God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16 – December 13th 2015
Romans 2:12 (ESV) 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. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 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. 15 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 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.
I love that Paul starts off with the reality of the situation between God and man…
V12 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.
And that is the truth and where we get confused as humans is that we start of by thinking that we are “morally correct” or that we are “a good person” if we are judging ourselves. However when we are judging ourselves we won’t use honest scales and we will have a bias point of view of our individual sins.
Paul continues this thought from verse 11 which states “For God shows no partiality” which is both encouraging and discouraging in that he does judge everyone with no favor but he will judge as a just judge does with honest scales. He will judge those who are under the Law (traditional Jews) and the ones who were not under the Law. (Traditional Gentiles) This is awesome because it works on so many levels as in the first century there were many heretics that kept trying to convince the Gentile Christian converts that they had to adopt Jewish practices in order to please God. We see this correction by letter in a few of the Epistles that we are not saved by works (keeping the Law in this case) alone. Let’s look at both types of people that Paul addresses here:
• Sinned under the Law – So the Jews had the Law but did they keep it? If they kept it in actions did they keep it in their hearts? Was it an empty practice to appear holy? Were their hearts near or far from God? Was his faith in God or the empty religion of keeping the rules of the Law?
• Sinned without the Law – He may be further in his own sin because he has no idea what God wanted in the first place? Does he have Jesus as his Savior? Is he trying to be morally right in the sight of the world? Will he die in his sins due to a lack of repentance? Does he only live by what his conscience says?
Whilst the former may appear “more holy” they both are headed away from God and headed for condemnation unless they have a heart change and be repentant and seek God while he may be found and call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6-7) if you think I am maybe overstating this then please look at what Jesus said to the folks who had the Law as their religion in the book of Matthew…
Matthew 23:23 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Jesus certainly did not spare feelings when he dealt with those who the people lauded as holy. He called them the following…
• Blind guides
• Whitewashed tombs
• Internally full of death
And that is the heart (pun intended) of this is that the heart must be correct in order to please God and it is only God who can see into the depths of the heart and can see the true nature of your heart and can even see the self-deceit if you have deceived yourselves into believing your motives are pure. If you don’t believe me that the heart is wicked then read Jeremiah 17:9.
V13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Just because you have heard the law (or even heard the bible) that will not make you righteous and let us look at two scenarios…
• Scenario A – Pastors kid – has been raised in church, knows the bible inside out, can quote large portions of scripture, is an awesome apologetic teacher in his own right but does not live the Christian life and never repents in his own right.
• Scenario B – Mass Murderer – Spent all of his adult life in jail following a mass murder at eighteen. Is in a state where he has waited 225 years on the death penalty catching up with him. The day before he dies a Prison Pastor convicts him of his sin and he falls on his knees and accepts Jesus in his life and for the last 24 hours of his life he pours himself into the bible the pastor gave him.
Which of these two people will be in heaven? It will be those who are doers of the law, those of whom who have repented of their sins and got their hearts right with God. Just simply attending church and being a passenger with no life change will not do anything. Does that mean we will always be enthusiastic for the gospel? No! Christians will have attitude problems in the same way as those in the world, but they know the way to resolve this by turning back to God.
V14 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.
We have to be careful to not become “a law unto ourselves” and make up laws that suit ourselves due to having ignorance to what God wanted or required of us. We have to diligently study the scriptures to understand the will of God in our lives. We cannot go off what someone else says or an interpretation that may or may not be correct. Even as you are reading this I urge you to do your due diligence and study the scripture for yourselves and “Study you show yourself approved” (2nd Timothy 2:15) and please never take man’s word when it contradicts what the scripture is plainly saying.
V15 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
Paul talks about writing the law on your heart and this comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that reads…
Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
You have to understand that these people were not of the original children of Israel, they were part of the New Covenant and were adopted into God’s family through their obedience and as Paul writes here they can be condemned by their conflicting thoughts or even justified.
This is a battle of the flesh, the fleshly man wants to do his will and there will be a struggle often times in order to allow Gods will to overcome. (What Paul calls conflicting thoughts) and we have this today as Christians. A few examples would be…
• Do I have to be honorable on my taxes, I could get away with that
• Do I have to tithe exactly 10% (even though that is a conviction of my heart) as we could put that extra money towards something I want
• Do I have to deal fairly with others if I can make a quick profit?
• Do I have to be diligent in my workplace?
• Do I need to be pure in my thoughts if I am single?
• Do I need to stay faithful to my wife/husband? What if I can get away with it with no scandal?
• Do I really need to forgive that guy? Do you know what he did?
And that is just some common ones that people struggle with. We have to remember that “the work of the law is written on their hearts” and greater is he that is in us that he who is in the world!
V16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
And here is the kicker, God sees the heart, he sees the secret places, he sees what goes on behind closed doors. He knows the very thing that would shame you most but he loves you so much. If you remain in your sins you will be judged and found wanting in the balance. An example of this is found in Daniel 5:27 where Belshazzar was judged according to the actions he took and was found wanting in the eyes of the LORD.
We all have the same choice in life, in fact the same choice that Adam and Eve had that we can choose to go with God’s plan for our lives or go against it. Where are you in that situation? If you were to die tonight would you die in your sins? Or have you truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so then go tell others about his salvation because NOW is the accepted time, now is God’s day of Salvation. (2nd Corinthians 6:2)
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to