As Christians, we often talk about salvation. But what are we being saved from? What have we done that is so bad that we require salvation?
We find the answer in this passage, one of the darkest in all of scripture, because it describes just how desperate our condition is.
Paul starts by saying,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
The wrath of God. If you really think about those words, they’re pretty scary. We all love to talk about the love of God. No one ever likes to talk about his wrath. Why is his wrath being poured out?
Two reasons: godlessness and wickedness, both of which are described in much further detail as we go along.
What is godlessness? Essentially, it’s a turning of our backs on God. Paul tells us in this passage that God has revealed himself to everyone. Not just to the Jews. Not to just a select few. But to everyone. How? Through his creation. All of creation screams out that there is an intelligent creator. Even those who reject that idea, in honest moments admit, “You know, just by looking at everything, you’d almost think there was an intelligent designer behind all this.” They then of course do everything to bury that idea behind their arguments and theories.
And that’s what Paul talks about here. Through his creation, we see his power and his divine nature. Just by looking at his creation, we see just how big he must be. We see his mind. We see his creativity. We see his goodness. We see his beauty. God makes all of these things plain through his creation.
But what do people do? They suppress the truth of all this by their wickedness. If you look closely at the motives of most if not all of those who would argue against the existence of God, at its root, it comes down to the fact that they don’t want to believe that they are accountable to him. They know that if God truly exists, they can’t just live as they desire, but are responsible to him.
By turning their backs on God, though, what happens?
Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (21-22)
We can see this in literal idol worshipers. They make things with their own hands. They are the “creator.” And yet they bow down and worship what they themselves created.
But people set up other idols as well. Their own intelligence. Their own wisdom. Their own money. Their own lusts. And by trusting these things, they become blind. They become blind to what’s truly good and right. And they become blind to how these things they are worshiping are destroying them.
But worse than all of this, because they turned have their backs on God, he has turned his back on them. God says, “You don’t want to follow my will? Fine. Your will be done.”
What’s the result of our will? We see the ugly results from verses 24-31. Not only our godlessness. But our wickedness. All the things that we do that hurt others and ourselves. I don’t need to go into them all. All you have to do is look at the world around you, and you’ll see what happens when people turn their backs on God.
Verse 32 also very much describes the world today.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
People know in their hearts they deserve to be punished for what they’re doing. But not only do they continue doing them, they cheer on those who practice them. I don’t think I even have to comment on what that means. In America, we see the media constantly doing this. Celebrating when those who do what is evil in God’s sight are open about it. Celebrating when laws are passed that are contrary to the Word of God.
And because of that, we are condemned. That is the problem of sin. And that’s why we all need salvation.
How about you? Do you recognize the world’s need for salvation? More importantly, do you recognize your need for salvation?