As a Man Sows, So Shall He Reap

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves. (Romans 2:14)

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:3)

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves. (Romans 2:14)

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:3)

There is a very special word in the Greek New Testament which unlocks the nature of men and the justice and fairness of God in judging them. It is the word phusis (#5449 in Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament), which means growth (by germination or expansion). It is translated several times as the word nature. It comes from a closely-related word meaning to germinate or grow, to sprout or produce, and to spring up (phuo is #5453, a primary verb).

When a seed dies in the soil it germinates or sprouts and then grows up to produce the kind of plant it came from. Apple seeds produce apple trees; honoring your parents produces loyalty; envy produces strife and every evil thing. According to how a man sows, so he will reap.

Now, the Scriptures reveal the nature of man as having great dignity and worth, having the power to write what he desires on his heart -- kindness and truth and the very commandments of God, or perversity and wickedness.1 This is another metaphor, or another way of saying that men and women become what they intend to become. They reap what they sow. This is why every man chooses his own destiny, because he must go to the place he belongs -- the place prepared for each kind of person to exist forever, still.2

Each man's life is like a garden, and in it he plants the seeds he wishes, which grow and produce a crop which he shall reap. The righteous man, by nature (that is, by the growth of the good things he has planted in his heart) shows that he believes in the basic moral law. His life, the way he perseveres in doing good, shows the inner motivations and intentions of his heart. These sprout and produce the things he does. God has put this natural law in every man's heart and no man can plead ignorance of it.3 The righteous men and women of the world live their lives by their faithfulness to this moral law.4 They work by the sweat of their brow, obey their parents, are faithful to their spouse, honor the good laws of their land, and even fight to defend it from tyranny and oppression. This is the Everlasting Covenant of conscience of Genesis 3:16-19 and 9:1-7.

Romans 2:10 says that glory and honor go to those who do good and obey their conscience. Paul knew our God's heart even for the men who never heard of the Savior he loved. They were included in his Gospel as well.5 The witness of Creation he spoke of was sufficient to be an ever-present reminder to them of God and the Judgment to come.6 This was the gospel that was preached in all of Creation,7 not the good news of Messiah, which had to be received from a living messenger.8 Romans 2:10 says that glory and honor would be restored to the ones worthy of the second life at the Judgment.

The sons of disobedience in Ephesians 2 were by nature children of wrath. By nature means by the growth of the evil things they have planted in their hearts -- the evil desires, thoughts, coveting, pride, etc. Such people have grown away from the nature God gave them at birth -- since He made every man upright -- to become wicked or depraved. For God made men to bear His image, to know and discern between good and evil. "By nature" here means a constitutional change has taken place in such men; they have changed their state of being from righteous to wicked. They did this because they did not give thanks to God for His daily care -- for the sun and the rain that makes the crops grow, for the honest pleasures He gives mankind in marriage, and for the reward of his own labors. The wicked were self-seeking, always wanting more pleasure, and so God gave them up to a depraved mind.9

Among them we too all lived, either resisting or taking in their evil influence (their peer pressure), which led us astray from the righteous path we began on. The righteous maintained their righteousness, doing by their nature the things of the law. They were not perfect by any means, but they did not cross the line to become wicked; they did not do the deeds in Revelation 21:8 and 22:15. We who are among the holy now may indeed have fared worse among the sons of disobedience than the righteous, barely escaping the same growth which would have made us sons of disobedience also. Many of us were almost turned over to the wrath of God, even to being a chief sinner like Paul.10 That is, until we were rescued by hearing the good news as he did, washing away our sins in baptism.11 We cried out to the One who can save, confessing Him as Lord and believing that He rose from the dead. We have not been disappointed.12

  • 1. Proverbs 3:3; 7:1-4; 6:14; Genesis 6:5 and there are many other verses that speak of man's ability to shape his own character.
  • 2. Revelation 22:11
  • 3. Romans 1:20
  • 4. Habakkuk 2:4
  • 5. Romans 2:16
  • 6. Romans 1:18-21
  • 7. Romans 10:18
  • 8. Romans 10:14-17
  • 9. Romans 1:24,26,28
  • 10. 1 Timothy 1:16
  • 11. Acts 22:16
  • 12. Romans 10:8-13

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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