For all who have sinned without the law will perish without the law, and all who have sinner under the law will be judged by the law. Romans 2:12
Unbelievers are stuck on issue of whether or not God is fair. Is He capable of sending someone who has never heard the Gospel to eternal condemnation because they failed to accept Jesus as their Savior? Wrestling with that issue, they are distracted from the reality that they have heard the Gospel and are without excuse. It’s as if they look for a reason to discredit God so that their own rejection of Him is justified.
Paul gives the answer here to the question of God’s ultimate fairness. Each man is judged according to the revelation of God he has received. Those who have lived without knowledge of the law are still without excuse. Those who have heard the Gospel are also without excuse. In the previous chapter, he explains. God has revealed himself in nature and in the moral code of mankind, no matter the culture, to cause man to worship Him and seek His face.
Every person, in every culture, has God’s moral code written on their heart. They are warmed by love and appalled by hatred. They embrace honesty and feel violated when lied to. The punish treachery and applaud fairness. Even the most hardened atheist will cry out over the injustice of being wronged yet conveniently fail to explore why he has a strong internal opinion at all about the fact a wrong was committed. By whose standard was the ‘wrong’ considered wrong? Mankind was made in the image of God and we have enough conviction in us about right and wrong, even with a carnal conscience, to know that God exists.
Why does this issue matter to me today? God is not easily understood. He is full of mystery. Because of that, my faith can be threatened by seeming inconsistencies. I can be tempted to bend toward unbelief. Instead of looking for loopholes today which, I believe, might absolve me from putting all my trust in Him, I stand on what I do know. He is just, fair, loving, and longsuffering. If a particular mystery in scripture appears to put any part of His character in question, I know it is only because I have partial eyesight.
Whatever I don’t understand makes me move closer to You, by faith, instead of farther away. I guard my faith with a vengeance. Amen