It takes about 10 minutes to read Romans 1-3 if you read quickly. But it can take several months to preach through that same text. At that slower preaching-pace, we spent a lot of time simmering in the unsavory sauce of the wrath of God. By the time we finished Romans 3:20, we were all ready for some brighter, sweeter flavors. That is not a bad thing; the wrath of God isn't pleasant.
But is God's wrath unfair? How do you defend against those who don't like a God who is angry at what he calls sin?
As Paul says, "I speak as a man." So I ask this question:
Have you ever heard of or observed an evil so great that it caused a screaming visceral reaction deep within you? It made you sick or angry? You knew it was so evil, so wrong, that it would be wrong to let it go unaddressed?
Of course you have. You may have even done something about it. You at least would if you could, right? You could not imagine just letting something like that slide, as if it were not really a problem. You could not imagine just saying, "Meh, who cares," and just walking by. Even if you could not do something about it, you would hope to high heaven that someone out there would do something about it. You would scream in frustration if no one cared. You would march. You would fight for justice. You would try to get people to see things your way, to address the injustice that causes such deep, visceral anger within you.
Is there anything you believe in? Anything you would fight for? Of course there is. You are not an awful person. Only a bad person would never care about justice. You believe some things so strongly that you are willing to go to war against those who disagree with you. You would shut them down if you could.
Your wrath against evil is just. It is fair. You want to see evil addressed and are willing to do something about it.
So now that we have established that "wrath against evil" is not unjust, we must face the question, "who or what sets the standard for what is evil?" With what standard must all humanity comply? Surely you have not created the standard in and of yourself, have you? You are not the standard. Neither is any other person like you. The standard must exist outside you. Above you. Beyond you. It must be above and beyond all people. It must be a standard with nothing above it or beside it. It cannot be made up. It can never change. It can have no competition. And it must be right. You can't have that screaming visceral reaction based on something that is imaginary, or changes with time, or has legitimate competition, or that you do not believe to be right in an "above-and-beyond-you-and-all-others" kind of way.
The standard must be absolute.
The standard must be personal.
It must be God.
And we would want God to be angry at evil and to address it finally and powerfully, because we know to do anything less than that would not be fair.
Unless there is no God. Nothing absolute. Nothing above and beyond. Nothing to be mad at.
What are you mad at anyway?