From the beginning of the world until now man has made up excuses for just about everything. Finding someone to blame for our problems is inherent to our sinful nature. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8-13). Children as young as two and three years old blame each other when a toy gets broken. Excuse making is a result of the fall and every one of us have made excuses.
When we read the first part of the opening major section of Romans (1:18-32) we see Paul making the case that man is without excuse as to his knowledge of God. People tend to not believe in God or not believe that God exists for a couple of reasons. One is that God has not revealed himself by speaking audibly or a prayer has gone unanswered. Others will say that because bad things happen to good people, God does not exist.
The flaw in that type of thinking is that it goes against everything the Bible says and everything that has been revealed in creation. Some people will say, “If only God would speak to me, I would believe.” That is a valid point. How can we believe in a God who never says a word to us? Well, in fact, God has spoken in his word, and in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). Also, God spoke the universe into existence by the word of his power (Genesis 1, WCFSC Q9).
Secondly, as to the unanswered prayers, there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. Wait, there are lots of prayers in my life that have gone unanswered. Right, but in fact, none of our prayers go unanswered. God either grants our requests or he says, “no.” As the 19th century Scottish Presbyterian minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “God will either give you what you ask or something far better.” The answer may be, “no” and that answer is the best thing for you because God is the one who says it and he can be trusted and he is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
Thirdly, there are no innocent people in this world nor has there ever been after the fall of man (Genesis 3). Man is born guilty. Sin must be punished. God must punish sin because God is holy and God is just. God does so by his wrath. There was only one innocent person who has suffered under the wrath of God and that is Jesus Christ. Sin is either punished in hell or if you put your faith in Jesus, it has been punished in Christ on your behalf. God has revealed himself by his attributes of justice and also mercy. Both of which can be clearly seen at the cross.
This is where Paul picks up in Romans 1:18 in saying “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” What is the truth? Paul answers in verse 19, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” You may ask where has God shown it (the truth) to them or to us? God reveals himself in the person of Jesus Christ who himself is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6).
The truth about God also can be found in creation. D.A. Carson explains, “For God has made himself known to all people through creation; their turning from him to gods of their own making renders them “without excuse” (1:20-32). Therefore, man is responsible to his maker. Man is responsible for his actions.
Additionally, not only is man without excuse because of the revelation of God in Christ, creation and his word, but also man experiences the wrath of God because of sin. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:24-25) and God punishes them for it by giving them what their natural desires crave (Romans 1:26-27). The worst thing that can happen to a sinner is for God to give them up to their sinful desires and passions. There is no mercy here because God does not keep the sinner from sinning. This is the human condition. Paul goes on to explain the results of the human condition (1:28-32). The phrase that stands out here is that man is a “hater of God” (v.30). Paul uses the word θεοστυγής (haters of God) here to describe unbelief. Unbelief does not fully manifest itself in the disbelief of the existence of God, but in the hatred of God.
Man becomes a fool in sin when he turns and hates God. The fact is that is where we all are at some point in our lives. The only remedy for the dead, hateful, sinful soul is Jesus Christ. Christ, on the cross takes the sin that is in us, the penalty that is due to us, suffers the wrath of God for us and reconciles us to God making us righteous in his sight (2 Corinthians 5:21).
On the cross, Jesus becomes our substitute. Paul says at the end of the chapter here that sinners deserve to die (v.32). Christ did not deserve to die, but by imputation God counts our sin against Jesus and counts his righteousness in us. God took our hatred of him and turned into love for him through Christ. Though we were once enemies, now we have become friends (John 15:15). This is the gospel. This is the good news for sinners.