The Moralist and the Mercy of God.

People who are considered moral need God too. Many moral people can sound Christian without actually knowing Christ. There is only one Judge who knows the whole truth. Romans 2:2-16 describes four ways that God judges moralists.

God judges according to truth.

Romans 2:2-5 asks a series of rhetorical questions. Every person made in the image of God knows the answers; but no one likes to admit that they are not right with God. Every person knows God's virtues, knows they are under condemnation because of sin, and has the ministry of the Holy Spirit drawing them to repentance. It may be hard to believe, but God says this is how every person thinks.

Mankind rationalizes themselves away from God's moral discernment until they convince themselves they are not worthy of judgment. Yet the text is clear: they are storing up God's wrath. (See also Romans 1:18.) This is described in banking terms; their sin is compounding interest.

"That God has not punished sinners for millennia of time since the death of Christ, since he has not broken through the heavens and struck men down, since He has not brought a judgment on the whole world since the Flood, has led men to draw a false conclusion from this delay. They are concluding that God will never punish sin because He is now silent. They ought to learn from this that God is long-suffering, that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

God judges according to a person's deeds.

Romans 2:6-10 contains a simple evaluation that is often misunderstood. Moral people who are religious and those who are not are both responsible to accept God's revelation.

God judges all people impartially.

Romans 2:11-15 explains God's impartiality. Every person has ample opportunity to learn the truth. They know God's law in their heart, conscience, and thoughts. Thus all are responsible before God for this knowledge.

God judges thoroughly.

Romans 2:16 is a summary of God's judgment on "good" people. He judges according to a person's secrets, and therefore finds each person guilty. Every moral person has either given approval of sin or is found guilty in their thoughts. No one can claim perfection.

This section of Romans only presents the beginning of the Gospel but does so quite thoroughly: All are lost. There is only one person in history who perfectly kept the Law. He is the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and He is the Judge. But He is also the Savior through which all can be born again (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Application Points

  • Do you consider yourself a good person? Before you think you are right with God, consider your approval and your thoughts. Do you approve of sin in others' lives? Do you have sinful thoughts that no one else knows? God knows.
  • There is hope in the face of God's truthful, impartial, thorough judgment. Admit your sin to the perfect Judge, believe in Christ, and commit your life to Him!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – Why God appears to delay judgment.
  • Philippians 3:1-10, Hebrews 4:12 – God's impartial and thorough judgment.
A Hymn to Encourage: "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place"

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I came to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.