Is It in Your Heart?

“For all who have sinned without the law will perish without the law,and all who have sinned under            the law will be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12).

The point is “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). Two groups of people are mentioned: (1) those without the law refer to gentiles, who lived in pre-Christian times, and who were without the Law of Moses. This does not mean that they were under no law, for one cannot sin without law (Romans 4:15; 5:13; 1 John 3:4). (2) Those under the law refer to Israelites, who lived under the Law of Moses. It was only to the children of Israel that the Law of Moses was delivered (see Exodus 31:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:2-5; cf. 4:37; Deuteronomy 5:15; Nehemiah 9:13-14). 

                               “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified” (Romans 2:13).

The point is: The fact that Israel had received the Law of Moses, and heard it read to them week by week (cf. Acts 15:21), did not in itself justify them.

God still wants more. He teaches, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

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 not have the law. They show that the works of the law is written on (or “in” in   NKJv) hearts…” (Romans 2:14-15- ESV).

Let us keep in mind that there were common things taught in Patriarchal law and Mosaical law, and even still today.









New Testament





Genesis 9:6


Exodus 20:13


Romans. 13:8-10

1 John 3:15


Fornication/ Adultery



Genesis 38:24

Genesis 39:7-9



Exodus 20:14

Galatians 5:19-ff

1 Corinthians 6:9-ff

Ephesians 5:3

Colossians 3:5

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Hebrews 13:4





Genesis 35:2


Exodus 20:4-5

Acts 15:29

Acts 21:25

Galatians 5:20

1 Cor. 5:11

1 Corinthians 10:14

Colossians 3:5

1 John 5:21





Genesis 9:4

Leviticus 3:17

Leviticus 7:26-ff

Leviticus 17:12


Acts 15:20

Acts 21:25

Paul’s illustration: Some gentiles do by nature (their character, or habit) the things contained in the Law of Moses. They do this not because they are under the Law of Moses, “they do not have the law.” They do this because, “they are a law unto themselves.” (Note: This does not mean that each was left to his own standards. It means that they were a people of law, though separate and apart from the Mosaic system).

The works of the law were written in their hearts. Please observe: This does not say “The law of the heart,” but “the works of the law written on their hearts”. Roy Deaver commented, “When the Gentiles, who did not have the Mosaic Law, but did have divine (revealed law), did by nature the very things which the Mosaic Law demanded… They showed that the very works which were demanded by the Mosaic Law were written on their hearts” (Romans: God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness, p. 78). Please understand: This wording, “written on the heart”, in no way implies that God directly infused His will into each of their minds. Consider: (1) God’s word was to be in the hearts of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 11:18-19). (2) God’s word is to be in man’s heart today (Jeremiah 31:31-33 cf. Hebrews 8:8-12; 10:16-17). Furthermore, if such were directly infused, they would have had it better than the Israelites (cf. Romans 3:1-2).


“…their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even accuse them”   (Romans 2:15).

These were conscientious gentiles. The word “conscience” means literally “with knowledge”. It is a feeling which comes with knowledge. The conscience is only as good as the information programmed onto it. This information is programmed into man by: (1) external influences and teachings – e.g. parents, society, Bible; (2) internal decisions on how to live. The conscience is not always correct in its assessment. (Proverbs 16:2; 16:25; Acts 25:9; 1 Corinthians 3:3-4; 8:7; 1 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15 etc.). However, when properly programmed, it can serve as a helpful spiritual “warning light”.

What is it that Paul wants his audience to understand? Paul is telling all that simply being an Israelite has never been enough. He is warning those who were relying on such. God cares about behavior.

 Thought for Us

The illustration speaks of gentiles, who did by nature the works of the law. The reason they did is that such was written on their hearts.

My question is: Do we have the works of the New Testament written on our hearts? Only then, will we by nature do the things written in it. Let us allow His word to find a home in our hearts (Colossians 3:16; Psalms 119:11).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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