Life Group Discussion Guide for Romans 1:18-32
Feeling a bit uncomfortable?
Our culture has developed an extreme allergy to any discussion of the wrath of God. Even those of us who do acknowledge God’s wrath tend to point to other people who “deserve it.” No one wants to deal with the wrath we would justly have coming on our own heads.
The next three weeks of our study in Romans deal primarily with the justice of God’s wrath on mankind.
In Romans 1, Paul makes the argument that God’s wrath on mankind is justified because of all the ways we have suppressed the truth about Him that is readily accessible.Read Romans 1:18-32
Evidence of God in Nature
In verses 18-20, Paul argues the existence of God should be obvious from observation of the natural world. One of the strongest such arguments is the teleological1 argument of creation.
This video explains this argument for God’s existence along with some counter-arguments.
Personally, I find that many of the objections to God from the natural world amount to what Paul calls repressing the truth.
The objective probability of an intelligent creator grossly outweighs the probability of the absence of one. There must be some sort of emotional or intellectual repression that causes people to act as if there isn’t a creator.
Think About It
- How would you argue for the existence of God without using the Bible?
- Why do you think people find it so difficult to see the nature of God in creation?
- What role does sin play in diminishing our ability to see God?
Is the Wrath of God Happening Now?
In Romans 1:21-31 Paul describes the world in its moral reality. The wrath of God isn’t merely something for an unspecified distant future event. It is a justified and measured response from a holy God being rolled out right before our very eyes.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan described American society in the 1990s with the phrase “defining deviancy down.” What he meant is that once an ethical line is breached, so many people rush to cross that line that society as a whole has to redefine deviancy (immorality) to a lower level.
This seems to accurately depict Romans 1:28. The passage says God “gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
People who live in a daily rejection of God’s authority very quickly try to normalize their rebellion. They’ll do just about anything to make their sin seem like a right and proper way of living.
This is the process of “God giving them over.” It ultimately ends in the degradation of humankind and self-destruction.
- Define wrath.
- What sorts of sins does Paul describe?
- Why do people embrace these sins?
- Do you think that the world has become more moral, less moral, or remained about the same as the world that Paul described in Romans 1:21-31?
- Does God sometimes use people’s own decisions to bring wrath into their lives?
- Does God sometimes spare wrath from people in spite of their moral choices?
The Power of Human Influence
Verse 32 identifies the lowest point in rejection of God. People not only do the opposite of what they know that God requires, but they encourage others to reject God’s decrees as well.
Paul knows that humans have an inherent desire for the approval of other people. That’s why the author of Hebrews commands in 10:24-25
24”And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
We will always be both influencers of and influenced by somebody. It’s important to use extreme caution in the way we wield that power and in how allow it to be wielded on us.
- How does God generally convict you of sin in your own life?
- What wrath has God spared you from?
- Why is the church critical in pointing people toward righteousness?
- How does the church point you toward righteousness?
Related Message: Human Nature
Pray for Our Missionaries
Take time to reflect on what it meant for God to call Paul as an apostle to all the nations. God has called his church to carry on that task today.
Be in prayer for the work of church planting in Northeast India in the New Year. Pray that churches in reached areas of the world would have doors opened to places like the Indian states of Assam (under 3% Christian out of 40 million) and Bihar (0.1% Christian out of 100 million people).