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Have you ever thought you needed to start in one place when, in actuality, you needed to start somewhere else? What about thinking something is about one thing, when it’s actually about something else?

Romans 1
17 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.” 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

So, 2 things are being revealed here. Righteousness and wrath.

Wrath is not a word we use often. We might understand it as anger connected to a justice that’s been violated. In other words, you’ll get what’s coming to you.

When people speed by you in the left lane, traveling way over the limit, what do you do? Do you take note of the make and model of their car, hoping you’ll see them up ahead pulled over by the police?

Something rises up in us when we see someone who seems like they’re getting away with something, especially when it has the potential to harden the innocent around them.

The thing that’s important for us to catch is that righteousness (the thing we do like) isn’t the opposite of wrath.

Righteousness and wrath are part of the SAME character of God.

There’s the temptation to say – God is love. Yes, He is, but we misunderstand what love is. Our culture, TV shows, movies, and songs have portrayed love as a nice thing you feel.

Love is a covenant. It’s a set of expectations that must be grounded in something. Otherwise, it’s just a mushy sentiment. When people get married, there’s an exchanging of vows. In recent years, there’s been a trend for people to write their own vows. And they usually say something like, “I love you, you’re so beautiful, you’re my best friend, I’ve never felt this way about anyone, etc.”

But we shouldn’t be able to write our own vows because they’re a set of expectations each person is committing to that are bigger than them. And without the power of the Holy Spirit, they are impossible to be faithful to. They’re bigger than us, and will ground us when circumstances feel bigger than we can handle.

Love needs to be grounded in something more than what we feel today. It needs to be grounded in an objective truth that transcends us.

So why is god’s wrath being revealed alongside His righteousness?

Romans 1
19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 2
1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 
We very often stop at the end of Chapter 1. It’s convenient, and what we’ve talked about so far seems mostly about other people. The problem we have is that there were no chapter markings in the original Bible. It really messes us up when we’re trying to get a verse for this or verse for that to support what we want to say.

So, the apostle Paul comes out with both barrels blazing. It’s like shifting the spotlight – look over there so no one looks over here.

Now, this isn’t either or. It’s both. And the reason it’s both is because you, or they, aren’t the subject.

Romans 2
Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;

Those near and those far.

10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

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