This section of the chapter focuses primarily on God’s faithfulness in judgment of the Jews, Gentiles, and how these principles apply to the church today.
For as many as have sinned without law
shall also perish without law:
and as many as have sinned in the law
shall be judged by the law;
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God,
but the doers of the law shall be justified.
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law,
do by nature the things contained in the law,
these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts,
their conscience also bearing witness,
and their thoughts the mean
while accusing or else excusing one another;)
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men
by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Behold, thou art called a Jew,
and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
And knowest his will,
and approvest the things that are more excellent,
being instructed out of the law;
And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind,
a light of them which are in darkness,
An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes,
which hast the form of knowledge
and of the truth in the law.
Thou therefore which teachest another,
teachest thou not thyself?
thou that preachest a man should not steal,
dost thou steal?
Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery,
dost thou commit adultery?
thou that abhorrest idols,
dost thou commit sacrilege?
Thou that makest thy boast of the law,
through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
For the name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles through you,
as it is written.
Paul is showing the Roman church that both the Jew under the law and Gentile without the law will be judged by how they follow God’s revealed principles by;
allowing Him to transform their heart, ‘cut’ sin out of their soul, and produce genuine fruits of His righteousness.
The Jews knew exactly what God wanted but it was only beneficial to a small remnant because most of His elect did not allow God to;
“give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them.”
Most of us do not completely submit to His righteous calling and prefer to keep some of our own ways. This is a compromise with Satan.
William Gurnall states,
. . . our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a ‘Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,’ but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries.
Who is able to express the conflicts, the wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit the Christian feels, before he can bring his heart to this work?
Or who can fully set forth the art, the rhetorical insinuations, with which such a lust will plead for itself? One while Satan will extenuate and mince the matter:
It is but a little one, O spare it, and thy soul shall live for all that. Another while he flatters the soul with the secrecy of it: Thou mayest keep me and thy credit also;
I will not be seen abroad in thy company to shame thee among thy neighbours; shut me up in the most retired room thou hast in thy heart, from the hearing of others,
if thou wilt only let me now and then have the wanton embraces of thy thoughts and affections in secret.
We are certainly commanded to uncompromisingly, “leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, moving on maturity in Christ and remain babes.”
That is why the the doctrine of Christ is overwhelmingly prominent in the church today. “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.“
The Jews were obviously held to God’s high standard. Christians have one that is much higher. We have the perfected ‘Law of Christ.’
They were suppose to reveal God’s plan, nature, and love to the world. Now, we are called to do this. In essence, Christianity has replaced the works of the Jews.
In vs. 16-22, Paul explains why the Jews stand condemned because they were committing the same sins in their hearts and minds while they were teaching others to avoid the same.
Today, pastors, teachers, and others are following the same path as God’s chosen people did. How many divorced pastors are teaching about marital fidelity? How many of us take pleasure in movies that depict sin (multiple violations of the ten commandments, not loving our neighbor, etc.)?
We are called to be guardians of holiness and vigilantly prevent the sin of hypocrisy in our own lives. We are not suppose to portray even the appearance of evil in anything we buy, speak, or do.
Like the Jews, only a remnant of Christians are in genuine obedience today. Most of us are coated with sin, wrestling with personal interests, and lack sorely in demonstrating God’s holiness.
More importantly, this is what I pulled from this section of Romans:
1. If Jews continue to sin against God’s revealed Mosaic law, by those principles will they be judged?
2. If the Gentiles continue to sin against God’s natural manifestations without the law, by those principles will they be judged?
3. If Christians continue to sin and not move beyond doctrine of Christ on unto perfection by these principles won’t we equally be judged?
These are questions that will be answered as we unpack the rest of this study on Romans and support the whole of scripture.
Verse 16 is an incredibly powerful verse gleaning hints of the coming judgment:
In the day when God shall judge
the secrets of men by Jesus Christ
according to my gospel.
1. Paul is stating here that his thoughts and actions are in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit. He is announcing a perfection in his writing, which naturally flows from his perfected obedience of faith as an Apostle and follower of Jesus.
The words he writes are inspired, emanating directly from the Holy Ghost. His words are part of the completed gospel of Christ.
Paul’s life is an example for us. The fruits entire submission produces are powerful; working righteousness in Christ, edifying others to become holy by the washing of the word, and shining God’s light of judgment and glory.
2. Paul reveals how all men will be judged; Jesus in a glorified human body will sit before us, judging the inner secrets (workings) of their hearts.
Have your innermost thoughts and intentions been made pure by the washing and cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ?
Have you fallen down at His feet and given Him your all?
Is God pleased with what he sees when He searched the recesses of your heart?
These words are not merely letters on a page. From them flow peace unto eternal life or death unto destruction.
What is emanating from your heart? Is it the purity and overflowing love of God?
Or is it any number of things holding back God’s complete work; self interests or sinful desires. Don’t silence that still small voice coaxing you to surrender.
If any man come to me,
and hate not his father, and mother,
and wife, and children, and brethren,
and sisters, yea, and his own life also,
he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross,
and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all
that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
~ Luke 14:26-27, 33
Can you say that you are His disciple?
Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
~ Philippians 2:12
The following is an excerpt addressing pastoral and church responsibility to adhering strictly to God’s predestined plan for our lives.
Names are signs of things, and wherever there is a Bible name used, there is a thing signified by that name.
To say there is no process, or state indicated by the terms “cleansed,” “purged,” “washed,” “crucified;” or “holiness,” “perfection,” “pureness,” “sanctification,” and “purity,” is not only to contradict the Saviour;
but, to pour contempt upon the Holy Ghost, by whose immediate inspiration these names were given.
If these names do not imply a real work of God, and an attainable religious experience; what better is the Bible than a Pagan Legend, which treats of imaginary things as if they were positive realities?
As rational creatures, we desire to understand the experience of our hearts; and the state which through grace, we have obtained, or may obtain.
If true views are not apprehended, and correct ones adopted, these theories will be; and false views often have a pernicious effect.
Definiteness and clearness in religious teaching and experience, are of the utmost importance. It is to be feared the day of reckoning will disclose the solemn fact,
that millions failed to be pure in heart, because of the vague and indefinite teachings of those who were over them in the Lord.
Multiplied thousands are battling year after year with their inbred corruptions; who, if they had been properly instructed and guided, would long since have been washed in the blood of Christ, and now living in established holiness.
Where will the severest responsibility rest for the mixed immoral state of vast numbers of partially purified believers in the Church of God;
but upon the equivocal, indefinite, and but partially sanctified teachers; who like Caleb and Joshua, should be the leaders of the people out of their wilderness state into the goodly land of their spiritual Canaan?
~ J. A. Wood
Moving on to verse 24;
For the name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles through you,
as it is written.
I cannot tell you how many times I have observed God being blasphemed because Christians were not living according to God’s revealed standards. I think we all stand guilty of this.
Just this week, someone cut me off while speeding; swerving in an out of traffic lanes. I noticed a Christian symbol on their car. How many others saw the same thing and possibly cursed God or thought of the hypocrisy of Christianity?
We should not give excuse for others to blaspheme God, we are without excuse when we do.
Even non-Christians can and do partially follow God’s law confirming the evidence He leaves in their hearts and minds and will be judged accordingly.
There are universal truths found in God’s laws that permeate all societies.
If we are going to teach others how to be followers of Christ we are to be examples as such. This includes pointing out the sin of others.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:
and with what measure ye mete,
it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,
but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother,
Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye;
and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;
and then shalt thou see clearly
to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye,
There is no other way to follow this command than to be cleansed from sin. Our perspective of others changes when God’s love is overflowing in our soul.
There hath no temptation taken you
but such as is common to man:
but God is faithful,
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape,
that ye may be able to bear it,
I Corinthians 10:13.
Temptations are to be successfully resisted and sinful desires mortified in those who live for God.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:
but if ye through the Spirit
do mortify the deeds of the body,
ye shall live,
Awake to righteousness, and sin not;
for some have not the knowledge of God:
I speak this to your shame,
I Corinthians 15:34.
Paul in Corinthians states that when sin reigns in our body, mind, and soul we do not have the knowledge of God. Is it safe to assume likewise that, ‘God does not know us?’
There is nothing we do to exalt ourselves above sin. Only the power of the Holy Spirit completely changing our hearts can perform this wonderful work.
We can and must learn from the scriptures how to “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”
We are called to abhor idols and all other sin. This cannot be done in our natural sinful nature; only when we allow sanctification to work and purify our hearts can this become a genuine reality.
Are you teaching yourself? Are you teaching others? I know I am.
This message, which permeates the whole of scripture, demands total surrender, a renewing of our minds, and obeying all that God desires.
These verses have particularly struck my conscience. Pausing me to stand back and re-evaluate my relationship with our God.
Do secret things of sin cling to your soul?
Let us strive to not allow God to be blasphemed
because of our ‘words, thoughts, or deeds.’
We are guardians of His name and His honor.
Let our conduct be consistent with our profession.
God has shown us all we need to know. He has provided the path of righteousness. It is up to us to cling to it with all our might. We are to search for it like hidden treasure by committing all our resources to it.