Paul writes in Romans 1:18 that the indignation of God is revealed from heaven. It is stated in the present tense and that, I do not understand. Does God presently not reign in grace? In what way is God's indignation revealed, today?
Indeed, Paul explains in this letter that in the present time, grace reigns (Rom.5:21) and that the "day of indignation and righteous judgment of God" will be in the future (Romans 2:5). Nevertheless, he writes that God's indignation from heaven is being revealed, namely about
… all the irreverence and injustice of men who are retaining the truth in injustice,
How can grace reign while God's indignation is being revealed? The answer is clear from the way in which God's indignation is displayed. God does not intervene, but He lets things be. Three times, Paul says in Romans 1 that God gives people over. He gives them over in their passions (:24), in shameful passions (:26) and to a reprobate mind (:28). And in verse 21, he writes:
because, knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him, but vain were they made in their reasonings, and DARKENED is their unintelligent heart.
If man does not glorify or thank God, it becomes dark in the heart of man. God's abhorrence of the lie does not manifest itself in lightening and thunders from heaven, but in the darkening of the human heart. It is not an active intervention, as it will be in the future "day of indignation", but a passive giving over. Also note that it does not say that God gives them over to their passions, but in their passions (:24). In other words, they already travel on a dead-end road and God does not interfere with them.
The grace that reigns today is fully in line with the way God shows his indignation about the lie: He does not openly act against it, so that mankind can, undisturbed, continue on its way. Now that the truth is obscured, it is dark. Therefore, later on in this letter, Paul says that the night is in this world (Rom.13:12).
Only those who believe the truth "are being saved from indignation" (Rom.5:9), i.e., they do not walk (any longer) in darkness, but are transferred into the light (2Cor.4:6; Eph.5:8,13,14; Col.1:12,13).
Translation: Peter Feddema