Summary: In this sermon Paul tells us that God will uncover all our secrets on the Day of Judgment.
"12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares." (Romans 2:12-16)
Even though we are not strongly liturgical in our worship, there are parts of a liturgy that I appreciate. One is found in the invocation that comes from the Anglican Order of the Administration of Holy Communion. It begins:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: . . . .
I think that is a powerful expression. It reminds us that in a world ordered by an omniscient God there are, in the final analysis, no secrets. We may have secrets, hiding from others what we are or do. But there will be no secrets on the Day of Judgment when all secrets will be brought to light before God.
The idea that God is omniscient and that we have no secrets before him is the essence of today’s text. Paul tells us that God will uncover all our secrets on the Day of Judgment in Romans 2:16: “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”
I. The All-Knowing God
The Bible teaches that God knows all things—even now.
God spoke of the Jewish people to Isaiah, saying, “For I know their works and their thoughts” (Isaiah 66:18, KJV).
King David wrote of himself: “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4).
The author of Hebrews declared: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
This is one reason why non-Christians repress their knowledge of God, as Romans 1:18-20 declares they do. We looked at this when we were studying those verses. If God knows all things (as he must if he is God), he knows us not as we wish to project ourselves before others, but as we really are. And none of us can stand the thought of such perfect and penetrating knowledge.
In a series of essays called The Words, philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre tells how he came to be an atheist. He had been raised in a Roman Catholic home, and as one of his assignments in the Roman Catholic school he attended he had written a paper on the Passion of Christ. When the awards were presented for these papers, Sartre was given only a silver medal rather than the gold. He resented it and blamed God. Sartre wrote, “This disappointment drove me into impiety. . . . For several years more, I maintained public relations with the Almighty. But privately, I ceased to associate with him.”
Then Sartre tells how, during these years, there was a time when he felt that God existed: “I had been playing with matches and burned a small rug. I was in the process of covering up my crime when suddenly God saw me. I felt his gaze inside my head and on my hands. I whirled about in the bathroom, horribly visible, a live target. Indignation saved me. I flew into a rage against so crude an indiscretion, I blasphemed, I muttered like my grandfather, ‘God damn it, God damn it, God damn it.’” And then Sartre says, “He [i.e., God] never looked at me again.”
That story alone, it seems to me, explains the life and philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. It is sad and tragic. It is sad because it is mistaken. Sartre says, “He [God] never looked at me again.” That is wrong. God never stopped looking at Sartre. God looks on all things and sees them all perfectly. Actually, it was Sartre who had stopped looking at God.