From heaven is the wrath of God revealed;
Against the depths of men’s ungodliness,
Against the rank unrighteous fruits they yield,
Against the way their hearts the truth suppress.
For all that may be known of God is plain –
He made it plain so none should be deceived:
Invisible His attributes remain,
Yet by mankind they clearly are perceived.
His power—vast, eternal—thus is shown
Through all the wondrous things that He has made;
His nature—holy and divine—is known
By those who see the galaxy displayed.
Thus all know God, yet godless is their path,
So all have no excuse before His wrath.
In this passage, Paul issues a challenge regarding the knowledge of God. He claims that everyone knows of God’s existence and His “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature” (v. 20), yet they suppress this knowledge. For this suppression of the Truth, God is revealing His wrath (v. 18), because “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (v. 21). In short, the mere denial of God is worthy of condemnation and there is no excuse for that denial because the existence of God is evident.
What this means is that neither the claims of the atheist nor those of the agnostic will be valid on the Day of Judgment, for God has made Himself evident in what He has made and that evidence is clearly perceived. Those who have never expressly heard the Truth about God, as it is revealed in Scripture are also culpable for the same reasons. It is not the evidence that is at fault, but those who perceive it and reject it for they are said to “suppress the truth” (v. 18). This means that all are culpable in their defiance and denial of God’s supremacy and thus there is no excuse for any in the world.
This may be an especially difficult truth to swallow when we consider those people whom the Gospel has never reached, whose ears have never heard the name of Christ — although they have not heard the Truth that leads unto salvation, they do know of God as the one who deserves praise and nevertheless have not honored Him as such (see v. 21). For those of us who believe and are made righteous by that faith, this realization ought to impel us to proclaim the Gospel all the more readily. For those who continue to deny the existence of a righteous God or those who lay hold of uncertainty, consider: is it truly the evidence which is at fault for your conclusion or have you suppressed what you know to be true because you are afraid of what God’s existence might imply about your own?