The Blind World: Romans 1:16-32
There exists no choice more important for a person to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many important choices to make throughout life, but all pale in comparison to the choice that will affect one’s eternal life. The short time we have on Earth is but an inconsequential moment in the infinite expanse of time believers will spend Heaven, or reprobates in hell. It is for this reason, my beloved, that we must always work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 4:12) and to spread the Good News to all, so that they too may have eternal life. This world has been blinded (2 Cor. 4:4) by post-modernism, a work of the Evil One, by which the Truth has been called a lie, and lies called truth.
Like our post-modern world, the Israelites were quick to trade the reality that was made plain to them for lies. So quickly, that golden calf was created by human hands (Exo. 32:4) after being led by the Spirit of God from their slavery. In the same way, we turn from God for our idols of possession that will not last, for “likes” on social media, and media that does not edify. While nice houses, cars, clothes, and trips may be enjoyable, those things are not going to bring about eternal life, but instead, they cultivate the sin of pride within the person, which leaves no room for the God who provides. Paul, who had many things society thought highly of, for he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” counted all his achievements as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:8-10). I urge you, my beloved, to count the achievements and possessions of this world as a loss for the sake of knowing and to be known by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:16 (ESV): “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
We should never be ashamed to preach the gospel to others. It is by the work of Christ that we are justified before a Holy God. We all have earned the wage of sin, which is death, and are only alive because of the salvific work of Christ!
Romans 1:17 (ESV): “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.””
It is by faith that we follow God. Our Lord, unlike gods made by human hands, is unique in the ancient near-east. Whereas those false gods were able to be seen, the Lord of Israel was the “invisible God” that struck fear in the hearts of their enemies. It is by faith, not by sight, in which we follow the Lord. Although God has done many things for us to see, it is our faith by which we are made righteous (Rom. 4:9).
Romans 1:18 (ESV): “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
God hates sin, and so should we as His followers. We should hate the sin within ourselves and work, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Wrath will come from the unrighteous. It is only by our faith that we have received the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, that we may be justified before God. So in His mercy, we receive eternal life, and not the death that all deserve. For the unbelievers, they will receive the sentence that we will not.
Romans 1:19–20 (ESV): “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
The Truth has been made plain to all, so there is no excuse on the day of judgment. Look all around, and you see the evidence of God. Look at microbiology, and you see God’s work. Life is all the work of our Creator and to ignore it is like a pot disbelieving the potter who made it.
Romans 1:21 (ESV): “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Instead of acknowledging their Creator through thanks, the world has denied the Lord.
Romans 1:22–23 (ESV): “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
Some trade the Truth for false gods. Some resemble false idols like the Hindus and pagans, whereas others have created gods out of science. True science always points to God, but instead, they created convoluted arguments to remove God from the picture. When these arguments fail, they pass the role of the cause to a different world from which life must have come, but then, who created that life? There is no ultimate truth except that God created all and explained all. Others do not look for this “hidden knowledge,” but instead seek the things of temporary happiness through buying luxurious items to adorn themselves. Others choose trips of great expense to have pride in their worldly travels, and others their careers. They feel important because of their work, but they fail to recognize the Lord that gave them life. We are so small compared to the Lord, but we puff ourselves up to the size of gods instead of humbly coming to the only God.
Romans 1:24–25 (ESV): “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
For their actions, the Lord has turned away from them. Their sins have separated them from Him. They have traded the Truth for falsehoods.
Romans 1:26–27 (ESV): “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
The great gift of sex has been perverted by the world. Through it, enjoyment is shared between a husband and a wife, but instead, we have ruined the gift. We have sex outside the confines of marriage, and we have attempted to justify homosexual and other unnatural acts. This is a great tragedy in which we can see the abortion debate largely emerging.
Romans 1:28 (ESV): “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
The Lord allows the unbelievers to continue in their wicked ways. Like a parent, sometimes the child must learn right from wrong on their own after they have been told already. The Lord has made it known to all what is wrong, so in our defiance, He allows us to go our own ways for now.
Romans 1:29–31 (ESV): “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
How tragic it is that humanity has turned to these sinful actions that destroy. I urge you to turn to the things of God, which build-up, so that we may live holy lives for the Lord.
Romans 1:32 (ESV): “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
The government has increasingly supported the sinful actions of the world, but I urge you, my beloved fellow Christians, to resist. We are the salt of the Earth, the preservative, to ensure the righteous commands of God are lived by. In this, we may all grow in greater relationship with the Lord, whose Spirit lives in us.