begins his lessons to the Romans by stating three things:
the wrath of God is deserved by man
God is doing about it – even today (eerily, his words ring of today).
what God will do about it on the Day of Judgment.
Romans 1:18-23 NIV The wrath
of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness
of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, (19)
since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it
plain to them. (20) For since the creation of
the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are
without excuse. (21) For although they knew
God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their
thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (22) Although they claimed to be wise, they became
fools (23) and exchanged the glory of the
immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and
the love of God
may seem strange to start with the counterargument, but this idea is so
embedded in our society that it must be dealt with first. Put simply, the
counterargument goes likes this: “But God is a loving god – how could he do a
thing like punish someone or send them to hell?” We answer that (as Aquinas
would have said it):
do you know that God is a loving God? Is it not because both nature and
revelation (Scripture) show him as such? If so, how is that you accept
this revelation about him, but not the revelation of the God of Justice?
Are you indeed so superior to God?
are you not picking and choosing among the things known about God to
create a god of your own convenience and choosing? My wife likes to have
me make love with her; she also likes to have me do the dishes. Somehow
she does not see the logic in my picking what I want. Marriage, like the
rest of life, is a package deal.
those to whom written revelation has made it, do you really have the
choice? Can you decide which parts of Scripture are true and which are
false – based on your personal desires? It’s the word of God, not a candy
is revealed about God?
just what is it about God that has been revealed? The question takes much more
time than we have to answer fully, but for our purposes we might point out the
his existence – as shown in his divine power in creating the universe.
his love as shown in his divine care for us, both in nature and at the
his justice – as shown in Scripture, and in history. What goes around,
comes around; the universe is a moral place – just as its Creator
is applied to the guilty. What, then, does God say that we have done?
failed to glorify him. We have Obama worshipers, and no one thinks
anything of it. But we do not glorify him.
have failed to give him thanks. The ultimate source of bread is not the
bakery – but we act like it is.
important of all, we think ourselves wise while being fools. Think of the
condescension the world has for “ignorant fundamentalists.” Throughout
much of the church today the concept of sin is considered obsolete – and
we shall see its consequences.
what will God do about it?
easy to think that God does nothing about this, and therefore doesn’t really
care. If the “something” we want him to do is fire and brimstone, you’re
right; he usually doesn’t do that. So what does God do about this?
Romans 1:24-32 NIV Therefore
God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for
the degrading of their bodies with one another. (25)
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created
things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. (26) Because of this, God gave them over to shameful
lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (27) In the same way the men also abandoned natural
relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed
indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for
their perversion. (28) Furthermore, since
they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them
over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (29) They have become filled with every kind of
wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit and malice. They are gossips, (30)
slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of
doing evil; they disobey their parents; (31)
they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (32)
Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve
death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those
who practice them.
is interesting: the first thing God does about this is give mankind over to
sexual desires. Does that ring an alarm bell today? Notice the sequence:
comes lesbianism. Those old enough will recall a time when lesbianism was
considered “bold, artistic, fulfilling,” while male homosexuality was
still considered a bit shady. (See the history of feminism for this; a
major part of this spiritual foolishness.)
that is well established, male homosexuality comes next. And coming up
next, by the way: pedophilia. (We already have a state sponsored
institution in California set up specifically to advocate this – an
institution funded primarily by the pornography industry.)
that? The penalties thereof (think AIDS). What’s really funny is to hear
the “reasons” for the AIDS epidemic – which chastity could wipe out in a
do we have an AIDS epidemic in the United States? Well, it’s certainly not our
sexual behavior (pure righteousness, that – except for Republicans, of
course.) Here’s why:
enough money spent on health care, especially in the rural south. (More
clinics would mean people would find out they’re infected sooner, and of
course they’d use condoms after that.)
enough money spent on research – which is caused by right wing Christian
– my favorite – because of the guilt trip laid on innocent, sexually
active AIDS victims by those same Christians.
you can see, it’s really nothing of God’s doing. Right.
them over to…
next step is a long and familiar list of characteristics of our society. The
reader is referred to the list given in our previous study on Romans.
(For the classroom use, this list was reproduced).
points to observe
a long list – but each item rings true. But I would point out three key things
for you to observe concerning this list:
we deny God’s decree. We contend that right and wrong aren’t; that all
things are relative; all “cultures are equally valid.” In other words,
God, you are mistaken.
“continue to do” these things. It starts with the fact that we have no
shame about them (and that is true in our local church.) I remember well
the reaction our former pastor got when he stated that “sex outside of
marriage is wrong.” The audience – and it was the older portion of the
congregation – gasped. Ultimately, the conscience is seared. Once this
is done, it’s easy to proclaim wrong to be right.
we end up by approving – indeed, applauding – those who do such things.
Homosexuals are bold fighters against puritanical prudes, applauded by
is tempting – in the Biblical sense – for the Christian to say, “right on!”
But Paul now brings out the problem with doing that.
Romans 2:1-11 NIV
therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at
whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you
who pass judgment do the same things. (2) Now
we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on
truth. (3) So when you, a mere man, pass
judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's
judgment? (4) Or do you show contempt for the
riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's
kindness leads you toward repentance? (5) But
because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up
wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment
will be revealed. (6) God "will give to
each person according to what he has done."
(7) To those who by persistence in doing good
seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (8) But for those who are self-seeking and who
reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (9) There will be trouble and distress for every
human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; (10) but glory, honor and peace for everyone who
does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (11)
For God does not show favoritism.
judge, you condemn yourself
argument is pretty simple:
possess the truth, Christian. It is a higher standard than the revelation
of nature. Should you not therefore be held to that higher standard?
pass judgment on others. That implies that you know the standard, and
that you agree that it is right.
is just. Is it not justice that he therefore will apply the standard that
you know, the higher standard, the one you agree is right – to you?
inconvenient, that. So we bring up our excuses – agreeing generally, but in my
may not seem familiar at first, but think on it a bit…
sins are respectable.” It’s not greed, it’s ambition. It’s not envy,
it’s a desire for social justice. Everyone approves of these things;
what’s the problem. (And if all the kids in your junior high class are
wearing bones in their noses, running like lemmings over the cliff, then
will forgive me – it’s his hobby.” (Heine). In saying this, do you not
insult the mercy of God?
my sin give God a chance to show his grace? Grace is a good thing,
right?” So more sin is a good thing, right?
fact is unassailable: God will deal with mankind according to his righteous
wrath. But we may observe three principles to this which may affect our search
for a solution:
in his mercy, he allows for a time of repentance.
We should avail ourselves of that time.
will be based on what you have done – both positive and negative.
will be judged most severely.
at this point, things look bleak. But Paul is not finished yet. As we shall
see, his writing will hit its high point in Christ – the solution to this