“…. according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” -Rom. 2.16b
Is it remarkable to us that Paul conveys the reality of God’s judgment as a crucial component of his “gospel”? Do we see it as “good news” that “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”?
Paul is addressing the issues of Law and conscience in Romans 2, and he swings his subject back around to the inward reality, as apostles always do. He declares that even if all seems to be intact externally with the saint, the real issue of judgment has to do with “the secrets of men,” for the Lord is ever and always concerned with reality, and not with the mere appearance of things.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. -Jn. 7.24
Have I been refined a thousand times over in the inner-man, or have I upheld an image of spirituality in public that conflicts with the secret thoughts and motives of my heart? Have I been willing for the work of the cross in my soul, or have I sought to circumvent the word of truth, and clung to a foundation-less reputation that has been applauded by men, but will be found wanting on the day when “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”?
If there is duplicity and hypocrisy in my life, if I am still laboring for approval from men, if I am gripped inwardly with greed, pride, lust, envy and fear, the apostle has a word for me, and it is part and parcel with his Gospel. A Day of judgment is coming, when the light of God’s countenance will shine so penetratingly upon my life that every despicable thought, motive, and deed will be exposed. If I have held forth an impressive religious image before men, but have harbored ungodly “secrets” until that Day, they will be revealed in shocking transparency and with exacting clarity.
We may squirm to hear such a thing, but it is Paul’s Gospel. If we have an inadequate consciousness of the Day of judgment, we have not been apprehended by the Gospel of Paul. The gospel of some other man or angel has intruded, and we have been hooked into a lie.
The fact of this coming Day of exposure is Gospel (good news), for we are hearing it now, before that Day dawns. We have the privilege- painful as it may be- of bringing our duplicity and mixtures to Him today, while it is yet day. We have opportunity to repent and believe the Gospel afresh, and when at once we are sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, everything is made new. When He purges our secret lives, which have harbored all kinds of dark ambitions and shameful musings, and makes us carriers of His own thoughts and desires, only glory remains. We have the remarkable privilege of moving away from a life of bondage and into the joy of becoming stewards of heavenly mysteries.
That is why there is no condemnation for those who are in the Man, Christ Jesus. He cleanses, refines, and heals us from all the corruption and disease that our souls have carried, and grafts us into His own purpose and way. It is no wonder that the Day of judgment was for Paul a necessary element of the Gospel. That Day will once and for all expose and destroy the sins of the world and the hypocrisies of men, and the mysteries of God will become the Government of the entire cosmos. Why should the Church live in hypocrisy and hidden sin when the Gospel has come to deliver us from darkness, both now and in the age to come?
Are you living a double-life, dear saint? Have you some underlying bitterness, anger, lust, rage, or fear still dominating your thoughts? In Light of the Day to come, allow the Father to bring judgment against your duplicity today, and when He burns out your soul-illnesses and makes you true, the exposure of your “secrets” will be Gospel to you, indeed. You will walk in the liberty of the Gospel, which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him. -Ps. 25.14
The Gospel is not an alterable message that can be shifted and redefined by men in their particular customs, preferences, and societies. The Gospel of Paul, which is the Gospel of God, raises a question mark against all that man has been, all that man is, and all that man ever will be within himself. It calls to task the kings of the earth, all who boast against God, and even all those who purport to be spiritual. Only His very mercy can cleanse, only His truth is true, and only His Light illumines our souls to the degree that our secrets are judged, and that judgment is itself a mercy. The Gospel judges not only our external acts of sin, but the secrets of our hearts, and it is a great mercy that He is touching our secret lives now, instead of being exposed when it is too late.
Oh, how jealous He is for His glory, and how jealous He is over our lives. The jealousy of the Lamb is the expression of His great love, in that He will not let us go until we have come into an unhindered union with God Himself.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: appearance, Good News, gospel, greed, hearing, Holy Spirit, hypocrisy, jealousy, Jesus, judgment, Paul, Reality, romans, spirituality
Yesterday, I picked up a newspaper and looked at the damage in Costa Rica (only about an hour from where I am) and wept at the devastation. There is so much pain, and the ground is still shaking every 20 minutes as the rain falls down and the people look for shelter in the dampness and the cold. The animals are dying from lack of attention, and people are waiting on food as rescue workers do the best they can to provide continued relief. One mother died with her two small children in her arms only two yards from the front door and safety. Another pair of sisters died holding hands beside their homemade candy stand on the corner from their house, and their father was left to grieve them both.
As I watch, and know that they will rebuild (although the Sarapiqui will take years to restore, and some small, rural villages may never be inhabited again), I can’t help but think about Romans 8: all of creation groaning for the sons of God to be revealed. The very earth is crying out for something real…for an intervention. Those of us who claim to know Jesus and walk in the light of His freedom and all He has done to restore our lives from the devastation this world can bring, how are we sharing His love and truth with those around us? Do our very lives breathe with the hope He offers…the trust He’s placed inside of us in knowing that He is our stability? In knowing that we are His, and He will care for us? When we have the chance, do we bless those around us, or do we become afraid of becoming small, or lost, or forgotten…do we live as sons who know His love that cannot be lost, or do we live as orphans afraid of what can be taken away in a moment? I can’t help but think about these things as I see people rushing in to help those affected by the earthquake at the same time that others are looting the homes that were hastily abandoned in the tragedy. Which are we? Some churches who claim to follow Christ…some who claim to be Christians…use religion as an excuse to scare or control or steal even more from those who are already scared and dying. But the Lord is raising up His Church…His people…His remnant who will rush into the devastation and bring hope to a lost and dying world regardless of the cost to themselves. The ground is shaking, Lord. Be our stability, and may we find in you the strength to rescue those who are crying out for stability and hope.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Church, costa rica, creation, earthquake, romans, Scripture