Esther 7 & Romans 2

Esther 7

    So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

    And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.

(Esther 7 ESV)

Romans 2

    Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

    He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

    For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

    For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

(Romans 2 ESV)

Romans 2: If we ever find ourselves feeling as if we’ve accomplished or achieved a higher level of spirituality than others, we’ve lost sight of the gospel. Paul warns that we need to be cautious of setting ourselves up as the judges of God’s standard. We must certainly not approve of the sinfulness of others, but we aren’t to look down on others either in a way that magnifies their sin while minimizing ours. 

When we condemn others, we are expressing our awareness of the wrongness in their certain behaviors. So then, when we go and do these same things, we are basically admitting that we know its wrong, but we’re going to do it anyway. It’s one thing to act wrongly. It’s a greater thing to show acute awareness of what’s wrong (by condemning others) and then go and do it anyway.

In Paul’s day, there were many Jewish people who falsely assumed that their covenant relationship with God would shield them from final judgment. They thought that blessings such as God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience towards them proved obedience to His standard and so they condemned those who failed to look and act like they did. 

Today, there are many of us in the church who make the same false assumptions. We assume that since life is going well we must be right with God, and others should be more like us. We think “Surely, we aren’t going to have to worry about the wrath of God. That’s only for the really bad and irreligious people like the type of people Paul described in chapter one.” 

Relying on our obedience to God for salvation is the same kind of self-centeredness and rejection of the gospel as utterly ignoring obedience to God at all.

The Jews of Paul’s day were morally decent and religiously active, but Paul makes clear that neither of these things makes us righteous. We may call ourselves Christians and study our Bibles and have strong feelings for God and memorize verses and know answers to tough questions and lead others to Jesus through Bible studies that we lead and yet still find ourselves misplacing our hope and worship in the idolatry of our own morality and goodness.
   
Hearing the gospel doesn’t save the Christian moralist and never hearing the gospel doesn’t excuse the immoral secularist. If you’ve heard the gospel, be thankful that you have! The Rescuer has extended His hand to you; let go of your goodness and embrace His grace. Jesus is the only Way of escaping the judgement and wrath of God. We need the gospel more than we need our goodness.