12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 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. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:12-16 (ESV)
“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts…” This is the problem when it comes to identifying Christianity with the law. We don’t bring anything to the table in that department. The law is written on the hearts of all people. This is why you can go to Korea, or China, or Japan, and people who have virtually no history with Holy Scripture know that stealing is wrong. You could even go back in time to ancient Rome and they had law. When Paul is writing this that is what he is getting at. The people around him know right from wrong. It doesn’t stop them from doing wrong, but they know it.
So it is frustrating to see so many harp on the law as if that was the gospel. No, the gospel, the one Paul here claims as his own, is that God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. We don’t think about Judgment day as part of the Gospel typically. For one, it is the part of the gospel yet to come. It hasn’t happened yet. But it is part of the gospel. It is part of the good news. It’s good news because our judge is the one who died for our sins. Our judge is the man who paid for our sins with his life. Our judge is the one who wants nothing more in the world than to forgive our sins.