Romans 1:15-2:1

Sermon on Romans 1:15-2:1

These are my sermon notes and slides for a message I preached from Romans 1:15-2:1 on 2011-Feb-27. The notes are far from exactly what I said — in some places I expanded as seemed fit at the time.

Gospel is what the church at Rome needs

St. Paul Writing his Epistles{a href=”#fn.1″}1{/a}

Romans 1:15

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.


  • Paul’s calling obliges him to preach to Jews and Gentiles alike.
    This coheres with Paul’s desire to impart a spiritual blessing to the
    church already established and growing in Rome.
  • In Paul’s view, the best blessing he can impart is to preach
    the Gospel to them!
  • The Gospel is the declaration of who Jesus Christ is, all that
    Jesus accomplished, and the proclamation that the Kingdom of God has
    come with the coming of Jesus.
  • The purpose of the Gospel is to reconcile us to God, so
    we might forever enjoy Him and thus glorify Him. It
    gains worshippers.
  • Note that Paul is writing to Christians!

Not ashamed of the Gospel

Paul Preaching in Athens{a href=”#fn.2″}2{/a}

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”


  • Ashamed of Gospel?
    • We have a tendency to think we can “outgrow” the gospel.
    • We want to remove the stumbling blocks and foolishness.
  • We are not ashamed because it is the power of God for salvation.
    • This is God’s Gospel with God’s power to save.
    • Its goal is to satisfy our greatest need, salvation
      — justification, sanctification, glorification.
    • Many try to shoehorn other goals, e.g., wealth, health, a
      good life, a better society…
  • God’s righteousness is received by faith – a persuaded
    belief and trust that the Gospel is true.
  • Our lives become outwardly righteous as we live by faith.

Wrath of God revealed

The Crucifixion {a href=”#fn.3″}3{/a}

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.


  • Gospel begins with the wrath of God being revealed.
    • against ungodliness – 1st table – broken relationship with God
    • against unrighteousness – 2nd table – broken relationships, morals, ethics
  • God can not leave sin unpunished:
    • He loves Himself (Trinity) and will defend His honor
    • He loves His people and will avenge us
  • God’s wrath is revealed in history (intrusions of judgment)
  • God’s wrath is revealed in “natural” consequences of sin
  • Wrath is revealed in the Cross! (Only then do we see His love.)
  • Think of Gospel as the “Terms and Conditions of Surrender”.

God is revealed

Pleiades {a href=”#fn.4″}4{/a}

Romans 1:19-20

For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes,
namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly
perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that
have been made. So they are without excuse.


  • God is revealed in His Creation:
    • His power, wisdom, beauty
    • Clearly there is something eternal, orderly, truly beautiful
  • God is revealed in our moral sense, in our shame
  • God is revealed in our longing for a god, and our fear there is a god.
  • We intuitively know that truth must be intellectually credible. We can only accept it if also emotionally satisfying.
  • But this revelation does not show us the way of salvation, only our need. It damns us; it doesn’t save us. We need the Gospel.

Building the Kingdom of Fools

Sunrise of Stonehenge {link url=”#fn.5″}5{/link}

Romans 1:21-22

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as
God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking,
and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they
became fools, …


  • One can know about God, yet not have a true saving knowledge.
  • We rejected God’s kingship, wanting our independence:
    • Our own honor
    • Our prideful self-sufficiency
  • This is the sin of Ungodliness: to not honor God or show Him gratitude. Ungodliness is the root of all other evil!
  • To ignore God, we must ignore conclusions we draw from observing creation. This is madness!

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. – Psalm 14:1

Origin of Sin

Expulsion from Eden {link url=”#fn.6″}6{/link}

Genesis 3:4-6

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her
husband who was with her, and he ate.


  • (Read Genesis 3:1-7)
  • The first sin was failing to uphold God’s honor:
    • Accepted the accusation that God was capriciously withholding something good.
    • A desire arose to be independently wise.
  • Ungodliness leads to unrighteousness, i.e., open sin.
    • It started with anticipating the pleasure of the forbidden fruit, e.g., lust
    • It lead to open sin.
  • In declaring judgment on the serpent, we see the first mention of the Gospel.

    “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

Exchanging shame for glory

Adoration of the Golden Calf{a href=”#fn.7″}7{/a}

Romans 1:23-25

… and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


  • We are “idol factories” – we desparately want a powerful god we
    can manipulate and control.
  • We even try to put the True God into a box.
  • Therefore, God has caused them to not have control over their own
  • Aside: Christian sexuality
    • Early church soon bought into Platonic dualism’s ideas of evil matter, good spirit. (Worst were the gnostics.)
    • Thus, “Song of Solomon” with its poetic description of marriage, romance, sex was seen as allegorical.
    • Puritans restored “both sides of chastity” and a more biblical view of sex.
    • We see that sex is sacred, and act of loving service. It is to actively image Christ and His church’s love, with gratitude. Thus it becomes an act of worship.

Lives of shame

Sappho{link name=”fnr.8″ url=”#fn.8″}8{/link}

Romans 1:26-27

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.


  • This is about homosexual relations. These verses are not applicable to heterosexual marriages!
  • Greek and Roman culture accepted homosexuality.
    • Celebrated by many of the elite – dualism would see this as a way to have sex without trapping souls in bodies.
  • Note that God desired people to know shame, in the hope they would again seek Him.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – This shows that all sexual sins, lusts, covetousness, etc. are things we must turn from, and from which we may be forgiven.

Debased minds

Romans 1:28-31

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.


  • This list seems to be Paul’s list of “even worse things”!
  • Some things we expect, but others are rather shocking.
  • This is all unrighteousness, due to ungodliness.
  • Even if you don’t know an open idolator, or immoral person, you certainly know people with other sins from this list.

Applauding the wicked

Mardi Gras{a href=”#fn.9″}9{/a}

Romans 1:32

Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.


  • People like to boast about their wicked exploits
    • To put away their shame?
  • Even Christians have a tendency to envy the wicked.

    All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. … But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. – Psalm 73:13-14, 16-17

    Whom have I in heaven but you? And thers is nothing on earth I desire beside you. – Psalm 73:25

The judge in the mirror


Mirror {a href=”#fn.10″}10{/a}

Romans 2:1

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.


  • Not enough to agree these things are bad
  • Not a general admonition to “not judge”
  • Paul indicts all of mankind – Radical depravity
    • We should not be utterly shocked when someone sins.
    • God is not shocked when we sin.
  • We have to see ourselves in this mirror – it isn’t just “them”.
  • Read 1 John 1:5-10
  • Look back to the Cross – See the love that caused Him to bear God’s wrath for you.


1 Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, by Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

2 Saint Paul Preaching in Athens, by Raphael. Graphic accessed from,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515).jpg. (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

3 Korsfästelsen, by Simon Vouet. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

4 Pleiades. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

5 Photograph by Andrew Dunn, 04:59 BST, 21 June 2005. Website: (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

6 Adam and Eve Driven out of Eden, by Gustave Doré. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

7 Adoration of the Golden Calf. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

8 Sappho, by Gustav Klimt. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

9 Mardi Gras. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)

10 Make-up mirror. Graphic accessed from (Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons on 2011-02-26 Sat.)


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