The Sinfulness of Sin and the Wrath of God: Romans 1:18-32

“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.

God bless,

Neal E.

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“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Ask 10 baseball fans who the best player ever is, and you’ll likely get six or seven answers: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, or, the right answer of course…Hank Aaron (unashamed Braves bias here).

That same test could be applied to rock fans being asked who the greatest guitar player ever is, to fans of books, movies, superheroes…you name it, we all have different opinions on a wide variety of topics.

That truth extends even to Jesus Christ. From the Doobie Brothers to Joe Smith down the block, everyone has an opinion on who Jesus is. Even in Jesus’ day, people had a wide variety of views on who He was.

“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Phillippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?'”–Mark 8:27-29

When He first starts His ministry, Jesus is taken by some to be a prophet, in the mold of John the Baptist, or, as shown in this passage, the reincarnation of John the Baptist after John the Baptist is beheaded.

Others thought Jesus fulfilled God’s promise in Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”–Malachi 4:5-6

Jesus asks His disciples what people are saying about Him, and as He hears the different answers, He turns the attention on them:

“Who do you say that I am?” He asks.

Jesus makes it clear that what matters is not knowing about Him, but knowing Him personally. What matters is not whether or not you know what your family, friends, textbooks, or favorite Internet sites say about Jesus. What matters, ultimately, eternally, is what you say about Jesus, and how that shapes your life.

You will not be saved because your parents know Jesus. You will not be saved because you know who Jesus is. You will not be saved because you can answer religious questions. If being saved is a test of theological knowledge, the devil would be first in line, because “even the demons believe, and shudder,” James tells us.

What makes the devil different from a believer is what the devil knows about Jesus causes him to cower in fear, because he refuses to repent and believe on Christ, while a believer not only understands, but rests and rejoices in all of who God is for us in Christ, and seeks to draw near to God instead of away from Him.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, the Savior of the World, the King of the universe, and the only hope for the nations.

But what does He mean to you? Does that impact your life on a daily basis? Does your life reflect, not just head knowledge of who Jesus is, but a love for the Lord and fellowship with Him? Who do you say that He is?

If you turn to Him, He will save you from your sins, give you eternal life, bring you as a spotless child before the Father who will adopt you, and will give you new life and holiness, and joy as never before. If you turn away from Him, you sign your own death sentence, choosing to reject God’s way of salvation from His wrath. If you turn away from Him, you refuse the embrace of the Savior who is also the King and the Judge.

Today, Jesus is asking us that same question He asked His disciples 2,000 years ago:

“Who do you say that I am?”

How will we respond?

Lord, may we trust you, embrace you, love you, and obey you as you have called us to. Lord, may we say that you are our Savior, our Lord, our joy, our satisfaction, our redemption, and all that you are for us. May we find our deepest hope and our identity in you. May we seek to glorify you, not just know more about you.

God bless,

Neal E.