In the passage today, Paul is talking about Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were God’s chosen people whom he rescued from slavery and to whom he gave the law, though which he blessed them. The Gentiles were everyone else. At this point in Paul’s ministry he, and the rest of the fledgling church, had only just realised that God’s New Covenant of salvation was available to both Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul’s message to the Jews here is simple. He tells them that even the Gentiles, who never had the law, can and often do, live more righteous lives than the proudest and most well versed of the Jews. He says that the Gentiles have Gods law written on their hearts and by their consciences tell right from wrong. Most importantly of all though, Paul challenges the Jews to live out and obey what they know of the scriptures they value so highly, because as the Gentiles see God’s chosen people openly disobeying his holy law, they mock and treat the Lord with contempt.
Romans 2:14-24 NLT
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God’s law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth. Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonour God by breaking it. No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.”
Paul is addressing the Jews in today’s passage. Today, we— the church, are the Jews and those who don’t acknowledge God can be seen as the Gentiles. Today’s Gentiles don’t see much evidence that God is alive or that his church is anything more that an odd bunch of do-gooders with an old book and a lot of pointless rules. We must stop mindlessly preaching the old rhetoric and re-learn what is in our old book. Then we must apply it to our lives. My goal and my prayer is that my church will rediscover the word of the Lord and let its truth take hold in our lives so that…”many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3)
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17, Romans 2:1-24, Psalms 10:16-18, Proverbs 19:8-9