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    December 5, 1895

    “Studies in Romans. The Law and Judgment” The Signs of the Times, 21, 48.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A few words may suffice to bring to mind what we have already studied. The first chapter of Romans may be briefly summed up as setting forth the condition of those who know not God, and the way in which they lost their knowledge, together with the fact that they are wholly without excuse. Then, just as we are ready to hold up our hands in horror at their wickedness, and to launch forth severe condemnation upon them, the apostle turns to us, and shuts our mouths with the stinging words, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” And so the second chapter proceeds to show that all will be subjects of God’s righteous judgment, “for there is no respect of persons with God.” Thus we are brought to a confirmation of the fact that God is impartial, by a comparison of theSITI December 5, 1895, page 755.1

    Two Classes in the Judgment. Romans 2:12-16

    “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.2

    Questioning the Text

    What proves that there is no respect of persons with God?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.3

    “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.4

    What is to become of the ones who have sinned without law?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.5

    They “shall also perish.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.6

    How shall those perish who have sinned without law?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.7

    “Without law.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.8

    What of those who have sinned in the law?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.9

    They “shall be judged by the law.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.10

    When shall this be?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.11

    “In the day when God shall judge the secrets before God.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.12

    What will simply hearing the law not do for men?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.13

    “For not the hearers of the law be just before God.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.14

    Who alone shall be justified.SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.15

    “The doers of the law shall be justified.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.16

    But what of the men who have never heard the law?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.17

    “These, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.18

    What do they show by their actions?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.19

    “Which show the work of the law written in their hearts.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.20

    What shows that even without the law they have some knowledge of what the law requires?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.21

    “Their conscience also bearing witness.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.22

    How do they regard the different actions done by themselves.SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.23

    “Their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.24

    By whom will the secrets of men be judged?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.25

    “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.26

    In accordance with what will the judgment be?SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.27

    “According to my Gospel.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.28

    Without Law, and in the Law.-Although it is quite certain that when the Lord comes the second time there will be no people on the earth who have not heard the preaching of the word, it is a fact that thousands and millions have died without ever having seen or heard of the Bible. They are the ones to whom the apostle refers as “without law.” Yet it is plainly set forth that they are not absolutely without law, but only without the written law. The fact that they have some knowledge of the law is stated in the verses following, and is proved by the fact that they are counted sinners; but “sin is not imputed where there is no law.” Romans 5:13.SITI December 5, 1895, page 755.29

    All Sin Punished.-Whether we have had the written law or not, all are alike counted sinners. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Romans 1:18. The heathen are declared to be without excuse; and if they who have not the written law are without excuse, they who have the law in their hands are of course far more inexcusable. God is just. “We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.” Yet all who sin, whether in the law or without the law, are to be punished. This is sufficient to show that “without law” does not mean without any knowledge of God. The first chapter settles that. The trouble with too many who read this statement that all shall be punished, and who think that it does not seem just, is that they forget, or are ignorant of, what is contained in the first chapter. It is a great mistake to take any single verse of the Bible and separate it from its connection.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.1

    They Shall Perish.-That is declared to be the fate of the wicked. The apostle Peter tells us that the world is “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7. What is meant by “perish?” It means just the opposite of living forever. On one occasion some people told Jesus of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, and Jesus replied, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-3. Again we read, “The wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” Psalm 37:20. Therefore the statement that those who sin shall perish means that they shall die, that they shall be utterly extinct, that “they shall be as though they had not been.” Obadiah 16.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.2

    Strict Impartiality.-That means strict justice. Sinners will be punished, whether they live in heathen lands or in so-called Christian lands. But no one will be judged by that of which he knew nothing. God does not punish men for violation of a law of which they knew nothing, nor does he hold them accountable for light that they have not had. It is very plain that those who have the law must know many things that are not known to those who do not have it in written form. All men have light enough to know that they are sinners; but the written word gives those who have it a knowledge of many particulars of which those are ignorant who do not have it. Therefore God in his justice does not hold the latter accountable for many things for which the former will be judged. “As many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” The man who has rejected light, whether it be little or much, is obviously guilty.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.3

    The Root of Sin.-To some it seems unjust that those who have had but comparatively little light should suffer death for their sins, the same as those who have sinned against the greatest light. Their difficulty arises from the fact that they do not consider what sin really is. God alone is good. Luke 18:19. He is the source of goodness. Whatever goodness ever appears in man is only the working of God in him. But he is also the source of life. With him is the fountain of life. Psalm 36:9. God’s life is righteousness; therefore there can be no righteousness apart from the life of God. Now it is evident that if a man rejects God, he effectually cuts himself off from life. It matters not that he has had but comparatively little knowledge of God, if he rejects that light he rejects God, and thus rejects life. And by rejecting the little that he has seen of God, he shows that he would reject God in any case. Sin is simply separation from or rejection of God; and that means death.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.4

    Justified.-Here is another term the meaning of which should be settled once for all. We have seen that righteousness means conformity to the law of God, and so we shall understand it throughout the book of Romans and the whole Bible. Romans 2:13 shows that “just,” or “justified,” means the same thing. Who are the justified ones?—They who do the law. We need not here stop to consider the fact that is stated later, that there are no doers of the law; all we are concerned with now is the statement that to be justified means to be in a condition of harmony with the law of God. The matter of how men get into such a condition will be considered later. Let is not be forgotten that “just means “righteous,” and that both mean a state of harmony with the law of God, which is his life.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.5

    Hearing and Doing.—“Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” That is, it makes no difference how much a man knows; his knowledge will not justify him. People who have had great advantages are very prone to look with contempt upon those who have been less favored, and to feel pride because of their own superior knowledge, forgetting that their superior knowledge only makes their own shortcomings the more marked. The man who knows much and does wrong is obviously more blameworthy than the one who knows only little. “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” Luke 8:16. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:22-25.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.6

    A Law unto Themselves.—“These, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” They have not the written law, and so they are their own law. “Which show the work of the law written in their hearts.” So the law that they are unto themselves is nothing different from the written law. This statement is the same as that in the first chapter, namely, that “that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” God has revealed himself, and therefore his law, not only to every man, but in every man. Christ is God, and he is “the true light which lighteth every man that comet into the world.” John 1:9. In the judgment even the heathen will stand self-condemned.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.7

    Accusing and Excusing.—“Their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.” The French have a proverb to the effect that “he who excuses himself accuses himself.” This is a true proverb. No man thinks of excusing himself if he does not think that he is at fault. If a thing be right, it needs no excuse. And so in the statement that the heathen either excuse or else accuse one another for the things that they do, we find evidence that their conscience continually condemns them. Even in the things which they try to make themselves believe are right, they show that they know that they are wrong.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.8

    A Parenthesis.-The reader will note that verses 13, 14, 15 are thrown in by way of explanation, to show that, although the heathen are said to sin without law, and to perish without law, they are not absolutely without law, but only without the written law. This needs to be noted in order not to become confused in following the apostle’s statement about the judgment. The connection is found by reading verses 12 and 16 together, thus: “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.9

    Judged by Jesus Christ.-God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. Christ is the representative of the Godhead in all things,—in creation, in redemption, and in judgment. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” John 5:22, 23. “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Acts 17:31. The fact that the judgment will be conducted by Christ, “who gave himself for our sins,” who died to redeem men, and who is our Advocate with the Father, the propitiation for our sins, “and not for ours only, but also for the whole world,” is assurance to all men that the judgment will be conducted with the utmost fairness.SITI December 5, 1895, page 756.10

    According to the Gospel.-The judgment is according to the Gospel. This is additional evidence that love is always combined with justice. In fact, the justice of God is always love itself, for God is love, and he can never be anything else but love, for he can not deny himself. And he is always just. His mercy appears even in his judgments. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.... To him which divided the Red Sea into parts; for his mercy endureth forever; and made Israel to pass through the midst of it; for his mercy endureth forever; but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; for his mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 136:1-15. Since the righteousness of God-the law-is revealed in the Gospel, and men are judged by the law, it is plain that the Gospel is not omitted in the judgment. The Gospel is in reality nothing else but the law of God in Christ.SITI December 5, 1895, page 757.1

    “My Gospel.” -Paul says, “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.” What does he mean by “my Gospel”? Is it that he has a Gospel that is peculiarly his own, or from himself?—By no means. Let him explain himself. “But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11, 12. The Gospel which Paul preached was the word which he had received from the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and therefore his statement in the text before us is the same as saying that this judgment will be according to the word of the Lord. E. J. W.SITI December 5, 1895, page 757.2

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