Paul begins this text with a summary of the gospel and its power. Verse 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The righteous shall live by faith – we can’t see God’s character or his special qualities, but by looking around us at his incredible creation they are very obvious. He is the Lord of the Universe, the Mighty One, the Creator who has decided we are worthy of his attention and protection. If we understand and accept God’s love for us, his provision for us in every cell of our body and for every breath we take, it is not surprising then that he is angry with us when we sin.
These next verses describe God’s anger. God knows we know the truth about him as we can see his creation of the world and therefore are able to understand some of his special qualities, his power, his majesty, his holiness. We know of his power and might as a Creator and know that he rules over all. Paul introduces us to the very real concept of “the wrath of God.” His justice is real, his just and sustained anger against our sins is real. Hell is real.
If we didn’t acknowledge that God’s wrath is real, we would have no need for salvation. There wouldn’t really be any penalty for our sin. It is important to remember that God’s wrath is not an irrational anger, or a spontaneous reaction to our behaviour. Instead it is quite deliberate, determined, a consistent opposition to our sin.
God really, really hates sin. He is holy, perfect and sin must be opposed because it is contrary to who God is and to all that we are created to be. God has not kept his wrath hidden. We all know we have to stand and give an account of our life on the last day. That’s a pretty daunting thought!
None of us are excused from our poor behaviour because the whole created world clearly proclaims the glory and perfection of God.
We don’t often talk about God’s anger. It is quite a painful picture to imagine this loving Father of ours burning with anger. I see the sacrifice on the cross of his own son describes the intensity of God’s anger against sin. I see also the sacrifice of Jesus for our evil as a measure of his intense love for each of us.
For meditation today:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.