In chapter one of Romans the human heart was described as a dark place and dark thing: “their foolish heart was darkened.” After laying the human heart wide open under the brilliant light of truth in chapter one, and exposing all the carnal corruptions hiding therein, Paul turns to us sitting in the gallery of the operating room (to those of us who are disgusted at the sight of all the blood and gore of sin) and with all the authority of a chief resident and spiritual cardio-vascular surgeon, informs us that our heart is no better. The catalogue of sins in the first chapter is so lengthy that it is no wonder that the humanity described was suffering with chronic heart disease and congestive heart failure. Failure, yes that is a good word to describe a human heart and life without God.
But it gets worse. Before we go away “shaking our heads” Paul speaks to those who are all too ready to condemn others. The word katakrino means to judge looking down on, or as we may say “looking down our noses” at someone. Religious people are very good at this very bad behavior. Paul, in chapter two of Romans tears down the hypocrite’s hiding place. Those who seek refuge from the coming judgment in the “Fall Out Shelter” of the God’s law (restest in the law, v.17) have crawled into a spider hole, or a bear trap, and are resting on the hair trigger of presumption. The law is good and holy, but it will not save us from the judgment. Those who think they are morally superior to others are proof themselves of the pernicious nature of the human heart. It is only the “goodness and forbearance” of God that keeps us from being crushed under the wrath of God’s judgment.
Once we feel the pain of a spiritually broken heart, then and only then, is there any hope for an eternal and spiritual recovery. In repentance we turn from sin and flee. By faith we flee, not to the law which condemns us, but to Christ who saves us. Romans chapter two describes the danger of the hypocritical heart (a hypocrite is a “pretender”) that pretends to be what it is not, better than others. In honest humiliation we look at this broken thing. And when we bring our hurting and humbled hearts, then God will heal the hurts and fix what, in love, His gentle hand has broken.