“Guilty as charged!” The judge’s gavel slams down with thundering finality.
Like a seasoned attorney in a court room, Paul threads God’s general revelation through nature as a convincing argument for the revelation of God’s wrath in His judgment on the Gentiles who rebel against Him. In the following verses, Paul tackles a common objection: How could a loving God send anyone to hell?
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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.” – vs. 18-20(NIV)
God’s revelation of Himself through nature gives the simplest grounds of our responsibility toward Him. Through His creation, (although marred by sins’ effects, Gen. 3:17-19), we know God is powerful, intelligent, creative, and a God of order and beauty.
Does anyone have an excuse for not acknowledging God?
Although no one will be excused for not believing in God, some will choose not to acknowledge Him or give Him thanks.
Sins’ Downward Cycle
Paul comments about God’s wrath in verse 18 from Romans 1:19-3:20. The downward cycle of sin can be summarized as the following:
- Rejection of God—arrogance and rebellion; self is placed on the throne
- Idolatry—One makes up ideas of what a god should be and do; exchanging the truth for a lie to fit one’s lifestyle
- Fall into sin—sexual sin, greed, hatred, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip are a few mentioned here
- Hatred toward God—encouraging others to join them
Although God is patient and long-suffering—desiring to restore the sinner— He will not put up with sin forever. His very nature is holiness.
God’s judgment of sin and impurity begins by allowing the consequences of people’s sinful choices. Verse 21 speaks of those who refuse to glorify and thank God: “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts darkened”. Verse 24 speaks of God giving them over to their sinful desires, indicating sexual impurity. Finally, Paul lists 21 indictments (negative qualities) against those who abandon themselves to their sinful natures (vs. 29-32).
Following God and choosing faith in Him may be hard, but is choosing not to follow Him easier?
Resisting God may seem easy at first, but this path eventually leads to the worst kind of slavery: slavery to sin.