Friday, October 27, 2006

Romans 1:32

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Everyone knows that God has righteously declared these things as wrong, and that the penalty should be death. Interestingly, Paul says here that everybody knows that the big long list of 21 sins is wrong and committing them means that they deserve death. No one can claim ignorance. There’s no excuse. It may be true that all people don’t know everything there is to know about God’s Law, as revealed in Scripture as fully as God desires, but they know these 21 sins; and they know they’re guilty and deserving of death! Where does the unbeliever’s morality come from? Again, we come to the root cause, a denial of absolute truth. And God is truth. Apologetics teaches us to explain morality not as an evolution within an evolving culture, but as an objective fact-based law from the creator God, indeed God Himself.

Now look what Paul has done: Early on he said that from creation mankind knows Who God is, at least His eternal power and divine nature. They know it and see it clearly and actually understand it. Now Paul adds to what all of mankind knows. Mankind knows what sin is and that sin deserves death. Wow! Now certainly not all unbelievers will admit that they know these things. In fact, we’ve seen that suppression of these truths lead to depraved minds and darkened hearts, which easily keep folks from acknowledging the knowledge they have. After all, it’s worthless to them! Now how does this truth, that all people know God and that their sins deserve death, affect our evangelism? Should we say to those who question the existence or the goodness of God, “I know you doubt the reality of God and His glory and His goodness and His moral law and your guilt for disobedience. I know that. But the Bible teaches that you really do know these things already deep in your heart, which means that if you would humble yourself and ask God to free you from the blinding effects of sin, these things could take on a self-evidencing authority for you. You wouldn’t be dependent on me or anybody else. You would see the truth, because God has revealed it to you in nature and has written it on your heart. In fact, if you’re willing, I would like to tell you God’s remedy for this guilt. When you see that there is indeed a God Who is great and glorious and good, and when you see that He has a moral law that we have broken and that we all deserve death, know this: God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He lived a perfect life.
He died to take our place, so that everyone who has faith in Him to save them will be forgiven and will be counted righteous before God for the sake of Jesus. My prayer for you is that God will uncover the knowledge that He has already put in your heart in such a way that you will see the perfect fit between the gospel of Christ and your need to see God and be healed.”

But, they not only continue to sin, but approve of others in sin. Can we take this a step further to say that they encourage sin? The end-point of depravity is not just the suicidal love affair with sin, but the desire to bring others with you to destruction. This is the bottom of the downward spiral for mankind. The fact that we are not satisfied to engage in sinful behavior but insist on applauding and advocating it in others is the definitive proof of our wickedness. And this is rampant in our society. You see it with regard to pornography. It’s not just that somebody needs to be able to pick up a pornographic magazine. It’s that we can’t restrict it. It’s not just that people want to be able do their evil deeds behind closed doors. They want to have a statute requiring that their evil acts be allowed and actually publicized in our society.

Notice also the parallel between verses 20-21 and verse 32. In verses 20-21, people are without excuse, because they know God but don’t treat Him the way they should. And in verse 32, people are without excuse, because they know God’s Law but don’t treat others the way they should. Right back to godlessness and wickedness—impiety and immorality—irreverence towards God and disrespect of men. And notice finally that this place, at the bottom of this sin spiral, is exactly where Satan himself sits. He is wallowing in sin like a pig in the mud and he wants to bring others along for the party.

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