We all need encouragement.
After all, we are surrounded by ample evidence of our fallen condition. Sometimes, just remembering the destitute moral state of humanity without Christ is sufficient to put our perspective back into proper order.
Nothng does this more that Romans 1:18 and following.
There’s not a more hopeless picture of our fallen race in all of Scripture than what we have in this second half of Romans 1. Understanding this hopeless condition apart from Christ actually encourages me as a believer with good news for repentant sinners.
Our wretchedness and inability to please God on our own is set against the perfect righteousness of God and the free gift of salvation just stated in verses 16-17.
In verses 18-32 all of humanity is in view, but the emphasis in these verses is on Gentiles and the pagan immoralities that are most common among Gentiles.
Later on, Paul focuses on moral Gentiles who are lost as well as moral Jews who are lost in chapters 2-3. They need the gospel as well.
But let’s consider the emphasis here on pagan Gentiles as representatives of all humanity in verses 18-32.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” [ESV]
This is the problem for all of us apart from Christ.
We are by nature children of wrath. By nature, we are suppressers of truth. Yet God has written His moral law even on the hearts of lost humanity.
That point may be a very surprising thing to hear.
That’s why when we do evangelism, the only effective resource to use is the written Word of God. We must quote Scripture. Scripture is powerful in converting the soul.
That’s because the evangelist who uses God’s Word has an unexpected ally in the heart of every lost person. That’s the work of God’s law that He has already written on their hearts. Later on, in chapter 2, verse 15 he writes of lost Gentiles that…
“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…”
When Scripture is read and quoted, it brings to light what the fallen heart has been suppressing up to that moment. They may reject it, but the witness is still effective.
It is this inner work of the law that responds to the written Word of God. So we use God’s Word and quote Scripture in our witnessing to the lost.
In addition to the Bible, God has also shown His existence to all men by the things He has made.
Although lost humanity knows that God exists, if only at the deepest level of their suppression of this truth, they know it and yet still reject Him as God.
They choose instead to worship anything other than God. They deify the most contemptible of men in cults and false religions and other creatures as well.
As a result of worshipping fallen creation, they give themselves over to vile affections. That’s because people can never rise higher than the object of their worship.
When people reject the Creator and worship the creature or the creation, they begin to descend lower and lower into a moral abyss of self-degrading passions.
Far from forcing people against their own fallen will to have freedom in Christ, God “gives them up” – verse 24 – “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”
When fallen man hates the Savior and spits in His face, God gives them what they want. They don’t want heaven or holiness. They don’t want peace with God.
They want, by degrees, distance from God; they want the absence of light and truth and holiness. In short, they want just a little bit of hell on earth.
And they want it under the guise of freedom. They want autonomy – to be their own Lord and Master and to invent their own way of salvation and atonement.
They want to feel free in their bondage to immoral pleasures and sexual perversions.
And after they shake their fist in God’s face at the very end of their lives, they get the permanent separation from God they wanted all along – forever in hell.
In verse 28, a “debased mind” or a “reprobate mind” (KJV) is a mind that no longer works.
It doesn’t function as a mind ought to function. It can’t think properly and it no longer operates in the best interest of the person who has this kind of mind.
This is a self-destructive mind, delighting in its own ruin. It calls good, evil; and evil, good. So this person does what ought not to be done to their own destruction.
The only hope for reprobate sinners is total submission to Jesus Christ. He is able and willing to redeem all who come to Him for salvation from their sins.
All of us need this salvation… and it’s the only way to be encouraged forever.
Held by His grace,