Romans 1:18-32
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Paul hits hard starting here on into chapter 3. It's important that he does. If he doesn't let us know we're in a sinking ship how will we recognize our need for a Lifeboat? People like to hear about the love of God, and that's no small subject and should not be minimized but people often don't like to hear or talk about the wrath of God. However if we do not make known the wrath of God then people aren't hearing the full gospel. Furthermore, if we do not make known the wrath of God there is potential for the gospel to be missed altogether! Making known the wrath of God helps reveal the love of God! God hates sin and you cannot sin without severe consequences. Either your sins will be forgiven by the grace of God through Jesus Christ or you will be punished forever because of your sins. While God is loving (1 John 4:8) God is also wrathful (Nahum 1:2). People have often said "how can a loving God be so angry at sin?" Or "how can a loving God send people to hell?" I would say the two can even be tied together. Consider the two utmost commandments of God.


37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:37-40


The whole Law and the messages of the Prophets were specifically to spur these two things among men. To love God and each other dearly! (and we know God loves us [Rom. 5:8]). 1 John 4:8 states "God is love" and therefore it should be no surprise to us that He hates anything less than us being loving both in our relationship with Him and with others. In other words, He hates sin which by definition is trespassing against the divine law of God; i.e. breaking God's rules. As a good parent what does a good parent teach? They teach you to love family and love friends right? And when a good parent sees their children hurting each other does it not anger them? So the question shouldn't be "how can a loving God be so angry at sin?" but rather we should say "how could a loving God be anything less than angry at sin?" since it is sin which hurts these things.


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, - Romans 1:18


"...Wrath of God is revealed...", In verse 17 Paul briefly touches on the righteousness of God that's revealed by faith which he later revisits in detail in this epistle. Now starting at verse 18 Paul gets into the wrath of God that's being revealed against the sins of man. "Against all", God never forgets to deal with sin and because He is a just and holy God, He is self-compelled to deal with sin per His justice. If you see someone committing an unjust act do you not get angry. If we being mere human get angry at sin, how much more so God who is perfect and holy? The wrath of God is not to be confused with the discipline of God but rather it's the response to the justice of God resulting in His punishment due to all ungodly and unrighteous men of whom Paul is about to elaborate on. Historically we've seen the wrath of God poured out on cities (Gen. 19:24-25) and even the entire world (Gen. 6:5-7) when conditions of the world reach such a level where God must judge.


Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. - Genesis 6:5-6


"Ungodliness and unrighteousness" First, notice how he separates ungodliness and unrighteousness. Ungodliness may be defined as impiety, irreverence, wickedness. It's the opposite of giving credit where credit is due. The Godly person recognized God and has regard for Him as such. Ungodly men do not. Other translations have the word "godlessness" here. That could be defined as "anything without God" hence "God-less-ness". Unrighteousness is obviously the opposite of righteousness, righteousness is defined as "in the right" or "in a right standing before God". Such a person who is unrighteous then is in a state of divine disapproval and in violation of the court of God's justice and going to incur God's wrath. This verse is saying that such men go even further and "suppress" the truth in their unrighteousness. The term suppress denotes holding back that which God has made evident to them (v.19).


19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. - Romans 1:19


It was no other than God Himself who made known to men knowledge of Himself. In the heart of God is a desire for all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Yet these men would not have it (Luke 13:34). Though the Holy Spirit is working on their heart (Acts 7:51), and convicting the world of sin (John 16:8), these men are constantly resisting and suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and effectually denying the Master who bought them (2 Peter 2:1). "God made it evident to them". Nature doesn't just testify about God as a biproduct of it's design but rather it's testimony about God was intentional by God (Psalm 19:1). We use flowers to express our love for one another. God CREATED flowers to express His love toward us! (Luke 12:27-28).


Question: Why? Why are these men suppressing the truth? Why do men, even those who pride themselves on acquiring knowledge through studying nature and therefore have overwhelming evidence for a Creator, why do they suppress the truth, or as v 25 states, why do they exchange the truth of God for a lie? They see the design but deny the Designer, they see the engine but deny the Engineer. This even goes against what comes natural to us. Naturally when we see a painting we like we praise the painter. So why then when we see a sunset we like would we not praise it's Painter? We wouldn't ever stumble across a pickup truck in the desert and declare "this must have just randomly formed" So let me ask, why would we do this with things much more complex? One cell on the bottom of your foot has more design and engineering in it than a pickup truck. So why then instead of acknowledging God are they eagerly willing to cling to busted theories such as evolution?


19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” - John 3:19-21


The reason as to why? Because it's what they want. Everyone who does evil "hates" the Light because it exposes our deeds. We all have experience doing this in an effort to hide our deeds. At some point in our life when a significant person has walked by we've hid what we are doing or lied about it thereafter. Perhaps as a young kid it was our parents, teacher, or maybe the police. As an adult maybe it was our boss or spouse. In the church perhaps it was the administration or our pastor.


20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. - Romans 1:20


"they are without excuse." No man has a valid excuse for not believing in God for God has clearly revealed Himself to them, this is unbelief. Unbelief is a choice to not believe despite the evidence given. This differs from doubt whereas doubt is questioning what one believes, unbelief is choosing not to believe even though there is a clear testimony with plenty of evidence. This is why mankind is "without excuse". Such men aren't unaware of God, but no measure of evidence is going change their mind about Him. The more a person digs into nature the more testimonies about God a person hears. However if a person is stubborn of heart and wants nothing to do with God and no measure of testimonies will persuade them (Luke 16:31). For an example of this see Mark 3:1-6 (below):


He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He *said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. - Mark 3:1-6


These men had a complete disregard for God. I say complete because they were bias in their own reasonings even to the point of missing the splendor of the miracles and compassion being performed in front of them. Notice in verse 2 they were watching specifically "that they might accuse Him". Jesus was even working miracles in front of them but rather be moved with compassion for the man with the withered hand or struck by awe that Jesus could miraculously heal it, they opted to only look at Jesus for an opening to destroy Him. Unbelief is choosing not to believe despite the evidence given. These men, even by the testimony their own eyes should have had regard for God but they did not. On a side note, notice Christ (who is the exact representation of God [Heb. 1:3, John 14:8-9]) was not put off by their unbelief but rather grieved in His heart at their hardness of heart.


Romans 1:18-20 establish that all men have enough, clear knowledge of God to be accountable. There is enough evidence in creation that all men can see God's "eternal power and divine nature" clearly through what has been made. Having established that, Paul then targets first those who would exchange the truth of God for a lie. That is, those men who see nature, but at their heart, like the men who witness Jesus heal the man with the withered hand, want nothing to do with God.


21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. - Romans 1:21


"they became futile in their speculations". In otherwords, vain, worthless, and foolish reasonings. If you eliminate God from the equation than you have to get quite imaginative in your thinking to try and figure out how we got here. If you remove God from the equation you have to constantly be pondering things like how we got our sense of smell or taste, or how the eye works. Or why trees give off oxygen or bear fruit? Such as these are constantly seeking, but having removed God from the equation, never coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7) but become futile in their speculations. Such people are frustrated by simple questions as by young ones such as "how did we get our eyes?" because without God in the equation they can't offer a good explanation. Such men even get angry when God is brought up even if God is introduced to them in a loving way. Have you ever noticed that? How irrational people get when God is brought up, or even if He's not brought up but they are simply around someone who acknowledges God in their own life, (i.e. a Christian)? I've done that. The first time I made my wife cry, the only time I ever told her to shut up was when she started talking to me about God when we were dating. She wasn't even preaching, she was just sharing the things about God she was excited about...


It's no wonder that evolution is a prominent teaching in the world. For if nature itself is the very thing that so clearly testifies about God, then we should not be surprised that evil men would "suppress the truth" in their unrighteousness. Such men aren't being deceived against their will, in their willful unbelief they want to believe in evolution. Even though the theory of evolution has holes in it everywhere and increasingly as our ability to study the evidence of nature increases, men who do not practice the truth but rather cling to a lie will still hold to it though the evidence is undeniably to the contrary. One of the predominate supporters of evolution says this:


"One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation." "The origin of life" George Walt, Harvard Biochemist and Nobel Laureate, 1954, Scientific America, August 1954 p.46.

"To suppose that the eye... could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree." - Charles Darwin, 1872.


Such a man wants nothing to do with God or he would investigate.


It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does in a Creator. So once again why do men believe in evolution? Because they want too "for fear that his deeds will be exposed." It's interesting when you talk with such a man to listen to their heart. When an evolutionist pushes their doctrine what is their motivation? I mean, if an evolutionist doesn't believe in God what possible hope could they have? If there's no God then there's no hereafter, and if there's no hereafter than there's no hope (1 Cor. 15:19). So then why? Why would a person who doesn't have hope try and push on you their hopeless theology in an effort to steal the hope that is in you? Someone who believes in God, in Jesus Christ who made them right with God has hope, why would an evolutionist want to crush that? So I challenge you to listen to the heart of a person (and it's motivation) before you listen to the words of a person, "You will know them by their fruits..." (Matt. 7:16). For example, consider the motivation behind the Christian who puts a Jesus fish on their bumper sticker and an evolutionist who put a mocking darwin fish on theirs?


22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. - Romans 1:22-23


Relying upon their own wisdom, they wandered further and further from true wisdom. "exchanged the glory". One's glory is who they are when fully revealed. To know one's glory is to know to some degree that one's true character and attributes. In creation then, we know by Romans 1:19-20 (and by experience) that God has made His attributes and characteristics known, at least to the degree that they were made clear (v.20), to every man but these men "exchanged" God's glory which means they transferred the glory that full well revealed God and assigned it to creation. Most lies like evolution do exactly this. They take the attributes of God clearly made manifest in creation ("His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature" v20) and assign them to or try and fit them into nature itself. For example, evolution states the universe has "always been" meaning it has no starting point. In doing so they take that which is only an attribute of God (only He holds the title of "Uncreated One") and they assign it to nature. Along those lines how many times have you heard people blame or give credit to the universe saying things like "The universe didn't want me to get this job" or "The universe found me a husband!"


"Professing to be wise, they became fools," Removing God from the equation forces us into foolishness. You cannot be wise and deny the existence of God. Those two notions cannot coexist. Any person who has exchanged the truth of God for a lie has themselves entered into foolishness. Removing God from the equation has historically been the beginning of every downward spiral befalling a nation. In America around the 1960's - 1980's we moved from exalting God to exalting man, this is humanism. In the 90's - 00's we saw a transition from humanism to animalism and treeism whereas creation is exalted even above man. Now we've reached a place as a nation where even what is naturally right is wrong and what is naturally wrong is right. Violent crime is up, mass shootings are often... (Matt. 24:12). This all started from removing God from the equation. Professing to be wise they became fools, It's interesting that just the opposite is written in the bible as a prerequisite for being wise. Any person who brings God into the equation enters into wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 9:10, 1:7).


10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. - Proverbs 9:10

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. - Psalm 19:7


Even the simple are wise who bring God into the equation. 


18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” - 1 Corinthians 3:18-20


Acknowledging one's inability within his own wisdom to attain to the things of God is to enter a state of humility whereas a person can become truly wise.


20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. - 1 Corinthians 1:20-21


"to save those who believe" In otherwords, to save those who do not willfully disbelieve but rather those that acknowledge God. Likewise God in His wisdom hid Himself from those that want nothing to do with Him (see Matt. 13:10-15).


"exchanged". Notice the act of the will here. It's not that they are deceived against their will but rather it's a willful exchange of truth for a lie. As verse 20 states above "they are without excuse". It's not as if they didn't know, but rather they did know as God made it evident (v. 19) and made it very clear (v. 20). Every person on earth has been made aware of God, every person you have met or will meet has knowledge of the glory of God. The question is, what did they/we do with it? In the case here they exchanged it. They traded it away and replaced it with that which comes in the form of corruptible man. They traded the imperishable for that which is perishable. They traded God's kingdom for their own grass hut. They traded everlasting joy in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11) for temporary, perishing satisfaction in the pursuit of their fleshly desires. Ultimately they traded hope that is not seen for hope that is seen (which really isn't hope at all [cf Romans 8:24-25]).


24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. - Romans 1:24-25


God gave them what they wanted. He gave them over to their sin. As you read through these verses in Romans you will notice the increasing deterioration of the state of the person(s) Paul's describing. At this stage we could picture a person who is using all their might to break free from the hold of God desiring to go headlong into the sins they pursue...and then God...lets go. As we read in verse 27 as well as in proverbs 1:18-19 these men then reap according to their folly and are receiving the due penalty of their error. It's a scary thought to view a person who's pursuing pleasure with all their might to have God let them go and let them dive in... a terrifying thought indeed.


26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. - Romans 1:26-27


Again notice the word "exchanged". This was a deliberate act of the will. These men and women wanted sin at all cost. God then let them incur that cost and thus receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Like we discussed above they began by exchanging the natural acknowledgement of God in nature to worshiping the creation instead. Now their deterioration has furthered and they are exchanging the natural functions of their own body for that which is unnatural. A further step down. Satan has a desire to bring people to the filthiest level. In india there were people claiming to have this "experience" where they became avatars of a god (which they called sai baba). Others, convinced of this, in their own depravity would even drink their urine or eat their defecation because they thought somehow that meant sai baba was entering them. Satan will bring people to the lowest levels, the most depraved levels. Some of the practices in homosexuality are much the same. It never stops with a person merely desiring to not believe in God but such a person is just on the beginning steps of a downward spiral a downward skid. Children don't aspire to be murders when they grow up. Ted Bundy confessed to Dr. James Dobson of being hooked on pornography. After awhile pornography no longer satisfied and he had to go out and experience...which descended to that chain of murders. Thus the downward spiral (Eph. 4:17-19). It is at this bottom level where the wrath of God is revealed. It was this case with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:4-5) as well as the world just before the flood (Gen. 6:5). In Sodom, those young and old were actively parading their homosexuality in the streets and collectively, all together, "young and old" the men there attempted to rape the angels (disguised as men) who came to visit lot. So much so they were breaking down his door as a mob to get to these men to "have relations with them". This actually happened...


28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, - Romans 1:28


In their chasing after the lusts of the flesh with a complete disdain for God, God gave them over and thus began the ruling of their depraved mind which propelled them to do that which is not proper. As we see in the above verses that included homosexuality. Paul here continues in verse 29 starting other characteristics of those with a depraved mind:


29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; - Romans 1:29-31


Sounds like many of the characteristics of those we meet today doesn't it? When you read through that list perhaps you know someone who displays those attributes. Maybe you've dealt with them first hand. It's an interesting thing but from my experience working at the police department we often found these above characteristics lumped together in persons the police were called on. There would be a house the police would respond too consisting of men and/or women living in sin but when talking with these individuals and observing their circumstances you would see the full measure of their depraved mind in displaying the above attributes. After we responded to a few of these it wasn't long before you saw a pattern. In counseling others you see this same pattern too. When you start seeing the displayed characteristics showing the person has a depraved mind, because of the pattern, even though they try and hide it, you glean that they are also living in sin.


32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. - Romans 1:32


It's also been my experience that the more a person's mind goes down the road of depravity the louder they get. Not only justifying it but trying to push it onto others and forcing the group as a whole to embrace their lifestyle. It's like they hear the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12, Zechariah 4:6) and are continually trying to drown it out. They know the ordinances of God and the consequences of disobedience, but they are making extra effort to constantly deceive themselves and are ready to trample anyone who would remind them of these ordinances.


Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. - Galatians 6:7-8


Oh that God would keep us, that God would protect us. That we would not sow to the flesh but sow to the Spirit. Studying the word of God is us sowing to the Spirit. Getting together to discuss God's word is sowing to the Spirit! Sowing to the Spirit will do just the opposite of what we discussed above. It will elevate you it will lift you out of the muck and mire, even that which has been self inflicted. It will lift you out--He will lift you out of the pit. Deny God and sow to the flesh and you will do things you never thought you were capable of doing. Further and further into the pit you'll go. Acknowledge God and sow to the Spirit and you'll find yourself being healed and lifted out, lifted high, set free from the corruption that is in the flesh even reaping eternal life (Gal. 6:8).


Question: Does God love those who have immersed themselves in sin?


29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” - Luke 5:29-32


In these times the tax collectors and sinners were those that had immersed themselves in sin. Jesus here was going to the despised of society. These weren't men who were down on their luck by a few bad choices but rather those that were going head-long into sin. Men who the Pharisees would consider the bottom of the barrel, those that reached the end of the downward spiral even to those that had taken that bottom step. Why? Because He recognized they were sick and that He had the power to heal them.


He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. - Psalm 40:2


In the next chapter we will learn we all need God, that we are all in a desperate situation. In chapter 3 we will learn that God's grace extends to the man who is in the bottom of the pit, to the man who's reached the bottom step of the downward spiral. That the love of God reaches to the lowest hell to bring a man out of the pit who was even ready to be destroyed. How wonderful is the riches of God's grace.


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