In Nomine Iesu
Pastor Thomas L. Rank
Text: Romans 1:18-25
THESE ARE YOUR WORDS, HEAVENLY FATHER, SANCTIFY US BY YOUR TRUTH, YOUR WORD IS TRUTH. AMEN.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ,
Over the course of the next weeks, we will be hearing from the words of St. Paul's letter to the church at Rome. This letter, in its sixteen chapters, covers major and necessary teachings of God's Word: sin, law, grace, faith, righteousness, flesh, spirit, and so on. These teachings are foundational to the true knowledge of God and of the great work of salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ. Martin Luther thought so highly of this book that he wrote:
However, when we begin with the first few chapters, we find that the taste of this epistle may be rather bitter. That bitterness is due to the fact that Paul begins this epistle by writing directly about sin and the law of God. And the law, because it consistently shows us our sin, is painful to us, bitter; and yet so necessary. Why necessary? Because it shows us the twistedness of our human thoughts, and how we must receive from God, instead of trying to impress Him with our works.
God's anger is deserved by all. Ungodliness and unrighteousness call down the wrath of God. And especially here in this beginning of Romans, the ungodliness is the rejection of the true God. In other words, this is a First Commandment issue: "You shall have no other gods." "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things."
The breaking of this first and greatest commandment
is at the very heart of all sin. It doesn't matter how sincere
you are, it doesn't
matter how upright you are, it doesn't matter how tolerant and
kind you are. What matters is this: who is your God?
The twentieth century was not content with only the massive scale of destruction brought about by those political movements. Others were just as deadly, but without the global scale. There was genocide in China and Sudan and the Balkans. Genocide is killing people because of their race, and nothing else. The Nazis did it to the Jews. It happened in all sorts of ways in the Balkans, and in Africa. The Japanese did it to the Chinese in the 1930's.
The foolishness of mankind, the rejection of God, does not bring enlightenment nor peace nor happiness, but finally and ultimately only death.
But we must not get so caught up in these
national and global problems that we neglect the personal, the individual.
These words of Paul are
for each person to hear and learn from. There is temptation all around
to depart from the true God, to be blind to Him and His ways, to turn
away and follow our own paths.
No doubt it would. But what does this ignore? It ignores the truth that we are sinful. Our sin is not due to lack of trying, but to a fundamental problem: original sin. As long as we consider ourselves capable of being our own saviors we will always be falling deeper into sin. And in fact, Paul warns us of the consequences for that on-going denial of the true God: "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever."
will find in this book of Romans more lessons on the law of God and
its judgment upon us. But even more than the law, Paul lays out
for us the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, the reason for the life
and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Earlier in this first chapter
of Romans Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes...."
God grant us to worship and serve the Creator only, and no creature. For He alone is blessed forever. Amen.