Unlimited: The Gentiles and the Law
May 23, 2022 141
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them) (Romans 2:14–15).
In the previous verse, Paul has said that only the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. In the next chapter, in 3:10 Paul will emphasise that there is no one who is righteous, absolutely no one. Obviously then, there are no perfect doers of the law.
However, Paul’s now tells us something amazing. He says that even though the Gentiles don’t have the written law, the fact that they have consciences that move them toward right behaviours and condemn wrong behaviours show that the law’s requirements are written on their hearts. This would have been incredible for the Jews, who considered the Gentiles to be “lawless.” It meant that that a Gentile could actually be more righteous than they were, if they followed their conscience.
Paul says the fact that the Gentiles have consciences show that the law’s requirements are written on their hearts.
In mentioning the conscience, Paul is presenting here another means by which God reveals his will to us.
Across the range of human societies and cultures, a person’s conscience will generally guide them toward what is good, and away from what is evil. This is what Paul is referring to when he writes about people’s “thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them”. While people who don’t believe in God might not acknowledge it, this is a gift from God.
In what ways has God revealed his will to you through your conscience?