Here’s the sermon outline from Romans 1:18-32 “The Wrath of God” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship (church in Naperville).
Romans 1:18-32 “The Wrath of God”
Intro: Of all the passages I have ever preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship, our culture would probably find this one the most offensive. It jars against our modern Western sensibilities, it speaks of God’s anger, it shows our culpability and guilt, and it contradicts how modern people understand sexuality.
Our 3rd president Thomas Jefferson had a Bible, but he rejected the supernatural aspects about Jesus. He literally cut out all the parts of the Bible that spoke of Jesus’ miracles and divine nature. I imagine if our culture at large today could take a knife to the Bible, it would cut this out. But, as someone once said, if we only take the parts of the Bible we like, we don’t get God, but a god of our own making. We need ALL of God’s Word, for it is true and from Him and tells us the truth about God and reality. The right response to it is not to cut out difficult passages, or ignore them, but seek to understand and humbly submit to them.
Last week we looked at 1:16-17; there, Paul states the theme of this letter, which is the GOSPEL. GOSPEL means good news, the GOOD NEWS FROM GOD ABOUT WHAT GOD HAS DONE IN JESUS CHRIST. It is the power of God for salvation, for in the gospel, a person can become right with God through faith in Jesus.
Today’s section helps us understand why we need salvation and what exactly we are saved from. In particular, we learn about God’s wrath, our culpability, and how God expresses that wrath today. This is a SOBERING passage. But as Christians we believe it is true.
Here’s the main things to see today from it:
God is rightly angry toward sin and expresses that anger even now, which shows us how precious is the gospel.
As we look at our text, we see these truths laid out for us: 1st. God is angry toward sin; 2nd God is RIGHTLY angry toward sin. 3rd. God’s righteous anger is expressed even now. All of this shows us just how precious and important the gospel is!
1. GOD IS ANGRY TOWARD SIN (18a)
-Wrath of God definition: God’s just fury and anger toward sin.
-Wrath against “all ungodliness (Sin against God) and unrighteousness (sin against God & men) of men”
-God is angry about the evil and wickedness in the world. He is not indifferent.
OBJECTION: I thought God was love, how could God be wrathful?
ANSWER: God is love, but He also has a just anger toward sin.
-Mirslov Volf’s discovery: (Genocide) God has wrath because he is love. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
–IMAGINE: Someone hurts your loved one. Love is not to be indifference or have a passive tolerance but to express a righteous anger.
-SURPRISE of God’s Wrath: When rightly understood, actually leads us marvel at Him and worship Him.
-God is not indifferent to evil, but punishes evil in this life and in the life to come.
-No one will get away with sin or evil, even if they are not caught in this life.
-CLARIFICATION: God’s anger is not like ours. God’s anger is holy, never too weak or strong, always just. Never capricious.
*OBJECTION: Why do we deserve God’s anger? Are we really that bad? Are we culpable? Is God right to be angry with sin?
2. GOD IS RIGHTLY ANGRY TOWARD SIN (18b-23)= “We are CULPBABLE”CULPBABLE DEFINITION: deserving of blame. We are guilty and accountable for our sins, and deserve God’s wrath.
–This section shows that God is justified to have wrath toward sinners, because no one is actually innocent. God has given EVERY SINGLE PERSON what they need to know to be held accountable before God.
-God is rightly angry, because of a SUPPRESSION OF TRUTH (18b-20)
-Sinners suppress the truth of God in their unrighteousness (they push it down and refuse to acknowledge it)
-There are no true atheists (19-20)
-God’s ETERNAL POWER and DIVINE NATURE are clearly perceived
-They are without excuse (20b)=can’t say they did not know.
-It is evil to suppress the truth, and God is right to be angry toward this.
-God is rightly angry because there is A REFUSAL TO HONOR GOD AS GOD (21a)
-God is king, and it is right to give him worship and honor. It is rebellion to ignore Him or reject Him.
-We train our kids to say thank you, because ingratitude is proud and sinful. We have done this to God.
-It is evil to reject God’s legitimate kingly rule, and God is right to be angry toward this sin.
-THE RESULTS OF THIS REFUSAL IS THE FOOLISH EXCHANGE (21b-23)
-“Futility in thinking…Foolish hearts darkened…thought were wise but became fools”
-How so? By EXCHANGING the glory of IMMORTAL GOD for idols
–Idolatry=worshipping that which is not the true God. Today: sex, career, comfort, money, health
IMAGINE: You lived in a multi-million-dollar home, and someone offered to you a toy version of the house in exchange. We would say that is foolish to make the trade. But that is idolatry: exchanging inestimable for that which is worthless in comparison.
–IDOLATRY ruins us and others, it makes us foolish, and God is rightly angry toward it.
SUMMARY: We are ALL culpable for our sin. We really do deserve God’s wrath and anger. God is RIGHTLY angry toward sin.
*OBJECTION: I don’t feel like I’m under God’s wrath. I don’t see the wrath of God today.
3. GOD’S RIGHTEOUS ANGER IS UPON SINNERS EVEN NOW (24-32): Wrath EXPRESSED
The Bible does speak about God’s anger in visible forms of destruction and as a PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE Reality:
PAST: Flooding the Earth, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, sending plagues, causing the Earth to open up, Herod (Acts 12:23)
FUTURE: Future wrath on God’s enemies when Christ returns and God’s wrath in hell.
PRESENT: this passage shows us a present reality of God’s wrath; God is wrath is upon sinners right now in a particular way:
WRATH EXPRESSED: God “giving people up to their sins.” 3 times this passage speaks of God’s giving up.
EXPLANATION: Person refuses God and embraces sin, one way God shows wrath is giving them over to their sin.
3 EXPRESSIONS OF GOD, IN HIS WRATH, GIVING A PERSON UP TO THEIR SIN
1st GIVING UP: In His wrath, God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts (24-25)
-God “gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (24)
-Some kind of dishonoring their bodies among themselves (24b)
-This is due to another foolish exchange: truth about God for a lie (25a)
-And this foolish exchange: worship/serve creature rather than Creator (25b)
DOCTRINE REMINDER: We are not a cosmic accident, but are the creation of our Creator. Made to enjoy God
IMPLICATION: We’re all worshippers. Idolatry is not a preference, but a foolish rejecting of God’s good design.
2nd GIVING UP: In His wrath, God gave them up to dishonorable passions (26-27)
-This giving up either specifies what the first giving up meant in 24-25 or is in addition to it.
-Giving up to “dishonorable passions”
DISHONORABLE PASSIONS EXPLAINED (26b-27): Homosexual Behavior and Desire
1. Women “exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature” NOTE: “Contrary to nature”
2. Men: “gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” NOTE: “gave up natural relations”
–Shameless acts: Not something to be proud of, but to be ashamed of.
–Receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (act itself or future judgment)
BIBLE’S VIEW OF SEX: God created sex, and it is a good gift to humanity, meant for one man and one woman in marriage. The Bible speaks of homosexual desire and practices as “dishonorable, shameful, contrary to nature.” This is how God teaches us to view them, regardless of how our culture views them.
CAVEAT: -We don’t say this in a self-righteous way. All of us have sin in our hearts and lives.
-Jesus said, if you look at women with lust in your heart you have committed adultery (Matt 5:27-30)
3rd GIVING UP: In His wrath, God gave them up to a debased mind (28-31)
-Refuse to acknowledge God, God give them up to a “debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (28)
-What OUGHT NOT TO BE DONE (29-31)
The final indictment on humanity (32)
-They know “God’s righteous decree” that these acts deserve death,
-They not only do them, but give approval to others who do them.
SUMMARY: God is righteously angry with our sins and expresses that wrath even now by giving people up to their sin
3 Remember as We Reflect on this passage:
1. Humanity is in a desperately wicked and bleak state
-We are not naturally upright and lovers of God and God’s ways. We suppress the truth and worship idols and reject God.
-We are culpable. No one is truly innocent. No one is truly able to plead ignorance
–APP: Our understanding of humanity needs to see our sinful state and that we are culpable before God
2. God is angry toward sin and sinners, and he expresses that anger even now by justly giving people over to their sin.
-This ought to sober us. Should lead us to warn others and be warned ourselves.
-A right understanding of God includes His love, but also recognizes his anger toward sin and sinners.
APP: We must make sure that we don’t so emphasize love or grace, that we forget to mention wrath.
3. IMPORTANCE of the GOSPEL: Here is the only solution to our desperate situation. We need a savior, and Jesus is that savior. He never sinned, but came to save sinners. God loves us and he sent Jesus to rescue us and save us.
-If we trust in Jesus Christ as our savior, we will be saved from our sin and NO LONGER UNDER THE WRATH
APP: This reminds how precious the gospel is, and important it is to preach it ourselves and to others.
STORY OF RACHEL GILSON: Practiced homosexual lifestyle in high school and went to Yale. There she started exploring the idea of God. She stole her friend’s copy of “Mere Christianity” and came to faith while reading it! TESTIMONY from “Born Again this Way”: P 20-21
Conclusion: Promise and Warning of John 3:36.