Romans 1:18-32 (NLT)
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
Exchanging Truth for Lies
Paul takes a sharp turn in his letter starting in verse 18. Rather than words of greeting and encouragement, he starts to outline the harsh reality of a disease affecting all of mankind; the disease of sin. Ever since Adam and Eve’s initial rebellion against God’s command, humanity is gripped by sin. God has given people so much evidence of Himself that to avoid the truth about Him, people have to actively suppress it. Because human beings are not autonomous, this suppression puts us under the rule and reign of sin and death. This truly is a disease. Suppression of truth leads to distorted thinking, a darkened heart and ultimately, evil behavior (idolatry, sexual impurity, shameful lusts, greed, etc.). Perhaps this section of scripture can help explain a typical news cycle across our media platforms. Do we see suppression of truth? Distorted thinking? Darkened hearts? Evil behavior? Have you also at some point seen this same reality when looking in a mirror? The disease of sin is to be dealt with on a personal level, but its consequences are never personal. Its consequences are far reaching. Three times in this section of scripture it says that God abandoned them to their own desires. God allows the very thing humanity fights for, the myth of independence. Instead of authenticity, we lose our true identity. Instead of freedom, we find sin’s bondage. The disease spreads to the individual, to the family, the culture, the world. Do you see the picture that Paul is painting? It’s a bleak picture, but one with a very real solution. Do you see why Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel? It is the power of God to save and deliver us from ourselves! In light of such depravity, God’s wrath is reasonable. It’s His grace that is completely unreasonable. This is really good news.
How do you see the effects of sin in your life, both your sin and the sin of others?
Have you stopped suppressing God’s truth and come under the rule and reign of Jesus?How has your life changed since switching your allegiance?