“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”–Rom. 1:18-23
Do you ever think about the wrath of God? I’ll be the first to admit I probably don’t. I’d prefer not to. Wrath in general isn’t something I’d like to think about. But regardless of whether or not we like it, God is holy, and God is a God of wrath.
All people “suppress the truth.” We suppress it, we act like it isn’t there. It’s more convenient for us to walk outside and attribute a perfectly designed world to a random act of science than to deal with the truth that there is a God and we are accountable to Him.
We cannot be saved through studying God in nature, but we can clearly see there is a God. His “eternal power” and “divine nature” are shown. How? We see the power of God when we look at creation. The beauty of God’s creation, the uniqueness of it…all point to Him.
We see His divine nature when we notice our world and see the existence of a Creator.
So we are without excuse, Paul says. No one will be able to stand before God and say, “Wow! Had no idea you were here, God!” No one.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”–1:24-25
Sin is now rampant. It has affected all of creation. Why is there institutional racism, genocide, abortion and mistreatment of others? Not because of “religion,” but because of sin. Because human hearts don’t recognize their Creator.
If we were to recognize God as God and follow Him, how different things would be. But no one does. No one follows God, everyone falls short, Paul will tell us.
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decrees that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”–1:26-32
Paul uses homosexual behavior as an example of unrighteousness and rebellion. It is not popular in 2017 to call this sin, but Christians are bound, not by culture, but by the Word of God. Same-sex behavior and marriage is a sin, and stands as rebellion against God. I cannot describe how painful those words are to right, as I have close friends and family who are in this situation, and I love them dearly. But that doesn’t change the truth.
Lest those of us who don’t struggle with that particular sin think we are something, Paul’s included a list for everyone. No one can make it through this list without an alarm going off in their head…”Guilty, guilty, guilty!” We know we are guilty. We know we are foolish and heartless and inventors of evil, etc. And we deserve to die.
But praise God that’s not the end of the story. Jesus has come to save us from our sins. He has paid our sin debt on the cross with His death and has risen from the grave so that those who trust in Him as Savior and Lord will be with God forever and their sin will not stand against them. Trust in Him.
Lord, may we not take for granted your holiness. May we be quick to repent. May we be bound by your word, not by culture. May we be unafraid to talk about sin and unafraid to share your solution for sin, the gospel of your Son Jesus.