“for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law unto themselves, who show the works of the law written in their hearts.”
So they do have the law! It’s been written on their hearts from the beginning of their lives. Men do know what is right and wrong. They don’t have to read Exodus 20 to know that they shouldn’t be killing and stealing and cheating on their wives. It's universal. Not only does nature teach us who God is, as in chapter 1, but our instincts show us what God wants. You were born with a knowledge of right and wrong.
All of us know some very good people. That’s what we would call them. Jesus said, there is none good but one, namely God. But God has written His law in our heart and there are some people who seem to measure up favorably. They would do anything for us, and have done some things when we were in need. They are the volunteers when a community needs a baseball coach or a hospital helper or a food drive chairman. They genuinely like people and enjoy doing things for them.
And they are the hardest people, often, to bring to Christ. Why? Christ talks to them about sin and their need for forgiveness and a new heart.
But why should they want that, they ask. They are already good-hearted people, they say. Just look at what I do.
But there is sin, we say.
And they say, Who are you to judge me? Look at some of the people in your church, still smoking and drinking and cussing like a sailor, using God’s name in vain, hanging out at the parties and worldly events. My life is better than theirs already. Thanks anyway.
Won’t it be awful when they get to the day of judgment, and they will, and God says to them, On what basis should I allow you into My Heaven?
They will say, I was a good man, I did many wonderful works. Jesus will say, Your good works are a witness against you. Go to everlasting fire. What? How can my good works witness against me?
You knew I demanded good works, but you knew also you were not perfect before me, as no one is. That means that there were bad works mixed in, and you let them slide. You did not consult me about the bad works, only tried to impress me and others with the good ones. I only accept perfect people in this realm. You could have been perfect by My forgiveness and my Spirit’s working in you, but you chose the way of pride. You said you did not need me. So I never had a relationship with you. Your only relationship was with yourself and your pride. You must now be lost forever.
So the Gentiles, though not avid readers of Moses, have a law inside them. Each Gentile makes up His own book of Exodus and tries to live by it. He may be pretty successful in keeping His own book, but his book is faulty, to begin with. His book probably doesn’t deal with motivation, secret sins, “little sins”, so when he tries to present his book and his record to a holy God, God will not accept it.
“Well, I do the best I can with what I know.” Not enough.
“Well, I’m not perfect, but I do more good than I do bad.” Not enough.
“Well, I’m surely better than those hypocrites over at church.” Maybe true. But not enough.
Here’s God’s standard.
Matthew 5:48. “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
James 2:10. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
And to all the outwardly talkative “Lord Lord” people, the self-styled prophets, believers majoring in demons, so-called miracle-workers, Jesus will say, “I never knew you. Leave Me.” Why? “You practice lawlessness. You knew My ways and majored in your own ideas and practices. You disobeyed Me at every turn, and chose rather to be somebody. Well, now you are somebody. Your very description is in the Holy Bible, but you and I never had a relationship at all. Go!”
Many will hear that awful sound. The rejection of a man who may or may not have heard the law or the Gospel, but who decided to create a law of his own making and try to obey it. “sad, sad that bitter wail, almost… but lost.”
“… their conscience also bearing witness…”
The conscience is separated in Paul’s thinking, from the heart. God has written His law in the hearts of mankind. Man takes that law and adds to or takes away, then trains his conscience to obey it. A child may grow up thinking, rightly, that to kill a baby, whether in or outside of Mommy, is a very bad thing. Evil. But if he is raised in a home where he is taught that that thing inside Mommy is not really a baby at all, but just some tissue that’s part of Mommy, he must change his God-given thinking, and retrain his conscience.
This all goes back to chapter 1, where we studied the suppression of truth inside man. He’s born with a great measure of truth, but through the years that truth is re-shaped and re-formed , perverted. Oh how important is the job of a mother and father today, to shape a child’s conscience, the sense of right and wrong that activates guilt!
Let us say unequivocally, someone is going to shape that conscience. Friends at school will shape it. The media will shape it. Give your children up to the people of this world and their thinking processes, and your child will slowly but surely have a conscience like the Bible describes elsewhere, seared with a hot iron. Is that your hand on the handle of that iron?
No, I didn’t do it. It’s that liberal teacher at school. It’s that awful news network. May I suggest that the parents of Bible days who threw their children into the fire as an offering to Moloch, could also scream, “I didn’t kill my child, it was the fire.” Good luck with that excuse. You are responsible for what goes into the eyes and ears of your child. Some parents need to make some quality decisions. Conscience-forming begins just after birth.
What will your conscience tell you to do? What you have fed into it, as though it were a computer. Tell yourself, prove to yourself, that homosexuality is good and normal, and your conscience will slowly stop screaming about it. Don’t get proud here. The same thing is true about how you drive and how you eat. These aren’t cute little sins, they are proof of a conscience that is not sharp any longer.
Macarthur points out something you may already know. Leprosy, the disease, does not eat flesh away. Leprosy desensitizes the nerves, so that pain is not felt. Cuts, burns, infections can take their toll on a leper, and he doesn’t feel a thing.
That’s the disease of the perverted conscience. Warning signs are ignored at first, then invisible, inaudible. “I didn’t think that was wrong.” But it was anyway, and unconfessed it will send you to hell.
When I was speaking on behalf of the persecuted church for VOM, I told the people that actually my job is the job of the nerve cell in the human body. You see, there are not two bodies of Christ, the persecuted church and the Western un-persecuted church. There’s only one church. Jesus thinks of His church as His body. One body. And that body is persecuted. My job was to take the knowledge of that pain in the body and communicate it to where it would do some good. Pain is a good thing. When the western church heard my stories, they prayed, they gave, some perhaps decided to go deeper.
If you no longer feel pain when you read certain Scriptures that are clearly against your behavior, the Word hasn’t changed. The Spirit hasn’t changed. Your conscience has changed. Ask God for pain. Conviction. The first days. Your first love of God which implies your first hatred of sin.
Paul includes all under sin. The Jews have their law. The Gentiles have their God-written conscience. Both are testimonies against us, crying out for a rush to Jesus Christ.