Hearers and Doers of the law

the ten Commandments on a sunset background

For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.

Romans 2:13.

Verses 13 to 15 continue to deal with the Jews’ claim on privileged treatment in judgment simply because they possessed the law of Moses and were thus “hearers of the law”. That did not justify them before God, however. The law has exactly the opposite effect with the sinful: its prohibitions prove to be a greater challenge for the sin in mankind. The law does not bring man’s righteousness into the open but rather the fact that he is a sinner (cf. ch. 3:20; 7:7-14).

It is no different for the moralist of today who rejects the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus and lives according to the motto: “Do good and fear no-one”. His motto will not do, it only condemns him. Does he in fact always do nothing but good? Is there no stain in his life?

Among the nation of Israel there were indeed God-fearing people. But they did not self-righteously take pride in their good works, but confessed their sinfulness. They did not trust in themselves, but in God, their Redeemer. So their patriarch Abraham was justified “by faith”. That was in the time before the law. The same principle applied even in the time of the law for David, too. In a certain sense these believers from Israel who were “justified by faith” could then be “doers of the law”. But the self-righteous illusion of the Jews that they would be treated more favourably than the heathen in God’s judgment is clearly refuted (cf. Romans 4:1-7; Psalm 32:1-5; 19:7-14; and for the Christian today Romans 8:1-4).