Romans Bible Study # 6
Romans 2:14-29 The Judgement
14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. God is here vindicated in judging the Gentiles, those who do not have the Law, because in the form of their conscience He has written the law into them. In “secret” they know His requirements, His Law. Through Christ Jesus they will be judged. God is not limited to working thru the Law of Moses. His revelation is not limited to the nation of Israel. Two quotes from Barth, because I found it difficult to put this into my own words, because it is a hard concept to wrap your mind around, and as such probably just needs to be accepted as truth.
“It is therefore a mistake to abide by the description of the Gentiles as asleep in unrighteousness and unbelief. They can become God-elect, for faith is always in itself hidden and unrecognized “
Barth likened the law to a canal that was hewn out and once had water but was now dry. So the people who have the Law have this canal and they can say, ‘This is the way’, but the ‘life’ is gone from the canal. Then he goes on to say, “Can it be that they (the gentiles) stand at the source of the river? Why should it not be so? Can the man who has himself perceived His revelation to be wholly undeserved, incomprehensible, and independent of human worth, dare to limit the sphere of God’s operation?”
So what I think he is trying to say there is the work of God is done in secret and God may be doing a work that we do not know and how dare we limit Him and say “He can only work in this way, and this is what it looks like when He works.”
So, “they show the work of the law written on their hearts” when “their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” Their thoughts accuse them when they are doing works to impress God, and their thoughts defend them, when they give up and say, only You God, forgive me.
“All men everywhere are under one threat and one promise.”
“He whom none of us is able to comprehend does not deprive any single human being of witness to Himself.”
Again, I have nothing to add, ‘such thoughts are too high for me.’ I will simply say, “You’re right God,” and move on.
17But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written. 25For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Jerry said in our last study, “At some point you have to demonstrate the ‘goods’ that you are selling.” That relates to what Paul is saying to the Jew in this passage. You have the Law, that is true, and your desire to be a teacher, and a guide to those who do not is good, BUT, have you really been ‘taught’ if you are not doing it? Can you have the authority of God if you are not following the law? Going all the way back to lesson 1, has God truly “sent” you, or are you striking out on your own? If you are professing the Law but not following it, others see right thru that. Our message is not, “look how good we follow the law”, our message is “look how good God is, in showing us mercy and grace and forgiveness - don’t you need some of that?”
24”For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” Yikes! This is not the sentence you want to read. You have the Law and you are not doing it and that causes the Gentiles to say, “Your God is a joke!” The keeper of the sign-post stands under it going nowhere. Therefore of what value is it to have the sign-post.
26So, if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
God is His own justice. He answers to no man. God takes us up, in Jesus Christ. He does His work in the heart. The next section of the letter starts with “What advantage then has the Jew?” Although, we are stopping here, the thoughts on this do not stop here, Paul is going to look at the Law one last time before he takes us out of the bad news and into the good news.