In the previous article, we looked at God’s wrath, and why it exists. In order to consider a little further what kind of people are risking this wrath, let’s re-read verse 18, but continue through verse 20 this time:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, 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. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:18-20 NIV
The wrath of God here is for the sin of people who “suppress the truth by their wickedness”.
Now, does this mean that these people are suppressing the truth about God by their actions, or are they teaching people something other than the truth of God? Perhaps it is both. After all, talk is cheap. No matter what someone says they believe, their actions tend to indicate what they really believe to be true, and our behavior can be as much of a teacher as our words.
Can’t God excuse some of this behavior, though? After all, there are millions of people in the world who believe that God is difficult to find. They believe that the best that they can do is to encounter some relatively small aspect of God. Like the shepherds who were told about Jesus’ location by an angel, though (see Luke 2:8-20), God has told us where to find Him. He reached out to us, and made His nature known. More than that, He made a way for us to return to Him, through Jesus Christ.
Passages like this one (and 2 Peter 3:3-10, especially verse 5) point out that people like this – including us, if the shoe fits – don’t really have an excuse. This passage condemns those who claim that they didn’t know the truth about God (at least, some of His attributes), by showing that the evidence is visible to them.
For what it’s worth, I make it a point to read some articles that I don’t agree with. After all, if we don’t use discernment when we read, watch, and listen to everything that people tell us, we’re probably going to buy one lie or another, eventually. In my studies of those who try to suppress the truth about God, it seems that trying to define the universe, life, morality, or a well-functioning society takes a lot of work if God is excluded.
So, what do we do when presented with the reality of God’s wrath towards those who are wicked, and people (who intentionally spread falsehoods about God) not being able to claim ignorance? Rather than starting out by unloading our own anger on other people, I encourage each of us to first look inward. Today, let’s ask ourselves questions like these:
- Is our focus every day on God?
- Have we seen Him through His creation, through His Son, and through His intervention in our lives? (If not, we might not be looking hard enough, or perhaps choosing to not see what is in front of us.)
- Once we have seen Him, have we embraced and welcomed Him as God? Or, have we suppressed the truth about Him?
- Do we make it a point to glorify and thank God regularly? (See Romans 1:21)
Rather than immediately making this verse about “those people” (perhaps Those Who Sin Differently?), let’s evaluate our own priorities and address any behaviors that might incur God’s wrath in our own lives.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 2, 2022
- The Lookout, January 2, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.