Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 2:5a “But after thy hardness. . .”
It is simple to be saved, yet men choose to remain lost because of their own “hardness” of heart. The Greek word used here is “skleroteta,” from which we derive sclerosis, the medical term for abnormal hardening of tissue (as of an artery). Hardening of the arteries sends men to an early grave; hardening of the heart sends men to everlasting damnation.
One of the punishments for rejecting salvation is a natural process of hardening. Unconverted men constantly undergo hardening. Each time the Gospel is heard and rejected, another layer of hardness is wrapped around the heart.
Unbelief is not only bad, it worsens until God is allowed to check it. If the plow of grace cannot force its way into your ice-bound heart today, it will be even more difficult for it to do so later.
Rom. 2:5b “. . .and impenitent heart. . .”
This refers to unrepentant hearts. Men refuse to confess sinfulness or to turn from it. They squelch conscience and refuse to repent.
Roman armies were noted for their ferocity. They would march through a country burning and destroying every living thing. An ancient historian said of them, “They make a solitude, and call it peace.” This is what men do to conscience. They stifle it, silence it, destroy its cries for reform, and when it is finally deadly silent, they say they are at peace. But it is only a fool’s counterfeit peace, because a storm of judgment is gathering which will someday be released upon them in full fury.
Rom. 2:5c “. . .treasurest up unto thyself wrath. . .”
“Treasurest up” implies four things:
A. A Gathering In
Men refuse to come to God and thereby become hoarders of wrath, saving up for the day of God’s wrath. The blame for Hell rests squarely upon the sinner himself. God does not send men to Hell. Rather, they treasure it up for themselves. This phrase draws a very vivid scene. It pictures “a miser who saves odds and ends of wrath, and who tucks all this collection away, unwilling to comprehend that he is like a man who is collecting the eggs of serpents, bringing them into a warm room where they will someday hatch at the same moment, and destroy him” (Barnhouse).
Sinners are misers of wrath, taking germs of death into their own throat. God showers grace upon us, but if it is rejected, this rejection is counted as a hideous sin.
All the appeals of God’s grace, when rejected, become arrows of God’s wrath. Rejected grace becomes the wrath which destroys. What is sent to be a blessing becomes a curse when abused. The very streams of goodness are turned into poison.
B. Something Hidden Away
“Treasurest up” implies putting something in a safe place for keeping. The sinner gathers in the wrath, but it is stored in the heart of God. The magazine of wrath is hid in God, and the dam which holds it back is the “goodness and forbearance and long-suffering” (RM 2:4) of God.
Since men do not see or experience the full punishment of God in this lifetime, they delude themselves into thinking the wrath of God does not exist; but it is real. Daily a portion of God’s wrath is poured out against the wicked: “God is angry with the wicked every day” (PS 7:11). However, the full force of His wrath is stored up, hidden away.
Ungodly men accumulate daily a heavier weight of God’s judgment. Every moment repentance is delayed, drop upon drop is added to one’s “treasure” of wrath.
Clouds begin as a few drops of water which have joined together. As more and more drops gather, something happens. The cloud begins to “treasure up” energy. It blackens because the water drops are so concentrated that sunlight can not shine through. Power reserves begin to overload. A cumulo-nimbus (thunderhead) can contain the energy potential of two WWII atom bombs. The pressure continues to build, and finally it must relieve itself through lightning, thunder, and torrents of water.
In the same way, men store up portions of wrath which accumulate to the point of reaching the pressure point. The overload will eventually cause a break-through, and the abundance of the wrath will be in direct proportion to the horde of wrath the individual has stored up for himself.
In Europe an avalanche of snow once filled a gorge, and began backing up a river. Soon the river had become a huge lake, threatening desolation and ruin once it broke through the dam of snow. The larger the quantity suspended, the greater would be its violence once vented. What was feared is what happened. The devastation caused was terrible in the extreme.
Thus it is with every unconverted man. The flood of God’s wrath is slowly filling up behind the dam of His patience. Without repentance, the floodgates will someday open.
D. Future Use
Something is treasured up in order to be brought out again on a future occasion. The same is true of the lost man’s treasure of wrath. It will be brought out on “the” day.
Rom. 2:5d “. . .against the day of wrath. . .”
On Judgment Day wrath will be dispensed wholesale, poured out in full measure. The present day is one of “goodness and forbearance and long-suffering” (2:4), but for the lost a day of wrath is coming–wrath, and nothing but wrath. The pleasure of sin will then be gone with only a sting left behind.
The wrath of God is in this lifetime revealed only partially. Wrath cannot be fully vented until life is over, because until then there is always the chance for repentance. The worst wrath is reserved for the man who makes it through a whole lifetime without repenting. For him God’s anger boils the reservoir of mercy dry, leaving behind an everlasting Lake of Fire.
The outlook is dreadful for sinners who spend a lifetime basking in God’s “goodness and forbearance and long-suffering” without ever showing sorrow for sin or even thankfulness for His kindness. The rejection of God’s kindness will be justly imputed to men as an extreme wickedness.
Rom. 2:5e “. . .and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”
Judgment Day will be a day of “revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” On that day we will all see that God was right in His every decision. Never on this earth will men understand all the Lord’s ways. There are certain areas in which we must trust God without explanation.
Our consolation is, someday we will understand. We would like to have everything made plain to us now, but at best we must patiently await the day of explanation.
On Judgment Day everyone will appreciate the value of Jesus’ blood. Those who go to Heaven will fully understand it is due to Jesus and not to their own goodness. Also, every man who goes to Hell will know he deserves to be there. They will see God was fair, impartial, righteous.
The rich man who went to Hell (LK 16) did not ask to be removed from Hell–he realized he had received what he deserved. He simply asked for water and pleaded for his brothers. On that day you will be forced to see with complete understanding. Now you are asked to see with faith. Flee to Jesus.