The World is guilty before God and in need of Righteousness. 1:18- 3:20
Man is in Need of Righteousness: 1:18. Before Paul discusses salvation, he tells us that the whole world is morally bankrupt and in need of divine mercy. The truth of the matter is that man is spiritually dead. By nature we are sinners by birth, children of wrath and cannot do anything to change us (Eph 2:1-3). We need the gospel because the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom 1:18). The wrath of God is His holy aversion to all that is evil. God hates sin yet loves sinners. Wrath is essential to divine righteousness as punishment is essential to law. How the wrath of God is revealed? God’s wrath is revealed in the Bible (John 3:36). It is revealed on the cross of Christ (Matt 27:46). It is also revealed in the natural world against sin and ungodliness. Ungodliness is the sin against the person of God. Unrighteousness is sin against the will of God. Thus man is both a religious and a moral sinner.
Natural Man deserves the Wrath of God: 1:19-23. Though the natural man knew the truth, he suppresses it in unrighteousness. Sin has a tendency to hold down the truth and often exchange it for a lie. Secondly man had sufficient knowledge of God to honor Him. The testimony of nature alone gives sufficient evidence of a creator and supreme person of God. God is not an abstract principle or power but a real person. The heaven declares the glory of God (Psalms 19:1). So they are without excuse. But they did not glorify Him not as God or give thanks to Him. God is our creator and provider of all good things and deserved to be glorified (Isaiah 43:7). In order to suppress the witness of God in nature and in conscience man engaged in vain imagination and became futile. They thought that they are wise but in reality they had become foolish. Instead of worshiping the eternal God they worshiped corruptible creatures (Rom 1:21-23). Those who do not suppress the truth are granted additional light to know God (Acts 10). What happens to those who have never heard the gospel? All are born with a soul and spiritual longing for God. Those who suppress the truth will plunge into deeper darkness. But those who seek God will be blessed with additional light. God will judge people according to what they know of Him (Luke 12:48).
The Wrath of God is inflicted: 1:24-32: Therefore God gave them up to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. They became depraved in heart and rejected God. A debased mind is not capable of doing things that pleases God. That led them to idolatry. Idolatry led them to sexual perversions. Thus they engaged in vile and degrading practices. They deliberately chose to believe lies and worshiped the creature rather than creator. They were filled every kind of wickedness (Rom 1:29-31). Sexual perversion always accompanies idolatry and wickedness. They were aware of God’s displeasure and judgment. Yet they continued to disobey God and approved those who do them. Look at their downward spiral. They suppressed the truth and have chosen the path of idolatry. God gave them up to dishonorable passions and they became desperately wicked. They are in need of God’s mercy and righteousness.
Moral man is in need of God’s Righteousness: 2:1-5. In chapter one Paul painted the deplorable spiritual conditions of heathens. Now he turns to moralists to show that they are also guilty before God. They know the law and condemn others but do the same thing. When we are pointing one finger at someone the other three are pointing at us (Rom 14: 1-4). The moral man did not steal, but did covet. So the moral man is condemned by his own judgment (Mark 7:22). Also moral man is not only self-condemned but condemned according to truth (Rom 2:2). Truth is the first principle by which God judges. Secondly God will judge according to one’s works (Rom 2:6). Thirdly He would judge without partiality (Rom 2:11). Lastly God will judge according to His gospel (Rom 2:16). No one can escape from God’s truth. Yet God is good, forbearing and long suffering towards sinners until there is no more hope of repentance. God does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9). We should not take God’s goodness for granted and reject the gospel. Many are deceived by false thinking and reasoning. God will judge righteously.
Moralists are Condemned According to their Own Works: 2:6-16. Unsaved will be judged at the white throne judgment seat. They will be judged according to their evil deeds. Truth is the eternal principle by which people are judged in all ages. Obedience to God is well pleasing always. Abel brought the sacrifice of an animal and obeyed God. Cain did not. And his works were evil (1 John 3:12). God said to Cain “ If you do well, shall you not be accepted?” (Gen 4:7). What pleases God today is to believe in Christ Jesus whom He has sent (John 6:28, 29). Gentiles may not have a written law but by nature do what the law required. Their conscience bore witness of the law. So when they break their moral law, their conscience convicts them of their guilt. They try to excuse themselves by self justification. Possession of the law will not save the Jews. For it is not the hearers of the law are righteous before God but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom 2:13). Law will not save anybody. No one has ever lived up to the law (Rom 3:20). God is always impartial concerning salvation. Jews and Gentiles alike will be judged by God when the secrets of men are judged by the Lord Jesus Christ according to the truth of the gospel (Rom 2:16).