“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…” —Romans 1:16-18
The worst way to deal with a “check engine” light is to put a piece of tape over it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe you have done this at some point or know someone who has. Maybe that warning light is simply the result of a bad sensor, or perhaps it represents a costly repair bill if not dealt with quickly. Regardless, ignoring reality doesn’t make it go away. Last week, we were invited to reflect on what it means to be freed by the truth of Christ.
Today, we’re reminded that the evidence of not being ashamed of the gospel is revealed in our willingness to accept it fully, without ignoring or being oblivious to God’s instructions that guide us to live a righteous life.
Maybe we are not comfortable with God’s judgement because we don’t like the thought of wrath falling on us or those we love. God’s righteousness is a part of who He is, whether we like it or not. Divine wrath is God’s way of dealing with the tragedy of repeated and defiant rebellion toward Him. We must always remember that God’s righteousness reveals our need for a Savior.
Acknowledging God as our Creator admits that He created us for a purpose. Being created in God’s image reveals His desire for relationship with each of us in a unique way. What a wonderful reason for worship!
This allows us to recognize and be wary of the allure of self-made gods. A quick glance at Paul’s list of iniquities in Romans reminds us of the consequences that come when God is not the focus of our worship. When this happens, it means we have let ourselves become more important than the Creator.
We must recognize the tragic effects of living life on our own terms.
The wrath of God is being revealed against those who have suppressed the truth of God—the consequence of repeated rebellion against His authority. But hope is found when we surrender to the truth of God—the truth that we have a Savior!
We are created in the image of a loving God. When we turn our devotion away from God, our minds become perverse, we become rebellious, and we follow our own selfish ways, even to the extent of entertaining “shameful lusts” (Rom. 1:26). The list that Paul gives is long, tragic, and destructive. There is no getting around it. We live in a world that seeks to define sexual freedom for us, yet Scripture alone reveals to us how we are to worship God through the way we live. May we never live oblivious to the warning light given to us in Scripture! The psalmist reminds us of God’s decrees: “By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11).
Prayer for the week: Today I invite you to prayerfully receive these words from the psalmist, allowing God the Creator to do His best work in you: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12).
Jim Thornton is lead pastor at Tulsa Hills Church of the Nazarene in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.
Written for Coffee Break.