The original plan was to break up the text a bit more, but the last few weeks have been about how the world is sinful, and there is still another week of that to go before we get to the hope that is to come. So, let's consider the rest of Romans 2 this week.

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; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

This first sentence brings up a lot of questions. Specifically, it states that those who are just before God are not decided based on whether they have heard the Law, but by whether they have done the Law. Paul is saying here that you don't have to have even heard the Law (here we are talking about the Old Testament's law) to be justified. You just have to do it. How? It is about the attitude of the heart, as Paul continues describing what the Gentiles are doing:

For 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, in 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, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

In the next section Paul is talking to the Jews who are relying on the Law for salvation. Rather than look at it critically, I'd like to look at how it relates to Christianity today.

But if you [...{1}] rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written.

Paul asks those who rely on the Law to realize that they might be breaking it. And also, because the Gentiles see the hypocritical nature of this Law following that it turns them off from God. How often does that happen today? How often do non-Christians see the church today and get utterly turned off from God? We as Christians know the rest of the story: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NASB). So many churches, especially here in America, come together as collections of saints and forget that we are all sinners; we screw up on a daily basis. We gather on Sunday mornings ignoring our sins, not asking the hard questions and getting to the root of how each other is really doing. We give off this glow that our lives are perfect and sin-free, but we know they are not. How does that look to a non-Christian? Unattainable? How about hypocritical?

Full Text

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; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For 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, in 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, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. But if you bear the name "Jew" and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written. For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And 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? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 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. (Romans 2:12-29 NASB)

Notes

  1. I removed a small portion of this verse, where Paul says "but if you bear the name 'Jew'," in which he is talking to the Jews in Rome. However, I think it also has a strong application to Christianity today.