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Rom. 1:18 THE WRATH OF GOD

Intro: The first portion of chapter one has been devoted to an explanation of the Gospel and the reason for his sending this letter. Now, in this second section of chapter one, the Apostle turns his attention to those who are away from the Lord and are in need of this Gospel. For, just as much as Paul wanted the Romans to understand what the Gospel message was all about, he also wanted them to know why such a message was even necessary.

Therefore, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write about the wrath of God. It is God's wrath against sin that forms the hub around which this last half of chapter one revolves. Now, I know that preaching about God's anger against sin is not a popular thing in our day. Man has tried his best to reduce God to some dim-witted, doting old grandfather type figure Who merely winks at the flaws in mankind and possesses no other emotion but love.

In reality, God is love, however, His one aspect of His love is His wrath and hatred of sin. God is a perfect Being! God is perfect in His love, but He is also perfect in His holiness and judgment. Yes, God is love, but may I also remind you that God is hate as well? He is love toward the sinner, but He is hate toward sin! Many people are bothered by the thought of a God Who reacts in wrath and judgment, I would be bothered by a God Who didn't!

Paul's purpose here, and through chapter 3 verse 20, is to describe for us the charges against man. Paul is going to tell us why we need to believe the Gospel of grace. The first argument he uses to call men to the Lord is to lay out the case of the prosecution. Paul is going to reveal that problems God sees with men. However, before we can understand why God is angry, we need to know a little more about the anger of God.

In this verse, we find a definition and a description of the wrath of God. Understanding this will help us to understand what is to follow. Let's take a few minutes tonight to look at this verse and try to grasp this idea of the wrath of God.

I. THE FACT OF GOD'S WRATH

(Ill. This answers the question of, "What is the wrath of God?")

A. The Character Of This Wrath - In the New Testament, there are 2 words used to refer to the wrath of God. One is the word "thumos". This word is the word from which we get our word thermos, thermonuclear, etc. It refers to a sudden explosion of anger. This is the word used in Luke 4:28, when the people of Nazareth wanted to harm Jesus. It is also the most common word for wrath in the book of Revelation. The word used here is different. It is the word "orge". It literally means to become "red faced". It pictures someone who is holding his anger in while it builds up inside of him. It implies that there will come a time when the anger will come forth.

(Ill. To get an idea of what I am saying, try to imagine a new dam that has been constructed. Behind that dam the waters are being backed up until there is great pressure behind that dam. Then, one day, that dam bursts and all the fury of those pent up waters flows forth and destroys everything in its path. That is a pretty good description of God's wrath. Consider when this has been displayed in the record of Scripture.

1. At the flood - Gen. 6-8. God's wrath built up and was restrained until the day came when it burst forth in fury.

2. Sodom and Gomorrah - Gen. 19 - The wrath of God slowly built against those people until it burst forth in divine judgment.

3 2. At the Red Sea - Ex. 14 - Pharaoh and his people had been dealt with by God through the plagues and God had restrained His anger. Now, the dam bursts and the entire Egyptian army is drowned in the sea.

(Ill. The good news for those in Jesus is that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, God directed all His built up anger against sin past, present and future and poured that anger out into the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, those of us who are saved by grace have found a place of shelter from the awesome wrath of God, Rom. 5:9.)

(Ill. Does God react in sudden outbursts? Yes! Look at some in Israel who rebelled and were instantly afflicted by a plague, Num. 11; 16. Think of Miriam who was afflicted with leprosy, Num. 12:10. There are occasions when the wrath of God is unleashed in an instant, but thankfully, God typically deals with sinners by holding back His wrath in an effort to bring about repentance in their lives.)

B. The Caliber Of This Wrath - Notice that it is the "wrath of God". When you and I get angry and display our wrath, at best, it is tainted by sin. We respond after the flesh and usually our outbursts are selfish and foolish. On the other hand, God's wrath is always balanced, fair and perfectly just. You can be sure that when the wrath of God falls on a life, it was deserved and it was executed in perfect, divine justice!

(Ill. We just need to understand that there is no possible way for the Lord to react against sin but in judgment! He is appalled by sin and will react against it, Heb. 1:3!)

C. The Consistency Of This Wrath - The Bible says here that the wrath of God "is" revealed. That is, the wrath of God is constantly in view. We can see it around us all the time, but are often unaware of what it is.

(Ill. If this is true, then why do we see the wicked prospering? Shouldn't their lives be filled with pain and suffering? It would seem so from a human perspective. However, when we look into the Word of God, it becomes clear that God, in His longsuffering, gives the wicked many chances to repent. He wants them to come to know Him. This is the problem Asaph struggled with in Psalm 73. He saw the prosperity of the wicked and the struggles of the children of God and it caused his much anxiety and confusion. However, his perspective was cleared up when he considered the end of those without the Lord, Psa. 73:17-19. When he considered that they were going to experience the undiluted wrath of God in Hell forever, he began to understand that God doesn't always pay off on Friday!)

D. The Course Of This Wrath - We are reminded that the wrath of God originates in Heaven. Mankind may think that he has obtained some measure of control and domination in this world, however, men would do well to remember that God is still in control and that He will have the last word in this matter.

(Ill. Wrath will come against all sin. Whether it is the "cause and effect" wrath of reaping and sowing, Gel. 6:9; or the full blown wrath of God revealed in His personal fury against sin, the wrath of God always originates in Heaven. People need to remember that there is a higher order, there is a higher standard than that of man. God will always have the final word!)

I. The Fact Of God's Wrath

II. THE FOCUS OF GOD'S WRATH

(Ill. This answers the question of, "Who is God's wrath focused against?")

A. Focused Unerringly - This verse tells us where the wrath of God is focused. The two areas encompass all the arenas in which sin operates.

1. Against Ungodliness - This refers to man's relationship to the Lord. Because men are the enemies of God, Rom. 8:7; Rom. 5:10, they are the focus of His anger and are therefore the "children of wrath", Eph. 2:3. The reason why is that the absence of a genuine relationship with God will result in some form of false religion. With the lost person will worship another god, or they will set themselves up as their own God. Either activity angers the true God and brings His wrath into their lives.

2. Against Unrighteousness - This word is a synonym for the other word. This word encompasses the idea of ungodliness, but it primarily focuses on the results of ungodliness in the life of the unbeliever. It basically refers to man's relationship with his fellow man. Because man's relationship to God is wrong, his relationship to his fellow man is also wrong. We treat others the way we do because we treat God the way we do! As this chapter unfolds, Paul will reveal sins that are against God and sins that are against man. What all these sins have in common is that they are all the product of a life that does not have a right relationship with the Lord!

(Ill. Did you realize that every problem man has with man has its roots in man's relationship with God? It's true! We will treat our fellow man exactly like we treat God! When we treat God badly, we will treat man badly. When we love God, we will love other people too! You watch and see if what I am telling you isn't the truth!)

B. Focused Utterly - God hates sin! It is the only thing that He does hate. He does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sinner's sins! This is revealed in the word "all". God hates all sin! God is against it and cannot allow it to go unpunished! He is a good God, but He is also a just God! He cannot just wink at sin and let it pass by unpunished. He will react in wrath against the sins of humanity and those who fail to repent and get in a right relationship with Him will feel the fury of God's wrath in Hell!

I. The Fact Of God Wrath

II. The Focus Of God's Wrath

III. THE FOUNDATION OF GOD'S WRATH

(Ill. This answers the question "Why is God angry?")

A. Men Have Rebelled Against God's Truth - The phrase "hold the truth in unrighteousness" means that people know the truth, but they suppress it and cling to their sins instead of the Lord. If you read verse 19, you will see that men have had God revealed in them. There is something built into man that causes him to know that there is a God! Yet, men love their sin more than they love God. Therefore, they seek to suppress the truth they know about God while, at the same time they seek to go deeper into their sins, John 3:19. The Bible says in Psa. 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." Notice that the word "there" is in italics! What this verse is teaching is that the fool is that person who says "No!" to God. He wants his way over God's way and is living in open rebellion, constantly suppressing the truth of God while steadfastly holding onto his sins!

B. Men Have Rejected God's Truth - Not only do they rebel against the truth of God, but they also reject the truth of God. This idea will be expanded on in the next section, but for tonight we need to understand that those who know about God, but refuse to walk with God are guilty of rejecting the truth of God and are subject to the wrath of God!

Conc: Millions of people are under the wrath of God this evening. It is obvious that this is true by the way they live and by the tings that they do. Our duty is to tell them about a Gospel that can set them free! Unless those who have the message take it to them, they will never be saved. They may know about God and they may know about their own condition, but they need to hear the Gospel story so that they will have the opportunity to make a decision for Jesus! Do you need to come to this altar tonight and pray for some that you know who are lost? Do you need to come and seek the Lord's power as a witness so that you can be more vocal for Jesus? Do you need to come a receive Jesus as your Savior tonight?

For the child of God, there is cause for rejoicing in this message! Why? Because for us, the wrath of God has been extinguished forever in the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight, all those who are saved by the grace of God stand under the umbrella of that grace, forever sheltered and protected from the terrible wrath of the Almighty. That, in itself, is a reason for praise and glory to be given to the Lord!




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