Not The Possession But The Practice of The Law That Counts

If you make a mistake in a matter of fact, the Law may excuse the results of your act. But if you’ve mistaken the law, it’s no use. To plead that-the Law won’t admit that excuse. (Source Unknown). … More

Law

Paul explains how God did not give the Law to the Gentiles so they would not be judged by the Law.  However, because the Jews have the Law, this made their guilt that much greater (v. 12). At the same time He makes it clear that it is not the possession of the Law that counts, but the practice of the Law. The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as blind, foolish, immature and ignorant. But if God found the “deprived” Gentiles guilty, how much more guilty were the “privileged” Jews. Of course this does not mean that the Gentiles are excused from God’s judgment. The conscience within every human being evaluates his actions, along with his thoughts, and either accuses or excuses him of sin. This is why Paul referred to the Gentiles “as a law unto themselves” (v. 14).

Although conscience is an important part of human nature, it is not an absolutely trustworthy indicator of what is right and wrong. It can be “good” (I Tim. 1:15, 19) but it can also be “weak” (I Cor. 8:7) and “seared” (Heb. 9:14). In other words, conscience is a goad and not a guide. God does not give eternal life to those who perform good works, but to those who trust in Christ and whose conduct reveals their regenerate hearts. The heathen is a person with a perverted religion; the hypocrite is a man with a pretended religion. The religious person is usually the hardest to reach. There is none too bad for Jesus Christ to save, but there are millions who think themselves too good.

Paul saw the world divided into two classes of people. There were Jews who had the written law and could read it. Then there were the other nations without this written law, but with a God implanted knowledge of right and wrong. Neither group of people could claim exemption from the judgment of God. The Jew could not claim exemption on the ground that he had a special place in God’s plan. The Gentile could not claim exemption on the ground that he had never been given the written law.  God will judge man on what he knows, and what he has a chance to know. In conclusion, we need to observe how devastating God’s judgment is. Paul speaks of the coming day “when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (v. 16). One day the hypocrite’s secrets will all be exposed, and he will be shown for what he really is.

Application

If God were to ask me today, “Why should I let you into heaven?” what would my answer be? It certainly has nothing to do with my good works, but is all because of His mercy and grace. I can never work enough to be saved but I need to work to show that I am saved.

Romans 2:12-16 (English Standard Version)


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