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God’s Wrath and Humanity’s Guilt (Romans 1:18-32)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“God’s Wrath and Humanity’s Guilt”

(Romans 1:18-32)

Series: Romans – United in the Gospel [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

January 16, 2022

Introductory Comments:

Do you remember the good old days? Have you ever noticed the good old days aren’t the same days for everyone? You see, sometimes we remember the good old days from when we were younger and we think that things are really bad now but they used to be good. We think, “I can remember when we didn’t have people storming the capital of the United States, we didn’t have to discuss the birth gender of an athlete, and we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic.” Well, most of you can probably remember that because that was just about two years ago. However, sometimes we look back on history and we think that bad things didn’t always happen in our “good old days.” We forget about a president that was impeached because of the Watergate scandal. We forget that two other presidents were assassinated. We forget about the Great Depression. We forget about rampant racism in our country. We forget about the atrocity of slavery in our country. We forget about the immorality of the Wild West. We forget about how young girls who were found to be pregnant out of wedlock were shipped off to live somewhere else. We can go back further and recall even more atrocities. 

You see, church, since sin came into the world, we have always been plagued by evil and wickedness. 

In today’s passage, Paul is going to speak about the reality of sin in the world and the reality of God’s wrath towards sin. 

Before we go any further, let’s pray together.


Remember, last week, Paul introduced himself and the power of the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel has dynamite power! Now, Paul is going to spend some time discussing the state that we were in as sinners before we experienced the Gospel. Paul is going to give us a picture of what life is like without Jesus. 

So, let’s see what God is teaching us through His Word. 

First, from this passage, let’s see . . .

I. God revealed (18-20) [on screen]

Look with me if you will at verses 18-20:

18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made.

What Paul is saying here is that the reality of God and the reality of God’s wrath against sin has been revealed to humanity through God’s creation. 

Now, before we get too far, we need to talk about what God’s wrath is. 

I would define God’s wrath simply this way:

God’s wrath = God’s extreme and just judgment of sin. [on screen]

The ESV Study Bible simply defines God’s wrath as, “His personal anger against sin.”

It is extreme in that it is terrible to experience. It is just in that it is what sinners deserve for their sin. 

Obviously, wrath towards sin is not very well received by most people. Some people think that this is unnecessary and unfair. However, when it comes down to it, most people probably don’t actually feel this way. 

Popular Bible teacher, Jen Wilkin, pointed out that if someone hurt someone we love, we probably wouldn’t mind that person receiving a little wrath. So, when we determine someone has done something wrong, we’re ok with them receiving God’s wrath. Jen Wilkin explains: we don’t mind God judging sin, we just don’t want Him judging our sin. 

We must also understand this, church: God is not just showing wrath towards people; He is showing wrath towards sinful people. In other words, God is not just being mean, He’s giving us what we deserve because of our sin.

So, Paul says that God pours out his wrath on, “ . . . all godlessness and unrighteousness.”

However, Paul goes on to describe how humanity responds to God and His ways. Paul says, “by their unrighteousness [they] suppress the truth.”

You see, Paul says in verses 19 and 20 that God is purposefully showing Himself to humanity. 

What Paul is saying is that we see in Creation itself that there is a God and He has a plan for our lives. 

Consider a beach sunset. Consider holding a newborn baby. Consider the beauty of two people who have loved each other for over sixty years. Consider the fact that stars are held in the sky and they don’t all just plummet towards the earth. Creation screams that there is a God and He is wonderful!

King David said in Psalm 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.” [on screen]

Verse 20 says that God is showing us, “his eternal power and divine nature.”

However, because humanity is plagued by sin, we’re not hearing God and His ways, we’re not seeing God and His ways, we’re not receiving God and His ways. Instead, we have suppressed the truth. 

I read one pastor who described this as trying to hold a beachball under the water. God is speaking to us and showing Himself to us through Creation but through our sin, we are continuing to push God and His ways down out of view, like a kid trying to hold a beachball under the water. 

Here’s the result: because God is showing Himself to us, Paul says in 20, “As a result, people are without excuse.”

Church, God is revealing Himself to all of us; to the entire world. However, we are pushing back God and His ways. 

That leads to our next point: 

II. God rejected (20-25) [on screen]

Let’s pick it up at the tail-end of verse 20 and go through verse 25:

As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

24 Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

You see, church, people suppressed God and His ways so much that they forgot about God and His ways. However, they still needed something to devote their love and attention towards so they created idols to worship and put up in the place of God. 

Here, Paul is speaking about literal idols or statues that people worshiped. However, an idol can be anything that we devote ourselves to rather than devoting ourselves to God. 

You see, all of us are created to know, love, and worship God. However, we have exchanged the object of our devotion. Instead of being devoted to God, we are devoted to others things; things that are not worthy of our worship!

Listen to what Paul says happens to sinners when they do this (look at verse 21): “their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.”

Verses 21 and 22 say that without a proper knowledge of God and His ways our thinking is worthless, our hearts are darkened, and rather than being wise, we are fools.

In fact, the Greek word that is translated as “fools” is the same root word from which we get the English word, moron.[on screen]

Church, when we exchange God’s ways for sinful ways we are “morons!”

Verse 24 points out this sad reality: when we reject God and His ways, God allows us to follow down that path and we become less and less in-tune to Him and His ways. 

Paul says that God delivers us over, or gives us over, to our sin. 

How tragic! God wants to love us, know us, and guide us, but we reject Him and we continue down a path of sinfulness and foolishness and lose touch with our Creator. 

Verse 25 says, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator.”

Paul lets us know that through the sin that plagued the world and through each of our sinful hearts, God was rejected. 

Finally, we see . . . 

III. Sin unleashed (26-32) [on screen]

Have you ever had a stubborn child who insisted on doing something a certain way and you tried and tell them not to do it that way because it may lead to a mess or to them getting hurt? Sometimes they insist on doing what they want to do so much that you decide, “You know what, maybe they need to see how bad this will turn out.” (Sometimes we pastors do that with certain church members as well . . . none of you, of course).

Well, Paul says again that if we constantly reject God, God gives us totally over to our sin; sin is unleashed!

Look at verses 26 and 27:

26 For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

Paul starts off by describing the deplorable state of sexuality among the Roman people. 

One might wonder why Paul focuses on this particular sin so much. Well, because Paul is pointing out how unnatural this particular sin is. God created sexuality and has a particular plan for it inside a marriage relationship of a man and a woman. However, sinful humanity has rejected God’s design for our own designs and ideas. We have exchanged the natural for the unnatural. 

Is this not a reality today also? There is so much confusion among humanity! We not only have homosexuality, we have adultery, pornography, pansexuality, bisexuality, and more. Little boys and girls are even having a hard time figuring out if they are boys or girls. Listen, I’m not trying to shame these people. I’m trying to point out what Paul is pointing out: the deeper we get into sin, the deeper we get into foolishness and confusion. 

Listen, if anyone in this room is trying to figure these things out, if you want clarity: go to God! If you want confusion, go away from God!

Some of you might think, “Tell ‘em, pastor! Those sinners are terrible!” Well, slow your roll! Paul goes on. Look at verses 28-32:

28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

That first list of sins may not have applied to some of you, well how about now? Paul even lists “simple” sins such as gossip and disobedience to parents as part of the foolishness and wickedness of humanity that is brought about because of our devotion to sin, rather than our devotion to God. You and I ought not to think for a second that our sin is any less foolish and any less wicked than the sin of those around us! Paul will talk about that more later.

Paul says in verse 32, “Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” What a tragedy! This is the result of sin, and God’s wrath is reserved for sin and sinners. 

Humanity has become so enthralled in their own sin for thousands of years that we have lost sight of God and His ways and we can’t even tell that He is reaching out to us anymore. 

Concluding Thoughts:

In this passage, we see God revealed, God rejected, and sin unleashed. 

That brings us to our bottom line for this sermon:

Bottom Line: Rejection of the ways of God means a reception of the wrath of God.   [on screen]


If we reject the ways of God, we will receive the wrath of God. 

Well, what is our hope? If we are steeped in sin and lostness, what hope is there for us?

Paul lists some terrible sins, and they are terrible. However, listen to what Paul says elsewhere about God’s grace.

Immediately after describing the sinful state of humanity in Ephesians 2, Paul says this in verses 4-8, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”[on screen]

Also, when Jesus was crucified, He drank the cup of God’s wrath for us, so that we could be spared. 

Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” [on screen]

The cup of which Jesus speaks represented the wrath of God poured out towards sin. Jesus drank the cup so that we wouldn’t have to. 

There is power in the Gospel in the midst of the wrath of God. 

Challenge yourself to live out this passage in the following ways this week:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Ask yourself why God’s wrath is necessary. [on screen]

Think about why it is necessary. Ask yourself what it would do to God’s holiness, justice, and righteousness if He simply overlooked sin and evil. 

2. Reveal the grace of God to someone. [on screen]

Before it is all over, we will either receive God’s grace or God’s wrath. You have an opportunity to show God’s grace to others, so take the Gospel to them.  

3. Make a conscious choice to choose God over sin. [on screen]

Church, we must hate sin. We must pursue God and His ways. 

Jen Wilkin (whom I mentioned earlier), said this also (and I’m paraphrasing), “There are two ways to escape our feeling of guilt towards our sin: repentance of our sin or repetition of our sin.” 

You see, if we continue to sin and reject God, eventually we’ll no longer be able to recognize that we are even living in sin. Do not wait too long. Choose God over sin. 


Paul said three times in this passage that God delivered sinners over to their sin. However, that’s not the end of the story. In the Gospel, in the power of Jesus, God will not deliver us to our sin, He will deliver us from our sin. 

Instead of us absorbing the wrath of God, we can benefit from when Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for us on the cross. 

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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