Lesson 1 – The Wrath of God “in Adam” Versus the Righteousness of God “in Christ”

The Wrath of God “in Adam” Versus the Righteousness of God “in Christ”

Lesson aim:  To understand when sin reigns in peoples’ lives, God’s wrath is upon them.

Scripture: Rom. 1:18-28.

Definitions: W. E. Vine.

  1. Rom. 1:18; John 3:36.  Wrath, Greek – Orge.  It means an abiding anger with a view to taking revenge.
  2. Rom. 1:24.  Lust of their hearts.
    Lust, Gr. Epithumia. Desire, over desire.
    Heart, Gr. Kardia. The chief organ of physical life. Used figuratively to stand for man’s mental  and moral activity; both the rational and emotional elements.
  3. Rom. 1:26  Degrading passions
    Degrading, Gr. Atimia. Vile, dishonor.
    Passions, Gr. Pascho. To suffer. Whatever one suffers or experiences in any way.  A passionate desire.
  4. Rom. 1:28.  Depraved mind.
    Depraved, Gr. Adokimos. Signifying “not standing the test” as rejected land. A curse (Heb. 6:8). Therefore, a mind God will not approve.
    Mind, Gr. Nous. Will, comprising the faculties of perception, understanding and those feelings – judging and determining.


God’s righteousness is now revealed in Christ Jesus.  It is gifted to those who walk by faith.  What is happening outside of Christ?  The wrath of God is upon all mature people (Rom. 1:18).  The exception are the children “in Adam.”  Before the maturing processes of their minds, hearts and consciences, the guilt of sin is not a problem.  Children are free from God’s wrath along with faithful Christians.   

What does it mean to live under the wrath of God?  Before we attempt to answer this question we will need to know why God brought His wrath on the man “in Adam” in the world realm.  The wrath of God is upon the mature people “in Adam” because mankind suppressed what is true about the life of a human being.  They suppressed the truth about who made man, the world and the heavens.  They suppressed the truth about the power over all powers, God Almighty.  They suppressed the truth about the nature of God and the man He created.  All of this truth is suppressed in the unrighteous decisions and actions of mankind in their devotions and daily lives.  We can see the great void in peoples’ understanding of creation and themselves when they suppress truth.

Should God be blamed because people “in Adam” do not understand the truth about the Godhead and His power?  Should God be blamed because those “in Adam” cannot find their selves?  The Apostle Paul says, “No!”  God should not to be blamed.  He declared the invisible was made visible by the things that were made (verse 20).  For instance, from the beginning people were declared to be made in the likeness of God.  There was a time when people understood this and lived by it; however, in their professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for images like the things God created.

The Gentiles who lived before Christ were guilty of this offense; however, they were without excuse, because God had revealed His power and nature to them through the things He made.  Today we have more revelation of the truth about God’s will for all people.  It is revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Paul warned the Colossian Christians, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”  Col. 2:8.  Then he said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,…”  Col. 2:9.  God revealed His power and nature before Jesus came to earth.  He revealed it in creation and the activities revealed in the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:6-11).  In Jesus Christ, He fully revealed Himself (Heb. 1:3).  We can know God’s nature when we know the personality and character of Jesus.  We can know God as a person, as well as His almighty power.

The story becomes darker for people in the world when they replace these great truths about the living God with idols.  We will want to be very careful not to suppress the truth about unseen things – spiritual things.  They are the eternal things and must be our main goal for the growth of our inner-man.  This spiritual source of power must influence our “self” during the remainder of our lives in the flesh.  If this truth is suppressed by us the void will be filled with confusion – then God’s wrath will be upon us.  In other words, people either live their lives under the influence of truth and find life or under God’s wrath and live in death.   See John 3:36. 

Now for the big question; “What does it mean to have God’s wrath brought to bear upon mankind?”  Please read our lesson text again.  In verse 18 Paul said, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind.”  First, God tells us the truth in His word, the Bible.  Secondly, God does not promise to help people satisfy their God-given drives when they leave His truth out of their daily lives (Matt. 6:33).  All people want to be happy.  People need strong character and a personality like Jesus role-modelled for mankind to enjoy happiness.  We must have God’s help and truth to develop properly.  We need to develop ourselves according to the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).  We need God’s provisions to satisfy our basic and higher needs (Matt. 6:25-27).  Please note the wrath of God is also explained in His truth for us.

God’s wrath will, and has, come upon the mature man “in Adam” in the world when God “Gave them over in the lusts of their hearts.” V. 24.  It happened when “God gave them over to degrading passions.” It happened when “God gave them over to a depraved mind.” Vs. 26, 28.  Lust, degrading passions and depraved minds are the terrible consequences for mankind in the world without God’s truth.  This is the result of God giving people over to their own sinful desires. 

When God gives people over to the lusts of their heart, it means their passion for their natural desires are controlled by lust.  They are not seeking satisfaction for their innate needs with the true principles of life – the law of life.  Lust develops in the exercises they seek to satisfy their God given natural desires.  God cautions, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.”  Rom. 6:12.  Lust cannot be satisfied.  Lust always cries out for more, more!  We can clearly see the problem when people live in their fleshly bodies without the truth about life.  The following scripture is about people who wish to do good; however, they did not have the blessing of the “no condemnation” environment “in Christ” and the law of the Spirit  (Rom. 8:1, 2).   

I find a principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.  For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind.  Rom. 7:21-23

The truth is the man in Adam has a tendency to lust, even though we are Christians (Rom. 13:14).  If the truth about God’s plan for the inner man is suppressed, we can see how our physical bodies become very important to us.  We try to put more emphasis on the temporary.  We try to build our lives around the physical part of ourselves, rather than the spiritual inside person.  The “age of youth” becomes our god.  The very seat of our emotions (heart) is confused. We try to satisfy the flesh, but it is lustful by nature.  It seeks to be excessive. 

God’s wrath is upon us.  He has given us over to the lusts of our hearts.  God warns Christians, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  Rom. 13:14.  He did not say we should not make provisions for our flesh but that we should make no provisions for the lusts of our flesh.  When we become dedicated to trying to satisfy the lusts of our flesh, we have God’s wrath upon us.  This is what it means to “let sin reign in our mortal body.”  Paul warned; when this happens people sometimes become so confused in trying to fulfill the lusts of the flesh in regard to the sex drive, “men seek men” and “women burn in their desire towards one another.”  Vs. 26 and 27.  It is manifested in “role confusion.”  This confusion appears to happen in a society of people who have a great amount of means by which to live, but very little meaning beyond the physical aspect of their lives.    

Now, let us consider the mental condition of people who have been fully subjected to the wrath of God.  These are the same people who are under the reign of sin. These are mature people “in Adam” who have exercised the knowledge of good and evil.  They have suppressed the truth about why and how God created them.  When lusts, or excessive desires, rule the seat of peoples’ mental and moral activity, Paul said they inhabit the world realm where “sin reigns in death.”  Rom. 5:21.   A lustful heart is equal in its harm to good mental health as a physical defective heart is to good physical health.  When these excessive desires are put in action, they are called degrading passions.  This person has become a vessel of dishonor in God’s sight and in his or her own view of themselves. 

He or she could repent and be born again but most will try to justify themselves and claim God is the one in error (Rom. 3:5).  This truly is a reprobate (depraved) mind (V. 28).  This is a pivotal point in one’s life and it should be recognized.  They need to accept the truth in God’s word and His new covenant.  See Heb. 8:10-12.  Paul said to the Galatians, “But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”  Gal. 5:16.  It is an either/or situation.  The man in Adam in the world is now doing what Paul said they did at the time this letter was being written.  The people in the society of the world realm applaud, and legalize, sin in its culture.

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 they also approve of those who practice them.  Romans 1:32  

Questions for Discussion

  1.  What is the truth being suppressed in the world realm?
  2. What is the void left in the lives of people when the truth about God is suppressed?
  3. Why is mankind to blame for his or her confusion about their Creator?
  4. Why is mankind’s “in Adam” nature a problem to his or her spiritual development?
  5. List three things God gives a person “over to” when he or she suppresses truth.
  6. Describe the mental environment of a person who has been given over to these three things.
  7. Make a statement using common language to say, “Sin reigns in death.”
  8. Why is happiness hard to attain when one has degrading passions?
  9. Describe a depraved mind.
  10. What is God’s righteous decree?


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