Sermon – “The Wrath of God Revealed” Romans 1:18
The Silent Holocron usually dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday. Since Stephen has been grossly negligent in posting his sermons, the next few will be “catch-up” posts until we get to Romans 2:12-16 or thereabouts, where Stephen is currently located.
Revealed is the wrath of God from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18)
An Abrupt Shift
After speaking so positively about the Christian life in the first half of chapter 1, Paul suddenly shifts gears. It is as if he has kicked things up a notch. After laying down a foundation for himself and a basis for the Christian life, Paul suddenly goes on the offensive. Those of you who are football fans might understand what Paul seems to have done here if I use a football analogy.
By The Script
In football, it is not uncommon for teams to script the first 15 plays they will run on offense. The team will run a set of plays designed to set the tempo and probe the defense. What this is intended do is establish who they are and what they will do. It will test the opposing defense for any weaknesses that their game plan can exploit. It is fairly common for these scripts to lead directly up to the “big play” that is designed to firmly establish the offense as the one setting the tempo. Often you will see teams at the beginning of games run the ball generously with a lot of short, quick passes. Then all of a sudden a “bread and butter” play is called and the team goes directly to their strength. The quarterback will send a receiver deep and hit him with the pass. The offensive line may suddenly assert itself and open up a gaping hole into the secondary which the running back hits for a 20-yard gain.
Paul has done exactly that in the first half of Romans 1. He has carefully laid out his credentials, his purpose in writing, and what he intends to say to the Roman believers. Capping his script, he boldly declares in verses 16 and 17 that the Gospel is his purpose for writing. Now, with verse 18, Paul hits his “bread and butter” play. And he does so in spectacular fashion.
The word Paul uses here, apokaluptetai, is from the same word that gives us the name of the last book of the Bible. It means to reveal. To reveal something means show something or make it known to people. What is interesting about the word in this verse is that in Greek, it is in the past tense. This suggests to us that whatever Paul is about to tell us, it has already been revealed or shown to us. The way in which the word is used tells us that this thing Paul is about to talk about was shown in the past and is still being shown today! What has been revealed?
The Wrath of God
Paul states clearly that it is the wrath of God that has been revealed. What is “the wrath of God?” Well, first of all, “wrath” means strong anger that causes punishment. This means that God is angry enough to punish the person He is angry with. Paul is saying that God’s anger has been revealed in the past and is still being shown to us today! But just what is God angry about?
God is angry with the ungodliness of humanity. What is ungodliness?
“Ungodliness” is refusing to accept God. It is the flat refusal to acknowledge Him as Lord over all. This does not even have to be a conscious refusal, as Paul will show later in this chapter. Simple failure to accept Him as God is enough to be counted among the ranks of the ungodly. It is a rejection of Him, and more specifically, of His Son, Jesus.
Ungodliness is living a sinful life. It is a refusal to follow God’s Law, especially as it is written in the Bible. Paul will later show that the Law is written in the hearts of humans, so as to leave no one with an excuse.
Ungodliness is doing things that are shocking and outrageous. Now, let me make something very clear. All sin is shocking and outrageous to God. All sin, no matter how “small” or “insignificant,” is a direct insult to a holy God. It is utterly and totally outrageous that anyone would even dare to insult the Creator of the universe. How dare we? What gives us the right? He brought us into this world, and He alone has the power to take us out! Shocking.
Would you not be angry if someone treated you in this way? So then it is no surprise that ungodliness angers God.
God is angry with the unrighteousness of humanity. What is unrighteousness?
“Unrighteousness” is not living in a holy way. If one is not godly, one cannot be righteous. Sin prevents us from being holy creatures, as the Bible commands. And because of this failure to do as God has commanded, God is angry.
Suppressing the Truth
Paul then links the ultimate insult towards God to ungodliness and unrighteousness. Sin suppresses the truth. What does that mean?
To “suppress” something means to hide something or keep it secret. What does sin do to hide the truth?
- It convinces us that we are in control.
- It convinces us we don’t need God.
- It convinces us that our way is better than His way.
- And most horribly, sin convinces us that we can save ourselves. We got ourselves into this mess, therefore we can get ourselves out.
How do we know these things?
Well, first of all, each time we sin, it bothers us less. Just look at some of what we consider to be horrible sins: Pornography, killing, drugs and alcohol addiction, lying, bad language, and gossip. Do you notice what happens the more you do these things? You become less sensitive to them. In fact, the less sensitive you become, the more you have to do it in order to feel something from it. In other words, the more we sin, the more immune we become to sin.
Second of all, when we become immune to sin, several things happen. We begin to love and enjoy sin. We don’t want to do what is right. We don’t want anyone to tell us it is wrong. We start to hate the truth. We try to silence the truth. We kill the truth when we can’t silence it.
Does this sound familiar? One need look no further than attacks against Christianity to get a good example. A more common example is the attacks against religion by homosexual groups. They are in love with the idea of being gay. They love their sin. For some reason I cannot fathom, they even enjoy gay sex! They don’t want to have natural sexual relations. They do not want anyone to tell them homosexuality is wrong. They hate the Bible and anyone who tells them it is wrong. They try to silence those who say it is wrong through misinformation, intimidation and false accusations of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance. They have not yet tried to kill anyone (to my knowledge), but they are already trying to kill the Bible by vainly and stupidly trying to say that the Bible does not really mean what it says.
I can’t help but notice how similar this process is to another situation in history. The exact same process happened to Jesus. and what makes it worse is that Jesus is the truth.
Jesus Is the Truth!
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” Jesus was hated, attempts were made to intimidate, slander, and silence Him, and He was ultimately killed, all because He is the truth. But there is a big problem…
You Can’t Kill The Truth!
Only the truth can save us from our sins. You ask, “How can the truth save me from my sins?”
When You Believe The Truth…
- Jesus takes your sins onto Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus was made to be sin for you, that God’s righteousness might become real in you.
- Your sins are forgiven because of His death. Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, and 1 Peter 3:18 make it very clear that Jesus’ death on the cross secured forgiveness of sins for believers.
- You begin a new life in Jesus. Romans 6:4 makes it clear that just as Jesus was raised from the dead, those who believe in Him are also raised to a new life in Him.
- Sin becomes horrible to you again, and you will not want to sin any more.. Paul vividly shows this struggle in Romans 7:15-25. He says, “I just don’t get it! Why do I sin? I hate sin! I despise it! I can’t wait to be rid of it!” He thanks Jesus for giving him this attitude! Only one who has been forgiven and given eternal life can have such an attitude to sin.
- You will be able to change your life! Ephesians 4:17-6:20 is the textbook on what new life in Christ does for you. You are able to put away your old life, your life of sin, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, put on the new life that Christ has given to you. You will be able to do what is right. You will be able to live in harmony with others. You will be able to trust in the protection of God when you face sin and temptation.
Now, to close, I have a question for you:
Do You Suppress The Truth?
Do you? If you believe I have spoken about you today, then the Gospel is for you. Don’t suppress the truth any longer. Don’t resist God’s grace any longer. Surrender to Him. He is calling you graciously to accept Christ. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Let go of your unreasonable hatred of the truth. Let go of your selfishness. You know the truth. Surrender to Him today, and you shall be free forever! Pray that He will give you faith to believe, and you will no longer be in chains, but in freedom!