Summary: This is an overview at a very high level of the human need for salvation and the way to find it. I'm sure there are gaps that most will fill in.
Please open your Bibles to Romans 2:12-16 which we will read in a few minutes.
The Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth also created humanity.
In the beginning two people, Adam and Eve, made up the totality of humanity and they had one law, one command; “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:17
That was it. That was the law. There was only one law, only one command.
Obeying that one command kept them in right standing with God.
This was a position of righteousness.
Disobeying that one command was an act of rebellion resulting in an unrighteous standing with God.
This is important; when they rebelled by sinning God did not reject them, they rejected and moved away from God resulting in a broken relationship with God and a loss of innocence which then resulted in feelings of guilt and shame.
How did they know not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
God told them and He also told them the consequences of such an action.
With that in mind let’s go ahead and read: Romans 2:12-16
OK. So, let’s take this apart verse by verse and try to understand what the Lord is telling us here …
Romans 2:12 NIV
“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.”
Now, what is this law that is being talked about?
The most basic set of laws for the Jews was the Ten Commandments.
No other God
Do not take the name of the LORD in vain
Remember the Sabbath
Honor your father and mother
No false testimony
We as Christians have two overarching commands that not only include the ten commandments but they also define our motivation for keeping all of the commandments and these commands (quote Matthew 22:37-40)
But … what is this perishing thing?
Eternal separation from God in a place the Bible refers to as hell.
With that understanding let’s return to verse 12 …
Now, we can understand why someone having the law would be judged by the law.
If the speed limit sign says 30 and you’re going 60 you’ll probably get at ticket but if you go 30 you’ll be fine.
If the “law” at work says that you will get fired if you’re late to work more than twice a month and you come to work late five days in a row, you’ll probably get fired.
If your wife says to put your dirty underwear in the hamper and instead you leave them on the floor you’ll probably be wearing dirty underwear that you find on the floor.
That’s being judged by the law. But what about being judged apart from the law?
That doesn’t seem fair does it? And, no, it’s not. But, the Lord is not unfair; He is just.
Look at verses 14 and 15
Romans 2:14-15 NIV
“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.
“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”