Romans 2:16 NASB
“on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
Let’s break this down as Paul concludes this thought.
1. “on the day” – This day refers to the day of judgement that he has been speaking about in the previous passages. All of this unrighteousness and righteous living accumulates towards that final day where we all stand before God.
“according to my gospel” – This isn’t Paul insinuating that he is preaching a different gospel from the other Apostles but referring to the gospel he has laid out systematically throughout his letter. The gospel that Paul received from Jesus is the same that is in accordance with the judgement God is reserving for all of humanity.
2. “God will judge the secrets of men” – This daunting truth, should make every person, Jew or Gentile, collapse in reverence before God. The Jew is judged by the Law of Moses and is found to be short of fulfilling it. The Gentile has the Law written on their hearts and break those internal Laws both visibly and invisibly in their hearts. The deeds of the heart and the deeds done in the secret of darkness are utterly visible before the Almighty God. The heart, which is the most secret and confident place of a human, is revealed in its entirety all day and forever before the Creator of that heart. What we do outwardly that receives praise from man, but is done for selfish reasons is known by God. When no one sees the lust and anger of our hearts God sees it plain as if we had outwardly done it. And we will be judged for it. The greek word used for “secret” is “kruptos” which means
3. “secret, hidden, a secret place”. Where we feel the most confident in our sin, and the least vulnerable, God has called us out to show us His Omnipotence. Because we are judged not just by our external actions but our internal heart, it shows us that in order to be right before God, we can’t just have a change of external actions but an internal regeneration.
4. “through Jesus Christ” – This judgement all happens through Jesus Christ. He is the propitiation, the Savior, the atonement, the lamb who was slain and paid the price for us to be in relationship with Him. 1 John 2:2 “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus we can be found guilt free and justified before God or in our unbelief and sin found wanting and judged rightfully so.
This passage is such a wonderful reminder that God is not amiss on the secret life we have internally. This warning protects us, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction towards our sin that we harbor in our hearts. It also leaves us with the knowledge that God cares deeply about the heart. The heart is the problem and that’s where God wants to do His work in us. Without a heart change there is no escape from harboring and practicing sin.