Friday, June 13, 2014

INTO THE ABYSS (Romans Chapter 1)

Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

I’ve long imagined what it might be like to instantly transport a person from 50 years ago to today.  Supposing that person to be a godly man or woman, what would they think of that which has transpired in America since 1964?  I can still remember some of what things were like back then.  In 1964 I was eight years old.  We watched television, four channels on a black and white TV.  I remember liking “Leave It to Beaver” and “Gilligan’s Island.”  I grew up in the small town of Hillsboro, Oregon.  There was little crime.  No one locked their houses or cars.  In those days we walked, as children, to and from school—and we were safe.  I wasn’t a Christian at the time, but I remember that on Sunday all businesses, except the movie theatre, were closed, as Sundays were set aside for church going. And I remember sitting in a school classroom—we were taught to show respect; we daily recited the pledge of allegiance, and the principal of the school had a paddle in his office he wasn’t afraid to use.  No one would have imagined, in that day, some of the things that have since come to pass.  School shootings now happen with regularity, but back then no one would have conceived of such a thing. No one then, would have foreseen some of what has since transpired: marriage being redefined; 55 million innocent babies being aborted; marijuana being legalized; gross immorality being celebrated on TV shows; etc.  A lot has changed in 50 years, or as I’ve said before, “It’s a long ways from Gilligan’s Island to the Jersey Shore!”

Another school shooting happened the other day—about 100 miles from here in Troutdale, Oregon.  And subsequent to that, some were again speaking of the need for more gun control as a solution to the problem.  But guns are not the problem, the cause of these societal ills lies far deeper than that.  Sin is at the root of all that ails man.

As in a toilet full of flushed water, our society is even now spirally downward into a moral abyss.  Romans 1:18-32 is all about moral decline.  The decline starts with the suppression of the truth.  A number of historical factors have contributed to this in our society.  Evolutionism, modernism, post-modernism, and theological liberalism and compromise have worked to diminish the influence of God’s Word.  And though creation itself testifies to all of God’s existence, in pursuit of sin man gladly rejects truth to accept a lie (Cf. Romans 1:18-25).  Being created to worship, man fills the void by pursuing and worshipping various idols of his own making (Cf. Romans 1:22-24; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  The wrath of God is then visited on man in the giving of man over to his “lusts,” “dishonorable passions,” and “debased minds” (Cf. Romans 1:24, 26, 28). 

A long lists of sinful activities then prove symptomatic.  The list, verses 26-31, is a fitting description of our current state of affairs—an awful list of ugly and malignant vices that beset sinful man (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  The presence of such things is nothing new, you can trace them—through man’s sin-plagued existence--all the way back to the fall of man.  No one is exempt from the sin-malady herein described (Cf. Romans 5:12, 3:23).  A couple things stand out in the list, but note this especially—at the bottom of the downward spiral is a state of affairs in which men not only do things they know to be wrong, but “also give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).  At the bottom of the abyss lies an existence in which man’s moral compass is reversed such that he hopelessly loses his bearing--good is deemed evil, and evil is deemed good (Cf. Isaiah 5:20).

That’s a lot of bad news and if that were the conclusion of the matter it would constitute the ultimate of horror stories.  But the writer of the epistle was God-inspired to write of both bad news and good.  The bad news is that we are all sinners deserving of death (Cf. Romans 3:23, 6:23).  No amount of reformation can cure that which ails man, it is rescue that is needed.  The good news is that God so loved the world that He sent His Son, who died for sins and rose from the dead that lost sinners might be saved through faith in Him (Cf. John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9).  That good news, the “gospel,” is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  The bad news is sin.  The good news is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).  It is God’s all-powerful solution, and the only sure remedy, to cure that which ails man.

No comments: