Read Romans 2:6-16
After the first sin in Eden, Adam and Eve recognized that something was very wrong. They immediately sowed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:7), and when they heard God in the garden, they hid themselves because they were afraid (Genesis 3:8, 10). They didn’t want God to know they had disobeyed Him. They feared being exposed.
We all know the feeling. Have you ever had your sin exposed? Just thinking about this question might remind you of that terrible, gut-wrenching feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach when we get “found out.” You had let someone down, hurt someone, and broken trust. You start asking yourself, “What must they think of me?” “How will they ever trust me again?” There was nothing you could do to cover it up or make the shame of your sin go away.
In this passage, Paul is reminding his readers that all of our sin will be exposed before God. Romans 2:6 says, “He will render to each one according to his works.” Everyone who does righteousness receives eternal life (v.7,10), but everyone who does unrighteousness receives the wrath of God (v.8-9). This is justice. We get what we deserve.
Further, human wisdom is not sufficient for determining the standard for holiness. Think about it—If God is the judge who will judge all of us according to our works, is He going to judge us by our standards? No! Who are we to determine which works are good and which ones are evil? Only God, who is the righteous judge, has the right to determine the standard for what is righteous and what is evil. Justice is how our holy and righteous God must operate… before grace enters the equation.
Questions for study and discussion:
1. This passage implies that it is absolutely fair for God to punish those who don’t meet His standard. How does this idea challenge our beliefs about God?
2. Read Isaiah 64:6. Throughout church history, some have said that they can do enough good deeds to earn their way into heaven. Why do you think it is impossible for our good works to counteract the effects of our unrighteous deeds?
3. Read Matthew 27:27-30. Here, Jesus was exposed, ridiculed, and spat upon. He didn’t deserve it, but he allowed this to happen because we deserved it. How does Jesus’ willingness to be exposed in our place impact our trust and affections for Him?
4. Confession is self-exposure. We are commanded to confess to God (1 John 1:9) and to each other (James 5:16). Take a moment to reflect on the sin in your own life. Spend time in silent confession to the Lord. Then consider confessing your sin to a trusted family member or friend who can pray with you.