Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
Established November 2003
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome back and thanks for stopping by HBS.
The Apostle Paul opened his argument in Romans 1 by dealing with the unbelieving gentiles who lived after the Noahic Flood. It was a paganistic society; one without God and therefore, without morals. Each person lived their life in a way that was acceptable to them; God wasn’t in the picture (we’re seeing this mindset being mirrored today).
With each sinful step these gentiles willfully took away from the Creator God the further they sank into depravity until they finally hit rock bottom. Rock bottom being: wrong is right and right is wrong. Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of this principle. Sexual sin and immorality on an epic scale ran uninhibited in these cities. Scripture teaches us, unless restrained, over time sexual immorality always leads to open homosexuality and this Truth is certainly evidenced here.
Scripture also teaches us, when humanity reaches rock bottom, God intervenes. However, He’s willing to listen to reason. Abraham pleaded with God six times to spare the two cities, if 10 righteous people could be found living within them, but in truth only Lot and his family were saved (Genesis 19:1-29). The rest is recorded history. To this day no one can find a trace of Sodom or Gomorrah. God erased these cities from the earth but not their memory. God’s Righteous Judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah serves as an everlasting testimony to all mankind so that they may learn from it. How do you think mankind is doing so far?
When the Apostle Paul opened Romans chapter 2, he addressed his argument to the moral man and woman who claimed to be “better” than “all those other people.”
Their assessment of the situation was based entirely on their own criteria and not God’s Principles. God was not factored into their equation in other words. By this you may assume these folks are not saved. They live their life based on hope and not on faith in what God had said. They’re hoping God, if he exists, will peer down from His heaven, take note of their “good deeds” (or their works) performed here on earth, and balance these against their somewhat rebellious behavior, thereby allowing them into Paradise.
Of course no one knows the “magic number” of good deeds” an individual has to perform to win over God’s favor, but one keeps trying!
This brings us to Romans chapter 2, at verse 9.
Here the Apostle Paul is addressing a different assembly. These are the “religious” individuals and in Paul’s day that would be the Jews.
9: There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man (the unbeliever, and the moral individual too) who does evil, of the Jew first and also for the Greek (or Gentile).
10: but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
11: For there is no partiality with God.
Verse 11 leads us right into our third and final principle.
Principle #3 – God judges according to Light
Another way of putting verse 11 is – God doesn’t show favoritism.
The Jews expected favoritism from Jehovah. Many Jews believed that the LORD God would give them a “special deal” on Judgment Day simply because He they were His people and doesn’t THAT make them special?
Paul explains in a verse 12-16 that a deal was coming but it wasn’t special and the religious Jews weren’t going to be pleased.
12: For all who have sinned without the Law (the Gentiles) will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law (the Jews) will be judged by (what) the Law;
Paul explains that God judges the Jews and Gentiles by two different standards.
Since the Jews were given the Law, they would be judged by the Law. But the Gentiles (who didn’t have the Law) would receive a different judgment.
Here we return to the question Paul discussed earlier: What about the individual who has never heard the gospel? What’s in store for them?
In Romans 1:18-20, Paul showed how such a person is justly guilty before God. In these verses he shows us exactly how God will judge that individual—wholly apart from having any experience with the Bible, the church, the gospel, or any knowledge of Jesus Christ. Let’s proceed.
In verse 12b, the Apostle Paul deals first with the religious Jews who “stand” by their traditions...and all who have sinned under the Law (the Jews) will be judged by the Law;
Back in the day when I heard the word Law I immediately thought of the Ten Commandments. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but for me it was the Big Ten. I can remember the first time I was called on to recite the entire Ten Commandments from memory in front of the entire class. There was a moment in time… but anyway.
Knowing the Ten Commandments gave me knowledge but that’s not what impresses God. Keeping the Ten Commandments – that’s what impresses God!
You see, that knowledge makes the guilt greater in God’s perspective.
The Apostle Paul said, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
God wants people who choose to live their life by His standards.
That’s where the Jews fell short. They didn’t get it. They thought that it was the “possession” of the Law that mattered the most and not the “practice” of (or the doing of) the Law that mattered the most with God.
That’s what Paul meant when he said, if that’s your defense, then so be it.
All who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
On this side of the cross we know the only thing the Law can do is highlight our sinfulness. There is no power in the Law to save anyone.
Let’s not forget all those moral folks who think they can impress God by joining a church group, paying their taxes on time, giving alms to the poor, being kind to their spouse, their children, and their neighbor on occasion, staying out of “big” trouble, working really hard, etc. These folks need to know God isn’t impressed by your “deeds”; and you’re not better than “all those other people.”
In fact, God will judge the moralists and the religious Jews more strictly because they’re not ignorant of the Law, as are the sinners of the world who are unaware of God’s Truths. Paul tells us in verses 14-15 that everyone else is judged according to their conscience.
14: 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.
15: in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their (what’s the next word) conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Paul has mentioned the Law five times in two verses. It’s good for you to know when a single word or a phrase is repeated often within a verse or two, or even within the same chapter it’s important. It means we need to pay attention!
First: The Apostle Paul said the Gentiles were never given the (Mosaic) Law, and this is correct.
Second: Paul said the Gentiles; “by nature” do some things the Law requires.
By this he means inside the heart of men and women exists something which compels them to make right choices.
Third: Paul said the Gentiles are a law for themselves.
He means to say that when they obey the moral standards laid down by God the Father, even though they know nothing about the Law, they are truly fulfilling God’s Law.
Fourth: Paul says this “unwritten moral code” in the heart of every person shows the basic moral requirements have been revealed to every person who has ever lived.
Fifth: The truth of all this is shown by the fact that every person was created with a “conscience” which either condemns him or her or “defends” them.
To put this in simpler terms – even though the Gentiles (non-Jews) were not standing at the base of Mt. Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel; God has written on the heart of every individual who has ever lived a “moral code” of conduct which is similar to the Big Ten. This universal moral code consists of things like: do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat, honor your parents, keep your word, help the needy, do not kill, respect each other, do not fight, do not argue, do not hate, do not covet, and so on. You’ll find this moral code exists in every culture in the world.
But how can God judge a person who has never heard or known the Law?
Simple; each person has been born with the universal moral code written in their heart.
Each person also has a conscience. That’s the other important part of Paul’s argument.
Since the above is true, God will judge each person according to how well they lived up to their own moral standards.
Let me put it this way. If this unbelieving soul knew it was wrong to tell a lie but did so anyway. God will judge them according to their own standard; and based on that standard they failed. If Betty Lou knew it was wrong to disobey her mother’s command not to go to the dance, but she went anyway, then she broke her own moral standard and she failed. God will judge her according to that standard and she will come up short on Judgment Day.
Judgment Day is coming. In that day, there will be no excuses – not for the unbelievers, not for the moral men and women, and not for the religious Jew.
Every person will receive exactly what they deserve. They will be judged by the “Light” they have received, and not one will be found innocent.
16: on the day when, according to my gospel (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) God will judge the secrets of men (and women) through Christ Jesus.
That’s Paul’s argument in a nutshell.
God sees all and knows all. He judges according to reality, according to works, and according to Light. The message is quite clear: all of mankind stands guilty before the Creator God.
The Gentiles are guilty. The moralists are guilty. The Jews are guilty.
Here are 3 facts we all must face:
We must all face the Lord Jesus Christ sooner or later.
Either we face him as our Savior now, or we will face Him as our Judge later.
If you choose to face Him as your Judge later, you will eternally regret this decision.
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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