Lives Full of Wickedness

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.

Romans 1:29

This is not a pretty picture. When we reject God and God’s ways, we don’t just dabble in sin. We don’t do a little peccadillo here and there. Rather, sin takes hold of our lives as individuals and as a society. We do all sorts of actions that dishonor both God and ourselves. Moreover, we encourage others to join us.

If this picture of human sinfulness seems too negative, just read the morning paper. On page after page, you’ll find ample witness to the wickedness of humanity: greed, murder, dishonesty, bribery, violence, and so on. When the world rejects God, we get what we deserve. For Paul, homosexual behavior serves as an illustration of human sinfulness and the sorry results that follow. It isn’t worse than any other kind of sin, but simply a striking example of how rejection of God leads to actions that are both wrong and injurious to the actors. The point of Romans 1:24-32 is that, apart from God, every one of us is mired in wickedness, with no hope of freeing ourselves.

Earlier and often in Romans 1, Paul mentions the Good News of Jesus Christ (vss. 1, 3, 9, 15, 16, 17). We might wonder why the chapter ends on such a low note. This is because the Good News is only good in light of the bad news of our sin. If we are, for the most part, nice people, then it’s hard to get excited about a Savior. But if we are truly lost, if we are stuck in sin, if our personal lives and our society are degenerating steadily and irreparably, then the fact that God has sent Jesus as the Savior of the world is truly good news.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Where does sin have its tightest grip on you? In what ways do you most need a Savior? How is the Good News of Christ truly good news for you?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must admit that this isn’t my favorite section of Romans. Though I acknowledge the fact of sin, even my own, I don’t like to be reminded of just how pervasive sin is in our society and in my own life. I know I need to hear the bad news before I can rejoice over the good news of the Gospel, but I still chafe over the truth.

Help me, Lord, to look honestly at my life. Help me to see my sin as you see it, to acknowledge it, to confess it, to turn from it. Forgive me and renew me, so that I might be a demonstration of the Good News in my own life.

Lord, I can’t read this passage from Romans without praying for the way homosexuality is impacting us today. I ask you to touch with your grace those who are struggling with homosexuality in their own lives or in their families. Help your church, so divided over this issue in many quarters, find unity in your truth and love. Forgive us for the shameful ways we Christians have sometimes treated gay and lesbian people. Help us to be solid in our commitment to your truth, even as we love all people with the extravagant love of Christ. Heal your church, Lord, so that we might be agents of your healing in this world.

Most of all, thank you, Lord, for the Good News that follows from the bad news of sin. Thank you for your mercy, grace, and love that will never let us go. In the name of Jesus our Savior, Amen!