No Excuse

Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles & Romans 1:18-32

I know some people love a good argument, but I have to admit, I’m more than a bit of a pacifist. I cringe even at anger expressed in a verbal torrent of words, and my insides do strange things at the thought of rage or violence.

So when I read the opening verse of Paul to the Romans, I mentally cringe.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness … Romans 1:18

There is much written about God’s love, his patience, his compassion, and being ‘slow to anger’ but Paul’s words cut boldly across me cringing, confronting not just the Christians in Rome but us today, that God’s wrath is about being true to his character in acting to judge sin. As we continue to read, Paul describes the consequences of sin.

We can get angry and react to situations, particularly injustice, but God’s wrath is not a temper tantrum or reaction of emotional rage. Paul’s reminder is that God’s wrath is the result of his unwavering and consistent opposition to all that is evil.

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Habakkuk 1:13

God’s character does not allow him to take a position of indifference, and Paul’s message is a reminder that God’s reaction of wrath is a result of our own decisions.

We can be very good at presenting excuses; I didn’t know … but again, Paul makes it very clear that there is a natural revelation about God through his creation and through history.

These past couple of weeks has seen a change in the colours in our garden. The kangaroo paw is shooting up and starting to bud; the iris (my favourite) are bursting out all at once; the vibrant orange of the clivias are simply a picture.

And then there’s the longer days as we move into spring; the balmy nights which mean being out in the yard as the sun goes down in a burst of colour behind the mountain range. And as dark comes on, the moon never fails to rise and the stars come out.

Yes we are without excuse when it comes to seeing that there must have been a creator behind creation. And this is what Paul was reminding the Romans:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

This is not to discount or take away from the revelation of God through Christ and what we read in the scriptures; salvation only through Christ. Paul certainly speaks clearly of this as the letter unfolds, but he is emphasising a knowledge that there is a God.

Paul explains how our personal failure to acknowledge God, leads to other decisions which go against the natural order of God’s creation. Three times Paul uses the word exchange; a deliberate decision of trading one thing for another.

‘ … they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images …. Romans 1:23

‘They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather than the creator ….’ Romans 1:25

‘Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones …’ Romans 1:27

And the result of each exchange ….. God gave them over ….

And as a result, society experiences the consequences ….

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Romans 29-31

And today, these words still describe the world we live in … Paul could have been writing a description or summary of what we read in the papers daily or see brought into our lounge room nightly through the news.

Yes there is sin and righteous judgement …. and our unrighteousness only highlights God’s righteousness, but I find it impossible to leave us hanging in this position of doom and gloom, because there is freedom from sin and life in Christ.

‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8:1