“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Romans 2:12-16).
As Paul will enumerate later in the book of Romans (cf. 9:4-5), the Jews—who had been given the Law of Moses—had many spiritual advantages over the Gentiles (cf. Romans 3:1-2). In addition to the innate sense of right and wrong (i.e., a conscience), the Jews had a perfect moral code from God delivered to educate their consciences righteously. A Jew did not have to guess or figure out what was right and wrong. God had already revealed it in the Law.
` The Gentiles did not have such an advantage. If a Gentile reasoned carefully and wisely, he could pretty much figure out that he should not steal, lie, murder, or commit adultery.
What’s embarrassing is when a Gentile who had not been blessed with the special revelation of God’s will lived a wiser, more morally upright life than a Jew who had been blessed with the oracles of God! If a high school team should beat an NBA squad in a game of basketball, the pros ought to be wildly embarrassed. It is like a Jew who lives on a lower spiritual plane than a Gentile.