The section in Romans 1:18-3:20 was written to prove that we are all sinners and need salvation. Romans 1 deals with the unrighteousness of the Gentiles (most of us) and Romans 2 deals with the self-righteousness of the Jews. Paul tried to convince them that the Jews were just as unrighteous as the Gentiles. They, too, were without excuse and would not escape judgment just because they were God's chosen people who knew God's Law and were circumcised. In fact, they were under even greater accountability before God because of the light they had already received (2:12-16).
You might recall that circumcision was a sign of the covenant that God made with His people (Genesis 17, Leviticus 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 30:6), but God was more concerned with their circumcised hearts than anything else (Deuteronomy 10:12-17; Jeremiah 4:4).
Paul's teaching in Romans 2 dealt with the two religious groups in Rome at the time: the Judaizers and the Antinomians. The Judaizers thought that keeping the Law was the way to salvation. The Antinomians claimed that man was under grace, and it did not matter how they lived. They were both wrong. Paul taught that faith should be evidenced by righteous living. Deeds do not make us righteous because our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6), and that is why we need the grace of God given to us in Jesus. But the righteous life we receive through Jesus is naturally manifested in a godly life:
Thus, at the very beginning of this letter, the master-theme of which is salvation by faith, we have an overwhelming and unanswerable indictment of that particular heresy to which an improper emphasis of the doctrine is liable to give rise. Nothing can be clearer than the apostle's teaching that works will be the final test of judgment. Faith which does not produce these is declared to be useless. Privilege which does not issue in response to responsibility, is but severer condemnation. God has no people in whom He excuses sin. The privileged soul who sins must die on account of the sin, and in spite of all the privileges. The Jew is as great a failure as the Gentile in the matter of actual righteousness. Godliness as privileged relationship is of no value except as it produces actual righteousness.
The final statement of the apostle is that judgment will be according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this statement the light of the Gospel is seen shining with a new glory through the severity of the teaching which had just been advanced. Not for a single moment does it lower the standard of requirement, but it sings the song of hope to the man under condemnation. In reading this paragraph particular notice should be taken of the fact that verses fourteen and fifteen are in parenthesis, and that the main statement of the apostle can only be gained by reading verses thirteen and sixteen in immediate relationship. The basis of judgment is to be the actual condition of man, whether he has lived without the law or under the law; but he is to be judged finally by Jesus Christ. That is to say, the final test of character and of conduct is to be that of man's attitude to the Saviour. Evidently therefore the presentation of the Gospel is the last opportunity that man has; and equally evident is it, that every man must have this opportunity as the basis of judgment.
(The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans by G. Campbell Morgan, http://www.gcampbellmorgan.com/romans5.html)Don't you love that?
The Jews were without excuse too! They were even guiltier because they knew the will of God through the Law and did not obey it.
We are responsible to put into practice what we know too. My obedience to God is more important than my knowledge about God. That is why application of Scripture is so important!
The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge
but to change our lives. ~ D.L. Moody
but to change our lives. ~ D.L. Moody
Here is a download about APPLICATION of GOD'S WORD.
What are the areas of God's will that I know but do not currently practice?
Lord, we want our hearts to be circumcised before You in submission to Your will. Help us to live up to the light You have given us. Show us the areas where we live in hypocrisy. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.