Romans 2:14–15—How can those who are by nature sinners keep God’s laws of nature?

Problem: Ephesians 2:3 asserts that all humans are “by nature children of wrath.” But Paul speaks here of unbelieving Gentiles who “by nature do the things contained in the law” (Rom. 2:14). These two things seem mutually opposed.

Solution: Ephesians is speaking of the cause of sinful actions, whereas Romans refers to the rule for our actions. The former relates to our propensity to sin and the latter to the norm for what is sin. There is a difference between what humans are inclined to do by nature and what they ought to do according to the natural law “written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:15).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.