In the first two chapters of Romans, God proves to all men that they are guilty sinners and that He is righteous in judging them. In Romans 1:17-28 He shows that the HEATHEN will be judged by the LIGHT OF CREATION. They should have acknowledged God as their Creator for verse 20 tells us, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seenso they are without excuse.” In Romans 3:17-29 He draws the RELIGIOUS JEW into His courtroom and reveals that they will be judged by THE LAW that they received and disobeyed. And in Romans 2:1-16 the MORALIST is seen to be worthy of God’s holy judgment. This class of men looked down upon the godless world of pagans and condemned their acts of sin and degradation. They considered themselves cultured and refined and thought they lived righteous lives. But verse 1 exposes them as being just as guilty: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (NASB). Verses 2-16 bring before us the principles upon which they will be judged. Let’s look at each one briefly.

1) They will be JUDGED ACCORDING TO TRUTH. Verses 2-3 read, “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God.” These men condemn the acts of others, knowing they are wrong, yet they are guilty of committing the very same sins! This KNOWLEDGE OF RIGHT AND WRONG is instilled in every man, for God has given everyone a CONSCIENCE, as we see in verse 15, “In that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or defending them” (NASB).  And to add to their guilt, verse 4 teaches us that they despise God’s goodness that waits for them to repent. Instead, we see in verse 5 that they are “storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Every sin they commit, that they know to be wrong, is adding “fuel to the fire,” for their “accumulated guilt” will result in “increased wrath” against them “in the day of wrath.”

2) They will be JUDGED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS. In verses 6-11 this principle is clearly established. Let’s read verses 6-9, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil.” Good works characterize the believer in Christ, but EVIL WORKS characterize the unbeliever. Jesus said in Matthew 7:17, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” He went on to say in verses 19-20, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The unbeliever is likened unto a corrupt tree, for without the New Birth resulting in a New Nature, he can only produce “evil fruit” and every EVIL WORK will be judged!

3) They will be JUDGED ACCORDING TO THE SECRETS OF MEN. Verse 16 solemnly declares, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” I believe “the secrets of men” take into account “those sins which only God sees” AND “the motives of the heart” as well. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkenss, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” This verse actually speaks of believers’ works being judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but it would also apply to the works of unbelievers at the Great White Throne judgment recorded in Revelation 20:11-12. God “will bring to light” SECRET SINS and “the counsels of the hearts” that no one could see but God Himself.  (183.1)  (DO)