Summary: A description of the sin that was in Rome and how it is reflected in our nation.
Video “Evidence of God’s Existence”
Paul wrote the Book of Romans to the believers in Rome. He has praised them for their faithful living. He has encouraged them to remember their need for fellowship. He unlocked the mystery of the Gospel so that they could tap into the power to have authority over the enemy and his forces. Now he takes steps to warn them about the culture where they live so they will not become ensnared again in the traps of satan.
Let’s begin by reading Romans 1:18-20. “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
Paul’s first point is that deep down inside everyone knows that God is real. From Adam to those in Rome to those on the earth today, the evidence cannot be disputed. Everyone knows the truth. Those who “Say there is no God.” know the truth. Those who want to argue the point knows the truth. We spend too much time trying to convince people to confess what they already know to be the truth and not enough time telling them about the Gospel of Jesus which is filled with love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
Paul continues; “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. So, they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23)
As humans, we struggle to believe what we cannot see. We want proof of everything. Therefore, we invent foolish ideas. For example, ancient people understood that our world traveled across the heavens so they imagined we were being pulled in a chariot across the skies, foolishness to us but wisdom to them.
Therefore, those who would not recognize the one true God began to formulate foolish ideas of God was like. In Rome the prevalent thought was every person, place, or thing had its own divine soul. Therefore, a tree was God, the City of Rome was God, and every individual was God.
In addition, with these darkened thoughts they began to form statues of these “gods” including themselves to be worshipped.
Nevertheless, this was not a new problem by no means. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they began to complain about God’s provision of manna. Therefore, God sent poisonous snakes among them. The people cried out to Moses to intercede on their behalf. God told Moses to fashion a bronze snake and attach it to a pole. Those who were bitten and looked at the bronze snake would survive. (Num 21:4-9) We learn later in John 3:14 that this symbolized Jesus being lifted up on the cross.
However, the Israelites perverted this symbol by worshiping the snake. Therefore, King Hezekiah broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people had begun making sacrifices to it. (2 Kings 18:4)
Even David recognized this problem in his life when he wrote, “Only fools say in their heart “There is no God.”
Let us continue with Paul. “So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25)
As they began to form these foolish ideas, they started to decide what God would and would not allow. Therefore, they traded the truth for a lie. And God abandoned them to this lie.
This was the culture of Rome in Paul’s lifetime. Prostitution was legal, public, and widespread. Art collections in respectable upper-class households were pornographic. It was considered natural and unremarkable for adult males to be sexually attracted to teen-age youths of both sexes, and intimate relationships was condoned as long as the young partner was not a freeborn Roman. There were no words in Latin for “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” because there were no different aspects to either.
Simply put; prostitution- acceptable; pornography- acceptable; pedophilia- acceptable; homosexuality as a normal acceptable lifestyle equal to heterosexuality.
As shameful as the things were Paul continued with the spiraling downward of man. “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” (Romans 1:28)