Romansby David Cook
Good news, bad news! Paul gives us the bad news first. (In fact, the bad news doesn’t conclude until 3:21.)
God’s wrath is the bad news. The reason for His wrath is people’s godlessness and wickedness, as seen in their suppression of the truth (v. 18). The truth is suppressed because of a determined, rebellious will. Verses 19 to 20 tell us that people know about God’s power and deity by observation of the created order. However, they deliberately suppress the truth about God by exchanging the truth and glory of God for the lie of idolatry (vv. 23, 25).
The proper response to God is to glorify Him and to give Him thanks. Instead, people worship and serve created things rather than the Creator (v. 21, 25).
What is the nature of God’s wrath? Verses 24, 26, and 28 say that God “gave them over”. God leaves humanity to live with the fruit of its choice. This fruit comprises general uncleanness (v. 24), shameful lusts and perverse sexual activity (vv. 26–27), and living contrary to God’s standard (vv. 28–32). Such a lifestyle becomes, therefore, the judgment of God. It is ironic that our society describes as “gay” a lifestyle characterised by a desperate search for the fulfilment of lusts, which ought never—and will never—be satisfied.
God “gave them over”. How different to His judgment on Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), which was swift and obvious, removing their hypocrisy from the church. This “giving over” is a less obvious and more passive form of wrath. It allows sin to meander on through the life of the church and it makes life hard for God’s people.
Yet, mercifully, an opportunity for repentance and salvation is provided.
How often do we get sidetracked by the symptoms, and not look for the root cause as to why the world is the way it is?
People act the way they do (vv. 24–32) because of a theological infection: they suppress the truth of God in favour of idols (vv. 18, 23, 25). The appropriate antibiotic for such an infection is theological: only the gospel provides the cure. What are the implications of this truth?