THE HUMAN CONDITION
Mighty God, with a thankful heart I remember that Jesus came to pay a debt he didn’t owe, because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.
Read ROMANS 1:18–32
God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘[Jesus] did not need any testimony about mankind, for He knew what was in each person.’1
These verses strike a negative note! In other circumstances Paul might have written positively about the image of God in humans and their capacity for goodness. However, a first task of leadership is to identify reality – which is that the human condition is dire. The news tells us this, just as Scripture does.
We need an intelligent grasp of what is wrong. Although human beings have an instinct for God and although this is proclaimed to them by the natural world, they choose to deny and suppress this truth. Instead, they treat as gods things that are not God (v 23) and so become enslaved to idols. God’s wrath (v 18) consists in giving us over (and we are talking about ‘us’ not just ‘them’) to the consequences of our own bad choices – and these are not good (vs 24,26,28). We consign ourselves to ignorance, corruption, and depravity and doom ourselves to alienation, confusion, and futility. It is not an appealing picture. At the core is our choice to deny the Godhood of God, either by deliberate rebellion or by slothful neglect.
John F. Kennedy once claimed that all humankind’s problems were created by humankind and consequently they can be solved by humankind. This faulty logic represents the triumph of hope over experience and is consistently proven wrong. If the heart of the human problem lies in the human heart, then we cannot even get to first base. We are both our own worst enemy and God’s most problematic creatures. This is why we need a power beyond ourselves to do within us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. We need salvation. We need a Savior. The Christian faith has a message of salvation by grace through faith to everyone who believes (v 16). Yet reality needs to be faced before it can be remedied.
Can you distinguish between optimism and hope? If so, where is your hope?
Dear Lord, keep walking with You so that I may not go down the slippery slope of sin.
1 John 2:25
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