Romans 2: Written on Their Hearts
Romans 2 continues from where we were yesterday. Yesterday, we were talking about how at least the existence of some type of God or ultimate being in the universe should be obvious. Today, we are moving ahead to find out what is really the difference between being Jewish and understanding who God truly is or being a Gentile who had never heard of the God of the Bible.
Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
Rom 2:12 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;
Rom 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Rom 2:14 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:
Rom 2:15 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;)
There is quite a bit packed in here, but what I want to point out is how even though the Gentiles did not have the law, they had something internal that seemed to point people towards a sense of right and wrong. CS Lewis referred to as the Tao, and in The Abolition of Man Lewis he provided examples of the fact that even though there are differences, they seem to be a core of shared beliefs across humanity. For example, most people throughout history have agreed that murder was wrong. Obviously, they had not all read the Bible or had some type of conference to agree that murder was bad. There was something innate within humanity that pointed them to virtual consensus.
I think that is what verse 14 is talking about. Even though people did not have the law like the Jewish people had, they still were able to show the work of the law because something was written on their hearts. The same God who created Israel created all the other nations of the world. Every person is created in the image of God, so it does not seem surprising that when people come from the same creator, they might have the same innate characteristics.
I think that is valuable for apologetics especially but also for evangelism. If there is common ground, then appealing to a sense of the reality of right and wrong should be effective. For the Christian, we understand why there is evil in the world, and we also understand why there is hope despite that. That message is something we can utilize powerfully.