Imagine that you were in the hospital for tests on your spiritual condition. On the end of the bed they printed a graph like they used to do in the old comic strips. For the good hours the line headed up. For the bad ones it slid down. How would it read? It would probably be pretty erratic.
What about the human race? What does that chart look like? As if we didn’t know! An early look at the book of Romans is not a pleasant one. It’s a grim scene. Human beings are the critically ill patients.
Paul describes the sick life that loses—sin, godlessness! It is a condition of mind and spirit that becomes apparent in our actions.
I. Godlessness Is Ignorance (Closed Eyes) (1:18-20).
A. It is a simple ignoring of the evidence, a self-induced blindness.
B. God has made the truth plain enough, and He has made Himself evident. We will find that ignorance is no defense.
C. That’s how sin starts—ignoring reality. “God? What God?”
II. Godlessness Is Misdirected Worship (1:21-23).
A. It is failing to glorify or to give thanks to the Creator.
B. It is bowing before created things.
III. Godlessness Is Sexual Disobedience, Novelty, Perversion (Sins About Which These Verses Are Embarrassingly Plain) (1:24-27).
A. This is idolatry too. My unmanaged impulses are in charge, rather than God being in charge.
B. Our patient in ICU yells, “Hey, this is fun. I’m free.” And we are free to suffer the natural consequences of ignoring God’s direction.
C. “Oh, the church has always made such a big deal about sex.” That’s been because it is a big deal. It is part of our creative partnership with God. It is an identity at the center of our personality. There is a plan for our sexuality.
IV. Godlessness Is Practicing, Endorsing, or Ignoring a Grand Variety Of God-Hating, Self-Defeating Activities and Attitudes (1:28-2:2).
A. Wickedness recruits partners for hell.
B. Greed says “Only I really count.”
C. Malice is so envious of others that it has to cut them down to size.
D. Gossip defies Jesus. He says that we are to speak to another face to face. But gossip whispers to anyone who will listen.
E. Some children obey themselves, and entertain their peers rather than obeying their parents.
Godlessness is progressive. I begin by failing to listen. Then I misdirect my worship, my honor. Then I move to sins against nature. And then I step into sins against society. It starts inside and works its way out.
God is angry with that. He’s angry with the dirtying of His world. And He will, in His time, remove all the dirt. Then He will make a new world. The human race is a critically ill patient, whose only chance for survival (to escape the old world and move into the new one) is to respond to the heroic treatment offered by a patient, loving God. Grace!