we should think of the gospel and not only think about ourselves, but also take time to care about others. The reason we must preach the gospel is to help people be exempted from God’s wrath, even though they persecute us and despise God’s love.
We must know the following. There are many people around us who will receive this wrath. We must carefully think about whether we must really testify it or not, why we must do our best to preach the gospel and take up offerings for other people. Will God be pleased if we let them be judged by His wrath? We cannot just leave them as they are. Knowing this very well, we must preach the gospel worldwide.
If there is a legalist in your family, the whole family will be judged by His wrath. What is wrath? We say, “If you don’t obey, you will get hit,” when children don’t obey their parents. Parents will then beat their children up if they cannot bear their children anymore. Children admit their wrongdoings and beg for pardons. Parents forgive their children because they are their offspring. In verse 4 it is written, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” However, until when does God forbear? God forbears for 70-80 years on this earth, but people strike their children with canes after forbearing two or three times. God forbears until our lives end.
God prepared the fire of hell for legalists
It will be the end when the Lord takes a cane in His hands. God prepared a melting furnace for legalists, which contains boiling molten rocks and sulfur. God resurrects the dead into immortal bodies with His wrath. God makes their bodies immortal so that they eternally feel pain, and He puts them in the melting furnace that never extinguishes. The wrath of God resurrects them into eternal bodies and makes suffer eternally. They never die from burning, even if they are too hot and say, “Please dip the tip of your finger in the water and cool my tongue by dropping a drop of water into my mouth, for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
We must preach the gospel to them because it is apparent that they will be judged. The reason why we must preach the gospel to the legalists around us, though we may be despised and persecuted, is to save them from wrath and destruction. Do you understand why we do our best, why we are interested in saving others, and why we spend most of the church’s finances in the literature ministries? We could be rich if we spent the money for our church only. We could eat and live well.
However, lots of material things are needed to spread the gospel worldwide. Do you know why? Because in this way, other people can be saved. Therefore, we devote ourselves to the preaching of the gospel all over the world. If we did not do so, would others possibly be able to receive the forgiveness of sins?
If we had not preached the gospel to you, could you have been saved, even if God already saved you? No you couldn’t. All of us had been legalists before we were born again. We were with sin though we thought we believed in Jesus. We would have perished in this world if we had not heard of this good news.
Can we just let them go to hell and perish? No, we cannot. We cannot let them go to hell because we know the gospel of the Lord and salvation. We know who will go to hell and who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, we worry about them, and pray and preach the good news. The reason why we secure finances and spend so much money for this ministry is because of the following: To save a soul is better than to obtain everything in this world.
The reason why we preach the gospel with forbearance and endurance, in spite of being despised and persecuted by legalists, is to save the souls that are going to be judged by God’s wrath.
You may think, ‘You had better write readable books on the true gospel and scatter them worldwide like leaflets.’ We would have done so if it had been a good way to preach the true gospel. However, since it doesn’t work, we frequently try every possible means and keep praying.
We the gospel preachers are not trying to preach the gospel to earn anything. They preach the gospel to save souls because they know all the sinners will surely go to hell. However, many legalists in this world actually pursue their worldly lust while they are proud of their devotion to Christianity. We must understand the reason for teaching the gospel to legalists.
We must also know why the Lord commended us to keep the Sabbath-day holy in the Ten Commandments and why those who didn’t keep the Sabbath-day were stoned to death. The Sabbath-day implies the gospel that Jesus washed away all our sins. We must keep in mind that Jesus washed away all our sins. We must also preach it by the faith in the Lord, which includes the fact that the Lord blotted out all the sins of the world.
It seems that I have satisfied my resentment on legalists during this sermon. But we must forgive and be broad-minded to them. They are destined to go to hell if we keep our mouths shut. We the gospel preachers cannot permit legalists to despise us with their money or to make a display of their carnal influence to us.
We must preach the gospel to our families and to other souls
We must preach the gospel to everybody, including many other people. We know that all souls are as precious as our own family members. We should consider other people to be precious because we are all the same before God.
I cannot help speaking of the truth of salvation whenever I preach because souls are being sent to hell. We must save them from going to hell. We must preach the gospel to our families and friends, preach it with literature if it leaves something to be desired, and pray for the things we need. We must preach it in many different methods. We prepare a feast when a soul comes back. We gain souls whenever we have a revival meet for preaching the gospel. Sometimes, people go back to the world even though we barely manage to preach the gospel to them. Then, we become full of grief. But in the end, we preach the gospel without feeling any disappointments.
I want you to know one thing today. Remember the fact that there are many legalists Christians around us and that we must preach the gospel to them. They pretend to keep the law, even if they cannot help sinning everyday, and they think they can receive the forgiveness of their daily sins by offering prayers of repentance daily.
They reject the gospel that says that Jesus already blotted out all our sins. They think that Jesus took away only their original sin, excluding their daily sins, because they don’t know the true remission of sins. Those who don’t know the salvation of the truth are called legalists. We must save them from their sins by preaching them the gospel of God’s righteousness.