Romans (1): Darkened Mind, Darkened Behavior (P&P)

July 10, 2022 | Prayer & Praise Services

Rev David Ho
Romans (1): Darkened Mind, Darkened Behavior (P&P)

July 10, 2022 | Prayer & Praise Services

Rev David Ho

Scripture Passage: Romans 1:18-32 (NRSV)

WATCH | SERMON (VIDEO)

READ | SERMON NOTES

Summary l Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome is his longest and most doctrinal letter, written in Corinth around 60 AD. It has been at the centre of many spiritual awakenings including those of St Augustine, Martin Luther and John Wesley.

In Romans 1 Paul wants to make a case that all of humanity has fallen short of the glory of God. All of us need the Good News of the Gospel.

  1. Reality of the Wrath of God (v18a)

God’s wrath is never capricious but rather righteous anger against all ungodliness and wickedness. To join the early societies started by the Wesley brothers,  Methodists were required to desire to flee from the wrath to come and to be saved from their sins.  It was a major theme in the 18th century Methodist Revival, and if we yearn for a personal spiritual revival we too must grasp the reality of God’s wrath.

2. Reasons for the Wrath of God

The descent into the depravity of idolatry is explained in v22-31. Humanity makes 3 unholy exchanges, namely, glory is exchanged for corruption leading to immorality (v23), truth for a lie resulting in perversion (v25) and the natural for the unnatural leading to depravity (v26). God releases humanity to their persistent sinful desires and the consequences. However, he always longs for people to deny their unholy thoughts and ways and return to Him. As a Church, we need to nurture and support broken people who are trying to journey towards holiness. Paul continues to observe that since people did not see fit to acknowledge God, He gave them up to a debased mind. There is a long list of depravity in v29-31 reflecting the spiritual cancer affecting the whole of humanity.

3. Rescue from the Wrath of God

Paul wants to challenge us to take sin seriously and guard our hearts. Let us ask God to help us search our hearts to see if we have allowed rebellion to take root in them. We need to take God seriously and cherish the gospel. Romans reminds us that actually we are all under the wrath of God but Praise be to God… the Gospel rescues us from sin to live a surrendered life! Let us live for Christ from now on by the power of God as revealed in the Gospel.

(Sermon notes by Frances Lim)


PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  1. Why would people today find Romans 1:18-32 deeply offensive? Should you avoid teaching it? If not, how do you think this material should be presented?
  2. Trace the progression of humanity into ungodliness and depravity in verses 18-32.  Where does the movement to idolatry begin, and how does it lead to the downward spiral into depravity?  
  3. There are three “unholy” exchanges clearly mentioned in this passage in v. 23, v. 25 and v.26.  How do these “unholy” exchanges contribute to the downward spiral of humanity into darkness and depravity?  Share and discuss examples of “unholy” exchanges in today’s world.
  4. The phrase “God gave them up to” is repeated in v.24, v.26 and v.28.  What does Paul mean by that phrase?
  5. Taking Genesis 1 as the primary theological statement, Paul sees humans created in God’s image and charged with bringing God’s order to the world, acting as His faithful stewards.  In verses 24-27, how has human life been distorted from the intentions of God in creation?
  6. In verses 28-32, Paul mentions the condition of an “unfit mind.” (v. 28)   How does an “unfit mind” lead to the behaviors listed in the rest of the passage?
  7. In this passage, Paul paints a chilling picture of a world where the hearts and minds of people are darkened and judgment is coming for all people.  Even as believers, there are areas of our lives that are not yet fully redeemed and instead, remain ungodly.  Spend several minutes in silent reflection and confession before the Lord.  Share and pray for the Lord’s forgiving and sanctifying grace in one another.  
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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