For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This week we are looking at what the Bible says about the wrath of God. Who deserves God’s wrath? In Romans 1:18, Paul said, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Later in Romans, Paul said all mankind deserves God’s wrath. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Everyone stands guilty before God–both Jews and Greeks.
Paul also talked about people who have never heard the gospel. Have you ever heard people ask, “What about people who have never heard the gospel? Surely God will not send them to Hell.” In Romans 1, Paul showed that even though they have no Bible and have not heard of Christ, they, too, are guilty and deserve God’s wrath. Why is that? Paul said that they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18). The problem with the unbeliever is not that he lacks the evidence to know of God’s existence but that he lacks the desire to know of God’s existence.
There are three reasons that those who have never heard the gospel deserve God’s wrath. First, Paul said that people who have never heard the gospel have still received the knowledge of God. ” For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (1:20). You do not have to have a Bible or hear a gospel presentation to know there is a God. You do not have to be visited by a missionary to know that God exists. Every person knows that truth. How do they know it? They just have to look around at creation. God has given every person a knowledge of Himself. Creation is shouting the fact that there is a Creator.
Second, Paul said that the unrighteous have rejected this knowledge of God. “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (1:21). What did they do with that knowledge of God? Romans 1:18 says they suppressed it; they stifled it. They rejected the knowledge that they had.
Third, Paul said that the unrighteous have replaced their knowledge of God. They “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (1:23). Instead of accepting the true God, they have rejected the true God and replaced Him with an idol. That idol might be a statue of a person or an animal. It might be another god that they have created in their own minds. It may be a philosophical system. But every person who rejects the knowledge of the true God always replaces that knowledge with a false god.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “No Excuse” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.