June 6 Epistle Reading

Romans 2:10-16

2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to
the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 2:11 For there is no respect of
persons with God. 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also
perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be
judged by the law; 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before
God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 2:14 For when the
Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in
the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 2:15
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience
also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or
else excusing one another;) 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the
secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

When reading v.11, my mind went back into thoughts of God's justice from a few days ago. We see God's mercy when we realize that He accepts us into His throne room, defiled and with such divided hearts. Foreigners in this world, yet finding our true home standing before Him surrounded by the saints. I would have no strength to stand without God's mercy. I would have no desire to do His good works without the way His mercy has changed me. I would have no fear of God as I stand trembling before Him if I didn't know the law and know how badly I miss the mark. With open wounds covering our souls from sin, we stand before the throne and ask for healing. 

St. John of Chrysostom spoke on this matter of natural law in his Homily 12 page 421:

"For this reason, here dismissing the subject; and having given to the laborious and studious an opportunity by which has been said, of going over likewise the other parts of Creation; we shall now direct our discourse to another point which is itself also demonstrative of God's providence. What then is this second point? It is, that when God formed man, he implanted within him from the beginning a natural law. And what then was this natural law? He gave utterance to conscience within us; and made the knowledge of good things, and of those that are contrary, to be self-taught."

Now with regards to v.15 "conscience bearing witness", St. Maximus the Confessor talks about the freedom we have from our consciences:

"Do not regard your conscience, which always counsels you of the best. It puts before you divine and angelic advice; it frees you from the hidden stain of your heart, and will make you the gift of free speech with God at the time of your departure."

St. John of Kronstadt speaks also of the beauty of the conscience:

"Conscience in men is nothing else but the voice of the omnipresent God moving in the hearts of men, as He Who alone is and has created everything, the Lord knows all as Himself – all the thoughts, desires, intentions, words, and works of men, present, past, and future. However far in front I may let my thoughts, my imagination, run He is there before me and I inevitably finish my course in Him, ever having Him as the witness of my ways. 'His eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men' (Jer. 32:19). Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?' (Ps. 139:7).

Being a Gentile, I have within my nature, the ability and knowledge to
do the things contained in the law. The law has been written in my
heart. The Maasai tribe I visited in the bush in Kenya have the law
written in their hearts. The Armenians I taught in my English classes
have the law written in their hearts. The Burmese fishermen who balance
themselves perfectly on the tiny tip of their boat to catch fish have
the law written in their hearts. The British and German friends I
studied Russian with have the law written in their hearts.

What an amazing Creator we have to write the works of the law into our hearts. May we listen and let the Spirit lead us today as we fulfill the works of the law.


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