Sunday Reflections: Romans 2:11-16
Click here to view my raw notes from today’s sermon. (05152016_Romans2_WBC)
Today we covered both a beautiful and daunting text of Scripture, Romans 2:11-16.
The fact that we worship a Holy (perfect) God should both give us hope and at the same time sharpen our resolve to be busy about the Kingdom. A perfect God can only judge perfectly; therefore, He cannot excuse any sin against His very character – nor should we want him to. A God who looks past sin, without payment and due justice, is not the greatest conceivable being that even our minds could muster up. No, in order for all the wrongs to be made right; for all the pain that is bearing down on this earth and our lives – we want justice to be served accordingly – right? Yes! But the daunting part of that is that we are all sinners.
With that, people are judged – perfectly and justly – by the light they do have, not the light they do not have. Not only does this text make it clear but also our experience in life make it clear that ‘all’ of us have received some light. Therefore, we are ‘all’ condemned apart from Salvation in Christ.
So, how do you know? Hearing the Word and hearing the Law nets you exactly zero righteousness. But, the ‘doers’ of the law are who will be justified as righteous. This does not make an argument for a works-based system, no, for it is by Grace alone. Rather, it speaks to the greater and overarching truth that you will know inwardly, through action, and outwardly, through action, of others by their fruit.
Actions show a lot of things, and in v.14 actions show they ‘all’ know right from wrong even apart from being under the divine Law of Moses. We sit, today, under another Law: the Law of Nature. So, then, even apart from the divine Law, we still find our self guilty before a Holy God. God has written His Law of Nature on our hearts: we know whether or not it is right to respect our parents, or steal, or commit adultery, or hate our neighbor; our conscience reveals that to us naturally. While conscience is ‘a way’ of knowing right or wrong, it is not the ‘only way’; the Bible, always, should be trusted and used in any and all matters to diagnose right and wrong. If the Bible says it is wrong to hate our neighbor, but it does not bother our conscience too bad at all (and maybe it even feels good because we have been wronged by them), the Bible says it does and it should take precedence.
On to the ‘daunting’ part of the text, if it was not already daunting enough: on “that day” – which is the final day of judgement when we all will stand before God – we will receive our just (and perfect) penalty for the sins we have committed against God and His light that he has, graciously, provided us through nature, conscience, and His word. If there will not be a ‘judgement day’, then the god you worship is neither the God of the Bible or the greatest conceivable being. For that god, there is no good news; sin will not be punished by that god, wrongs will not be made right. That is not the ‘good news’ the Bible speaks of. Rather, the Good News is that our Judge will be the very One who died for our sins. What greater advocate could we ever want or desire other than the Perfect One who became like us and died a most horrible death. He felt what we feel, he endured some of what we endured, but He died a death none of us will ever have to face if we surrender our lives to His Lordship.
In light of the Cross of Christ, we should not expect to get by because we have a lower vision of God and our actions only speak of a halfheartedness towards the One who poured out everything in order to save us. We have a duty to act, and that is to devote ‘all’ of our self to the One who gave all of Himself for us. He brought us Good News and that gives us more than a reasonable hope!
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce