"...and Paul said..."
I opened Romans this morning and realised that, if you read Paul's writing in Romans 1 and just end it there, you may very well conclude that he is rebuking or judging "sinners", and/or laying down the "YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT" laws of the Christian walk. But, I don't think that's the case, is it...?
If you read on in Romans 2, you'll see he's actually pointing out the hypocrisy of the believers, who are judging "the sinners", isn't he? He's pointing out their hypocrisy, urging them not to judge - basically telling them the same thing (but in much more detail) what Jesus says in Jn8:7 "...Let he who is without sin cast the first stone...". And then he goes on to point out that the law isn't what saves us: Jesus is.
I've not heard it preached before, so, correct me if I'm wrong, but after looking at it closely, and taking into account that GOD IS LOVE, that Jesus died for ALL OF US WHILE WE WERE SINNERS, and while knowing that Jesus has told us not to judge but to love, I reckon it's easier to see that Paul was rebuking the believer for being a hypocrite rather than damning the 'sinner' - of which he claimed to be chief, once.
I reckon Paul's opening statements are 1, to point out that he is called to preach the gospel and to be open and honest with that - which is what he's building up to; and, 2, to draw the attention of those he's talking to before he hits them with the 'open and honest' truth of their hypocrisy.
He is not judging, not condemning, but pointing out, from Christ follower to Christ follower, where they're getting it wrong. If he was judging 'the sinner' he would not make statements such as "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man [believer], whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself..." and "we all sin and fall short of the glory of God."
If anyone knew it's by Jesus Christ we are all made right before God, and not the law, it's Paul. If anyone was humbled enough to find compassion for the sinner, it's Paul... And I can't imagine that he would draw focus away from all Jesus has done in order to free us of sin, death and the law: He wouldn't contradict Jesus by judging when He knows Jesus has told us not to judge; He wouldn't take all Jesus has done to save us, to free us, to make us right by God and throw that away so we can then take on the law.
If anyone knows the grace and love of God, and the work of Jesus and the cross, it's Paul, surely. For him to damn the sinner (for whom Christ died) would be to deny Christ before others. And that's not what he's about...is it...?
Isn't Paul pointing out something very similar to the parable of the unforgiving servant? Which says to me, "As God has loved and forgiven you, you love and forgive others...Grace. Mercy. Love... not judgement, condemnation, and damnation. Give, as you have been given."
Anyway... something to think about...
I'm going back to read it again...and again, if needed. :)
Oh, and speaking of something to think about, and while I have your attention: Where is it written that the Gentiles (we who are not Jewish) were given the law to live by now that Christ has died to set us free...???? You know, the law of the Old Testament...? When did Jesus say we Gentiles had to take that on...? Or any part of that on...? I'm very curious over that one, too...
Peace. Love. Mercy. :) xxxxx