Topic: Describing the sins of the Gentile world – Introducing the universal sin problem that Jesus came to solve
From last week’s lesson, we learnt about the meaning of the Gospel and some reasons why we are not to be ashamed of it. It is common to hear, especially as we celebrate Easter, that Jesus is the answer. The question that then comes to mind is, what is the problem? In other words, what are the problems of the world that confront humanity that Jesus has come to solve? In Romans 1:18-3:20, therefore, Paul explains the Universal sinfulness of humanity in order to point out the need for salvation in Jesus. In the closing verses of chapter 1, Paul explains how the Gentiles got into the awful darkness that engulfs them and how God’s wrath was revealed against them. The following then paints the picture of the sins of the Gentiles in a systematic way:
- Though the Gentiles knew God (vv. 18-20)
Vs. 19: God had given them a two-fold revelation of Himself in conscience and in creation. God had revealed Himself from the very time of creation, so that people who have never heard the Gospel are still without excuse.
- The creation is a visible disclosure of the invisible God and intelligible disclosure of the otherwise unknown God. This truth is a regular theme of Scripture (Psa. 19:1; Isa. 6;3; Job. 37-41; 42:5 cf. Acts 14:14ff.; 17:22ff; Matt. 5:45).
- Rom. 1:19-20 is one of the key passages on the topic of General revelation
2. Yet they glorified Him not as God (vv. 21-23).
- Vain thinking and foolish reasoning turned people from the truth to lies. We see indifference leading to ingratitude, resulting in ignorance.
- The next step was idolatry, honouring the creature (including humankind) rather than the Creator.
3. Instead, they changed the truth of God (vv. 24-25).
This word changed (as used by the KJV) should really read exchanged (as used in the NIV). People replaced God’s truth with Satan’s lie. Thus, worshiping the creature and not the Creator; worshiping man instead of God; worshiping things instead of Christ. Satan tempted Jesus to do this (Matt. 4;8-11). Note that in Rom. 1:18, the Gentiles suppressed – held down the truth, and now they exchange the truth for a lie. The truth believed and obeyed sets us free (John 8:31-32); the truth rejected and disobeyed makes us slaves.
4. And thus rejected the Knowledge of God (vv. 26-32)
These people had begun with a clear knowledge of God (vv. 19,21) and His judgement against sin (v. 32); but now they reached the lowest level of their downward fall: they did not even want to have knowledge of God (cf. Psa. 14:1)
It is sad to see the tragic results of this decline. Evolutionists want us to believe that humans have “evolved” from primitive, ignorant, beast-like forms into the marvelous creature they are today. Paul says just the opposite: man began the highest of God’s creatures, but he made himself into a beast. Note the three judgments of God:
- God gave them up to sinful desires and idolatry (vv. 24-25).
- God gave them over to shameful lusts (vv.26-27).
- God gave them over to depraved mind (vv. 28ff.)
God gave them up! This is the revelation of the wrath of God (v. 18). The sins listed there are too vile to define or discuss; yet they are practiced today around the world with the approval of society. People know that sin will be judged; yet they take pleasure in it anyway. Were it not for the Gospel of Christ, we would be in this slavery of sin ourselves.
Indeed there is a universal sinfulness of humanity that Jesus serves as an answer. In Taking the sins of the Gentiles as an example, it could be said that, humanity has no excuse because God has revealed himself to all even in creation. Romans 1:18-32 seeks to describe what Christian philosophers of the faith later developed and referred to as the cosmological and the moral arguments for God’s existence. In Rom 1:19-20 we read that all peoples of the world, whether or not they have the law, or God’s special revelation, should know from the creation that there is a Creator. Romans 1:32 then shows that there is a universal sense of morality – that is, all cultures have a standard of right or wrong. This shows that humankind was uniquely created in the image of one who has moral standards.
- What is the wrath of God and against what is God’s wrath revealed? Romans 1:18
- Did our forefathers know about God before Christianity came to Africa?
- Does Romans 1:26-27 deal with subject of Lesbianism and Homosexuality?
- What are the arguments for or against?
- What advice would you give to people in such relationships if you have such opportunity?