Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Romans 2:6-10 and the Covenant of Works

And hence the Apostle in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Romans says that God will reward every man according to his works. To those who are good, He will give eternal life; to those who are evil, indignation and wrath. This is only saying that the eternal principles of justice are still in force. If any man can present himself before the bar of God and prove that he is free from sin, either imputed or personal, either original or actual, he will not be condemned. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:122)

According to Charles Hodge, Romans 2:6-10 is not about some idea that believers would bring forth "Spirit-wrought works," as what John Piper believes, but that it speaks about the condition of perfect obedience required in the Covenant of Works. It is because the Covenant of Works is still valid that Man continue to die physically. Death is caused by sin, and that all men die is proof that all men sin (Rom. 5:12).

2 comments:

Brandon said...

John Owen agrees:

"The words there [Rom 2:7] are used in a law sense, and are declarative of the righteousness of God in rewarding the keepers of the law of nature, or the moral law, according to the law of the covenant of works. This is evident from the whole design of the apostle in that place, which is to convince all men, Jews and Gentiles, of sin against the law, and of the impossibility of the obtaining the glory of God thereby."
The Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated and Socinianism Examined (XXXIII) http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/vindicevang.i.xl.html

The Doctrine of Justification:
There is also a twofold justification before God mentioned in the Scripture. First, “By the works of the law,” Romans 2:13; 10:5; Matthew 19:16-19. Here unto is required an absolute conformity unto the whole law of God, in our natures, all the faculties of our souls, all the principles of our moral operations, with perfect actual obedience unto all its commands, in all instances of duty, both for matter and manner: for he is cursed who continues not in all things that are written in the law, to do them; and he that break any one commandment is guilty of the breach of the whole law. Hence the apostle concludes that none can be justified by the law, because all have sinned. Second, There is a justification by grace, through faith in the blood of Christ; whereof we treat. And these ways of justification are contrary, proceeding on terms directly contradictory, and cannot be made consistent with or subservient one to the other. But, as we shall manifest afterwards, the confounding of them both, by mixing them together, is that which is aimed at in this distinction of a first and second justification. But whatever respects it may have, that justification which we have before God, in his sight through Jesus Christ, is but one, and at once full and complete; and this distinction is a vain and fond invention. (186)

We are not hereon justified by the law, or the works of it… The meaning of it in the Scripture is, that only “the doers of the law shall be justified,” Romans 2:13; and that “he that does the things of it shall live by them,” chapter 10:5, — namely, in his own person, by the way of personal duty, which alone the law requires. But if we, who have not fulfilled the law in the way of inherent, personal obedience, are justified by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto us, then are we justified by Christ, and not by the law. (287)

For the apostle treats of that law whose doers shall be justified, Romans 2:13; and the authors of this opinion would have it to be a law that can justify none of them that do it. That law he intends whereby is the knowledge of sin; for he gives this reason why we cannot be justified by the works of it, — namely, because “by it is the knowledge of sin,” chapter 2:20: and by what law is the knowledge of sin he expressly declares, where he affirms that he “had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet,” chapter 7:7; which is the moral law alone. That law he designs which stops the mouth of all sinners, and makes all the world obnoxious unto the judgment of God, chapter 3:19; which none can do but the law written in the heart of men at their creation, chapter 2:14,15; — that law, which “if a man do the works of it, he shall live in them,” Galatians 3:12, Romans 10:5; and which brings all men under the curse for sin, Galatians 3:10, — the law that is established by faith, and not made void, Romans 3:31; (358)

The apostle himself declares that it is the law and the works of it, in the sense we have expressed, that he excludes from our justification… the law which if a man observe , “he shall live,” and be justified before God, Romans 2:13; Galatians 3:12; Romans 10:5; (370)

The righteousness which is by the law is the righteousness which the law requires, and those works of it which if a man do he shall live in them; for “the doers of the law shall be justified,” Romans 2:13. (465)

PuritanReformed said...

@Brandon,

thanks for the quotes