In Romans, many answers about human life, the natural world and mankind in relation to God can be found. Paul wrote this letter to build the case for the deadliness of sin and the absolute necessity for true righteousness, the righteousness that comes by faith through Jesus Christ.
The people in Rome were on two ends of the spectrum. On one end you have the utter depravity of the heathen and on the other side you have the religious man, represented by the Jew in this text. Paul reveals the truth that the human race as a whole is guilty before God whether pagan or religious.
Romans chapters one and three give a clear description of the state of the natural world. God created the Earth for man to enjoy in abundance and for mankind to be in direct and intimate fellowship with Him. He created man with a conscious whereby we could discern God’s presence and handiwork in everything including our own selves. “God made sure in His wisdom that everything that could be known about Him was revealed in man because God Himself has shown it to man” (1:19).In this way God says that man is without excuse.
When mankind sinned through the disobedience of Adam, we were separated from God. This caused the natural world and mankind to spiritually die and exist in a state of sin. This state of sin brought about every manner of wickedness.
Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (1:29-32)
These very attributes directly affect human relationships: Children disobeying their parents, so called “friends” gossiping about one another; meanwhile inciting hate and possibly even murder. In this day and age we see that the majority of marriages end in divorce. Sexual perversion and abuse are at an all-time high. Drug addiction and crimes are commonplace all throughout the world today. There is nothing good that comes from the flesh!
During the time that this letter was written to the Church in Rome, the culture was heavily Hellenized. In other words the pagan worship of “gods” and “goddesses” was a huge influence. At the same time there were many Jews residing in Rome who were practicing the religious rites of their ancestors. The Church in Rome itself was a dense mixture of converted Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish converts were having a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that the Gentile believers were equally righteous, even though they had never kept the Law of Moses or even tried to hold to any of the traditions the Jews held as sacred. Paul made sure to settle all manners of strife or misunderstanding when he wrote , “ As it is written, There is none righteous no, not one: There is none that understandeth , there is none that seeketh after God; they are all gone out of the way , they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one”( 3:9-13). He further expounds on this by stating, “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God” (3:23).
The teaching in this letter helps me to see the true condition of this world. We all are truly in need of Jesus and his Redemptive work on the cross. We cannot do anything religious or good enough to provide our own righteousness. I used to think that people needed salvation because of whatever sin they were committing at the time. Reading Romans helped me to see that sin itself is a state that we are born into and what we do is a result of that. I now see that this sinful state keeps us from enjoying the original intention of intimate fellowship and communion that God had for his beloved children from the beginning. God in His great mercy and compassion for us, provided a means through which we could be restored back into this fellowship with Him. Although it is clear to me that Christians may still struggle with sin, it is even more clear that we are still the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and sin is no longer our master.