After speaking about hypocritical judgment Paul continued his thoughts on judgment.
Romans 2:6-10 (KJV)
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
In the previous section, Paul had just finished stating that God, because of mankind's unrepentant heart, would righteously judge. "Who" in verse 6 refers to God, who in His righteous judgment, would judge every man according to his deeds.
To those who continue to do good deeds would receive glory, honor, immortality and eternal life (verse 7), but those who are contentious (quarrelsome), who disobey the truth, who obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath (verse 8), would receive tribulation and anguish (verse 9). Paul then repeated the idea by stating clearly that God's righteous judgment would fall on every man (and woman) that does evil. Glory, honor, and peace would be given to every man that does good (verse 10).
Paul's declarations should give Christians pause. Aren't we taught that it is faith in Yeshua that saves us from God's judgment? Aren't we taught that good works can never be enough to earn salvation? Paul seemed to contradict his very own comments about salvation by faith in chapter 1. So what is the truth? Are we saved by grace through faith or is it by works?
Technically, we are saved by works. If it were possible, a sinless human being would be able to attain salvation on his or her own. Unfortunately, Paul had been building a case that demonstrated that all mankind is sinful, thereby rendering a guilty verdict against every single human being. We all deserve to die in penalty for our sin. This is where God's grace comes in. Through our faith in Yeshua's payment of mankind's penalty for sin by dying on the cross, we can trust in Yeshua and receive His righteousness that will allow us to escape our just end and receive eternal life. God sees us "just as if we'd never sinned." For the believer, God only sees the good works that Yeshua has done.
But then what was Paul talking about when he referred to the results of doing good or evil deeds? Is he talking simply about rewards and consequences? Paul's words are those used for judgment and salvation and must refer to more than just rewards and consequences.
James 2:20 (KJV)
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Paul was agreeing with James' statement that faith and works go hand in hand. A person may think he has faith, but if there are no good works, there really is no faith. Works are the evidence of faith. So, Paul was saying that if a person's life is characterized by good works of faith he will be saved, but if a person's life is characterized by sin, that person has no faith and will not be saved. This should be sobering to the Christian as well. We are to live in righteousness.
Paul also spoke about Jews and Gentiles in this passage. This will be addressed in the next post. Stay tuned.