God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
A common mistake made by Christians and those who reject the Gospel of God is the false idea that the Old Testament is all about God’s wrath and His punishment of sinners, while the New Testament is all about God’s kindness and forgiveness. This passage dispels that misleading notion. The whole Bible reveals a merciful God whose perfect love is shown in absolution and in judgment.
Beginning in verse 18, Paul demonstrates that no one is excused from believing and obeying God. The universal foundational “Sin” is rejecting the Lord as God and putting ourselves in His place, and our will in place of His will. St. Paul then provides a catalog of “sins” that flow from that fundamental Sin of choosing self over God. I’m reminded of Frank Sinatra’s tragic song, “I did it my way.”
In the second chapter, Paul’s focus moves to the specific evil of condemning the sins of others while continuing to practice the same transgressions ourselves. Moral smugness presumes upon God’s love and mercy by thinking we are so superior that we are free from His righteous judgment. I have a plaque that says “God loves you, but I’m His favorite.” It serves as a healthy warning.
Reality is that everyone’s way of life is subject to God’s scrutiny. Our hope, our true life, our salvation from self is only in a Holy Spirit-given, true and living faith in the Savior Christ Jesus. In Him we are given our true nature and life as trusting, worshipping and serving the Living God. The more we know of God’s saving love in Jesus, the more we become aware of falling short of God’s glory, and are open to His life-changing power.
Stepping out in Lent – Too often we hear or say “I’m only human” as an excuse for sin, but we are only truly alive and human in God’s will and grace. Prayerfully examine yourself for the sin of presumption.
Author – Fr. Sudduth Cummings was ordained a priest in 1971. He teaches adult formation courses and takes a turn celebrating the Wednesday Eucharist at St. Peter’s.