Romans 1: The Wrath of God
Last week in our beginning study of Romans, we identified a key verse in Romans 1:17: For in
the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to
last, just as it is written: The righteous (just) shall live by faith.
The word righteous, or just and justified is used over 60 times in Pauls letter to the Romans.
This righteousness Paul says is a righteousness from God which is revealed in the Gospel. He
also tells us this righteousness is by faith.
Lets look at what some of these words mean:
Reconciliation: To change a person from enmity with God to friendship with God. The
theological meaning applies to man who is born with a sinful nature. We did not have to be
taught to lie, we had to be taught to tell the truth. We had to be taught to share, for we were
naturally selfish. We were rebels against authority who had to be taught to obey authority.
Christ made reconciliation available on the cross when He paid for our sins and removed the
barrier and thus the hostility. This reconciliation was sufficient for all men but effective only for
those who receive it personally by faith. ( Its still the same)
Righteousness is defined as being morally impeccable; keeper of the law; a virtuous citizen.
This would be the natural mans definition of righteousness in which if there is judgment by a
Holy God, he/she believes their good outweighs their bad. Yet the Lord Jesus in his Sermon on
the Mount and Paul in these first three chapters of Romans will reveal the righteousness God
requires and that no one is righteous, no not one. Jesus said except your righteousness exceed
the righteousness of the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said you
must be Holy as God is Holy. He told Nicodemus- you must be born again.
Death in the Bible refers to separation. There are two types of death- physical death wherein
the soul or spirit of man is separated from his/her body. The body then returns to dust. The
second death is spiritual death, in which the spirit is separated from God for eternity. If one has
been born again they will only die once, but if you have not been born again, you will die twice.
Paul tells us for Christians to die is to be absent from the body but present with the Lord.
Justification is being judged just, declared righteous. We are justified by the blood of Christ,
when we apply by faith the blood of the Lamb of God to the door post of our hearts. When we
do this- we are judged righteous, for the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed to us.
We have exchanged our unrighteousness for His righteousness. He took upon Himself the filthy
rags of our unrighteousness and clothed us in His righteousness at the Cross. In Romans 5, Paul
declares: Since we have now been justified(declared righteous) by His blood, how much more
shall we be saved from Gods wrath through Him. For if, when we were Gods enemies we
were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more having been reconciled ,
shall we be saved through His life. We have been freed of the guilt and penalty attached to sin.
The result is restoration to fellowship with God and eternal life. I have been saved; I am being
saved, I will be saved. That is why we sing: Saved! Saved! Saved! Saved to new life, sublime!
Propitiation is defined as satisfaction. This all important activity deals with the character of God.
God will not compromise. His attributes of righteousness and justice and holiness which are
outraged by mans sinfulness and deliberate violation of Gods will does not change and must
be satisfied. Gods love found a way whereby He could bring sinful man back into fellowship
with Himself without compromise. How? God, Himself came into this world in the person of
Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, without sin, and never committed an act of sin, though tempted
in every way as we are. Possessing all the righteousness of God that is demanded by Gods
Holiness, He was the only one qualified to bear all our sins and the wrath of God. Thus the shed
blood and death of His Only Son satisfied Gods Holy Character and set Gods love free to pour
out upon the human race. This is what we call Grace. This is propitiation.
Redemption comes from a Greek word that means: to buy, or buy out and remove from sale;
to pay the ransom to set one free. Christ is our Redeemer, who paid our debts we could never
pay. We could no more free ourselves from the slavery of sin, than the Israelites could free
themselves from the Egyptian taskmasters. Jesus paid the ransom price of His Shed blood. Jesus
Paid It All!
THE WRATH OF GOD
Wrath is an old fashioned English word meaning- deep anger. Wrath is an attribute of God
This is a subject that makes us uncomfortable. When we read in the Old Testament of Gods
wrath- we want to somehow overlook that or question Gods Sovereignty to act the way He
does. Here is what God says in His own words: I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form
the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster. I the Lord, DO ALL THESE
THINGS. ( Isaiah 45) And Jesus said in Luke 12, dont fear the one who can kill your body,
fear the One who can send you to Hell for eternity. In fact look in your Bible concordance and
you will find there are more references to Gods anger, wrath and fury than to His love and
Read 2 Thess. 1: 7-10. From Genesis 3 to the end of Revelation we see Gods displeasure with
sin. He kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden- banishing them, punishing them and
bringing death into the world- both physical and spiritual. There is something in our old nature
and idea of justice that says this seems a little too harsh for disobedience. We read about
the flood and only 8 souls out of the whole world saved- Noah and his family. We see the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and realize that by todays standards the media would
condemn this act of God as a hate crime. Which would be right, but not the way they would
view it- it reveals Gods wrath against ungodliness and wickedness.
Why do we shy away from Gods wrath? Why do we soft-pedal it or even refer to the God of
the O.T. and the God of the N.T.- It is the same God and He does not change. Talking honestly
about Gods wrath and judgment has never been popular- it was not popular for prophets of
old or prophets of today.
I believe our concerns over Gods wrath is we somehow view wrath as unworthy of God, as if it
is out of control. A burst of uncontrollable temper- where one sees red and goes off.
Gods wrath is never out of control It is measure, deliberate and absolutely just. Look at these
verses: Romans 2:5,6; Luke 12: 47-48
And remember whose Gods wrath is poured out on: John 3:18.19. No one stands under the
wrath of God except those who chose to stand under the wrath of God. These chose not to
surrender their life to Jesus- they did not want to lose their freedom to the control of the Lord
Jesus. for whoever wants to save his life, will lose it; and whoever loses his life will find it.
(Matt16) Luke 12 parable of the rich fool- who was building larger barns- he was called a fool
for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul.
Listen to frequent terms used to describe hell; fire- a constant reminder and awareness of
Gods displeasure to those who chose not to retain the knowledge of God ; outer darkness-
for knowledge of the loss of Gods presence, the light of the world came and they preferred
darkness and now they shall have it forever; gnashing of teeth- the gnashing that comes from
self-condemnation and loathing;
Paul says Gods wrath is being revealed from heaven- this is present tense. How is Gods
wrath being revealed today? The same way it was in Pauls day- God is giving them over to
a depraved mind, to their sinful desires to their shameful lusts which Paul clearly describes
in graphic terms of sexual immorality, homosexuality, as well as every kind of wickedness
described in Romans 1: 28-32. Note they not only continue to do these things even though they
deserve death- they also approve of those who practice them.
Like it or not- the truth is God is angry. His wrath is revealed from heaven against ALL
ungodliness and unrighteousness 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. For
since the creation of the world, Gods invisible qualities His eternal power and divine nature-
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that man is without
So how do we approach the subject of Gods wrath? With fear. For the fear of God is the
beginning of wisdom. We need to meditate on Gods wrath for it is a solemn reality. It moved
the Lord Jesus to weep over Jerusalem. And God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
He has made a way for us to escape His wrath. Jesus is the way.
When you consider the wrath of God does it make you take sin a little more seriously?
When you consider the wrath of God does it make your witnessing a little more urgent?
And when you consider the wrath of God does it draw out of your deepest soul a fervent praise
for the Lord Jesus who delivered you from the wrath of God?
People today in the 21st century think they are so much more enlightened than their ancestors,
especially those of long ago, who did not have the benefit of science and technology. They
consider those who are religious to be less informed, less intelligent, and superstitious. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Man has not evolved from some type of lower existence- man
has devolved, turned from the truth and rejected God as creator, even though He has revealed
Himself through His creation. The heavens declare His glory and the skies proclaim the work of
His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech and night after night they display knowledge.
Psalms 19 tells us. Furthermore it states: There is no speech or language where their voice is
Why does man reject the truth God has revealed? They suppress the truth in order to live their
lives as they want to live them. They do not want to be convicted of their sin, being made to
feel guilty so they have turned the truth into a lie. People do not want a God they fear. Yet the
fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. So they either choose not to believe that God is who
He says He is and can do what He says He can do and or create a more lenient God, a God who
understands we are doing the best we can and not hold us accountable for our sins and willful
disobedience. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he
also reap. ( Galatians) Oh me or amen?
Here is the bottom line: The gospel has not changed Gods attitude toward sin. The gospel has
made it possible for the sinner to be accepted by God.
The sinner must have either the righteousness from God imputed to us who have been justified
by the blood or the sinner must suffer the wrath of God.
Gods wrath is against ungodliness. Ungodliness is against God, it denies the character of God.
Gods wrath is against unrighteousness. When one denies the character of God and holds His
truth in contempt- God will find him/her guilty and they will bear the wrath of God.
Creation, Paul is stating here, clearly reveals God so that man is without excuse. Why is he
without excuse? Because mans historical basis for sin did not come about through ignorance.
It was willful rebellion in clear light of creation. Creation is Gods external witness. We will also
see in Romans 2, there is an internal witness- the conscience.
Based on scripture, there are two truths we can observe about one who claims to be an atheist:
they are liars, for they know there is a Creator God; and they are fools. For the fool has said in
his heart there is no God.
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL FROM THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Next Paul tells us what happens to man : when they knew god, they neither glorified Him as
God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
darkened . Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the
immortal God for images made to look like moral man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Sorry, Mr. Darwin, man has not evolved- he has devolved since the Garden of Eden. Man
started out perfect in every way and look what we have today. We are further away from God
than we have ever been in the history of mankind. Recent studies and surveys reveal a new
identification of many people when asked to answer what religious belief or faith they have-
the answer is : NONE. The 21st century has seen the Christian faith become a minority and the
NONE OF THE ABOVE become the fastest growing segment. These are those Peter said would
come in the latter days- who deliberately forget that long ago by Gods word the heavens and
the earth existed and were created. ( 2Peter3)
First look what they did with the knowledge of God- they had suppressed the truth in
wickedness so they did not retain the knowledge of God. This led them to a slippery slope.
Next thing that happened as a result- they did not glorify God. This means they did not give
God His rightful place as creator of all things. There was no fear of God until finally in the 20 th
century they declared: God is dead.
So here we are in the 21st century with none-of-the-above being the growing preference and
religion of choice. Which is to say, man has declared himself self-sufficient and no longer needs
Notice what happens next- a spirit of ingratitude. If they do not want to retain the knowledge
of God and suppress the truth in wickedness, and do not give God His rightful place, the result
is inevitable- ingratitude. Without God we would not exist, God willed for us to exist. God
created everything for us and the mankind has slid to the place where they no longer recognize
the One from whom all blessings flow. The One who so loved them so much He gave His only
Begotten Son so that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish but have ever-
lasting life. And their attitude is the attitude of the 9 out of 10 lepers who were cleansed by
Jesus but only one came back to thank Him. In fact today, they not only dont thank Him, they
blame for all that is wrong.
Watch what happened they became vain in their imaginations, foolish in their thinking
and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to wise they became fools and
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds
and animals and reptiles.
Any imagination or pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God must be taken
captive and made obedient to Christ.(2 Corinthians 10) So ask yourself what you believe and
accept about the Theory of Evolution- you must ask yourself these questions: does this theory
of evolution acknowledge that long ago by Gods Word the heavens existed and the earth
was formed out of waters and also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed; or is
this an argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we
take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.(2 Cor. 10)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are
being saved, it is the power of God for it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the
intelligence of the intelligent. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the
philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Professing themselves to be wise- they became fools and exchanged the immortal God for
images made to look like man, and birds and animals and reptiles.
Next we will see as we continue in Pauls letter to the Romans how God deals with those who
exchange the truth of God for a lie and how it inevitably leads man and society down the
slippery slope until when the Lord comes again- He says society and the world will be like it was
in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Look around- do you see the similarities? Today our culture and society would recognize
Sodom and Gomorrah as enlightened cultures who recognize and value the diversity of human
nature. To the point of accepting sexual freedom as freedom from condemnation for living any
way you want to live. Sin is no longer sin.
We can alter our convictions to adapt to social whims. But we cannot change the Gospel or the
truth contained within- though some may say its mans religion or ancient history. Its still the
Name of Jesus that has the power to save the lost- Its still the Cross.