"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them" (Romans 2:14-15)
Yesterday we concluded that the righteousness that the law and prophets testified about comes to climax and fulfillment through Jesus Christ. We concluded that the entire Old Testament law brings us to the realization that we have to have faith in Jesus in order to met those standards. But what happens when someone is not familiar with the Law, the Prophets or even the Bible?
In today's passage Paul is specifically speaking about Gentiles. We can classify the entire population of the world into three categories. First we have the Jews, those naturally born into the race of God's chosen people. Secondly we have the church. Everyone who has put their faith into Christ Jesus as their Savior. And Finally we have Gentiles or nonbelievers, which by default is everyone else. Paul is referring to the fact that even though they may not know the Law, the requirements of the Law are written on their hearts.
Every race, every population of people recognized the conscience. The conscience is that inner voice that identifies right from wrong. When we are in the wrong, our conscience bothers us. We may experience guilt or remorse. The conscience is yet another example of how the knowledge of God has been written on our hearts from the very beginning ( Romans 1:19-20 ).
So what Paul is saying is that the intuitive knowledge of God written on our hearts shows us what the Law requires. Because our conscience bears witness to it and either accuses us or excuses us. This inner voice recognizes the need for a Savior because it by default knows right from wrong and knows when we are in error. Remember the purpose of the Law was to direct us to Jesus. So even if we do not have the law our conscience works in the same capacity. Our conscience bears witness against us and identifies sin in our lives. If we have the knowledge of sin, then we also have the knowledge of the need for a Savior. Therefore, our conscience points us towards Jesus.
I am so thankful by default that God placed inside us the need for Him. The Bible says in II Peter 3:9 that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." He has proven this by creating the knowledge of Him in our hearts so that as we become aware of Him, He can reveal Himself to us. Today, may you let yourself be found by God. May the grace of His Son Jesus cover you and bring you into right standing with Him!