For quite some time I have read Romans 1:20 and 2:1 as if “those without excuse” were unbelievers. However, after this morning, I now know that this is not what the scripture is saying. Those without excuse is in reference to the ones whom God has made the truth of His wrath evident (1:18-19) – Believers. The Apostle Paul says to them, “Don’t say, I didn’t know!” because God showed it to you, so there is no excuse for ignorance.
Chapter two verse one begins by looking back on what the Apostle Paul stated previously concerning those to whom the truth of God was revealed. In 2:1,”therefore” is in reference to the approval given and the practice of those things worthy of death by the Believers. Because they knew the ordinances of God (1:32) – God made it evident to them (1:19) – no excuse for withholding the truth about God’s wrath (1:18) would suffice. Instead of passing on the information that they (Believers) received from God they concealed it as well as exchanged it for false information (1:23, 25). This is not to say that unbelievers are exempt from the consequences of sin, because sin itself carries a penalty (Romans 6:23). “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few” (Luke 12:48). Also, for the Believer, it means that “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). So then, what does this mean for us today?
Every Believer has a responsiblity to not withhold the truth about the seriousness of sin. As we minister in our communities, on our jobs, in our homes and other places, because God has enlightened us about His disdain for sin we have an obligation to share this information with the world. We must not suppress the truth about God’s wrath by participating in activities which are against the will of God, nor by giving our approval of such things. Is this always going to be easy? Not at all. However, God did not call us to an easy gospel. Our witness as Christians must be aligned with the standards of God if we are to communicate God’s truth to the world. If not, don’t say, “I didn’t know” when God reveals His wrath against your sinfulness.