The Law’s Requirements Are Written on Our Hearts—Romans 2:14-15
“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)
If the purpose of Law is to bring the realization that we need a savior because its standards were impossible to fulfill (Gal. 3:24), what happens when someone is not familiar with the Law, the Prophets, or even the Bible? How do they come to the same realization?
What happens when someone is not familiar with the Law, the Prophets, or even the Bible?
This is an important question, and one Paul must address as he is writing to a wide audience, most of whom are unfamiliar with the requirements of the Jewish Law. This passage is specifically speaking about Gentiles, people outside of the Jewish faith with no knowledge of the Law, the Prophets, or even of God. Paul observes that even though they may have no knowledge of the Law, its requirements are written on their hearts through their conscience.
Every population of people, regardless of how remote, recognizes the conscience. It is that inner voice that identifies right and wrong. When we do wrong, our conscience will bother us and we may experience guilt or remorse. This is yet another example of how the knowledge of God has been written on our hearts from the very beginning (Rom. 1:19-20).
Through the conscience, the intuitive knowledge of God shows us what the Law requires. Because our conscience bears witness to it, it either accuses or excuses us. This inner voice recognizes the need for a Savior because it, by default, knows right from wrong. It identifies sin by feelings of guilt. If we have the knowledge of sin, then we also have the knowledge of the need for a Savior. Therefore, our conscience works in the same capacity as the Law by condemning us and pointing us towards Jesus.
I am so thankful that God placed our need for Him inside of us. The Bible says that God does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9b). He has proven this by creating the knowledge of Himself in our hearts so as we become aware, He can reveal Himself to us. Today, I pray that you and I will take one more step towards Jesus and be found by God.
Original article published June 8, 2009.