What is your perception of God? Is it based on the Bible or is it based on your personal feelings, thoughts, and theories about God? People have varying ideas about God and more specifically the God of the Bible. Does it really matter what we think about Him? Maybe you think about God as a big mean giant in the sky waiting to strike sinners dead, or you view Him as an uninvolved spiritual entity that doesn’t meddle in human affairs, or as an all loving, all-encompassing grandpa who never disciplines or condemns this does not change who He is.
I believe that on the one hand it does not matter how we perceive Him, because how we think of him does not change WHO He is. He is the same regardless of our opinions. On the other hand, I do believe the way we identify with Him does affect how we live for and worship Him. If we only perceive him as a mean and vengeful God, our relationship with him will be based on an unhealthy fear and dread of Him. If we think He is an undisciplined grandpa who tolerates everything, then we may live our lives with very loose moral boundaries and lack proper a healthy reverent view of God. Here is the reality, God is a loving God who is slow to anger, tolerant of our misgivings, and He absolutely extends forgiveness to those who seek it. He is also a God of wrath, vengeance, judgment, and He will punish those who deny Him as LORD, King, and savior.
Today we are going to talk a subject that pastors either avoid or focus on all the time and that is the wrath or anger of God. In my life whenever I heard a sermon about God’s wrath and judgment it was either hellfire and brimstone preachers shouting at congregations to get saved so they won’t spend an eternity in hell. Or they were soft spoken preachers who would dodge or glass over the subject and not want to focus on God’s anger because it made God look mean. Personally, I think many pastors and Christians in general avoid the subject all together and choose not to talk too much about it because first, let’s face it, God’s wrath is a downright terrifying subject. A quick reading of much of the Old Testament and Revelation shows us this. Second, we think it makes God look bad and mean. We think it is bad PR for God to talk about his judgment. Third, we don’t like to think God gets angry with us.
Before I continue, I do want to make a disclaimer. I am focusing on God’s wrath today because we see in the Bible His holy and righteous wrath, as much as His loving kindness. It is good thing to have a healthy perspective and respect for God’s anger because it will ultimately help us to have a relationship with God that is healthy and respectful.
We are made aware of God’s wrath in this world and the passage we will look at establishes the truth that God does get angry, He does have wrath, and He will punish and discipline. We see there are indeed certain things that make Him angry. Today we will look at three specific things (in this passage) that makes God angry. These three sins are a succession of attitudes that lead to eventual godlessness, full blown sin, and complete condemnation.
Before we move along it is important to determine that the God’s wrath God is not the type of wrath, and anger we have as humans which can be uncontrolled, hot, and explosive. God’s wrath is a righteous anger that is holy and completely controlled and stems from God’s hatred of sin and not the sinner. The following three acts of sin can serve as warnings to us and give us insight as to why some never do come to faith in Christ.
Romans 1:18 - 23
Suppress the Truth
Vs 18 - 20: The first act of the unrighteous that angers God is how humanity is prone to suppress the truth. Paul writes in verses 19 and 20 that God has revealed himself to us. In His revelation and creation, He has revealed the truth to us. God in his wonderful mercy gave humanity a glimpse of who He is (verse 19), his divine nature, and His power through His creation (verse 20). God gave us the beauty of His creation to point us to Him, the Creator. This revelation is a theological term called general revelation. General revelation is God revealing himself to humanity through his creation (note this is a revelation that points to him and is not a saving revelation). God will be known to all humanity. His desire and our purpose is for all creation to worship Him; He wants us to give Him full acknowledgement of His divine power and nature, so much so that he reveals himself to us through nature. General revelation it is a peek at who God is, not a full revelation. I have asked you all on various occasion how often do you go out on a clear night and gaze awe of the beauty and immensity of the stars in the sky? Do you ever look up before or after a storm hits at dusk and observe the beautiful pink sky highlighting the massive cumulus clouds. Or spent an evening at the beach watching the sun set into the Gulf. It’s beautiful! I do this often! Have you witnessed the majesty of God when you see his beautiful creation that surrounds us? God has revealed himself so clearly that we are all without excuse. We cannot stand before and say, “I never knew you existed because you never revealed yourself to me!” WRONG ANSWER!
Paul writes there are people who know this and yet they still choose to not believe. The truth is evident (God’s revelation) yet they suppress this truth. The cost is too high for them, and they choose not to follow. Simply put, they are unwilling to exchange what they think is their freedom, happiness, fun and individuality to follow God. Yet if they would truly follow Him, they would know that only true freedom, fun, happiness, and individuality comes with a right relationship with God. They suppress the truth of God in their lives. The word suppress is an action word and it means to actively hold down by authority or force. Suppression leads to the second act that makes God angry.
Vs 21: People who intellectually know God exists but choose to deny him and live according to their own selfish motives live dishonoring lives. I can’t tell you how many books I have read or movies that I have watched by renown scientists who are either agnostic, atheists or irreligious intellectuals who acknowledge a Creator, but refuse to give credit to Him because it does not fit in their scientific worldview and acknowledgment would entail having to rethink their views, education, and beliefs. I am not anti-science because I believe science is wonderful and has been helpful to humanity throughout history. I am a supporter of science. What I am not a supporter of is taking God out of science. When scientists refuse to acknowledge God as being part of the equation and giving credit to science is plagiarism in the extreme. Plagiarism is taking the credit for something that is not your own. This is what science has done, it takes the credit for something it did not create. In the eyes of God when we give precedence to human intellect and science instead of the Creator, we thus become fools. When we do not give God the proper credit and honor, He deserves I believe makes God rightfully and righteously angry.
People often say that science and God are at odds with each other, but I disagree whole-heartedly. There are many Christian scientists in the world who are willing to acknowledge God as creator and still acknowledge science as important. There are 1,000s of scientists who belong to a foundation called BioLogos. There statement of faith is BioLogos explores God’s Word and God’s World to inspire authentic faith for today. Our vision is faith and science working hand in hand. We can still honor God and still value science.
Vs 23: The result of suppressing the truth and dishonoring God leads to idolatry. When we refuse to give God proper credit, we in turn give the credit to someone/something else and this is not only plagiarism, but it is also idolatry. Anything that takes precedence over God becomes an idol. God is very clear that He is a jealous God, and He will not share the glory with ANYONE OR ANYTHING. This verse talks about the fact that the unrighteous would rather serve an empty, dead, vain idol rather than give credit to the true Creator. These people would rather worship a lie than acknowledge the truth.
So What? Now What?
So what? Now what? These are the two questions I want to ask and conclude this sermon.
The first question “So what?” asks “What is the purpose of this message?” Why should I care about what you have been talking about for that past few minutes? The answer… to show that God is a loving, merciful, and forgiving God, but He is also a God of wrath and will not let sin go unpunished. We need a healthy perspective and fear of God’s wrath. When His truth is suppressed, we dishonor him and ultimately turn to full-fledged idolatry and God cannot and will not tolerate this.
The second question, “Now what?” responds with so what do we do with this information? Answer, “Since God has made Himself known to us through creation, we need give him proper the praise, glory, and honor He deserves.” How do we do this? Look at the beauty of His Creation around us and the miracle of life He has given us all and acknowledge Him as the author of it all. In response let our lives be full of worship and praise for His beauty and majesty for He is worthy of all praise.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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