Summary: In this sermon, Paul gives us a six-point summary of the gospel--the good news of God.
In his commentary on Romans John MacArthur points out that a quick look at any newspaper or a passing glance at a weekly news magazine reminds us that in our world most news is bad and seems to be getting worse. What is happening on a national and worldwide scale is simply the magnification of what is happening on an individual level. As personal problems, animosities, and fears increase, so do their counterparts in society at large.
People are in the grip of a terrifying power that holds them at the very core of their being. Left unchecked, it pushes them to self-destruction in one form or another.
That power is sin, which is always bad news.
Sin is bad news in every dimension. Among its consequences are four inevitable byproducts that guarantee misery and sorrow for a world taken captive by it. Let me state four byproducts of sin.
First, sin has selfishness at its heart. The basic element of fallen human nature is the exaltation of self, the ego.
When Satan fell, he was asserting his own will above God’s will, declaring five times, “I will. . .” in Isaiah 14:13-14, a passage which speaks of Satan’s fall: “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Man fell by the same self-will, when Adam and Eve asserted their own understanding about right and wrong above God’s clear instruction (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-7).
By nature every person is self-centered and inclined to have his own way. He will push his selfishness as far as circumstances and the tolerance of society will allow. When a person’s self-will is unbridled, he consumes everything and everyone around him in an insatiable quest to please himself. When friends, fellow students, colleagues, or a spouse cease to provide what is wanted, they are discarded like a pair of old shoes. Much of modern western society has been so imbued with the propriety of self-esteem and self-will that virtually every desire has come to be considered a right.
The ultimate goal in many lives today is little more than perpetual self-satisfaction. Every object, every idea, every circumstance, and every person is viewed in light of what it can contribute to one’s own purposes and welfare. Lust for wealth, possessions, fame, dominance, popularity, and physical fulfillment drives people to pervert everything they possess and everyone they know. Employment has become nothing more than a necessary evil to finance one’s indulgences. As is often noted, there is a constant danger of loving things and using people rather than loving people and using things. When that temptation is succumbed to, stable and faithful personal relationships become impossible. A person engulfed in self-will and self-fulfillment becomes less and less capable of loving, because as his desire to possess grows and his desire to give withers. And when he forfeits selflessness for selfishness, he forfeits the source of true joy.