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The Present Wrath of God
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (KJV)
Most people are not likely to believe that God’s judgment has a present, as well as a future display or exhibition. And even if they do believe in a present judgment, the form which this judgment takes, is not what they might expect. The above text gives us insight into the nature of sin.
The sin of ALL mankind is described in Romans Chapter 1. Man’s sin is the rejection of what God has revealed. In Romans Chapter 2, man’s sin is viewed in terms of what God has revealed to each person and in terms of what that person has done with what he knows.
There is the shift from the present wrath of God in Chapter 1 to the future wrath of God in Chapter 2. All through Rom. 1:18-32, the wrath of God is described as being presently revealed. In chapter 2, Paul speaks of God’s wrath as that which is future. Because people are stubborn and unrepentant, they store up wrath for themselves in the day of wrath and revelation the righteous judgment of God. Romans 2:5-6 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (KJV)
So the wrath of God is really separated into two different categories: (a) that wrath which is presently being revealed against sinners, and (b) that coming (future) wrath of God which is yet to be revealed against sinners.
I believe both Chapters 1 and 2 in Romans are for both Jews and Gentiles, for ALL people!
(1). Both of the following Scriptures are intentionally general and universal, so that both Jews and Gentiles are included. Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (KJV)
Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (KJV)
(2). In Romans 1:18-32, neither Jews nor Gentiles are singled out, so it applies to both groups.
Romans 1:18-32 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (KJV)
(3). The indictment of 1:19-20 would seem to apply most directly to the Gentile heathen, while that of 1:32 seems to be aimed more directly at the Jews. The minimal amount of revelation is that which can be seen from Creation. This is referred to in 1:20. The ultimate revelation of God’s character is found in the Law, which is referred to in: Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (KJV)
In Romans 2:1-29, Paul refers to both Jews and Gentiles. As a result, ALL people, everyone from the outback man in some remote jungle to an unbelieving Jewish Rabbi, is under God’s divine wrath for rejecting the revelation which God has given him. So, as I see it, Romans 1:18-32 condemns both the Jews and the Gentiles, not just the Gentiles.
(4). Dear one, the Bible does NOT divide sin into Gentile sins and Jewish sins. If you read the history of Israel, especially the accusations of the Old Testament prophets, it quickly becomes quite clear that Israel’s greatest failure was not being a holy and peculiar (Ex.19:5; Deut.14:2) people. They were instead constantly imitating the sins of the Gentiles, including those which seemed most abominable to the Jews. Many of the sins of Romans 1:18-32 are those for which the Israelites were rebuked by the prophets and chastened by God.
The difference between the Gentiles and the Jews is not the key to understanding the structure of chapters 1 and 2. Three repeated things provide us with the key to understanding the make up of Romans 1:18-32. The terms are not always identical, but the thoughts are the same. These three things are: (1). God reveals something about Himself to men (2). Man rejects that revelation and (3). God gives men up or over to their sin.
David spoke of the revelation of God through Creation: Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (KJV)
God is invisible, and so His attributes can only be seen through the revelation of His world, His work in the world or His Word. His world clearly reveals God’s eternal power and divine nature (Rom.1:20). Because these Truths are quite clear, man is without excuse. Man’s response to these Truths about God is also quite clear. God’s character, is revealed in His Creation, and it should remind men to honor Him and to give thanks to Him (Rom.1:21). This, the vast majority of people do NOT do, and will NOT do. So the result is man sins, because the Truth of God is perverted, and exchanged for something that is more suited to man’s liking. Thinking themselves to be wise, men were instead FOOLS! Sin comes in many forms, so God’s wrath also comes in many forms.
See some of our God’s amazing characteristics which Paul refers in Romans:
Eternal . . . Rom.1:20.
Power, omnipotence . . . Rom.1:20.
Divinity, holiness . . . Rom.1:20.
Righteousness, honesty . . . Rom.1:17-18.
Wisdom and knowledge (omniscience) . . . Rom.8:33.
Impartiality, fairness . . . Rom.2:11.
Grace, mercy . . . Rom.5:20-21; 15:9.
Love . . . Rom.5:8; 8:35-39.
Immutability, unchallengeable . . . Rom.11:29.
Sovereignty, dominion . . . Rom.8:9-11, 31.
God’s characteristics SHOULD be the basis and the standard of our behavior.
Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (KJV)
1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (KJV)
Without ever being told, people know that God’s character has very direct effects for their conduct. (Q) Who told these men that God is Holy and is displeased with ungodly behavior? (A). His Creation, His world, His Word and His Laws! We automatically know that God’s character brings with it certain obligations or responsibilities concerning our conduct. That is why God gave the Israelites the Law. God gave Israel His Law, but not merely as a list of do’s and don’ts. God’s Law was a definition of God’s Holiness and of the holiness which He required of His people, who were set apart to manifest His character to men. God revealed His attributes, His character to Israel in His dealing with them and with the Egyptians when He brought them out of their bondage. He revealed WHO He was, and then He gave them the Law, so that they might know what Holiness looked like and what form it would take in their daily lives. The Law was a description of the holiness which Israel must preserve and practice IF they were to reflect the God who had made them His people. The character of God is the standard for the conduct of those who call upon His Name, and who have been called to mirror His character in a fallen and sinful world. God’s commands are rooted in His character, just as our conduct must be. While His qualities do not reveal His standards in nearly as much detail, they do reveal God’s standards in general terms . . . and for rejecting and violating these values, men are judged as sinners.
We as Christians are not under the Law of Moses (Ex.20; Deut.5). Our laws are found in the following Scriptures.
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV) . . . These two commandments cover the entire Old Testament! They are OUR Law!
Mar 12:29-31 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (KJV)
BEWARE!!! Refusing to name the Name of Jesus . . . is being ashamed of Him!
Mark adds: with all thy strength . . . meaning with all the ability and power of body and soul. We should labor and strive for His honor and His glory, being willing to make Jesus the great Object of all our efforts. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God: (Deut.6:5; 11:1; 19:9; Mat.22:37; Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27).
Heathen religion goes so far as to make its “gods” immoral, so that they can imitate that immorality. They carry out their sinful lusts as though it were an act of worship. Fallen men simply redefine God, rejecting His Holy and pure traits . . . exchanging them for ones that satisfy their desires. In doing this, they bring down upon themselves the righteous wrath of God. Today liberal preachers bring this redefined God, as a God of our liking, and NOT the God of the Bible. The God they preach is NOT found anywhere in the Holy Word of God! BEWARE!!!
Failing to live in agreement with God’s character (as made clear by His attributes) is SIN. Sin is performing anything which does NOT conform to the qualities of God. Sin is behaving in total opposition to the character of God. We can understand why Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). Sin is failing to live in a way that honors and glorifies the character of God. Sin is (a). universal, all men are condemned as sinners. (b.) Inexcusable, all men have received and rejected God’s revelation. (c.) Incurable (we cannot save ourselves—apart from God’s grace and intercession, we are lost.
All sin is blasphemous, contemptuous, disrespectful, a mockery, ridicule and ungodly. Some may reject the knowledge of God altogether, but even these men, by their conduct, reveal their perversion. An unbelieving man’s belief and behavior is a perversion of all that God meant people to be and to do. While homosexuality is specifically mentioned in our text, it is just one of many forms of perversion. Many, who are not homosexuals, would like to think of this sinful behavior as the only form of perversion. Our text indicates that ALL sin is a perversion of that which God is, and of that which God created us to be.
I believe that Paul teaches here that sin is both a cause and an effect. Sin is both the cause of God’s wrath and the demonstration of His wrath. Simply put, continued sin brings down God’s wrath, and that sin then is condemned by God.
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