Romans 1 and 2: Six reasons we are without excuse

No Excuses by Gary Cooper

No Excuses by Gary Cooper
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Romans 1:18-20 and Romans 1:21-2:1 provide two related but different arguments resulting in the conclusion that mankind in general (1:20) and you, when you judge (2:1) are without excuse before God for your misdeeds.  Here are six reasons, taken from these verses, that establish this conclusion:

Romans 1:18-20

1. God has made his invisible qualities (his eternal power and divine nature) plain in what he has made.  What God has made plain includes the truth that we should worship him as God and give thanks to him.  Thus the excuse is not available that ‘I didn’t worship you properly because you didn’t give me enough information about yourself.’

2. The fact that some people have successfully understood God’s qualities from what has been made implies that there is no excuse for those who have not.

Romans 1:21-2:1

3. The historical manner of mankind’s arrival in their state of God-ignorance has been fair from God’s side, and is therefore not grounds for an excuse

4. The typical/average person presently knows that those who act wickedly deserve death.  (Put another way, the typical person knows that no one deserves to live forever)  Therefore you cannot make the excuse that you have been given insufficient information regarding the consequences of wickedness.  Since the typical person knows this fact that we deserve death (rather than eternal life), you too should know it.

5.  When you judge any other person worthy of death (and not worthy of eternal life), you show that you yourself know that wickedness deserves death, thus not having the excuse of ignorance on that point

6. You yourself perform deeds which are immoral, thus you do not have the excuse that your deeds are undeserving of punishment.

Note that when Paul individualizes the charge, saying that you have no excuse (2:1), he limits the charge to you who judge another (2:1).  This limitation has the effect of leaving open the question of whether an infant or a severely mentally handicapped person might have an excuse for their misdeeds (since they do not have the mental capacity to judge others).  On the last Day an infant who died as an infant could likely make the valid excuse before God as follows: ‘I never judged anyone else worthy of death, I was ignorant of the fact that evil deeds deserve death, and that is one of my excuses for my misdeeds, and one of the reasons I should not be punished’.

These six points are very hard for someone who is not Christian to accept.  In the end, it takes the Spirit of Christ working in a person to accept that they are without excuse before God.  It is only when we are convinced that we can run to Jesus’ death to escape God’s judgement, that we can also admit that we have no excuse for the evil deeds we have committed.

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