A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Moral World Under Sentence of Condemnation
Consider the fourth principle of judgment: "God will judge the secrets of men." Notice how strange that last phrase in verse 16 is: "According to my gospel, by Jesus Christ." Some of the commentators have tried to tie in that phrase with nearly every verse in this passage. Grammatically, it is difficult to know where it belongs. It is the conclusion of the whole passage. Read it with verse 2, with 6, with 11, with 12.
Some commentators have said that God is going to judge the secrets of men according to the gospel; but that is impossible, because there are millions of men who have never heard of the gospel. What is said here is that God is going to judge men according to Jesus Christ. Paul preached that Jesus Christ is to be the Judge. At Athens Paul said that God has appointed a day when He shall judge the world by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31).
The principle stated here is that God is going to judge the secrets of men. This means not only the secrets that are hidden from others but those also hidden from each men himself (Psalm 19:12). These secrets will be measured by the pattern of that pure gospel which is centered in Christ and was exhibited at the Cross for sinners (1 Col. 15:3-4).
Now a final summary of the ground just covered: 1. Man is condemned by his own self-judgment, as a moralist; 2. he will be condemned by the judgment of God because of four principles: a. God will judge according to the truth; b. God will judge according to works; c. God will judge with impartiality; d. God will judge the secrets of men.
The best man in the world cannot stand before such principles of judgment.
At this point Paul does not tell us what the gospel is, but how I thank God for the gospel! There is refuge in the gospel. Today that gospel is a message of deliverance; at the great white throne it will be a message of destruction. Let me bring to your mind one verse: "He that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
The one who is in Christ cannot come into judgment! I praise God, for if God applied those principles to my life, I could not stand before Him.
However, Paul is not talking about the gospel here but is trying to bring these men to their knees in order that when he does bring the gospel to them in the next chapter, they will be ready for it.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 24 - "The Jews Under the Sentence of Condemnation")
[this is a short article today because I didn't want to start the next article here but keep it to itself beginning with the next post]