They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts. Romans 2:15
In his book Human Universals, anthropologist Donald Brown lists more than four hundred behaviors that he considers common across humanity. He includes such things as toys, jokes, dances, and proverbs, wariness of snakes, and tying things with string! Likewise, he believes all cultures have concepts of right and wrong, where generosity is praised, promises are valued, and things like meanness and murder understood to be wrong. We all have a sense of conscience, wherever we’re from.
The apostle Paul made a similar point many centuries ago. While God gave the Jewish people the Ten Commandments to clarify right from wrong, Paul noted that since gentiles could do right by obeying their conscience, God’s laws were evidently written on their hearts (Romans 2:14–15). But that didn’t mean people always did what was right. The gentiles rebelled against their conscience (1:32), the Jews broke the Law (2:17–24), leaving both guilty. But through faith in Jesus, God removes the death penalty from all our rule-breaking (3:23–26; 6:23).
Since God created all humans with a sense of right and wrong, each of us will likely feel some guilt over a bad thing we’ve done or a good thing we failed to do. When we confess those sins, God wipes away the guilt like a whiteboard wiped clean. All we have to do is ask Him—whoever we are, wherever we’re from.
Where do you think humanity’s sense of right and wrong comes from? What guilt feelings are you wanting Jesus’ forgiveness for today?
Jesus, I’ve failed to do right and succeeded in doing wrong. Forgive me. Thank You for dying my death so I don’t have to.
Rome was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the ancient world, which was evidenced in the makeup of the first-century church comprised of both Jews and gentiles. This diverse audience is reflected in the inclusive way in which Paul chose to open his letter to the believers in Christ there. In chapter 1, he focuses on the spiritual need of the gentiles who, in their rebellion, had spiraled away from God. Then in chapter 2, he presents the spiritual need of the Jews who sought to be made righteous by the law but never could. Thankfully, Paul prefaces these concerns with the good news. In Romans 1:16 we read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Both Jew and gentile are the objects of God’s rescuing love.