A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on November 9, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net We Have No Excuse Romans 2:2-11How many of you are glad the election is over? How many of you can’t wait ‘til the next one? And now this question I don’t want you to answer out loud, just think about it. Are you happy with the results? Now that it’s over, it is right for us to be happy with the results, because Romans 13 says, The authorities that exist have been established by God. God is standing behind Barack Obama, and He wants us to pray for him and honor him as our president, that it may go well for our nation. If only we as a nation had done that in the past. The Eighth Commandment says: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way. Has our nation obeyed the 8th Commandment in regards to President Bush - taken his words and actions in the kindest possible way? Has our nation obeyed the 8th Commandment in regards to each of the candidates during this election process? But we might say, “It’s hard to always take people’s words and actions in the kindest possible way, because some of the things they say and do are foolish or just plain wrong. And then there are the things that appear foolish and wrong, because we don’t know the whole picture. But if we had to live in their skin, we might be saying and doing the exact same things. So, then, how do we balance taking words and actions in the kindest possible way with saying what needs to be said for the good of everyone? Sometimes our answer might be that we can’t balance those things out; it’s impossible! In our text this morning God says, “Yes we can.” In fact He takes it a step farther and tells us that: We have no excuse. 1. To look down on others. 2. Not to do all we can to save others. In the verses before our text Paul outlined how and why unbelievers are getting worse and worse. He said, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness – Romans 1:18.” How is God’s wrath being revealed? Through death, for we all die. God’s wrath is also being revealed through fearful catastrophes, such as two world wars, the great depression, not to mention all the earthquakes, famines and terrible storms. The cause of God’s wrath is man’s godlessness and wickedness. You see, God had created man in His image, which means He gave man plenty of knowledge, power and authority to rule over the earth – but subject to Him. Our first parents weren’t satisfied with that. They wanted more knowledge, power, and authority than God had given, but that’s godlessness. Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse – Romans 1:20.” Because it’s clear that God is God and we are His people, wanting to be independent of Him and do our own thing is wicked. However, rather than face this wickedness, people justify themselves by remaking God in their own minds. And now the latest is denying God even exists and all there is, is “mother earth” or what each person believes for himself. Again, this is wickedness because they’re denying the facts of creation. They’re also denying their own conscience, for God has made it clear to everyone in their conscience that He IS and that His standards of right and wrong are forever. With no real god and no standards, people can only get worse and worse. Paul writes, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – Romans 1:24-25.” Notice the spiral downward – from rejection of God as God to sexual immorality to materialism. But the it doesn’t stop there. In order for sinful man to get all the things he wants, Paul writes, “They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless – Romans 1:29-31.” On top of all of this, deep down they know these things are wrong. Yet they keep at it and encourage others to do so also. They are without excuse. Do you see America in any of this? This is how the first Christians saw Rome. However, because they weren’t as bad as the people around them, they were being tempted to look down on others. Paul says in our text that there’s no excuse for that. We read, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things – Romans 2:1.” We do the same things as this world is doing? Yes! For example, we don’t sleep around, but Jesus warns that if we look at a woman lustfully we’ve already committed adultery in our heart. Or, maybe that’s not our sin, but like Job have we ever doubted that God is fair or loving or trustworthy? Whenever we sin in any of these ways, we have even less excuse than the unbelievers have for their sinning. This is because we have God’s completed Word. We also have His fulfilled promises in that Word. Therefore, if we look down on others, we are denying our own guilt. And to the extent we deny our guilt, we are turning away from God, which is wickedness, that leads to foolish thinking and immorality and materialism and ever increasing lovelessness.Paul warns all, who continue in this, “You are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." - Romans 2:5-6.” Could this be any more clear? There is no excuse for looking down on others, especially on those whom God has place in authority over us. However, if there’s no excuse, is there any hope for us? Well, don’t just believe God when He says that we all alike are guilty and under judgment. Believe Him also when He tells us to give the burden of our sins to Jesus. He paid for all our sins for us. Also, let’s give the weakness of our faith to Jesus, for He was holy in our place. And now, let’s rest in Jesus for heaven. Let’s rest in Him because sin abounds in us and sin abounds all around us, yet in Jesus’ arms we are safe. With Jesus we have no guilt in life and no fear in death. For when God judges us He will not give us what we deserve. He will give us what Jesus deserves. We read, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life – Romans 2:7.” Glory, honor and immortality are descriptions of heaven. The word “glory” reminds us that heaven is far more wonderful than anything here on earth. The word “honor” in the original Greek emphasizes great value. Nothing in this life compares in value to what’s in heaven. And finally the word “immortality” reminds us that all the blessings of heaven are incorruptible and nothing can ever threaten the perfect peace we will enjoy. Glory, honor, immortality are ours freely and completely in Christ. So, you tell me. Do we ever have any excuse to be all discouraged and in a bad mood? May God forgive us whenever we are, and all the more let’s rest in Jesus, our Savior, and rejoice in Him.However, does all this mean that we can sit around with a smile on our face while this world is falling apart, and people are suffering, and countless million are on the road to hell? How can we do that? Since we are all of the same race, and since we have been rescued, and since such great blessings are ours, we have no excuse not to do all we can to save others.Now, this doesn’t mean doing more than we can. Expecting ourselves to do more than God allows us to takes us right back to wanting more knowledge, power and authority than God has determined for us. Let’s not go there. On the other hand there is much we CAN do starting with the little things of our daily life. In our Gospel reading, Jesus used the examples of giving someone a glass of water, or something to eat, or visiting them when they’re down. By showing love, we are proving the truth of God’s Word. Another thing we can do is we can separate ourselves from all the immorality and materialism of this world, and we can prioritize worship and the Word. In other words, is there any excuse for us not to be setting a good example, because that helps people in a big way too? Still other things we can do to save others is pray, and use our dollars wisely instead of selfishly blowing them. And finally we can always be ready to warn others when they need to be warned, and then with gentleness and respect explain why we believe as we do. We can do all of these things and we have no excuse not to do them, because Christ is with us and He gives us His Holy Spirit.The election is finally over. Unfortunately the political fighting isn’t, because now some aren’t just trashing the other party, they’re also trashing people within their own party. Instead of wanting what’s best for themselves or their party, pray that all our leaders will want what’s best for America. However, there is something even more important than America. It’s the Gospel. It’s the Kingdom of heaven. And so, then, because of our nation’s sins, and our sins, and the coming wrath, we have no excuse to look down on others. And because of Christ, we have no excuse not to do all we can to save others. Amen.

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