This is the passage we were supposed to study in our Bible study class at church yesterday. I thought maybe I’d post my own thinking about it here. The translation I’m using here is the TNIV.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
The first point I want to make deals with the first seven words of the first sentence, “The wrath of God is being revealed…” Older translations often say the wrath of God is revealed. However, my study is showing me that the word translated “is” or “is being” means “constantly or continually is being revealed.” So it’s not a one time thing, but has been happening from the time of Adam’s sin up until today. It’s not just something that happened at the time Paul is writing this passage. We can apply it to today.
The second interesting point is that the people “suppress” the truth by or in their wickedness. I think this is something to keep in mind as we look at the mindset of these people.
The third point is that God has revealed himself through his creation, and God’s message to us here is that what can be known about God through his creation is enough that people should be able to see that he does exist, and not only that, but he has immense eternal power and a divine nature. Do we see that when we look at the creation? God says here that we should.
The next section makes it clear that, although people should know God just by looking at the creation, they do not.
21 For although 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. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.
God’s power and divine nature are clearly seen through his creation, but people refuse to give him glory, and instead they rebel and turn away from God, taking instead for themselves gods of their own making – that’s idolatry.
I ask, do we see enough evidence of God’s power and divine nature when we look at nature and his creation? We should, according to this passage. It even says we have no excuse, because it’s clearly revealed. Why do we not see it? Is it because we don’t want to see? Is it because we have been blinded by some evil force that doesn’t want us to see?
This scripture places the blame squarely on us, whether the devil is involved or not.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Therefore God gave them over…
They refused God. They rebelled, and turned to their own way. Their sin leads them into sexual impurity and idolatry, and they believe a lie, rather than God’s truth.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
God gave them over… Is this a second time? Or is it just a continuation of the first? At any rate they turn farther away from God by turning from the natural order to an unnatural order.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
And so here they are. They have turned away from God and their lives have become nothing but sin. They are so blinded by their own sin that they can’t even see what a bad thing it is. They actually are calling evil good by this point.
When we read this passage we can do a lot of finger-pointing. Do you see any of these sins that you are committing in your life? We need to examine ourselves when we read this passage, and not just point our fingers at what other people do. Do you see any of your favorite sins on that list?
You don’t? That’s fine. Just wait until we get to chapter two. That’s when we see those other fingers on our hand that are pointing back at ourselves.