"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." -Romans 2:1
Judgement; rather truly righteous or self-righteous, is based on a moral framework. It is acknowledgement of right and wrong in addition to making or coming to conclusions based on the said framework. It seems as if in today's society, we are constantly in a state of flux when it comes to moral issues. In the Romans 1, Paul lays out a clear definition of what God's righteousness is (truth) and what unrighteousness stems from (the suppression of truth). Therefore the Christian has a immutable source (if truly from God) to make sound judgements.
In our Western culture it has become easy to avoid the often abrasive parts of truth rather than developing and cultivating ourselves and our skill sets to speak the truth in love. We often believe that many will just come to "know" their sin, and we will be there to let them know that Jesus Christ was crucified for their sins. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. The reality is that people are all too comfortable with sin and some may even deny such a thing. As Christians, we are often bystanders, sitting on the sidelines, letting sin reshape our world as we find ourselves in a world that is increasingly more bizzare. We do not intelligently voice our opinions on key subjects, leaving a vacuum on structural moral issues that frame the health of our societies. As a result, the Christian voice is replaced with various worldviews that will lead people away from the truth, creating a world where the idea of sin is more and more intangible.
I feel that the root of this problem is based on an over-correction of dealing with religiosity and legalism. I often hear terms like; "I'm not religious but I believe in God," or "those Christians are legalistic." I often cringe when I hear these terms thrown about to appease those that have criticized a religion for being religious or exclusive (having legality). While I admire the attempt to comfort those who have been scarred by religiosity and legalism, I think that is important that we value religion and the law.
The Law and Propitiation
The importance of understanding the law is to realize that it provides a reference in understanding why there must be an atonement for sin.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25)
The understanding and realization of propitiation is often an overlooked term in our evangelical approach. This was first brought to my attention by reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. In it he says the following regarding propitiation:
"No doubt it is true that the subject of divine wrath has in the past been handled speculatively, irreverently, even malevolently. No doubt there have been some who have preached of wrath and damnation with tearless eyes and no pain in their hearts. No doubt the sight of small sects cheerfully consigning the whole world, apart from themselves, to hell has disgusted many. Yet if we would know God, it is vital that we face the truth concerning his wrath, however unfashionable it may be, and however strong our initial prejudices against it. Otherwise we shall not understand the gospel of salvation from wrath, nor the propitiatory achievement of the cross, nor the wonder of the redeeming love of God."
It is important for Christians to not shrink back when they see that something is clearly wrong in their communities. We can not merely just complain and grumble about it, we must engage our culture in helping them understand the problem of sin.