1 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.
In Romans 2:1-16 Paul addressed the moralist, who has as much need for the gospel as those who are immoral.
Chapter one depicted those with low ethics resulting from their rejection of divine revelation. This chapter assails those with high ethical norms. Chapter one shows the self-righteousness of man in his rejection of revelation; chapter two shows that moral man does the same because his morality comes independent of revelation.
Morality without God’s revelation is a serious problem. No matter how high the moralist’s ethics are, they can never measure up to God’s righteousness. God’s justice cannot tolerate man’s righteousness any more than his sinfulness.
Chapter two shows further implications of the argument of chapter one. Since man has sufficient revelation, he stands without excuse before God. What was true of those in chapter one is true of those in chapter two. The “therefore” indicates a transition from blatant sinful people to those who are self-righteous.
you are inexcusable, O man [generic for man or woman; anyone who takes the place of a judge],
The word “inexcusable” has the idea of without reasoned defense. The moral man does not have the ability to talk off the charge against him (1:20). There is no defense before the judgment bar of God, because the person rejected principles of revelation.
whoever you are
Paul addressed anyone who decides to judge others, Jew or Gentile.
To judge is to carry out a sentence. The people here who judge are moralists who sit in judgment on other people; they offer their derogatory appraisal of other people. They are censorious in judgment. When we judge others, we usually take the most extreme case in others, which makes us not look so bad.
for in whatever you judge another [of a different kind] you condemn yourself;
The moralists who judge are as guilty as the people they judge. They are blind to their own sin and they are blind to the facts in the case of other people.
for you who judge practice the same things.
The moralists practice the “same things” as the people they judge and as those in chapter one. They mirror conduct of the people they judge; they reflect the same conduct in principle. All people are exposed to God’s wrath because they do not measure up to His absolute righteousness.
It is inconsistent for the moralist to judge others because he does not measure up to God’s absolute righteousness.
Those of us who participate in the self-righteous indulgence of condemning others put ourselves in peril because we condemn ourselves in doing so. It is easier to see the particle in another person’s eye than the plank in our own. Somehow we have the capacity to see things wrong in others while being blind to what is wrong in ourselves. This is unadulterated inconsistency.
If we develop the attitude that, “since I don’t do what he does, this makes me better than him,” we chose to neglect what is sinful in our lives. In this, we make judgments in favor of ourselves; however, there is no favoritism in God’s court of law.
Many today have come to the conclusion that they are more moral than others, yet they are sightless to their own failures. This is a picture of ugly self-righteousness. “Since I have not committed adultery, this makes me superior to others.” This minimizes Jesus’ saying that mental adultery is an issue as well.
Mt 7: 1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”
Those who are self-righteous think they live on a higher plane and on a higher stratum of society, and assume that this is the basis of their right to judge others. They use their own yardstick, not God’s yardstick, to measure others.