In last week’s article we saw how in the gospel God’s plan to make sinful man righteous is revealed. We have seen that God does this through the atoning sacrifice of his son, Jesus, on the cross. This shedding of blood was done for “remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The gospel is the power of God to save, but what does man need to be saved from? This will be our consideration when we unpack Romans 1:18.
Paul, continuing his thought from verse 17, says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold back the truth unjustly. A plan of righteousness has been revealed “because” the wrath of God is revealed against all sin. The gospel encourages men to accept it because it exempts him from the wrath of God which he rightly deserves. If the gospel was to be a real benefit to man, a real power to save him, there must first be a need. If the world were not lost, there would be no need to save it; or if the world was lost and there was already a way to save it available, then there is no need for the gospel or Jesus Christ.
The reality is that the world is lost to sin (1 John 5:19). Jesus said he came to save the world, not to condemn it. Why? Because the world was already doomed (John 3:17). The Lord came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Whether Jesus came or not, everyone is condemned under the wrath of God by their sin, for sin is a transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4) and, as Paul will declare in a later chapter , “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). Our sin, our violation of God’s will, separates us from God (Isa. 59:2), and wages, or what is due, for sin is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, the gospel reveals how God purifies men from their iniquity and makes them righteous: by the death of his son.
But what is it to be unjust and impious? These terms are perhaps best explained by their opposites. Some have confused ‘piety’ with ‘likeness of God’, but the term has no such meaning. Godliness involves piety, reverence and respect for God and sacred things. Therefore, “ungodliness” would be ungodliness, irreverence, and a lack of respect for God and the sacred. There is no loss for ungodliness in our world today.
Righteousness is about being righteous, divinely approved, and acceptable to God, or a state of righteousness or acceptability. This is reflected in our actions towards God and men. Justice is about treating God and our neighbor rightly. Injustice would be a failure to treat God and our neighbor rightly. It would be unfair, frowned upon, unacceptable, incorrect behavior, morally or otherwise.
A pious person may, in a fit of passion, mistreat his fellow man, but later be filled with remorse and penance toward God for the unjust thing he has done. Such a person still worships and respects God. But the ungodly are not (Psalm 1:1-6). They disregard God for what they do or how they act. They have no respect for God, his church or his worship. Their master is their own passions and desires (Phil. 3:19; Rom. 16:18). Without reverence for God and His righteous ways (Psalm 119:172), how can we expect our interactions with our fellow human beings to proceed?
We praise and celebrate deviant immoral behavior, and we seek to defraud and deceive our fellow human beings. Men and women use, abuse and reject each other without care or thought, and children conceived through such relationships are discarded as unwanted and neglected. Our entire political structure is apparently built on a foundation of lies and deception. We WAIT for our leaders to lie to us!
This whole parade of degeneration that characterizes our country and our culture is firmly rooted in ungodliness. The apostle Paul says that those who practice such iniquity will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10), but rather will have their share with the lost in hell (Rev. 21:8). It is the wrath of God which is revealed against the unjust and the impious.
Out of love for mankind, God has provided a way for mankind to be made righteous, designed to meet their needs. It was done by a Father offering his only begotten Son as a sacrifice for his creation which he loves so much. If you want to be made righteous, holy, and live in the light of God’s love, won’t you obey the gospel? If you don’t know how, won’t you contact me today and we can examine the word of God together? Do not hesitate a moment longer because today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2; Psalm 95:7-8).
Nick Shipman can be reached at Nshipman87@yahoo.com or (217) 260-4812. The Church of Christ Downtown, 149 N. Vermilion St. is open for services Sunday at 10:30 a.m.; Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. Live Call Religious Broadcast Sundays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Youtube.com/c/FaithComethByHearing