A Sermon on Romans 2:13-15
For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (ESV)
There are a few people in the Old Testament that were considered righteous but never heard the Gospel. How can this be? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains Romans 2:13-15 saying Paul is careful to point out that they were not considered justified by the law, since no man can keep the law, but that they were a kind of people who knew the commandments of God and followed ordinances given by God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that these individuals understood that the ordinances given by God were the only way to approach the Lord and have their sins forgiven. They were not "good" pagans or "noble" philosophers, nor were they like so many who were not only hearers of the Word. These Old Testament saints were doers of the Word, whose faith was not in the law but in the Giver of the law. Philosophies, knowledge and good works do nothing in the eyes of Christ if you do not truly know him. Paul elaborates this in the second section of the passage by openly expressing how many Jews were guilty of hypocrisy. All men are condemned and subject to God’s wrath, even the Jews who were given the law of the Lord. The Jews who relied on their possession of the law for salvation were severely misguided.