GOD’S RIGHTEOUS ANGER
In the first section of Paul’s letter to the Romans, following the Salutation, Paul begins to draw conclusions that God is justifiably angry with humanity and that all people stand condemned under His judgment. “All people” includes us, sadly. So, we all stand condemned in God’s sight, except for one fact, the Grace and Mercy of God through Jesus Christ has saved us.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26) (NIV)
In Romans 1:18-20 Paul points out the fact that God’s creation reveals Him to anyone looking for Him. The problem is, too many people don’t want to look, and many don’t want to acknowledge what they see in the evidence. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 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 men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20) (NIV)
God leaves us all open to options. We can believe or not believe. We can claim Him or deny Him. We can even say He doesn’t exist. But, those who say He doesn’t exist never quite understand that denying His existence does not change the fact that He is there.
Some would like to be able to say that the God of love would never have a side of Him that would punish or condemn anyone. If God would never condemn anyone and send them to eternal punishment, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Paul has told us in his letter to the Galatians (2:21) I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! If we could gain God’s Grace through our own righteousness and works, then Christ died for nothing. If there is no need for redemption, Christ died for nothing. If there is no eternal punishment for the wicked, then Christ died for nothing.
Many people take another route, they create their own god or gods. They usually want to have their own loving, caring god who would love them through anything they did and be loving enough to not punish them when they stray. They even go as far as to create a god whose name they don’t even know. Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (Acts 17:22-25) (NIV)
People just don’t like the idea of a judgmental God. Nor do they care for Paul’s use of judgmental words when he talks about them. They don’t like words like sin, ungodliness and unrighteous or unrighteousness.
What it all boils down to is that faith in God is a choice, our choice, a choice for every person alive. Believing in God for Who He is, as He is, is a choice. And too many people, the majority of people in the world in fact, do not choose to worship Him on His terms.
God is aware of unbelief: Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) (NIV) If it were not allowed we could not claim to have free will. Having free will, we have chosen to worship God for Who He is, as He is. We have chosen to have a relationship with God and accept His Grace. We have chosen to have faith as opposed to earning our salvation through works, or religion.
Remember, religion tries to change you from the outside – in. Jesus Christ changes you from the inside – out, making you a new creation. What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17) (NLT)
Religion emphasizes physical works, earning on your own righteousness. Religion emphasizes secondary matters over primary matters of importance, symbols, traditions, rituals and outward appearance. Religion promotes self-interest above all else. God is looking for a Relationship with us not religion reigning over us. So, Paul goes through the first three chapters of Romans laying out his discussion of the lost state of mankind and it can all be wrapped up with one bold, hard hitting verse in Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Leading up to this bold statement Paul lays out, in a concise way, what Chuck Swindoll calls “An Autopsy of Depravity.” In Romans 3:9-20 Paul quotes the Old Testament (Psalm 5:9; 10:7; 36:1) to prove his point. Our big problem is, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:9-20) (NIV)
The Good News of Jesus Christ as we will see, is His Grace; we are covered. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
Bostwick UMC 7/25/21