The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has power religion only pretends to have.
After so well-expressing the power of the gospel in Chapter 1 of the Book of Romans, and how the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith in the lives of those who place their faith in it, Paul exposed how the wrath of God is revealed in the lives of those who will have nothing to do with it.
The progression of sin from cradle-to-grave is described in the lives of all unbelievers, and most importantly, in the societies and cultures of unbelievers. The society and the people who comprise it become more depraved over time, and behavior once thought unthinkable becomes not only acceptable but promoted as ‘normal,’ or even superior.
The ‘wrath of God’ is revealed in the simple fact God allows people to head in the direction of their own choosing. If people choose to walk in sin and have nothing to do with God, God will allow them to. He does not violate the wicked will of the sinner to force His will upon them.
Religious people may stand on the sidelines of wicked behavior imagining they have risen above it by the strength of their religious practice. There are many religions present in the world – and always have been – that imagine themselves at least somewhat worthy of eternal life in heaven, and God’s blessings in this life, by the mere fact of being born into a religious culture of some kind.
This is generally true of the Jewish people, whom Paul addresses here in Chapter 2, and it is also generally true of the Roman Catholic. “Once a Jew, always a Jew.” “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” These are the foundational expressions of those who have been born genetically into a faith-system, (and there are many others,) which propose the keeping of sacraments and rituals and doing good works as a means of gaining God’s favor to the degree you may have a “good chance” to enter heaven. This is man’s concept of pleasing God. Every single world religion is designed by men and concerns itself with appeasing the God of their imagining by doing more good than bad.
The religious man, (in this case the Jew,) imagines they have risen above the wrath of God described in Chapter 1 by religious practice, or by the religious culture they are born into. They look down on the depraved worldly sinful people around them and imagine themselves to have somehow risen above those mired in sin by the practice of their religion. Paul exposes all religious practice as a sham designed by men to make them feel better about themselves in comparison to others.
God hates all religion, because it prevents people from coming into a loving personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion inoculates people from coming to Jesus, because they think it unnecessary. The truth is it is absolutely required, and the ONLY way to life according to God’s desire is to be born again. It is God’s goodness, not His wrath that calls the wicked sinner to Himself. Religion would prevent you from knowing that.