In this message we will cover the source of wickedness shown in the condemnation of mankind and the way of restriction shown in the condemnation of the self-righteous. After the introduction, Paul presents the matter of condemnation in four aspects: on mankind in general (1:18-32), on the self-righteous in particular (2:1-16), on the religious specifically (2:17-3:8), and on all the world totally (3:9-20). Firstly, the book of Romans reveals that condemnation has come upon mankind in general. Then attention is given to two special classes of mankind—the self-righteous class and the cultured, religious class. Finally, the whole world is brought under condemnation. Whether we are good or bad, religious or non-religious, we are under God’s condemnation. Although we do not want to dwell upon the subject of condemnation, there are two points related to it that are quite important. First is the source of evil, the source of wickedness. Because of this source mankind is evil. Thus, in this message we will see the source of man’s wickedness. Second, we need to see the way of restriction. There is a way to restrict this wickedness. Since we have been saved from condemnation, we need not give it much attention. However, we need to return to it long enough to learn the source of evil and the way to restrict evil.
Now we need to consider the source of wickedness. This section of Romans (1:18-32) reveals four elements of the source of evil.
The first element in the source of wickedness is holding down the truth in unrighteousness (1:18). What is truth? Truth is not mere doctrine or knowledge. Truth is reality; it is solid and substantial. There is reality in this universe, and the prime reality is God Himself. To say that there is no God is to speak vanity; to declare the reality of God is to speak something solid, substantial, genuine, and true. God is real. No one can deny the reality of God or disclaim the fact that He exists, for the existence of God is a reality. However, from the very beginning, mankind did not respect the reality of God, but suppressed it. They simply did not care for this reality and refused to hold it in a proper way. They held down the truth in unrighteousness, suppressing it in an unrighteous manner. In the United States today we behold evil on every side, and the newspapers are filled with wicked and shameful things. Why are there so many shameful things in the leading country of the world? Because so many people will not maintain the truth, but instead, wrongfully hold it down. This is the most significant aspect of the source of wickedness.
Although mankind knew there was God, they tested and tried Him, eventually deciding not to hold Him in their full knowledge. They disapproved of holding God in their full knowledge (1:28). Many professors and professional people do not believe in Christ. If you ask them about God, they will say, “We know there is a God, but we don’t like to believe in Him.” Such people disapprove of holding God in their knowledge. We must hold God in our knowledge, for it is dreadful to refuse to do this.
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