Romans 1:18-20 The Righteousness of God [Part 2]
Romans 1:18–20 (ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
The people of Africa, as a whole or vast number of individuals, do not owe any amount of debt that would Biblically put into slavery to anybody outside of Africa. I am not talking about one-off possibilities of someone being so indebted that they had to sell themselves into slavery to repay what they owe. I am speaking wholesale.
Why do I bring this up? My point brings me to two nations in our world in recent history. Both countries sinned and kidnapped natives of parts of the world and exchanged these people as commodities like livestock or fruits and vegetables. No human in either one of these countries had any moral, Biblical, and righteous right to purchase people and do with them as they pleased.
Exodus 21:16 (ESV) “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.
The word of the Lord makes this plain and clear.
We have two countries whose sins are similar. They both kidnapped people and sold people. Now one country recognized the error of their ways and attempted to make amends. The road to making amends was harsh and punishing, but in the end, the country decided to abolish slavery.
However, the other country might have tried to make amends, but it was meant with treasonous and violent opposition. It divided the country, and one countryman would kill their fellow countryman all for the right to disobey the word of the Lord.
I am speaking of Great Britain and the United States. I understand that this might be an overstatement, and I do not profess to be a historian. But as a reasonably intelligent person, I can read and observe the history of the two countries and see that:
- Great Britain had no Civil War
- The United States did have a Civil War and, by far, was the bloodiest war in U.S. History, with nearly 620,000 men killed. (The 2nd most death toll in the war was WW2 with 405,000.)
I cannot help but think that the Civil War was not merely an accident but the just wrath of God on America for our sins. I have seen Him do this before (2 Samuel 12:9–12), and I have no doubt He would do it again if it pleased him.
As one who has finished High School over twenty years ago, it was easy for me to see God’s hand in our history. But that is not because of my education and intelligence, but rather, God has made it plain to all of us.
The Simplicity of God
Romans 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.
What is it about God that is so plain to us?
Let me contend for three things:
One, God created the creation and everything in it.
Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
John goes into metaphysical detail:
John 1:3 (ESV) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Furthermore, we have taken good things from God alone, namely science, wisdom, and knowledge, and used this to disprove God’s work in creation or argue that God does not exist. It is futile in thinking.
And someone might read this and attempt to look down on me and dismiss me as an idiot because I don’t believe the theory that the universe, which exhibits order, was born out of chaos. But, by God’s grace, I have taken what is plain to me and tried to answer my own questions and choose to do so from an authority higher than mankind.
Two, God’s provision to all of mankind.
Matthew 5:45b For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
1 Chronicles 29:10–14 (ESV) Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
Whether the crops grow or die and livestock flourishes or withers out of existence, this is all by the hand of God, and it is his provision that sustains our lives. If we are sure to perish without Him, what makes us think we can be saved to Him with Him? Our spirit cannot be born of ourselves, for we are flesh. But God gives us His Spirit so that we would be alive forevermore.
Three, we possess a conscience of what is right and what is wrong.
Romans 2:14–16 (ESV) For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
The Jews have the law of God. Gentiles do not. But what Gentiles do have is a conscience that determines right and wrong, good and evil. Unfortunately, for all of the sons of Adam, sin has and will infect our consciences even to the point of “searing” where we give in to what is evil and immoral.
Four, God’s right judgment against the nations of the world for all of mankind’s history. I remember in my High School U.S. History class, and one of my fellow students asked a poignant question. “Teacher, why is it that history is marked by only wars?” Great evil has fallen on mankind, and we have seen in our lives when left unchecked, sin and evil will bubble up and explode, causing strife between people.
Matthew 24:5–8 (ESV) For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Christ not only prophesied, but He promised to be so. And just when we think it could not worsen, Christ declares, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
May God have mercy on our souls. Amen.