8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,
8but [on the other hand]
This “but” is a but of contrast. There is a contrast between those who have positive volition and those who hold negative volition toward God—the second group showing no evidence of coming to personal relationship with God.
Paul did not discuss in verses seven and eight how a person becomes a Christian, but what a person with positive volition looks like (v. 7) and also what a person without positive volition toward God looks like (v. 8).
to those who are self-seeking
The second group are non-believers with a propensity not to believe. Their orientation is entirely different than believers of the previous verse.
With this verse, Paul turned to those who do not seek God, who are not positive in volition toward Him. The reason for this is that they are self-centered. The “self-seeking” person places his own aspirations above the desire to know God. Self-gratification is more important to him than the domain of God.
Ro 3: 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.
The word “self-seeking” means a hireling. The idea is a mercenary who does what he does for money. This person is non-principled. Everything is for the self.
and do not obey the truth,
The idea of not obeying the truth is to reject the truth. In this case “the truth” is not the gospel message of justification by faith but the basic principle of wanting to know God. The self-centeredness of this person causes him to distort and twist truth for his own invested ends. This is spiritual rebellion, the ultimate of negative volition. This person will not allow himself to be persuaded.
but obey unrighteousness
This group rebels against the revelation of God. They are for anything that is not right from God’s viewpoint.
—indignation and wrath,
God will execute “indignation” and “wrath” on people with negative volition. He will also issue “tribulation” and “anguish” in the next verse to those who insist on negative volition. God does not toy with this kind of rebellion.
“Indignation” is God’s vehement anger agitated by His unchanging standards. God will explode against this kind of individual. “Wrath” means tribulation, affliction, anguish, or persecution. This word conveys the idea of a rapid or explosive wrath. Negative volition is the object of God’s wrath. An attitude of opposition to God produces disobedience to truth.
There are only two alternatives when it comes to a heart for God—negative or positive volition to know Him.
God will grant eternal life to those who measure up to His absolute righteousness, but no one can do that.
Ro 3: 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous [in reference to God’s absolute righteousness], no, not one. . .”
Ro 3: 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight [man cannot measure up to the standard of who God is], for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
No one can be justified by works because no one can live up to the absolute nature of who God is.