Romans 2: Repenting Because God is Good

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Romans 2

Selected Biblical Text
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:4-16 ESV)

Reflecting and Thinking
The Good News is that God's gracious mercy and kindness can lead me to repentance. Why would I subject myself to God's wrath when rescue is possible? Law (any legal system) does not bring righteousness; the gospel brings righteousness. Even when I try to do what is right according to the best of my awareness and ability, my conscience still accuses me in my inadequacy and inability to follow through on what I know and want to do.
Some have seen in today's selected text the salvation of those outside of Christ. We must be careful lest we miss the meaning of the illustration. Even those who instinctively meet the requirements of any legal system are at times accused by their own thoughts and consciences. No one can be righteous enough to live by law; all are in need of the gospel. Righteousness will never come by law; for us to be righteousness in God's sight requires more than law.

How often are you inclined to try to live by perfect legal obedience rather than by God's gracious righteousness in the gospel? Why do people seek gospel AND law? How does the gospel exclude law? How does law exclude the gospel? Can people who are a law to themselves live good enough lives to never be accused by God? Explain the meaning of today's text in your own words.

Dear God, help us to be careful, diligent students of your word. Help us to see afresh and to escape our preconceived ideas. Thank you for showing us your mercy in Christ. May we be motivated to repentance and changed lives today and every day, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Last updated January 16, 2019