The portion of Romans on the condemnation of the self-righteous (2:1-16), along with the condemnation on mankind, shows us the way of restriction.
A. The Way of Restriction
Now we come to the way of restriction, the way to restrict evil and wickedness. All of us, especially us young people, need to pay our full attention to this way of restriction.
1. Knowing God by His Creation
The first item in the way of restriction is knowing God by His creation (1:19-20). The invisible things of God, His eternal power and divine nature, can be apprehended by His creation. The heavens and the earth manifest the invisible things of God. Einstein was once asked whether or not he believed in God. He replied, “Your question is an insult to me. How could a scientist such as I not believe in God?” If you study science, it will tell you that there is a God. Our teeth are marvelously designed. Our front teeth, the incisors, act like two knives, cutting whatever is placed in between them. Then the tongue sends the food back to the molars which are like grinding stones, grinding the food into a digestible substance. As the molars grind, saliva is secreted to liquefy the food. This is marvelous. Who made it? We must say, “Lord, thank You. You are my Creator. You have made me in such a wonderful way.”
When we behold creation in general and the human body in particular, how can we say there is no God? Even an atheistic medical doctor has to confess there is an Almighty One who created the human body. Therefore, by the things made we can apprehend the eternal power and the divine nature of God. When we see God in the beauties and wonders of His creation, we have to worship and glorify Him. Knowing God by His creation is the first aspect in the way of restricting evil.
2. Holding the Truth in Righteousness
We must hold the reality of God in righteousness, approving of keeping God in our full knowledge (1:18, 28). We need to glorify, thank, worship, and serve Him (1:21, 25). It is very important to practice these four things. Nothing is more important in your human life than worshiping God. The greatest blessing in human life is to be trained to worship our God.
3. Obeying the Laws of Nature
Next, we need to do things according to our nature (2:14). Some people are so spiritual that they condemn everything natural. They seem to feel that nothing natural can be good. Our original nature, as created by God, was good. Everything created by our Father, including our nature, was good originally. Of course, our nature was poisoned by the fall. There can be no doubt about this. Nevertheless, as human beings, we have a nature which God created good, and we need to act according to it. We should take heed to this nature. Although you may argue that it is not wrong to steal from others, the nature within you protests whenever you are tempted to steal. Even bank robbers will admit that, as they rob banks, their nature tells them, “Don’t do this.” However, they will not listen. It is the same with every evil-doer. Whenever they do something wrong, their nature disagrees. We need to observe the requirements of the nature within us.
In Romans 2:14-15 Paul says that when the nations who do not have the law practice the things of the law, they prove that the function of the law is written in their heart. The law of God has a function in our nature. In other words, our nature corresponds to God’s law because our nature was made by God. God’s law was given according to God’s nature, for a lawgiver always enacts a law in accordance with his own being. God created man according to what He is. Therefore, the law given by God and the man created by God correspond to one another. Thus, we do not need an outward law because we have the function of the law written in our nature. We simply need to live according to our nature.
4. Listening to the Conscience
Along with our good nature, we also have a conscience (2:15). The conscience is a wonderful entity, and we should listen to it. Although medical doctors cannot locate it, no one can deny that we possess it. Our conscience protests continually. When you argue with your parents, the conscience says, “Don’t do this.” If you offend your parents, your conscience will trouble you. Every husband seeking to divorce his wife will also be convicted by his conscience. All men have a conscience. This is a great matter. In the normal Christian life we must all take care of our conscience in a suitable way.
5. Caring for the Proper Reasonings
In addition to our nature and our conscience, we have the reasonings in our mind (2:15). Do not be so spiritual to say that our mind is absolutely useless. In our mind we have the good reasonings. Sometimes these reasonings accuse and condemn, and other times they excuse and justify. Often, as we set out to do a certain thing, we experience a conflict in our reasonings, with some reasonings saying, “Yes, that’s right,” and others saying, “No, that’s wrong.” We have all experienced this. We need to take care of our nature, our conscience, and the reasonings within us.
We have seen the five items in the way of restriction: knowing God by His creation, holding the truth of God in righteousness, living according to our nature, listening to our conscience, and caring for our proper reasonings. If we observe all these things, we will be restricted from every kind of evil.
Although we all are saved and are living somewhere in Romans Chapters 5 through 8, we still need to know the source of evil and the way to be restricted from doing evil. Hallelujah, we have found it! We need to know God by His creation and hold His truth in righteousness. We need to act according to our nature, heed the voice of our conscience, and care for the proper reasonings within us. If we practice all these things, we will be protected.
Source: Witness Lee, Life-Study of Romans, Message Three.
O God, Thou art the source of life,
Divine, and rich and free!
As living water flowing out
In love Thou in the Son didst flow
Among the human race;
Thou dost as Spirit also flow
Within us thru Thy grace.
Though we have often slighted Thee,
Thy Spirit often grieved,
Yet Thou dost still as Spirit come
As life to be received.
Thou as the Spirit in the Son
Hast mingled heretofore;
Thou wilt thru fellowship anoint
And increase more and more.
The love of God, the grace of Christ,
The Spirit's flowing free,
Enable us God's wealth to share
Thru all eternity.
The Father, Son, and Spirit - one,
So richly care for us;
Thy love with one accord we sing
And e'er would praise Thee thus.