Romans (1): Darkened Mind, Darkened Behavior (Traditional)

July 10, 2022 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Benjamin Lau
Romans (1): Darkened Mind, Darkened Behavior (Traditional)

July 10, 2022 | Traditional Worship Service

Rev Benjamin Lau

Scripture Passage: Romans 1:18-2:16 (NRSV)


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Summary l John Wesley’s heart-warming experience (received assurance that his sins are forgiven and he is saved through trust in Christ alone) came about from hearing a reading of the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on the epistle to the Romans. His life was transformed and it brought about a great revival across England and that transformed the nation. As we embark on the study of this epistle, may the Holy Spirit that transformed John Wesley and Martin Luther also inspire us that we are made right to walk right with Him and for Him.

The theme of Romans is the righteousness of God. In the passage, Paul begins with corruption and unrighteousness of the human race. Until we know we are all entangled with the effects of sin, we cannot appreciate the salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

Three lessons from the passage:

1) The Effects of Sin – darkened mind, darkened behaviour.

There is a repeated sequence of man’s exchange and God gave them over.

a)Rm 1:22,23 – sin of idolatry

We become who we worship. When man prioritised things above God, his thinking becomes futile, his heart is darkened and he exchanged the glory of God for things that take his life away from God. Therefore God gave him over in the sinful desires of his heart (v.24).

b)Rm 1:24-25 – sexual sins

There is a connection between idolatry and sexual sins. People exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator. God gave them over to shameful lusts (v.26).

c)Rm 1:26b-27 – homosexual practices

Men and women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones (v.26-27). Since man did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done (V.28).

In our Methodist Social Principles it states that,

“We consider the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teachings. However, we do recognize that homosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth…”

Even though Paul made an extensive explanation of the sins of idolatry and homosexual practices. Paul specified other sins in verses 29-31, like envy, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, disobedience to parents. Can we say we are not guilty of any? For all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God (Rm 3:23). The darkened behaviour we see in the world will result in destruction of creation if left unchecked and this calls for the need of the gospel, the power of God to save sinners from God’s wrath (Rm 1:16-17).

2) The General Revelation of God – impartiality of God (Rm 1:19,20)

Creation is God’s communication and manifestation to all people in all places at all times (Millard Erickson). Our conscience also bears witness to God (Rm2 :14,15).

Human race is without excuse. Those who do not want the truth about the glory of God will suppress the truth to their detriment. There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus (Blaise Pascal). General revelation, however, will not save us. Only special revelation will.

3) The Special Revelation of God – need for Jesus

Jesus will judge all men on the Day of Judgment (Rm2:16, Jude 14,15, Mt 25:31,32,1 Cor 4:15, Acts 17:31).

He is God’s appointed Judge, the sinless Son of God who experienced life as a man and the only one qualified to judge. In the court room of God, we are all declared guilty and sentenced to death. However, Jesus the Judge stands with us to take our punishment so that we can go free and be restored with God.

His resurrection on the third day proves that He is the Son of God. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but enjoy everlasting life. This the gospel message, the good news.

(Sermon notes by Woo Choi Yin)


  1. What is one key takeaway for you from this message?
  2. What does it mean that, because of people’s sin, God “gave them up” or God “gave them over” (1:24, 28)?
  3. Why do people suppress the truth about God? When have you struggled with this?
  4. If you are comfortable sharing, what are the idols/sins that Paul listed down in Romans 1:21-31 that you struggle with? What can you do or have done to help you overcome these idols/sins?
  5. Share an experience of God’s “General Revelation” or “Special Revelation” to you? How was your life changed or transformed after that?
Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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