Every Man According To His Deeds
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds:” Romans 2:5-6 (NASB)
We’ve a few more forays into the book of Romans before we sally forth into other rich New Testament scriptural soil supplemented by Old Testament quotations. Today we consider our text from Romans 2:6 and the apostle Paul’s citation of the inspired psalmist’s utterance as found in Psalm 62:12. Although Paul does not say, ‘as it is written’, in prefacing his citing of the psalmist, it would be very clear from whom he references in light of who he is addressing (the Jews) in this section of his letter.
Here is the passage in Psalms from which Paul quotes in its context. “Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God; and lovingkindness is Thine, O Lord, for Thou dost recompense a man according to his work.” (Ps. 62:11-12). We offer here an alternate translation from the Rotherham’s version for your consideration. “One thing, hath God spoken, two things (there are) which I have heard, that, power, belongeth unto God; and thine, O my Lord, is lovingkindness—for, thou, wilt pay back unto every man—according to his deed.”
Do not trust in men, might, or mammon
Psalm 62, penned by the sweet psalmist of Israel (David), is about waiting (as in resting, without anxiety) upon God, trusting in God, taking refuge in God. David knew from Him comes salvation in the face of his enemies scheming and conspiring to bring him down. Notice this is a passive trust that David exhibits, a true picture of faith in God which produces a strength that cannot be shaken. David begs those who have shared in similar circumstances to trust in Him and pour their hearts out before Him (Ps. 62:8) as he had.
He contrasts his trust in the LORD to that of trusting in “men of low degree” who “are only vanity” and to “men of rank” who “are a lie”. When weighed “in the balances they go up; they are altogether lighter than breath.” (Ps. 62:9)
David, as one who held high station as king in Israel, had experienced the pain of disappointment of trusting in men as a whole. In his exile from Jerusalem at the hands of his own son, aided by those in positions of influence and joined by the sentiments of the common folks inflamed against him, he personally had tasted of the bitter fruit of vain hope in men, particularly for one’s own salvation — be it of position (as king), or person.
He follows this with the warning not to trust in ill gotten gains, whether by means of oppression or robbery, nor in increasing riches earned rightfully; of these he says, “do not set your heart upon them” as a means of deliverance or an insulating power to save (Ps. 62:10). Appended to this context is the passage from which the apostle Paul lifts his quote in his inspired letter to the Romans. David states that God has spoken, He has the power to save and deliver, and all will answer for their deeds before Him.
Render or surrender your deeds
Back to Romans chapter two. What’s the issue? As in all things, it’s a heart condition, just as Paul had pointed out in the context, “but because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart”. The Jews had succeeded in deceiving themselves (after all, in fleshly man “the heart is more deceitful than all else” Jer. 17:9) that because they possessed the law and were known to be God’s possession as His people under the Old Covenant, they were in good standing. Paul, through the Spirit, warns that J-day is coming for them in the form of God’s wrath. First, in collectively judging and destroying the physical nation of Israel for rejecting the Christ via the Romans in 70 AD, and ultimately on an individual basis. In both cases it was because of their stubborn and unrepentant hearts thinking “lightly of the riches of His kindness, and forbearance and patience”. (Rom. 2:4)
Now let’s consider the text which follows Paul’s statement referencing Psalm 62 in Rom. 2:6, “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” Notice the differences between the two groups. The faithful perseveres in doing good (deeds), seeking glory, honor, immortality and eternal life, understanding that comes from obeying the truth, or another way of saying it, in obeying and trusting in God, placing their faith in the power of His plan through Christ Jesus. They order everything in their lives in line with this faith picture, knowing the deeds that spring forth will commend them to God’s mercy, His lovingkindness. Sounds kind of like David and his experience, doesn’t it. When he was displaced from the throne, he didn’t shake his fist at God, put an “action plan” into place to regain his throne by using his men, military might or mammon. No, rather he took refuge in God, letting the LORD’s plan work its intended outcome. He surrendered his deeds to God, evidence he had placed his faith in God.
The Jews were selfishly ambitious and unwilling to obey the truth. In their pigheaded, self-righteous, delusional stance, they thought their deeds rendered in the flesh as Jews would save them. The power to save and extend mercy resides in God and only to those who obey and place their trust (faith) in His plan. He who is of the truth comes to the light, thus manifesting his deeds as having been “wrought in God.” (Jn 3:21) So, will it be rendered or surrendered deeds? Your will or His?