Are Non-Christians Subject to the Laws of God?
Text: II Thessalonians 1:3-10
I. Without a doubt people make a mess of their lives
A. One of the hardest things about studying with people these days is the tangle they create in their families
1. You have people who have married and divorced serval times
2. They have kids by multiple partners, some to whom they never married
3. Often they know their lives are a wreck, in part that is why they want to learn God’s word.
4. Yet, sometimes the news is not one they want to hear
B. Some wonder whether God’s laws should apply to the past.
1. Won’t it be easier just to say the laws take effect when you become a Christian?
2. Some have stated, such as in the case of divorce and remarriage, that all past sins are removed, thus once you are baptized, it doesn’t matter if your current marriage wasn’t proper if you were a Christian, it only becomes legitimate now that you are a Christian.
II. Sin only exists in the presence of law
A. Sin is the breaking of law - I John 3:4
B. Sin isn’t charged when there is no law - Romans 5:13
1. Yet sin existed in the world. It didn’t suddenly appear when Moses came down from Mount Sinai - Romans 5:14
2. Paul’s charge is that all have sinned, from Adam on down - Romans 5:12
3. Therefore, the implication is that law existed for people who didn’t have the written law.
C. Paul charged that both the Jews, who had the written law, and the Greeks, who did not, were under sin - Romans 3:9
1. That means they both had law
D. We should explain that law doesn’t create sin, it defines what is sin - Romans 7:7
1. In science we have a law concerning gravity
a. Gravity existed long before someone came up with the Law of Gravity
b. The Law of Gravity defines how gravity operates, but it does not create gravity.
2. In the same way, God’s laws define right and wrong
a. The law didn’t make murder a sin, it defined it as a sin.
b. But murder was still wrong when Cain slew Abel.
3. But sin dies without law - Romans 7:8
a. Before we were aware of law (when we were children), sin was unable to destroy us - Romans 7:9
b. This is the time when people have no knowledge of good and evil - Deuteronomy 1:39
c. However, we grow up. We come to realize that there are right and wrong actions and that it applies to us - Romans 7:10-13
E. How could the Gentiles be held accountable to a law they did not receive? - Romans 2:12-16
1. Even without a written law, they acted by standards
2. People know that murder is wrong. They may excuse it certain situations, but they still say it is wrong to murder.
3. Stealing is wrong. Lying is frowned upon.
4. As soon as someone says that some action is wrong, they are acknowledging that there exists a standard of right and wrong.
5. What Paul argues is that people couldn’t even keep their own standard.
F. Now, apply what we have learned to the subject of divorce and remarriage.
1. Does Luke 16:18 make remarriage after a divorce into adultery? Or, does it more clearly define what was already wrong?
2. When Jesus discussed this, he appealed to what has always been true - Matthew 19:8
III. The standard to which all are accountable
A. Returning to Romans 2, Paul noted that those under the law are judged by the law and the Greeks, who were without law, are judged by what they understood.
B. Notice, however, that the standard for both Jew and Greek has changed - Romans 2:16
C. It is a consistent message. There was a tolerance for ignorance in the past that has been removed - Acts 17:30-31
1. Notice the world, not just Christians, are judged by Christ
2. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ - II Corinthians 5:10
D. Jesus is now the standard by which we are all judged - John 12:48
E. This is why we seek to teach others - II Corinthians 5:11
1. Even though they might not realize it, even the ignorant are accountable to the laws of Christ
2. We understand this and seek to rescue people from their ignorance
3. Because one day judgment will come - II Thessalonians 1:7-9
a. Vengeance is taken on the disobedient
b. But it is also on the ignorant!
F. Ignorance of the law will not save a person
1. If it did, then we best destroy all the Bibles because the knowledge that is there is “killing” people.
2. But the truth is that people are already dead and dying.
3. The gospel exists to lead men out of their sins
G. In other words, a person is held accountable to the standard that stealing is wrong, whether they read it in the Bible or not.
1. Adultery remains wrong, whether society accepts the standard or not.
2. Just as it only through the gospel people are saved - Romans 1:16
3. It doesn’t matter if one’s particular denomination says baptism isn’t necessary. We are not judged by a denomination’s view of truth. We are judge by the one truth.
IV. But, but, but ...
A. What is difficult to accept is in regards to those who made such a mess of their lives in their ignorance that the mess isn’t fixable
1. There are some who married, cheated on their spouses, married others and upon learning the gospel are shocked to find that they had lost the right to marriage because of their past sins.
2. Jesus told his disciples that it won’t be always easy - Matthew 19:10-12
a. Some will reject the truth
b. But others, seeing the value of heaven, will forego sexual relations to get there
B. But, it seems so unfair!
1. But those so arguing state that these same people have sins that need to be removed so that they can reach heaven.
2. Why do they decide that some violations of the law need to be remedied, but not others?
3. You can’t subdivide the law - James 2:8-12
C. In our example, is the remarriage to a divorced person (not for the cause of fornication) causing adultery?
1. Is it only adultery for Christians, or is it also adultery for non-Christians?
2. If you say only for Christians, then why did John tell Herod - Mark 6:18?
3. No, there is only one law and what is adultery for one, is adultery for another.
4. If adultery exists, can a person be save without repentance from sin? - Luke 13:3
a. But repentance means to turn away from sin - Acts 26:20
b. How can a person be saved without leaving his sins?
c. I Corinthians 6:9-11 - Notice that some had been adulterers in the past, but had left their sins. The very thing we are discussing!
D. Let’s put it on a different circumstance
1. Suppose someone for Massachusetts marries a person of the same gender, which is currently legal there.
2. Can that person be baptized and be considered saved while remaining in their homosexual “marriage?”
3. If you claim this is wrong, then why do you excuse the adulterer in the similar situation?
V. Be Holy - I Peter 1:13-19
A. In former days, people did many sins in ignorance by following after their lusts.
B. But such is no excuse to remain in them.
C. God demands holiness from His people.