As I read chapter 2 of Romans, I see it as a call to look inward instead of at those around us. The chapter starts with talking about judging or condemning others. Verse 3 shows us the danger of looking at others faults instead of our own:
“But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
So, when we condemn others for their actions, we are actually condemning ourselves for our sins. It continues that God will judge us each for the deeds we have done. However, from my reading of this, and other scriptures, those deeds have to be done with the right attitude in our hearts. Verse 8 talks about those who are selfishly ambitious. I have met people who do a lot of the “right things”, but only because it helps the way they are seen or because it helps them feel good about themselves. These people are selfish, and generally ambitious. I believe these actions will be judged as selfish ambitions rather than service to God. Because of this, I think we all need to look at the reason behind our actions. Are we serving God with what we do, and with our motives behind what we do?
Paul then continues by talking about those who have the law and those who are without the law. In Chapter 1, Paul talked about no one being without excuse about believing in God, since the things around us make it evident there is a god. So, in the same way, not knowing the law is not an excuse for not knowing the law. This is clear in verses 14 – 16:
“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
We will all be treated equally based on our actions. Obviously, other parts of scripture show that the blood of Christ covers our sins and the acceptance of that gift, and following Christ will be the largest question in that judgement.
Paul’s final points in this chapter are outward things versus inward things. Both in what we teach versus what we do, and in holding on to the physical following of the law versus the following of the spirit/heart of the law. Verses 28 and 29 sum this point up:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”
Again, are we hanging on to some outward appearance of following the law, or are we looking inward toward following God’s teachings, growing closer to Him, and imitating Christ in our lives.