Judgment of the Hidden Things – Romans 2:14-17

 
I don’t know about you, but I have internet accounts of all kinds by the dozens. I have access to my bank account through the internet. I have an eBay account and a PayPal account, with different passwords. I have an account to buy my vitamins, books, shoes, water-filters, Judy’s crafts and printer supplies. There are half a dozen that are connected to the church or the church website. And that’s before I get to my stamp collecting accounts and various membership accounts.

Most of those three or four dozen accounts all have passwords to access them. And when you set up those accounts, they usually tell you to write down the password in some safe, hidden place, away from the account itself. In other words, you don’t want a file folder on your computer called “Passwords.” I probably am not as security-minded as I ought to be, but most of my passwords are related, and I keep all of them together in a notebook on my desk. I use only half a dozen on a daily basis, so if I don’t have them written down and close at hand, I’d never be able to use the account because I’d loose or forget the password.

By the way there is not one of those accounts of which I am ashamed. There isn’t one that I would be embarrassed to show to my wife or to you. I don’t visit any secret blogs, chat-rooms or questionable web-sites. But I’m sure that is not true of everyone. Nevertheless, I don’t want you to buy things on my eBay account or use my PayPal, so I’m not sharing my passwords with even you. You could say that I’m keeping them secret. In fact, I’m even keeping the place where I keep my secret passwords a secret. But if you’ve been listening carefully, I would expect that you could find them if you were looking. If you suspected me of something unethical, and you wanted to look into my computer for evidence, I would hope that you’d be smart enough to find those passwords and what they meant.

I don’t know if this is a good illustration of God’s judgment of you and me, but it might help. In continuing the theme of this chapter, and our messages for the last couple of weeks, Paul says that there is a day coming when God shall judge the secrets of men. Thus far we’ve emphasized the aspect of judgment and that there is a specific day when this will happen. Tonight let’s think about the fact that it will entail people’s secrets, no matter where they are hidden. They can be in code; they can be in the computer or out; they can be written in invisible ink. There are no secrets that will not be uncovered and exposed.

Unlike human courts which can only judge deeds done and things which can be openly proven…

The Omniscient God shall judge the secrets of men – intentions as well as actions.

The Greek word translated “secrets” is “kruptos” (kroop-tos’) from which the English word “cryptic” is derived. The secrets which God will judge are those things which are hidden for one reason or another. And if you stop and think about it, this is a pretty broad area of judgment.

Obviously, this refers to those things which we don’t want the world to know. These are the sins which we don’t want the eyes of our parents, or our spouse, or our boss to see. But the eyes of the Lord see every one of them in the clarity of high definition. These are the things that our best friend would never even guess existed within us. But God doesn’t need to guess because, as God, He knows all things. Sometimes the word “secret” refers to things that have been deliberately hidden.

Going back to computer analogies, most modern computers are equipped with programs that automatically hide personal information such as names, addresses and credit card numbers. They are called “encryption” programs – another word which comes from the Greek word “kruptos.” I would guess that there are hundreds of things in most of our lives that we have encrypted to keep from the knowledge of others. But the Lord is the Master decoder and knows every secret of every heart – including your heart.

A month or so back, my neighbor came to me and asked if we have our computers rigged to be wireless. She wanted to know if we had a cable connection to the internet which came to a wireless router. From the router, she wanted to know if our computers could access the internet without being hardwired into the cable outlet. And the answer is “yes.” Both Jackie’s Mac and Judy’s lap top only need electricity to access the web. And the reason that she asked, was because her daughter was also accessing the internet through the wireless system of one of the neighbors. The lady then asked if we had security measures in place to keep that sort of thing happening. And again the answer is “yes,” but I have to admit that I don’t have the foggiest notion of how it works. There are different levels and degrees of security protection, and different ways of getting it done. All that I know for sure is that an expert made sure that we are protected.

And my point is this: I have no idea what things I have hidden or how they are hidden. But from what I understand a true computer geek with the right kind of programs can dig out everything. I may have the highest computer protection available and still have nothing completely, permanently hidden. Furthermore, there are probably hidden things in my life, for which I will be judged, which I don’t even know are hidden in my life. Wives are good for remembering things that husbands say and do without thinking or remembering. She says, “You said such and such, when we have no recollection of ever even thinking such things.” Most of those things, actually we never did say or think, but 1 or 2 percent of them might be true. And wives seem to think that husbands are responsible for those things that the wives remember. They think that we’ll actually have to give an account for those statements. Of course, I’m being only just a little facetious. There probably really are such things in all our lives, but our account won’t have to be given to our spouse, but to the Omniscient God. The Lord has said “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Those idle words many times have become so enmeshed with the rest of our lives that they become hidden or secret or secret to ourselves.

But of course the most secret of things in our lives are never lived out, displayed or enacted. We shall be judged for our hidden motives as well as our outward murders – if there are any of the latter. We shall be judged by God for our attitudes while we did things, as well as for the things that we did. We shall be judged for our emotions as well as our motions. Believe it or not, we will be judged even for the things that we imagine. Do you think that I’ve gone to far on this one? Imagined? If you think so, then you are the one who better find the scriptures. What if I’m right? I don’t know who first thought the thought, but I heard it thirty years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it: You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. You are not necessarily guilty in hearing an evil statement made by someone, but you are accountable for meditating on it, returning to it, picturing it and enjoying it. You may not be severely judged for a passing thought that you have, but you will be judged for storing that thought in your mind and memory.

There is a day coming “when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.”

It is an awe-inspiring thought – but God, the omniscient Father, will not be the Judge of His Creation. The Lord Jesus said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” The God-man, who knows temptation as well, if not better than you, yet without sin…. He shall be Judge. And for the Christian, the One Who is our Saviour, will be the One to judge us. The One Who bore our sins and was judged for our sins, will be the One to judge our works. We will have to give an account of ourselves before the One who died to give us life. Paul knew the impact of what he was saying when he wrote to Timothy, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” There may be higher and more nobler ways to emphasize a responsibility, but there aren’t many. “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

It might be asked, “But why will God thus judge us”? It might be asked, but that is probably a silly question. Since Jehovah is God, and He is perfectly holy, He must demand holiness. If God makes demands of His creation, then creation is obligated to meet those demands. If creation fails to meet those demands, then it must be held to account. If other words, because God is God and we are His creatures, judgment must be expected. And since God is omniscient and absolutely holy, this judgment must go from the obvious to the obscure.

As I was reviewing this chapter on Wednesday, asking the Lord for messages, I saw something in verse 15. It doesn’t really develop into a complete 30 minute message, but it does perhaps tie into the theme of judgment for secret things. It mentions three things, which perhaps could be places where we hide or reveal our sins.

We shall be judged in heart, thought and conscience.

Generally speaking, in Paul’s day, the average Gentile knew nothing of the Scriptures of God. The Lord revealed Himself to all mankind through Adam and then to Noah. But with every succeeding generation, fewer and fewer people were interested in that revelation. Then at one point God sovereignly chose the children of Jacob, with whom to entrust the scriptures. To Israel was given the Law.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an implanting of God’s law in the heart of every man to some degree. David Livingstone, one of the first missionaries into the heart of Africa, testified: “Everywhere I go, and to every tribe that I speak, there is an knowledge of and understanding of sin.”

When Judy and I moved to Alberta 150 years ago, it was a very traumatic time in our lives. We were leaving everyone that we knew and going into complete darkness. We had a huge, heavy homemade trailer behind our car filled with all our earthly possessions. It pulled the back end of the car down, and caused the gas-gauge to misread. Driving back from Edmonton to Calgary, we ran out of gas – the only time in my life, that I can recall. I walked back to a gas station, bought a gallon of gas and walk back to my young wife. The spout to the gas tank was under the back licence plate, which was dragging near the ground. There was no way to easily get the gas into that spout. I finally had to use the plastic cup to our water jug to delicately trickle a little gas into the car. We kept that water jug and it’s plastic lid for quite some time, but until we finally gave up years later, it smelled like regular unleaded. And like that piece of plastic, the human heart still faintly smells of the law of God. No matter how long it takes, and how hard the sinner scrubs and scrubs, the odor of God remains. Unfortunately, right beside the secret testimony of God, are hundreds of just as secret sins. And at the judgment day, all those secrets will be exposed – the secret sins and the testimony of God as well.

The verse also makes reference to the thoughts of the heathen either accusing or excusing their masters. Those two words almost sound like twins, but if so they are the opposite of identical twins. Of course our thoughts will be judged just like everything else. It doesn’t matter if they are thoughts used to justify ourselves or God, they shall all be put under the microscope of the Lord.

And then we come to the conscience. This is that mechanism created by God, which testifies against most of the secrets of our hearts. It too is usually secret, but it won’t be for ever. If it was necessary it could be brought up and put upon the witness stand against us. But we are like that criminal, who knows that there is a key witness against us, who tries to assassinate him before we come to trial. The conscience is a most abused part of our being – beaten, trodden down, seared and starved.

But there is nothing that we can do to beat the rap and pass the Lord’s inspection. The only hope that we have, knowing that the very secret things of our souls will be exposed…. The only hope that we have is to willingly bow before that Judge before the trail begins. There is a “day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” and we are the accused. Are you ready?