Romans 1:18-32, "Darkness"
In Romans 1:18-32 we see the gospel exposes dark broken layers in our world, and in our soul. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Honestly, haven’t you wondered, “Why is our world so messed up?” Why do we treat each other this way? Why do we say these hurtful things to one another?
Why do we not only see brokenness in our world, but if we are honest, we see brokenness in our lives as well?
We are all layered with arrogance, greed, anger, jealousy, and Scripture is going to help us see the reason we see this brokenness in our world and in our soul is ultimately because we have a broken relationship with the God of Scripture.
Romans 1:18, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”
- Humanity suppresses the knowledge of God.
- The word “suppress” means “humanity holds back the knowledge of God.” It means humanity literally “pushes the knowledge of God out of our lives.”
Romans 1:19-20, “19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
- Humanity suppresses the knowledge of God revealed in creation.
- It is as though humanity sees the complexity of muscle tissue running through the human anatomy, the expanse of stars, planets, and galaxies, the beauty of mountains, land and sea, and concludes, “Oh, obviously those detailed, intelligently designed beautiful things spontaneously sprung into existence.”
Romans 1:21, “21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
- Humanity isn’t ignorant of the knowledge of God. No, deep in our soul we know there is a divine creator, but Scripture teaches us that humanity just isn’t impressed with the knowledge of God.
- There is external evidence for His glory in creation (vs. 19-20) and there is internal evidence for His glory in our conscience (vs. 21), but instead all of humanity simply “suppresses the knowledge of God.”
Romans 1:22-25, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
- In verse 23 we see humanity exchanging the knowledge of God for something else to take His place. Biblically this is called idolatry!
- Idolatry is anything that takes the place that rightfully belongs to the God of Scripture.”
- This means our children can become an idol. Our career can become an idol. It is anything or anyone or any idea in our life that brings out our inner “Gollum, precious!” Religious activity can become an idol. Politics can become an idol. Caring for the environment can be an idol. Working out and eating healthy can become an idol.
- It is because every human being throughout history is created in the image of God (Genesis 1), and created to worship God (Genesis 2), and when we “suppress the knowledge of God (vs.18-21)” we don’t just stay neutral, we exchange (vs. 23, 25).
Romans 1:26-27, “26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
In verses 26-31 the Apostle Paul is going to draw out the evidence of the idolatry that exists in humanity and in verses 26-27 we see evidence of that idolatry is that men will pursue men sexually and women will pursue women sexually.
Now, it is possible you have heard the local church present homosexuality has the worse parts of humanity, but if you glance over verses 26-31 you see the Apostle Paul also describes evidence for idolatry as, “greed, envy, murder, gossip, pride, being unloving, and children who are disobedient to parents” as evidence of idolatry.
Scripture isn’t picking one particular form of evidence, but simply exposing examples of the evidence in humanity when we suppress the knowledge of God and exchange the knowledge of God for idolatry.
Listen, I know homosexuality is a difficult subject, so I want to be as careful with my words and as helpful as possible. In verses 26-27 the word “natural” is used because the Apostle Paul is pointing us back to Genesis 2 when marriage is designed by God as taking place between male and female.
It is why when people ask Jesus about marriage in Matthew 19, Jesus quotes Genesis 2 because it is the foundation of marriage between male and female.
When the Apostle Paul defines marriage in Ephesians 5 he quotes Genesis 2 because God’s design for marriage is between male and female, and when humanity exchanges the glory of the incorruptible God for the idol of sexuality we are going to see evidence.
Just like when humanity exchanges the glory of God for the idol of power we are going to see greed. Just like when we see humanity exchange the truth of God for the idol of self we are going to see unloving, jealousy and envy. Look at verses 28-31…
Romans 1:28-31, “28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful”
Do you see Scripture isn’t just highlighting the idolatry of sexuality as some wicked monster? The intent of Romans 1 is not to lead us to a place where we hold up signs and yell at other people.
The intent of Romans 1 is to show there is brokenness in our world, in our lives and that brokenness isn’t because a lack of education, although education is important, or a lack of better government systems, although better governments systems are important, but all of our brokenness in humanity throughout history is directly related to a broken relationship with the God of Scripture.
Which is why when you see the phrase, “God gave them over” in verses 24, 26, 28 it doesn’t mean that the God of Scripture has become indifferent to humanity, but that He is “giving us over to the lusts of our heart (vs. 24).”
All of humanity has rejected a holy and righteous God. We have all turned from life to pursue death. Therefore, in His grace the God of Scripture says, “Okay, if death is what you desire, then here is death.”
Our only hope is that if the God of Scripture does the unthinkable, and enters into our broken world, takes our brokenness upon Himself, puts our brokenness to death, so that by grace, through faith in Jesus, we might be healed, resurrected from the dead, and restored to Him.
Do you see the glorious good news of Jesus? The God of Scripture creates everything, gives everything, and humanity not only rejects the glory of God, but applauds the rejection of His glory (vs. 32). Are you kidding?
How does the glory of God not just walk away from humanity? How does Jesus watch humanity going through His creation like a buffet at the Golden Corral trying to find anything to worship besides Him, and His response is to say, “I will lay down my life for you!”
What idol of this world could possibly make that claim on our lives? Every other idol calls for us to give our lives, and maybe we might get something in return that is momentarily fleeting at best, and yet it is Jesus who loves you, comes for you, steps out of the heavens for you, sacrifices for you, insulted for you, and separated from the Father for you, dies for you, conquers death for you, promises to return for you, so that your brokenness might be healed, resurrected from the dead, from darkness to light, from death to life, restored to Him. Why would you not give your life to Jesus?
Even for those of us who are in Christ there are layers of our soul we have yet to surrender to Jesus. There are idols deeply embedded where I have suppressed the knowledge of God, exchanged the knowledge of God for idolatry, and our response is to turn to Jesus and ask for His help to dig up those idols and confess those idols to Jesus because they will never satisfy.