God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.
I think we have taken God too lightly for too long! Doing so not only keeps us from the greatest truth about his love for us but also the great truth about his view of sin. He is pissed about it. (There I said it!) If we take God seriously, we should be afraid of His anger about sin. I can see the dismissal of God’s place and power when we reduce sin to inconsequential definitions which minimize its impact on God and the consequences He intends for it.
The rest of this chapter lists the litany of sins which result from the character traits of “sinful” and “wicked.” The list which follows stems from the inherent descriptions of these two words. “Sinful” is translated in the King James as “ungodliness,” which, in the Greek, means a lack of reverence for God. This seems to indicate a “not God” attitude, which doesn’t include God nor give credit to God and reduces God as if he isn’t looking or cares about bad behavior. “Wicked” is translated in the King James as “unrighteousness,” which is a lifestyle of injustice – acts which violate God’s law and justice. It is a lifestyle of deeds against humanity.
This addresses the conscious and deliberate act and lifestyle of rejecting God’s place and due honor and refusing His ways. God lets people have their way when they choose to ignore Him. He lets us tell ourselves the lies, which then rule in us. That is what wickedness does. It purports lies that cause us to deny the significance of God and his plan for us. Refusing to worship God causes people’s lives to trivialize and fall into confusion. They bear the weight of a life removed from truth and its covering, from God himself, and, thus, dismissed from the sanctity of life as God intended. People exchange the truth of God for a lie that denies not only God, but their own significance and purpose.
How often we hold onto the world’s lies over God’s truth! We can see it heightened and devolving in American culture. Wickedness in inappropriate sexual behavior and demoralizing violence is extolled by the media, no matter what injustice it brings. We are completely saturated a the culture which promotes wandering sexuality, enacting violence on others (read anything from the NRA and its supporters) and the absence of God in any public discourse. The overt lies get translated to individuals in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. People, whether male or female, do not think they measure to their gender’s standards. Social media is used to bully. Families perpetuate violence from generation to generation. It seems unabated.
I have to live in this culture. I benefit from the culture. How can I be sure I do not participate in its wickedness? I am selective about what movies I watch and music to which I listen and by not copying any of the language associated with either. I live out wholesome sexuality. I do not participate in violence, including murderous threats and accusations.
These may seem obvious or simple, but how easy is it for someone to say about a shoot-em-up movie, “It’s just a movie.” Or about certain kinds of sexualized lyrics, “It’s good ole’ rock-n-roll.” How pure are your thoughts about your marriage partner or how you live out celibacy, if single? In light of great harm done by others against us, how easy is it to devise harm in return?
God will stand for none of it! The rest of chapter one of Romans tells of the opportunities He gives for people of the world to see Him and, when they refuse, lets people live their lies out, as if they are true. He abandons them, which might be the greatest punishment of all. That abandonment can be seen in the description of “sins” in Romans 1:25-32. It is “normalized” culture today. The lie has become true.