Romans 2:12-16                 “Secrets Revealed”


            We are going to start this morning with a little exercise. I want you all to take out your bibles. I want you to now lift them up over your head. You are now under the law!


            Paul talks about the “Law.” Some bibles will capitalize the word “Law” here because Paul is talking about a very specific law; that is the Law of Moses. We like to call this Law the “Ten Commandments.” You surely recall that Moses went up the mountain and spoke with God. God wrote down ten commandments on two tablets. They were carried back down off the mountain and given to the world.

            That being said, we can understand that when Paul talks about those who are under the Law, he is simply saying that there are some who have heard about and have accepted the Ten Commandments in their lives, and there are others who are not aware of the Law that God has handed down in the time of Moses.

We must also remember that in the time that Saint Paul is writing this to the church in Rome, the Gospels were not written yet. The whole Gospel of Jesus Christ is being shared in stories and remembrances in times of worship. There was no such thing as a bible study like we have today. What was written down, though on scrolls, was the Old Testament, the Torah, which is another name for the Law of Moses. 

            Are WE under the Law or not? Because Christians are people of the Book, we are considered today to be under the Law.  We have read the Bible. We know that God had given specific commandments. If a commandment is given in the Bible, we accept that as the Law over us.


            The Ten Commandments are only really the starting point of the Law of Moses. If you look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, you will see that the lawgiving continues for many chapters after that. Chapter 23, for instance, talks about the equal application of the Law as proscribed in the Ten Commandments.

            Jesus says that he came to “fulfill” the Law, not to abolish it.  That is found in Matthew 5:17. Jesus later summarizes the Law in  Matthew 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart , soul, and mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”


            Let me give you a concrete example then of how God’s Law, or being under the Law of the Bible, works differently than civil or criminal law in our world today: On our wedding day twenty-six years ago, I parked our car in front of the church in a white loading zone. The car had a “just married” sign on it. The police gave us a parking ticket, my only parking ticket. I just have this sense today that God was not particularly pleased with the enforcement officer that day. I could be wrong. Technically, I broke the law. Okay.

            Human laws are fallible because they are applied without grace. I still cannot fathom in my own heart and mind what the police officer was thinking that day when I got that parking ticket: “Ha, ha. That happy couple inside the church is going to come out and be affronted with a fine from the City of Oakland. Ha, ha!” No grace.

            In Rome at the time, the Jews that understood the Law of Moses were clashing with the gentiles, that is the non-Jewish Romans over equally silly nonsensical things. The Jewish man thought that as the Law states, a man must wear a beard and be proud of it. Well, the Roman men were not into that. The Jews were surely not going to eat pork as it was prohibited under the Law–the Romans loved pork as a nice scaloppini. Let me not even get into the whole thing with circumcision! You know, the Roman men were not into that! 


            The Apostle Paul is writing to the Gentiles in Rome and saying, “Look, the Jews among you in your church have accepted God’s Law over their lives. You, too, need to accept the idea of a higher Law than merely Roman Law.” Roman Law works, but it is certainly not God’s Law.” That is Paul’s message to us from the Bible today. When you leave here this morning, this is what you need to take with you back out into the world. There is a higher law by which you must live your lives.

            The civil law says that if you are caught, then you pay. The burden of proof is on the state, too. God’s law says that everything you do, whether you are caught by another or not, is to come under judgment. In this world, there are many things that perhaps you can get away with, not being arrested because your actions were not noticed. However, in the Kingdom of God, there is no way to fool around with the Almighty. Lord, I am so sorry I parked in the white zone at the church on the day of my marriage. I will never get married again!


            The last line of our Scripture for today says: “God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.”  It is NOT enough that you have never murdered anyone, you must have never thought about murdering anyone, too!  God knows all of our secrets.

            I want you to consider a scary thought: I believe that one day, in heaven, all of the secrets of our hearts will be made known to all. I think about all the people who are going to come up to me and say, “You know, Olaf, I really wanted to kill you. That is how much I hated you then.” And, I will be making all my secrets known to others, too. I will meet the person who ticketed me on my wedding day and have a few words to say.

            All of the secrets are going to be out there for all to see! All the times I uttered hateful things under my breath are going to be blasted out for all to hear. Just this last week I stubbed my toe and got angry at the chair. There will be no presumption of privacy. I really wonder what this is going to be like.

            Have you ever gotten a call from someone who did not know that they had called you? They accidentally hit the call button on their cell phone and then do not realize that the conversation in the room is being broadcast. I imagine that in heaven, it is going be like that. Everything that we say or do is being broadcast up to heaven right now.  So, you must be right not only in what you do, but in what you say and even in what you feel!

            When I have done marriage counseling with couples who are in the midst of adultery, I will tell you, the conversation always starts the same: “I don’t know how I ended up in this adulterous relationship. . . .all we did was have coffee after work together. The next thing I know I have been unfaithful.” I will respond that there had been an affair of the heart long before any coffee-drinking going on.

            Matthew 18:9, Jesus says: “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. . . .” What this really means is keep your mind free from seeing that which will cause you to sin. Keep your heart from accepting things that are not godly.


            We as Christians must be careful on how we interpret what Paul is saying here. He talks about some people who do what the law says not because they know or understand the law but that the law is written on their hearts. They do what is right by conscience. It is as if some of us have received the law through the Bible and the story of Moses. Others seem to have gained a knowledge of the law directly from God into their hearts. Either way, the law applies.

            I am telling you now something that I believe that I know some of you will not agree with: I think that there are some people in this world who are Christians even though they have never set foot in a church. I believe that they have known Christ because Christ has revealed himself to them and that they live Christian lives by conscience alone.

            Paul was saying that in his time there were some non-believers who were acting more like Christians than the Christians themselves. That is what we have to be careful about. Being a Christian is supposed to matter for something! You are supposed to answer to the higher law, to the higher authority.