The Wrath of God—Romans 1:18-19
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" (Romans 1:18-19)
This is the first sharp corner in the book of Romans. Earlier, Paul laid out his thesis statement that the gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) and in the gospel a righteousness by faith is revealed (Rom. 1:17). Now, Paul is tasked with explaining this in detail.
Deep down, we all know what is right and wrong. We all know what sin is.
The first step is to prove mankind’s guilt before God and show the need for a savior. He will address several things but starts out insisting that every person has an instinctive knowledge of God’s wrath against their sin. Deep down, we all know what is right and wrong. We all know what sin is. Our own conscience bears witness to this idea, making us feel guilty about choosing to sin. But as a whole, humanity continues to suppress this truth and continues in wickedness.
Paul explains that the wrath of God is against this unrelenting stubbornness of failing to recognize and honor God. His logic is that knowledge of God has been revealed and made plain to us, but humanity as a whole will not accept it. Instead, we choose the godlessness and wickedness that suppresses the truth of God and makes this truth inoperative in our lives and in our world.
This is why we need a savior! God's wrath is already written on our hearts because of sin and this doesn't draw us to God—quite the opposite as highlighted here. Rather, it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4b). Here’s the good news in all of this, instead of placing His wrath against sin and godlessness on us, He has placed it on Jesus, the Savior, so that we can be rescued from sin. Once we recognize and accept this, we are brought into a new relationship with God himself and this kindness continually draws us to Him instead of pushing us away.
Today, it is my prayer that you will understand the wrath of God against godlessness was satisfied in Jesus. We no longer have any reason to listen to our accusing conscience that tries to suppress the knowledge of God. Rather, we can look to the Savior who will continually invite us to experience God. May you experience God and may your heart rest in His presence (1 John 3:19-21).
Original article published May 17, 2009.