by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 January 11, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
Thesis:The Gospel is the only escape from the condemnation of Law that exists for man.
Introduction:In last week's study we looked into the reason for Paul's claim that it is not they who "hear" the Law who will be justified before God, but, rather, they who "do" what it demands. We also saw that, on that basis -- the performance of what the Law demands -- no one will walk away from the Judgment of the Day of Wrath "justified". In order to follow the apostle's train of thought in chapter two, we must be very clear on what he is attempting to do by means of his words. His intention is clearly revealed in 3:9. He intends to "prove" that men are enslaved to sin, that their bondage is incrementally and inexorably bringing them to a huge and final disaster of eternal proportions that cannot be minimized, and that their condition is without remedy apart from the Gospel.
Because of this bondage to sin, in order for the Gospel to have any appeal to man, the Law must be seen as inescapable. Therefore, the apostle penned the words before us this evening. Romans 2:14-15.
I. The Meaning of the Words.
A. The words address the indisputable fact that the Law of Moses was not given to all men, nor was its contents universally broadcast so that all men heard of its precepts and requirements.
1. It can hardly be argued that all men had equal access to the Law of Moses.
a. Historically, it came into a man's possession only after 2500 years of human history had already passed by -- with all of the human beings encompassed by those 25 centuries being un-exposed to it.
b. Pragmatically, even after its arrival from the mountain, it never achieved "saturation" within the boundaries of humanity's existence on this planet. It has not even done that in our day -- after 3500 more years of human history.
2. The apostle has, however, said that the Day of Judgment will be on the basis of "law" -- thus, he must show how this can be in the face of the indisputable fact.
B. The words declare another indisputable fact: man does not need exposure to the written Law of Moses in order to be subject to "law".
1. The argument begins with the claim that men are not ignorant of the moral obligations of the Law of Moses.
a. The foundations of this argument are rooted in man's behavior.
1) Paul says that men "do" (perform; act) what is both prescribed and proscribed by the Law of Moses.
2) Paul's argument is indisputable as long as we do not misunderstand him to mean that men always "do" and do not fail to "do". He only means that we never find a "man" who never does somewhat of the Law of Moses. His argument is not that we ever find a man who does all of the Law (not even the highly instructed Jews did that), but that we never find a man who does not do some of the Law.
b. The behavior must be explained.
c. Paul's explanation is that behavior arises naturally out of man.
1) The appeal to "by nature" is an appeal to the essential makeup (constitution) of man as it is revealed.
a) Man is a physical machine. This is man as a body.
b) Man, as machine, has been given an internal source of power to act. This is the body indwelt by a spirit.
c) The actions are "directed". However this occurs, man's actions are always intentional.
d) The "directed" actions reveal a "director".
e) The "director" argues for "natural behavior"...what man does, he does by reason of the way he is.
2) That the "by nature activities" of man contain some "doing" of what is in the Law in terms of both prescription and proscription, means that man is not, and never has been, "ignorant" of what is right and wrong.
d. Thus, Paul's claim is that man is knowledgeable of the morality of the Law.
2. The argument concludes with the claim that man is subject to law because it is his inescapable possession.
a. Paul's earlier contention was that God's judgment on the Day of Wrath would be according to "law".
b. He went on to argue that God's application of "law" to man would be without respect of persons.
c. Now he has established the fact that man will be judged according to what he inescapably knew -- God will not judge him for what he did not know, but neither will He let him off the hook for anything that he did that was contrary to what he knew.
II. The Significance of the Words.
A. At root, all men know how they wish to be treated and no man treats others according to that knowledge.
B. This means that man's date with "legal judgment" will not come out advantageously for him.