This study will look at Romans 1:18.
Romans 1:18-19 NASB For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
Now, if you are one of those that advocate that all sinners should be sent to the Great White and only find the portals of hell waiting for them, then perhaps this is for you, as the passage we are going to cover can give you that impression if you merely glance at the verse. But you should know me by now, as I tear everything apart, and we will do that; however, as I often do, I want to give you a glimpse into my life and hopefully make it relate.
I recently had the opportunity to go to a men’s retreat put on by two Vineyard Churches. We had done something like this two years ago, and then it was titled “No Man Left Behind.” I felt like I got thrown under the bus, and I returned home as miserable as I came. These events, much like our relationship with Christ, will give you as much as you invest in them. With that in mind, I got to camp this time, and almost immediately, I decided to jump in with both feet; besides, the speaker caught my attention.
The speaker was Dr. Eric Sandras (You can find several of his books on Amazon.com.) We were told to call him Dr. E, and we came to find out that he has a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Relations, and that he has spent nearly a decade as a Human Sexuality instructor at various universities and colleges. So, at one meeting, we had an opportunity to ask any sexual questions we had. You might think that in a “holy” environment we wouldn’t speak of such things, but our silence, discomfort, and false bravado along with our phony acts of sucking up the horrible pains around us, while trying to act brave is nothing less than passive-aggressive behavior. (Passive-aggressive behavior has been a lifetime battle for me, and, it is a battle that comes out of Co-Dependency.) The disastrous side of passive-aggressive behavior is that, like Mount St. Helens in Washington State, USA, you will eventually blow off that pressure with disastrous results. I know this from experience.
When Dr. “E” opened the series of meetings, the first thing he did is read off a card that they use to introduce people to the church. It looks like this.
After hearing these words, I felt like I could fit in somewhere. Since I am not in a position to move to Colorado Springs, I guess my mission is to make sure that others who correspond with this description fit in as well. Many will see a description like the one in the photo, realize that some of us are accepting those that are broken, and complain, loudly, that we are NOT pointing out their sin; how could I respond to that? Good lord, if they, in their broken conditions, are reading this, trust me, they know they are broken and thirsty; I know I did. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus had an answer to this.
Now on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah (the Feast of Tabernacles,) Yeshua stood and cried out, If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! John 7:37 CJB
There were no accusations or restrictions on when or how you should come; He merely said come, and by your coming and getting closer to Jesus, the more you begin to look like Him.
Another example looks like this.
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (24) The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Matthew 4:23-24 NASB
Matthew 4:23, though many see this verse talking about sickness’s for which you merely take some pill, it demonstrates the same attitude that the welcome card conveys, you are welcome here. Eugene Peterson’s Message puts it this way,
From there, he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God’s kingdom was his theme–that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Matthew 4:23 MSG
Jesus healed diseases, but the book of Acts in chapter 10:38 associated those same diseases with demonic oppression; however, there are, without a doubt, bad effects from our relationships and choices.
As I sat through these meetings I heard things that my “religious” upbringing wanted to conflict with; but I also heard the Holy Spirit say to me, as He had done before, you relax and listen, and all will be explained to you. I don’t expect many of you to understand this, but I cried all weekend. Imagine a six foot four inch 280 pound bear of a man, crying. I had powerful men praying over me all weekend long. Some I voluntarily submitted to, while others just approached me, asking me if they could share what they had heard from the Holy Spirit, and then proceed to tell me things they would not have known otherwise. These guys poured into my life, life from the Spirit of God and spoke healing over me. For my part, I have to trust the process as I continue to put the Word of God into my life.
With that in mind let’s look at Romans 1:18
Romans 1:18-19 AMP For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. (19) For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.
Having sat through the question and answer session, I was a little overwhelmed; in moments like this, I have learned to relax and let the Holy Spirit sort things out for me. I trust the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth and to help me discern when something is not right. Simply because the topics are uncomfortable to me does not make them wrong, and this was not wrong. For several in the audience, the things that were discussed were pure ungodliness and wreaked of unrighteousness, why? Because, as I explained to one of the attendees, some people, with their legalistic point of view, are wound much too tightly. After coming down off the mountain, I made this same statement to my friends/accountability partners, and one of them asked me, what does it mean to be wound too tightly? Since I had an excellent example of this at the camp, I demonstrated what a brother did and said while we were there. We had been given ice breaker questions, and one of the questions was, what was the funniest thing that happened to you this weekend? While my answer was not funny at the time, several hours later, at lunch, I could laugh about it. Now it was the turn of another Christian brother from the church I attend. When he opened his mouth, he began an angry rant about how we were merely accepting people’s sin, and how none of the pastors among us were addressing God’s wrath and outrage over such sins. I happen to know this brother, and he fatigues himself fretting about sin; and, when he attempts to teach mature believers, they too have to endure his rants about sin.
It is sad how many are focused on God’s potential wrath and indignation. As I said, with a simplistic read, it is easy to perceive Romans 1:18,19 as nothing less than ominous. So let’s tear the verse apart.
- Wrath is the Greek word orgē and means desire, (by analogy) violent passion; by implication punishment: – anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.
If I substitute alternate wording in for the wrath, I get, For the violent passion of God. I always look at everything in light of God’s character, which is Love. Can God get violently passionate? Absolutely, and we saw this when Jesus took the time to make a whip and drive the money changers, and buyers out of the temple’s outer court.
And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (John 2:13-17 KJV)
The word wrath shows up in the book of Revelation in three chapters: Rev 6:16-17; Rev 14:10, and Rev 19:15. There is no doubt that God is angry in these instances, but the recipients are spelled out in scripture and have had their chances at mercy, no less than anybody else.
- Revealed is the Greek word apokaluptō and means to take off the cover, that is, disclose: – reveal. This word apokaluptō should be a familiar word as it has strong similarities to the title of the Revelation; here, the Greek word is apokalupsis but still means disclosure.
To again substitute words in place of what we have so far, For the violent passion of God is disclosed from heaven, but for what purpose?
- Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Well, that sounds relatively decisive. The Greek word for ungodliness is asebeia and also means impiety, and or wickedness. Impiety defined is ungodliness; irreverence towards the Supreme being; contempt of the divine character and authority; neglect of the divine precepts. Unrighteousness is the Greek word adikia and means (legal) injustice (properly the quality, by implication the act); moral wrongfulness (of character, life or act): – iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong.
In continuing to substitute words and phrases into the verse, we get: For the violent passion of God is disclosed from heaven, against all irreverence of God, contempt of His character, and neglect of His precepts.
The dictionary explanation of the word precepts goes like this: “In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct.”
We who follow Christ are deemed by God to be in Christ. This wrath that is to be poured out would have been meant for us, but since Christ took the wrath that we deserved upon himself, we do not have to endure that wrath. Here is where most have problems, as they cannot disseminate between the tribulations that are a part of being in this world and the wrath that is to come (see Romans 5:9 or 1Thessalonians 1:10.) The wrath that is coming is to be poured out upon the nations, the Jews, and those have displayed irreverence of God, contempt of His character, and neglect of His precepts. Sorry, you don’t get to stop here as the wrath is directed at particular people.
- Of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Suppress seems simple enough, that is until you look the word up in the Greek. It is the word katechō and means to hold down (fast), in various applications (literally or figuratively): – have, hold (fast), keep (in memory), let, X, make toward, possess, retain, seize on, stay, take, withhold. Thayer’s definitions indicate: to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of.) Take a moment to read Romans 2:8,9
Working off what we have so far: For the violent passion of God is disclosed from heaven, against all irreverence of God, contempt of His character, and neglect of His precepts, of men who have restrained others from finding the truth, and in many cases have hindered the people from the truth.
Are you aware that Isaiah 53 is a forbidden chapter in Israel’s Synagogues? What does Isaiah 53 speak of? The Messiah and the price He was to pay by His death.
I was angrily confronted one day when a brother in Christ tried to dispute the idea that Jesus could come back at any minute. This brother in Christ told me that everybody, according to scripture, had to have a printed copy of the Bible before Christ could return. I think for some, this will be bad news, and Romans 1:19 is the reason why.
Romans 1:19-20 NLT They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. (20) For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Creation testifies of God, and therefore, nobody will have an excuse as they stand before God.