Paul’s Footsteps #247

Footsteps #247

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” NLT (Rom.2:15-16)

 v15 is about conscience. V16 concludes his discussion on the judgment. He told the “good” people and the religious people that they also would come under judgment. The ramifications of that pronouncement have taken Paul some 15 verses to explain. In Rom.2:16 he finishes his argument: “We may be sure that all this will be taken into account in the day of true judgment, when God will judge men’s secret lives by Christ Jesus.”

What does the apostle mean? In the context of Rom.2:1-15, he indicates that everyone will be judged impartially (v11). That is, God will base every person’s judgment upon what they have known. For the Jews that involves their faithfulness to God’s revealed law, and for the Gentiles their faithfulness to their partially enlightened consciences.

But let’s not forget v13, that text tells us that it is “the doers of the law who will be justified”. Those who have been saved will also be found walking in God’s way. That brings us back to Rom.2:6, in which we read that in the judgment “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.” Paul’s understanding of the judgment seems clear enough. All people will face it, not merely for their actions, but for their “secret lives.” And all, both Jew and Gentile according to God’s reckoning, will be found guilty.

The apostle’s concern with judgment, however, is not an end in itself. His real interest is the good news of full and free salvation in Christ. For Paul the importance of the judgment is that it shows up every person’s weakness and guilt. He has developed the truth of universal condemnation so that every person will feel their deep need of his gospel. Paul’s message always points beyond guilt and condemnation to salvation in Christ.

Read vs19-21 The topic of judgment is concluded, but not with pointing to the Jewish need for a greater righteousness than their law and their heritage. In fact, beginning at v27 he actually increases the pressure. He will do so for the rest of chapter 2 along two lines: First, the Jewish relationship to the law (Rom.2:17-24), and second, the value of circumcision (vs25-29).

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