Romans 1:18-32 is a sad, but truthful commentary on the human condition.
I would like to trace some of this back to Genesis 3. Genesis 3:1 says the serpent was 'crafty' (Hebrew word aroum )- after the sin 3:7 has the Hebrew word 'ā·rome' ' (they knew that they were 'naked') . This 'exposure of shame' was a direct result of man's autonomy, determining things for oneself- being in control- acting like God.
After this exposure, man immediately formed the first works religion- sewing fig leaves to cover up the sin. And the saddest result of all- hiding from God.
When we get back to Romans 1 we see the same pattern. Crafty deception- human autonomy- covering up of sin- man made worship- and hiding from God.
A few points from Romans 1:
vs 18 says that men suppress the truth by the means of their wickedness. The greek verb for supress is 'katekho' and is a very strong term. It means to 'hold the course'- these men will not be easily swayed. Probably impossible without the power of the gospel and the light of the Spirit.
Romans 1 also says that the evidence for God is clearly seen. This point is quickly debated by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and many other of the hard line atheists. "Why doesn't God give me more evidence?" The problem is not in the evidence- the problem is the foolish and darkened heart of the suppressors and excuse makers.
Remember in Luke 16 the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazurus? "27 And (the rich man said) said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
I grieve over super smart, highly educated people who have pushed God outside their lives. They of all people prove what the Bible says over and over about the arrogance of man and God's opposition to them. Judgment day will be the harshest for the elite intellectuals and the hypocritical moralists and the suffocating and the suppressive religious.
"God gave them over"- this is an amazing statement. It is repeated three times (vs 24/26/28). When people begin on a course of suppression, ingratitude, and rebellion- God gives them over. In other words, He let's them choose that path.
As a coach, I see this sometimes. A player just does not want to be with us. I try every button and technique, but he responds with every excuse. I plead, they resist. I give reasons, they counter. I use others to help persuade. I know I am right and that they will be full of regret, but eventually I let them go. I know the path will be full of pain and regret.. but it is of no use.
"Darkness and depravity"- once the cycle of sin begins... there is no bottom. These people have futile thinking, dark hearts, and appetites for destruction. They also desire company. Sin seems normal and godliness is despised.
Read the lists of sins:
Sexual perversion, greed, envy, murder, strife, deceit, etc.
See the progression of sin:
gossips are 'whisperers'- the slanderous speak it out loud.
these people become God-haters and invent ways of doing evil.
See sin as corruption of good:
envy is a lack of trusting God
disobeying parents is neglecting admonitions of love
heartless is killing love
If you think you aren't included in this chapter- there is a special section for you in Chapter 2. But if you are like me, you have no problem agreeing with the final summary, "I am a wicked man."
This is the bad news- but be of good cheer, THE GOOD NEWS IS ON THE WAY!