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 the doctrine of salvation, he tells us that the whole world is morally bankrupt and is in need of divine mercy. The truth of the matter is that man is spiritually dead. We are sinners and guilty before God. Sin is crossing the moral boundaries set by God. God is holy and righteous in his ways (145:17). We are sinners by birth and actions (Psalms 51:5). Our sins separate us from holy God (Isaiah 59:2). Even if we do not practice every sinful deed, we secretly approve them (Rom 1:32). Our transgression deserves God's wrath (Rom 1:18; 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20). The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men 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. The unrighteousness is the sin against the will of God. Thus man is both a religious and a moral sinner. Behind the good news of the gospel lies the bad news that we are all guilty of sin unless we embrace Christ. The gospel is the antidote to our sin. When we believe in Christ, God is willing to forgive our sins.
Natural Man deserves the Wrath of God: 1:19-23. Though the natural man knew the truth, he suppresses it. 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 God. He 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. God is our creator and provider. He deserves our worship and adoration (Isaiah 43:7). Heathens receive the knowledge of God in their conscience. But they willfully chose not to glorify God. They suppressed the truth of God by their vain philosophy and reasoning. They thought that they are wise but in reality they had become foolish. Instead of worshiping the eternal God they worship corruptible creatures (Rom 1:21-23). Suppressing the truth will lead to deeper spiritual darkness. And those who seek truth receives additional light (Acts 10). All are born with a conscience and spiritual longing. God will judge people according to their conscience (Luke 12:48). Claiming to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of God into created things. The foolish does not mean deficient in intelligence. Sin is not an intellectual problem but a moral and spiritual problem.
The Wrath of God is inflicted: 1:24-32: We are all guilty of multiple sins described in this passage (Rom 1:21-27). They are dreadful in God's sight. 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. This led them to idolatry. Idolatry led them to sexual perversions. Thus they engaged in vile and degrading sinful practices. They deliberately chose to believe lies and worshiped the creature rather than creator. They were filled with 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. Even if we do not practice every sinful deeds, we may secretly approve them. Because of this God gave them up to dishonorable passions and they became desperately wicked. In this passage three times we read "God gave them up". God gave them up to what they wanted all along. Hell is God's ultimate "Give up place" for eternal torment. Sinners are in need of God’s mercy and his righteousness. The gospel is the antidote to sin and God will punish us unless we embrace his grace.
Moral man is in need of God’s Righteousness: 2:1-5. In chapter one Paul paints the deplorable spiritual conditions of heathens. He continues to show the desperate moral condition of religious people. The moralists 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 fingers are pointing at us (14:1-4). The moral man does not steal but he does covet. Thus 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 God's judgment is without partiality (Rom 2:11). Lastly God will judge according to His gospel (Rom 2:16). No one can escape from God’s judgment. Yet God is good, forbearing and long suffering towards sinners. He wants every one to get saved and come to the knowledge of Salvation (Rom 2:4). He does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9). We should not take God’s goodness for granted and reject the gospel. If you reject His goodness and patience, you are inviting God's wrath for yourself (Rom 2:5). The choice you make today will bring either great joy or bitter regret one day.
Moralists are Condemned According to their Own Works: 2:6-16. Sinners will be judged at the white throne judgment seat (Rev 20:11-15). Here salvation is not the issue. People 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 but the doers of the law (2:13). Law will not save anybody. No one has ever lived up to the law (3:20). For Christ is the end of the law for all who believe in him (10:4). God is always impartial in his judgment. 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 (2:16).
Jews are under Condemnation: 2:17- 3:23. Paul continues to show that the whole humanity is separated from God due to their sin. There are two kinds of people on earth. Those who are without Law are known as gentile and those who have the Law as Jews (Rom 2:12). Paul concludes that the whole world is under sin (3:9). Paul shows his fellow Jews that rituals and ethnicity can't save them when their hearts are not right with God. They violated God's law and dishonored him among the gentiles. Gentiles have the inner awareness of God's moral law but do not live up to their conscience. Only the Gospel of grace transforms us from inside out. The Bible is called the "Oracles" because it is the only divinely inspired word of God (3:2; 2 Tim 3:16-17). The Old Testament scriptures, are the greatest gifts to Israel. Paul gives the evidence of our sinfulness in chapter 3 verses 3:10-19. This is the conclusion of everything Paul has been saying since he began in chapter 1:18. There is none righteous not not one. Deep down people know that they are sinful and guilty before God. Every mouth will be stopped at the judgment seat of God (3:20). Our pride often makes us reluctant to confess our sins to God. But Jesus Christ has made it possible to have a right relationship to God. We can rejoice that believers are justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (3:24). Redemption means to purchase from the slave market to set free. Christ became our propitiation on the cross. He endured the punishment of our sins. Jesus satisfied all the righteous demands of God on our behalf. He is both "Just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (3:26). Here the wisdom of God is manifested by rescuing the sinners without compromising his justice and holiness. God in his wisdom is so gracious to accomplish our salvation through Jesus Christ. What a wonderful Savior!