The Cause and The Cure
Bible Reading: Romans 1:16-32
If such a thing were possible, I’ve long wondered what it’d be like to instantly time-transport some average 1960s vintage American citizen from their day to ours. Undoubtedly, they’d be surprised by the advancements in technology. But I sense they would be even more shocked and grieved at the decline in morality and civility. Has there ever been a time, in our lifetimes, of greater distress and uncertainty? Some of this is because of Covid, but there’s more to it than that. What is the cause of the morass in which we find ourselves? Is there a cure? Today’s reading speaks to these important questions.
The passage speaks to a downward spiral which starts in one place and ends up in another. I think it’s going to help us to start at the ending of this text and retrace our steps. As we shall see, this will relate the entire matter back to the course of study we’ve been traveling these past days.
Romans 1:29-32 includes a long-list of sinful attitudes and behaviors. It’s an ugly list. A list of things which are all too apparent in our present day society. A couple of things stand out. Not only are these folks engaged in evil, they became inventors of evil (looking for new ways to express the evil bound up inside). Not only did they practice such things, they became ambassadors of evil, cheering on those who join in.
In retracing our steps, what brought them to this point? Notice the threefold repetition of the phrase, “God gave them up” (1:24, 26, 28). “God gave them up: in the lusts of their hearts to impurity; to dishonorable passions; to a debased mind.” Without God’s restraint, their depraved hearts and darkened minds were freed to engage in all kinds of evil behaviors.
Again, taking a step back from that vantage point, we must ask the tragic question, “Why did God give them up?” The answer is found in verse 18, where we find the “wrath of God is (present tense) revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Inasmuch as men are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, God, in His wrath, has given them up.
But in what way are they suppressing the truth? Verses 19-23 explain. Though God, through His creation, has revealed both Himself and something about Himself, they refused to honor Him as God, or give thanks. In fact, instead of worshiping their Creator God, they are predisposed in their futile and foolish thinking, to worship anything BUT Him. This is the rejection which leads to ruin. Sadly the truth of this passage is being played out before our very eyes in the days in which we live.
Yet we praise God! There is a way to escape this pathway to ruin. Sin is the cause, Romans 1:16 identifies the cure, indeed the only cure for all that ails us! Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The good news for those who travel the broad way is this, the same powerful God who created all things has a gospel message which is powerful to save. Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we would be saved by grace through faith in Him. He alone can rescue! Sin is the cause. Christ’s the cure!
Heavenly Father. There was a time when I walked in denial of what was plain to see, you are the Creator of all. My stupid sinful choices led me down a prodigal path full of burdens and loss. Thank you Lord for making the truth of the gospel known to me and rescuing me! These are distressing times in which we live. People need You! Give us a powerful testimony, compassionate hearts with Spirit empowered wisdom and boldness—to be used by you in making the gospel known to the world.