God’s wrath reveals the severity and destruction of sin.
Read Romans 1:18-32
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness”
Of all the attributes of God, the one that we talk lest about is his righteous judgment of sin. But just as his love is demonstrated in his grace towards us, so also his holiness, by necessity, must be revealed in the outpouring of his wrath upon sin. Yet, somehow, we find his wrath objectionable. We want a loving God who accepts all people regardless of their sin or their rejection of him, but we do not want a God who will punish sin and judge evil. Thus, we treat the character and attributes of God like a smorgasbord where we can pick and choose what we like and skip over what we find unpleasant and undesirable. Nevertheless, God does not give us this choice. To accept some attributes (his love, peace, and righteousness) while denying others (such as his justice and wrath) is to deny God intrinsic attributes of his nature. In the end, it is to recreate God into an idol. As Stephen Charnock points out in his classic work, The Existence and Attributes of God, “There is something of a secret atheism in all, which is the foundation of the evil practices in their lives, not an utter disowning of the being of God, but a denial or doubting of some of the rights of his nature.” He goes on to state, “The absolute disowning of the being of God is not natural to men, but the contrary is natural; but an inconsideration of God, or misrepresentation of his nature, is natural to man as corrupt.” This is revealed in our attempt to deny that God will pour out his righteous anger upon sin.
On almost every page in scripture we see the warning that to ignore God’s righteous standard of holiness in thought, conduct, and morality is to invite his wrath and judgment upon us. This is what Paul warns in Romans 1. To accept, tolerate, or promote any sin is to ultimately deny God his essential righteousness and embrace idolatry, for an idol is not just the worship of another God, but the denial of any character quality of God. But this takes us back to the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, it was not just a simple act of disobedience. It was the attempt to throw off the constraints of God’s holy standard in order to pursue life independent of God. The desire “to be like God, knowing good and evil,” was humanity’s attempt to become masters of our own destiny and to determine our own morality. This is now finding fully expression in our pursuit of sexual immorality (vs 26-27), greed (28), hatred of others (vs29), and selfish pride (30). But in the end, it becomes the lie of Satan in the garden, for instead of bringing freedom it brings enslavement to sin.
Within scripture we discover two ways that God’s wrath is realized. First, as we see in this chapter, we see God’s judgment in the removing of his restraint of sin so that people are given over to the bondage of their own immorality and destructive behavior. Second, as we see in the book of Revelation where God’s wrath is revealed in his final and eternal punishment of sin and those who reject him.
But all this points to the importance of not only accepting God in the totality of his being but also taking sin and its effects in our life seriously. To excuse or overlook sin in our life only brings disastrous results both in our own life and in our relationship with God. Therefore, when we are aware of its presence we must respond with repentance, turning from our sin to pursue the path of righteousness. To pursue righteousness begins with recognizing God’s hatred of sin, for only then will we understand and pursue the offer of his grace.