Although they know God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
This section is a depressing picture of the hell we bring on ourselves through our sin.
There’s marital hell: “men committed shameless acts with men.” Marriage is a relationship between two unlike people that’s a picture of the love between God and his people, but this is a picture of how we tend to worship and love things that are like ourselves. Then there’s economic hell: “greed and envy.” Most economic collapses happen after greed and envy have created unsustainable bubbles. Paul also describes social hell: “murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice.” It’s not just murder that kills. Deceit, quarrels, and malice can kill a society just as quickly.
More personally, we bring relational hell: “gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful.” We gossip and slander because we’re arrogant and proud. We don’t think other people are worthy of our respect. Then there’s family hell: “disobedient to parents.” Paul’s not talking about kids, he’s talking about grown adults who don’t want to listen to anyone else. Lastly, there’s moral hell: “senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.” We’re senseless and untrustworthy because we’re unloving toward others.
This is the world we’ve brought on ourselves, and that’s why Paul is so grateful for the gospel: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel doesn’t just save us from eternal hell. It saves us from the hell-on-earth we create for ourselves when we reject God and pursue self-destructive behavior. The gospel frees us to live happily within the constraints of God’s commands, like a goldfish swimming happily within the constraints of his bowl.
Today, praise God for saving you from yourself!