The Judge of All the Earth, Part I – November 19, 2023

Romans 1:18-32

18 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.

Largely disappearing from the Christian landscape are two attributes of God we call His judgment (or justice) and His wrath. This is unfortunate because, without these two attributes of God, we have an incomplete view of who He is. God is good. Because He is good, we know that He is gracious, merciful, patient, faithful, and loving. However, we fail to realize that because He is good and holy, He is also a God of wrath and judgment. As Creator, all of His creatures are accountable to Him and He must judge sin. Because He is good, His wrath is kindled against the sin of the world that is in rebellion to Him. One thing we can rest assured of is that in His wrath and judgment, God will always do what is right. Abraham declared this exact thing in Genesis 18:25 when he asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

We typically think of God’s wrath as a future outpouring of judgment and destruction for sin. His wrath certainly includes this. The book of Revelation tells us of a future time of God’s coming wrath toward sin that is poured out on earth (Revelation 6:15-17) and we know that God’s wrath is ultimately fully realized on the lost world in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). However, the Bible also describes God’s wrath as something that is present now on the lost world. John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The world, apart from salvation and redemption in a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, is currently under the wrath of God. We may question this because we don’t see the cataclysmic destruction that we associate with His wrath. That’s because His ongoing wrath is demonstrated in a different way in the world. In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul has begun his articulation and defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He begins by addressing the blanket condemnation of the world in sin. Romans 1:18-32 is the beginning of the argument as Paul demonstrates that the whole world has rejected God, is guilty in their sin, and is currently, evidentially under His wrath.

First, we see that God’s wrath has been and is being revealed against man’s sin. Man’s sin is ultimately that He has rejected the Creator and His will and has chosen to go His own way in rebellion. This is not from ignorance. Man has done so willingly by rejecting what is innately known of God in creation. We have “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.” We have rejected the truth of who God is. Instead, we have gone about to adjust God to our liking and our likeness. We have changed the things about God and His will that we do not like and instead have worshipped all manner of idols. This idolatry exists today in every human heart apart from God’s saving grace and has led to man worshipping himself or some form of created things.

Second, we see that God’s wrath is revealed in giving mankind over to the depravity that he has chosen.  When we reject God and His will, we end up in a mess. The explanation for the evil in the world today, to all manner of gross sinful lifestyles, and to increasing wickedness is that man has chosen to reject God and God “gave them up.” This literally means, “He let them go their own way.” God’s wrath is not so much about the hell, fire, and brimstone that we are so accustomed to, even though that will come one day. Instead, God’s wrath is revealed in allowing men to choose to rebel against Him and Him letting them go in that rebellion. The scariest thing that can happen to a person who is in sin is for them to be left alone because there is no hope of remedy and no plea for repentance if God does not intervene. Three times in Romans 1:24-32 Paul tells us that God “gave them up.” The results of that are increasing moral impurity, shameful desires, and mental reprobation. Sin so corrupts the human mind, if left unchecked, it will cause a person to spiral out of control to the point of no longer being able to think clearly and even affirming things that they once felt ashamed over.

The amazing grace of God in the gospel is that He has sent His Spirit into the world to convict the world of its sin and He has given His Word so that the world might understand truth from error and right from wrong. By sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for sin, God has made a way for mankind to be delivered from His wrath and set free from sin. All of the sins (and others) that are listed in Romans 1:18-32 are forgivable under the blood of Jesus Christ. A person must simply recognize the error of their way and turn to Christ for salvation. The promise of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 for those in Christ is, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Believers should be thankful above all people because God did not leave us to ourselves to go our on way. Instead, He spoke into our lives through His Word and His Spirit and pointed us to His Son for salvation. May we echo the thanksgiving of the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).