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Summary: All people’s efforts to be right with God have failed, because people chose to exchange the truth about God for a lie. Their only hope is the Gospel of God’s grace.

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You’d have to say that there’s nothing pretty about the picture of the world that we find in this passage from Romans ch1. Here we take off the rose coloured glasses and look, with a degree of reality, at the world we live in. I was talking to someone the other day about watching television and they said they hardly watch it because it’s all too horrible. We’ve seen in the past few months how people’s view of the world seems to have changed. But Sept 11 didn’t actually make any difference to the world. It just brought reality into a slightly better focus. The world that Paul portrays here, and the people who live in that world are no different from now, yet the reality is that they seem to be so far from perfect that there can be little hope for them.

Yet that isn’t true is it? That’s why I’ve started us back at v16, where we were last week. You see, the setting in which Paul gives us this jaundiced view of the world is the statement that the gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith." Here is the thing to remember whenever we look at our fallen world. There is a righteousness that comes from God that overturns the evil that we see in the world. But it’s a righteousness that’s gained only by faith in Jesus Christ.

As I said last week, the great search by people since the dawn of the world has been to get themselves right with God. Even in a religion like Buddhism, that doesn’t have a concept of a personal god, the aim is to attain perfection, righteousness. Even if it takes a thousand lifetimes the aim of the Buddhist is to slowly perfect their life to the point where they’re good enough to be incorporated into the godhead of all creation, in a state of nirvana.

But the reality is that people have failed in that quest. In fact their failure is so great that God’s wrath against them is being revealed. The proclamation of the gospel in fact is a proclamation not just of the righteousness that Christ has won for us. It’s also a proclamation of God’s righteous anger at the lack of righteousness in the world. God feels about our unrighteousness, if you like, the way we might feel about the way the refugees have been treated in the Woomera or Port Hedland detention centres. Or about the behaviour of Slobodan Milosevic during the Balkan war, or the acts of genocide in Rwanda recently or in Uganda some years before. Except of course that when God feels that sort of anger it isn’t compromised or distorted by sinfulness as our anger so often is. When God expresses his wrath it’s the wrath of perfect goodness directed at what shouldn’t be in the world he created.

What’s more, as we’ll see as we go further into the book, the gospel shows how this wrath, though directed at one level towards sinful human beings, ultimately is redirected to God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, on a cross on Calvary.

And look at the reason his wrath is being revealed? Because people actually suppress the truth that they have about God. He says: "what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." He points out in the next chapter that even God’s moral law is known to people. People show by their reaction to wrongdoing that there are natural responses built into the human psyche that tell us when we’re doing wrong.


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