Romans 1:18-32 is probably not the kind of passage you would write in someone’s birthday card, or pin up on the wall next to your desk. Not only does it sound like a very grim account of horrible stuff, but some of the details are pretty controversial too, particularly in western culture at the moment.
Why then was it that as we studied these words at RML, many of us were excited by the end of the evening? How can our hearts possibly be warmed by a passage that is basically saying that all of humanity has rejected their Creator God and that God in his wrath has therefore handed everyone over to degrading sinful acts?
Enter the context tool... which helps us to see why the author is writing and what the overall point is. Our happy discovery on Tuesday was that Paul is not writing this to make us feel miserable, but that he is showing us how great and necessary the gospel, because it’s the only way in which we can be saved from this mess. If we see in glorious technicolor the disgusting mess we were in, then we can appreciate all the more how vital and how wonderful the gospel is, which has saved us from this mess.
As someone on my table put it, “we should be overwhelmed by how good the gospel is, by seeing how horrible the problem is that it solves.”
Here are some questions to help us think and pray through these truths:
- How would you answer someone who told you that the gospel is a nice message if you’re into that kind of thing, but hardly necessary of everybody?
- If the root problem of sin is rejecting God and all other sinful acts are actually a part of God’s judgement, how does that change our view of a) how we think of sin? b) how we think of the world's biggest problem?