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God’s Wrath Against Mankind December 3, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Romans 1:18-32.

Summary: In this passage, Paul begins to explain the great mystery of the gospel that he has presented in the preceding two verses – that is, why must the righteous live by faith? Essentially, man, in the absence of faith, is charged by God with two offenses, namely

  • godlessness
  • wickedness.

In terms of the first offense, godlessness, Paul notes that men are provided with irrefutable evidence for God’s existence, nature and attributes; the sources of this evidence are both internal and external (based on the surrounding creation). In fact, God provides men with evidence of His power, majesty and perfection in creation as a whole. Men, though, refuse to accept this evidence and honor God for who He is; instead, they reject God and pursue idolatry. Their decision to pursue idolatry is just the beginning of their troubles, as God then allows them to be further ensnared by sin, especially sexual sins that are inherent to idol worship and homosexuality. As for the second offense, wickedness, Paul notes that men possess an internal moral compass that shows them how to live in a righteous and pious manner. Men, though, determine that righteousness and piety are worthless; instead, they pursue unrighteousness and impiety. After providing a laundry list of the sins that ensnare the wicked, Paul notes that the wicked are so degraded that they even encourage others to continue their wicked ways.

Thoughts: In verses 18-20, we see that creation furnishes man with indisputable evidence of God’s existence, nature and attributes. According to Hodge, God’s “invisible qualities” include his “goodness, wisdom, power and majesty.” When pondering the intricacies of the Krebs cycle, surveying the product of orogenesis, and understanding the life-giving composition of the ozone layer, one must conclude that 1) such wonders could not have been formed by random chance and 2) the creating Agent must be good, wise, powerful and majestic; if He lacked any of these qualities, how could He create such wonders in the first place?

The phrase “God gave them over” appears in verses 24, 26 and 28. This serves to highlight the debate that Christians have entertained for two millenia, namely, how to reconcile the seemingly opposing viewpoints of free will and pre-destination? On one hand, men choose to reject the available evidence of God’s existence and His righteousness, and men choose to pursue idolatry and wickedness. On the other hand, God allows them to reap the consequences of their idolatry and allows them to fall further into sin, especially sin of a sexual nature. Is man in full control of his actions in this case? Is God in full control of the situation?

As Christians, we have heard variations of the following refrain, “if you’re guilty of committing one sin, you’re guilty of committing all of them.” We struggle to comprehend that refrain, especially when confronted with the laundry list of sins that Paul provides in verses 29-31. It’s not uncommon for us to protest, “well, I definitely disobey my parents, but I’m not prone to gossip.” Unfortunately, this protestation can be perceived as a challenge to Satan, e.g. “let’s see you try to trip me up and make me gossip.” As Satan is the most clever and crafty adversary that we will ever face, it is inevitable that we will be ensnared by gossip unless we throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus and ask Him for mercy and help in our time of need. Indeed, we must always be on our guard and never consider ourselves to be immune to any particular sin.