Romans 1:18-2:16 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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A World Without Faith
Comments for Study 2

Romans 1:18-2:16
Memory Verse: 18

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I. People in the World Deliberately Reject God (1:18-21)

>1. Against whom is God's wrath revealed?

* Romans 1:18 "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" -wrath is a nature of God, as is love, and forgiveness. God's wrath is fair and righteous, rational, and justly displayed. The wrath of God is terrible to fall under. When Jesus was on the cross, the wrath of God fell on him, not that he committed a sin and therefore needed to under God's wrath, but that he took our sins upon him and therefore needed to be under God's wrath (This was God's will for him.).

* "is being revealed" -it was being revealed in Paul's day and before, still is being revealed, and continually will be revealed.

* "from heaven" -this is where God is.

* "against all the godlessness and wickedness of men" -God's wrath is not to everyone, just the unforgiven sinner.

* "godlessness" -they don't know God as the Jews did, all actions done without God.

* "wickedness" -unrighteous corruption. One can do noble and moral things (as the Jews did), but can still be wicked in God's sight. They really don't obey God with all their heart, soul, and mind.

* Because of these facts God' first act with sinners it to restore the broken relationship between us and him. Then he has them repent in action.

>How do people suppress the truth?

* "who suppress the truth by their wickedness"

* "suppress"-deliberate action.

* "the truth" -about God (all of his qualities including the trinity-Father, Son, and Spirit), about man, about the universe and its origins, about man before God, and all that is in the Bible.

* Whether men admit it or not they know the truth-but each in different degrees. Paul did not write saying men do not know the truth, but that they suppress the truth.

* "by their wickedness" -wickedness is twisting and distorting the truth and ways of God. It is a revelation destine to fail.

>What is the truth they suppress?

* Romans 1:19-20 "since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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.""

* "his eternal power" -God is omnipotent. Jesus has no beginning and will have no end. He is all powerful and nothing has more power than he. If he were to will it, it would happen. Nothing and no one can stop him from doing what he desires and all he desires is right and good. Jesus is omnipotent. Jesus is the imaginative and powerful creator God. (John1:1-5, 14) Everything but he was created and he created all. He created heaven and earth. He created all the angels. He created time, matter, and space. The entire vast universe he created. Every galaxy he started and sustains. Every star he ignited and sustains. Every atom and all that makes up an atom he brought into being and sustains. Every plant and animal Jesus created and sustains.

* "and divine nature" -Jesus is the Creator God. Jesus is therefore infinity, eternity, omnipresent, omnipotent, pure, bliss, and omniscient.

* Note that verses 17 is about grace and verse 18 is about God's wrath. They are in the same sentence, thus displaying that they must be preached together. This is similar to John 1:14 chapter where it says Jesus came full of "grace and truth".

>Why do people who deliberately reject God have no excuse?

* Romans 1:19-20 "since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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."

* Acts 14:17 "Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

* Job 11:7-9 ""Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens--what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave--what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea."-This means that the being of God may be apprehended,but it does not mean that God can be comprehended by nature alone. (Matthew Henry Commentary, Volume 5, p.369)

* Deut. 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."-This means that finite understanding cannot perfectly know an infinite being; but praise be to God, there is that which may be known, enough to lead us to our own chief end, glorify and enjoy God forever. (Matthew Henry Commentary, Volume 5, p. 369)

* "since what may be known about God is plain to them"-God did not make it so that man can not know about him, even though he may be veiled to us by sin. Note: when Jesus died the curtain separating man from God in the temple tore it two pieces.

* "because God has made it plain to them" -God has made it plain about his nature in three ways. These are the innate knowledge of God in all men. There are also more ways than this that God has made himself known to man. But of course some people and cultures suppress these more than others. The basic ones are:
    1)Reason -all men naturally think of what is purpose for living and what is the meaning of life.
    2)Instinct -When all men are in a life and death crisis, they naturally display this truth by crying out to God.
    3)Conscience -God reflection of moral laws in man is a common denominator of all men and women throughout time and region and culture.
    Others include:
    4)Nature -bleakly displays God nature and ways. Verse 20 says this one.
    5)Israel's history-Calvin spells this out well.
    6)Word of God
    7)The Holy Spirit
    8)Jesus, the Son of God

* "have been clearly seen" -to all. No one can say they did not know on judgement day.

>2. Why should men honor and thank God?

* Romans 1:21 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

* "For although they knew God"-God has given many testimonies of himself, as described above. This is God's grace for because of sin we should not know God at all, but be cut off completely from him. Because of God still giving us a testimony, therefore, we should glorify him as God and give thanks to him.

>Why do they not?

* John 3:19-20 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

* Men want to live without God to satisfy their sinful desires in their heart and to live their own way (This is actually being a slave to sin and Satan).

>Why is this a suppression of the truth?

* It suppresses the truth that he sustains our life.

* It suppresses the truth that he is the Creator God, even of us.

>3. Why happens to the mind and heart of one who deliberately refuses to glorify and thank God? (21)

* Romans 1:21 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

* "their thinking became futile" -empty, without point, wanderer, useless. They may seem to be intelligent, but they don't generate life and godliness. (22) It may also seem holy and/or moral, but it is still futile.

* "their foolish hearts were darkened" -without God's light and life. (John 1:4,5; 3:19,20; 1 John 1:5)

* Steps to corruption are as follows:
    1)An effort to eliminate God from their lives. (19-20)
    2)Their thinking became futile and their hearts darkened. (21)
    3)Pride arises in the heart. (22)
    4)Bear the fruit of corruption. See question 7.

II. The Result When Men Live Without Faith (1:22-31)

>4. Look at verse 22.

* Romans 1:22 "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools"

>How do men who live without God become fools? (23)

* Romans 1:23 "and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

* Also verse 25, which says, they "exchange the truth for a lie". This is dealt with in question 6.

* "Claim to be wise" -pride

* In God's eyes they are fools.

* Men and women can exchange anything for God: cars, jewels, money, power, human love and people, etc. This is foolish.

* "exchange" -trade God's glory for something lesser. This is a bad buisiness deal.

>5. Find the verses in which the phrase "God gave them over" is repeated.

* Verses 24, 26, and 28.

* Romans 1:24 "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another."

* "Therefore" -Paul is logical. This tells us that coming up are some of the wrath of God that God gave man over to. Also "furthermore" in verse 28 indicates that he has more to say about this. These points will be bring out in the questions that deal with those verses.

>What does this mean?

* "God gave them over" -They desired to satisfy their sinful desires so God let them satisfy these desires.

* In Genesis, God said, "My spirit will not contend with man forever."

* Also, in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, the Father let him go.

* People don't exercise their freedom, but are left alone. People aren't set to hell, but they are allowed to freely walk into it despite God's continual plea that it is a terrible existence. Still, they insist that that is the only way that they will go. So God lets them go. He does not force anyone to accept paradise and bliss.

* This is the fruit of corruption.

>Why is this an expression of God's wrath?

* When we pursue our sinful desires we are destroying ourselves.

* This is a foreshadow of hell. Hell is being abandoned by God eternally.

>What is God's purpose in giving them over to?

* Like in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son; so that they may learn that there is no life away from God nor in the things of the world.

* God's redemptive purpose and love is seen in turning us over to our sinful desires.

* 2 Chr. 12:7-8 "When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.""

>6. Look at verse 25.

* Romans 1:25 "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen."

>What foolish exchange do men without God make?

* "They exchanged" -after God leaves men alone, right away they ignore him.

* "the truth of God for a lie"

>Why can't God take care of liars?

* Liars won't acknowledge the truth.

* Liars distort the truth.

* Liars generously find ways to distort the truth.

>Look at verses 26 and 27.

* Romans 1:26-27 "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

>How do godless people invert creation order?

* Creation order is like a target with concentric circles:
    1)God first (in the center of all)
    2)Man is the next circle out
    3)Other created things is the farthest circle out.

* Creation order is found in the family unit as well. In Genesis God established marriage and the family.

>How does this perversion destroy people and provoke God's anger?

* In Sodom and Gomorrah God displayed the error of this very clearly.

* Note: these verses are a moral statement, so it does not change. Wearing hats is not a moral statement, but an act of respect known in the times which can change.

* "natural relations" -According to how God created us we were meant to live in a certain way.

* "dew penalty" -Three are:
    1) broken relationship with God.
    2) disease,
    3) broken relationship with society.

* "inflamed" -wrong concentration.

>7. Read verses 28-31.

* Romans 1:28-31 "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 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."

>What happens to society and families when individual people do not retain the knowledge of God in their hearts?

* "Furthermore" -this is a continuation of the logical statement that Paul is making (see 24 "therefore") -which is about God giving man over to the sinful desires.

* "to do what aught not to be done" -premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, with animals, incest, etc.

>What will happen to this kind of society and family?

* It will be destroyed.

* It misleads the innocent and ignorant that these sins will being happiness and peace.

* It will grow empty, dark, and wicked.

* Society and families will break down.

* Can't get better by itself.

* Throughout history great nations have fallen through moral decay.

>8. Why do people who know what is right become advertisers of evil-doing?

* Romans 1:32 "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."

* To justify their sin.

* They believe in the statements: "might makes right", and "the more the merrier".

* So they may have others to practice their sin with.

* They don't want to repent.

III. The Legalistic Jews (2:1-5)

>9. Look at 2:1-3.

* Romans 2:1-3 "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?"

>Who else is a suppressor of the truth and under the wrath of God?

* "who pass judgment on someone else"-self righteousness. This was the Jews of Paul's day. Today it is those who still don't believe in Jesus, but live moral lives.

* It should be based on God's righteousness.

* Here, Apostle Paul is talking about these he called, "godless" in verse 18.

>Why is it wrong to pass judgment on others?

* "you who pass judgment" -to declare a definite decree, condemning. Usually done with self satisfaction. Paul elsewhere said, "I turned him over to Satan" when talking of passing judgment (1Cor 5:5) Then in 2 Cor. 2:5 he took him back. When we do make a judgment it should be temporary based on the persons heart.

* "do the same things" -if not on the outside, definitely on the inside.

* "a mere man" -We are forgiven sinners. We are sinners, if not on the outside definitely on the inside. We are unable to judge justly because of our sinful nature. Our judgment is often not based on truth.

* As we learn more of the truth from Bible study we now more of right and wrong. So it is easier to pass judgment in the wrong way-with the wrong motives. Our heart motive must be proper in passing judgment; not like the Pharisees but like a man of God.

>Why is God's judgment right?

* "God's judgment...is based on truth"-truth is righteous and good and fair. It is God's standard that man was suppose to live at.

>10. How do self-righteous people abuse God's love? (4)

* Romans 2:4 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?"

* "you" -talking to the individual, to the self. Not addressing their thinking.

* This is gradual and slow.

* They do not understand that they need to repent.

* They think since they are not judged-don't feel the wrath of God right away -then they are right in their passing judgment.

* "kindness, tolerance and patience" -The only way we sinners survive is through God's kindness, tolerance and patience.

>What should people do instead of judging others? (5)

* Romans 2:5 "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."

* humble themselves.

* repent

* forgive

* help the unrepentant

IV. God's Righteous Judgment (2:6-16)

>11. Look at 2:6-7.

* Romans 2:6-7 "God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life."

>What is God's standard for judging?

* "truth" -verse 2

* "according to what he has done"-God's judgment is also according to our heart motive which influences our thinking, and our thinking our actions.

* "stored up" -God's judgment is slow. God is long suffering.

* Judging is done on as individual level.

>In these verses, what are the two different directions men seek?

* "by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality"

* "self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil"

>What is the result in each case?

* Romans 2:7-8 "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger."

>How does the fact that man is created to live for God's glory help us understand this?

* Romans 2:9-10 "There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

>12. What does it mean that God judges according to conscience?

* Romans 2:12-16 "All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

* The law of God is written on men's hearts.

* They will all perish with or without the law.

>What does this tell us about men and about God?

* God judges fairly.

* God shows no favoritism.

* All men need the gospel.

>How can we live by the truth?

* By faith. (Romans 1:17)

* Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

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