Full text of Bible teacher Derek Prince’s teaching on the Book of Romans (2:10 – 3:20) (Part 3) titled ‘The Righteous Judgement of God’.
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Derek Prince – Bible teacher
In this session, we’re going to continue with Romans, chapter 2. We had dealt with the principles of God’s judgment, and we’d seen how they are applied. We’d also had to acknowledge that there are some things about God’s judgment that He doesn’t make known to us. His judgments are unsearchable.
I suppose that those of us who have experienced the mercy of God in our own lives know that God will always exercise mercy wherever He can do so. So we have to trust Him.
Now, we’re going to look at the question of Conscience, which is a rather difficult one to deal with. I want to make it clear that some of what Paul says is not altogether easy to understand, or to interpret. And whoever said it would be easy.
All right, turning to chapter 2, we’ll read verses 13 through 15, and then verses 26 and 27, which together give us a picture of how God deals with people who don’t have a revelation of Him in the Word either in the Law or in subsequent portions of Scripture.
So verses 13 through 15: ‘for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.’
I want to point out to you there: whatever version you’re using, that where it says ‘the law’ twice, in that verse, the word ‘the’ is put in by the translators, and that is frequently so in the rest of this epistle.
So you need to understand this. Paul is taking the law of Moses as the great pattern of law, the perfect law, the God given law. But what he says applies also to other forms of law. So he says ‘the law’, and then he says ‘law’.
See, let me explain this. There are only two possible ways of achieving righteousness. One is by keeping rules. The other is by trusting God in faith.
The natural instinct of every human being when challenged on the issue of righteousness is to start to think in terms of rules.
I remember when I met the Lord in the British army. I spent another four and a half years in the army as a Christian. And when I talked to my fellow soldiers about the Lord and about salvation, their reaction was nearly always similar.
Well… and they trot out their list of little rules, which they kept. Everybody had a list that was tailored to his own life. I don’t commit adultery, I don’t get drunk, I don’t do this, I don’t do that.
That was the instant natural reaction. So that it is natural with all human beings when the issue of righteousness is raised to think in terms of keeping rules.
What Paul says applies not only to the law of Moses primarily, but to every set of rules by which people might seek to make themselves righteous. It isn’t possible to achieve righteousness by keeping any set of rules. Really worthwhile looking at your faces for a moment at this point. I knew this would happen.
I was talking to a large group of people somewhere not too long ago, and I said casually, without even realizing the impact of what I was saying, I said, of course, Christianity is not a set of rules.
I think if I told those people that there was no God, they would have been less shocked. But that’s the truth of the matter. Christianity is not a set of rules. We do not achieve righteousness with God by keeping rules. But rules have a place in life, and I’ll be explaining that later.
So Paul is saying it’s not the people who hear law, whether it’s the law of Moses or any other law, it’s the people who apply it who will be justified.
Notice it’s not the hearers who are just or righteous. And remember, the two words are the same, but those who apply it will be justified. It doesn’t say they’ll become righteous, it says God will reckon righteousness to them. None of us can be just, unless we are justified by God.
So Paul now goes on and deals with the issue of conscience, which is very important.
Verse 14: ‘for when the Gentiles who do not have the law or law, do instinctively or by nature the things of the law, these not having the law, are law to themselves.’
They don’t have any direct revelation of God’s law, but there’s something inside them which does the same for them as law would do.
Paul goes on, ‘so that they show the work of the law written in their hearts.’
Now, it doesn’t come out in the English translation, ‘but what is written in their hearts is not the law, it’s the working of the law.’
We have every one of us in us somewhere, something that works like a law to achieve the same results as achieved by the law, which is not to make us righteous, but it’s to bring us to the point where we see we need God’s mercy to be made righteous. That’s absolutely different.
And then it speaks about conscience, which I believe is the function in man, which produces this. Conscience tells us you tell the lie.
And then Paul pictures a kind of court scene going on inside us. One of our thoughts says, ‘well that’s true, I did tell the lie.’
The other says, ‘no, it wasn’t really a lie, I just exaggerated a little.’
And Paul pictures this kind of court scene going on inside us. How many of you know that that does happen? How many of you have experienced that inside yourself? That’s what Paul is talking about.
And he says conscience is doing for people like that, the same that the law does, not making them righteous, but showing them that they need God’s mercy and that’s the work of the law is to show us that we need God’s mercy.
Now, there are some unanswered questions, but I’m going to devote one whole session to the purposes for which God gave law. We’ll come to that in a little while.
So here is a gentile, somebody that’s never had any knowledge of God, but somewhere inside him there’s something that monitors his conduct. I’ve noticed in dealing with primitive people or people who have had no conduct with God, one of the areas that they’re often sensitive about is telling a lie.
And often conscience will convict people: ‘You didn’t tell the truth.’ ‘It wasn’t the truth.’
Another which is common is our improper behavior to the people in our own family. That, again, is an area in which primitive people are often convicted by God, because most of them have a deep sense of obligation to their immediate relatives, much stronger than the contemporary American has.
So there are different ways in which conscience can work. But what Paul is picturing is a kind of law court inside our consciousness, and conscience is the prosecutor. And then inside us, there are thoughts that said, that’s true. I know it wasn’t quite true, but it really wasn’t a lie, that sort of thing. Tell me, what’s the difference between something that isn’t really a lie and something that really is a lie?
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