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Sermon #3040

Written in their Hearts

A Sermon on Romans 2:13-15


Romans 2:13-15 ESV NASB KJV
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 …

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Sermon Description

Do unsaved people know God's law? Is it fair to judge Gentiles based on a law the Jews received but they did not? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how Paul anticipates that question and shows the universal guilt of all men for disobeying God's commandments. He explains that God has “written the law in their hearts” ¬– the conscience – and even so, all people can be judged according to their moral consciousness. The conscience is an individual’s sense of right and wrong, mostly telling us when something is wrong and condemning us for doing wrong things. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that even though Paul is answering potential questions on salvation, he is not explicitly talking about salvation in this passage. He is, however, talking about those who are under wrath and condemnation. Paul is also very explicit that no one can be justified by living up to the law or by living up to the conscience of their heart because no one can live up to either standard.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is dealing with condemnation and judgment, not justification or salvation.
  2. The passage does not teach that anyone has or can keep the law and be justified. The whole point of Romans 1:18-3:20 is to show that no one is justified by works.
  3. Verse 13 is not saying some Jews were justified by keeping the law. It is saying the law requires doing, not just hearing.
  4. The passage does not teach the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts. They have a moral sense and conscience, but not the law itself.
  5. The passage does not teach we can be saved by living up to the light we have. No one does live up to the light they have.
  6. If we could be saved by living up to the light we have, Christ would not have been necessary.
  7. The view that we can be saved by living up to the light we have undermines the need for missionary work. It makes the gospel a higher and impossible standard.
  8. The positive teaching of the passage will be covered next time.
  9. Problems like the fate of pagans and people like John the Baptist's parents will be addressed next time.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.