“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness…” (Romans 1:18)
The Gospel doesn’t begin with man and his need for salvation, it begins with God, His Glory and His wrath against sin.
The apostle tells us that the wrath of God; that is His ceaseless, active and fierce opposition to everything that is wrong, evil, perverse or false, is being revealed from heaven against man every single day.
The way God’s wrath is daily being revealed is in the steady degeneration of society, the “giving over”of society to ever grosser and more degrading forms of sin.The moral and social self-destruction that we are seeing today is an ominous manifestation of the Wrath of God. Abortion, homosexuality, the culture of death, and Nihilism are what God has given our generation over to, by allowing the natural restraints to these, to be removed.
God’s wrath is directed specifically against two categories of evil; the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men.
Unrighteousness refers to the sin of those who won’t live according to God’s holy standards for man.The Ten Commandments tell us what is right, “Righteous” as far as our relationship to God and man.
Ungodliness refers to those who have no reverence for God whatsoever. The ungodly are those who have ignored God entirely and live Life as though there were no God.
Romans 1:18-31 is a divine analysis of the psychology of the godless. It outlines the way the Divine Wrath works its way out in the degeneration of ungodly societies.This is an amazingly relevant chapter to our modern situation.
The ungodly are not ignorant of God. Wrath is being revealed against them because they suppress truth that they do know, refusing to accept their accountability to God.This is what makes the ungodly culpable.
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.Romans 1:20
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…(Romans 1:28)
God has shown every person enough knowledge of Himself to make them inexcusable in the day of judgment. The things of God are “manifested in them”, no matter who they are.Final judgment will be on the basis of light spurned.
What is the truth that the ungodly suppress in unrighteousness, thus exposing them to judgment? There are at least three aspects of truth discussed here,
*The Truth that we are created beings, made and sustained by a personal God. Everyone knows they were created, and not self made, we are manifestly dependant creatures.
And by that knowledge ,people deeply know that there is something special about man. Although they may not grasp the teaching about Man made in the Image of God- all men know that man is not mere animal. Animals do not hold funerals.
But acknowledging our creation has implications. If I was created by a personal being,higher and greater than I, than I owe that being an accountability, I have a duty to worship Him, I am not autonomous, I owe my next breath to such a Creator.
* They suppress the truth that we have all broken a moral code. Everybody knows there is such a thing as sin, there is a right and a wrong, and furthermore they know that they themselves have done wrong. The conscience , though often misinformed, is a universal witness to this fact.
Even a person who decries any belief in sin or commandments of any God, knows when wrong is done to them, and resents it. All men have moral motions, they judge right and wrong of themselves and others all day long. They appeal to conscience, and to intangibles such as Justice, Equity and so forth.
The universal idea of a right and wrong implies a fixed standard. Ungodly man doesn’t want to admit what He knows in his heart, that ours is a moral universe, and furthermore all know that they fail even to live up to their own ideals.
* Finally the truth that there will be some kind of a final judgment, is deeply imbedded in every man’s heart, though he attempts to suppress it in various ways. Final judgment actually dignifies man, because it implies that the choices we make in this life are of eternal significance.
Paul cries out to a society similar to our own, denying self-evident truth, festering under the wrath of God,rotting in the corruption that God had given them over to,
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: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.(Romans 1:29-31)
The sinner knows or has known something of God. They resist the knowledge of at least three things; that there is a God who is the Creator of all things, and that there is a moral code that they have failed to live up to, and finally that they are liable to a judgment, an accountability to God, at some point at the end of their life.
The reason these are universally held beliefs is because they are the general revelation of the God who made all men.It is the suppression of these “self-evident” truths, that has and will bring further wrath and Judgment from God. In other words, it’s not what we don’t know that is a problem, it’s what man does know and refuses to accept , that will be the problem.