Sin in the Book of Romans: What Paul Said About Humanity's Sin Nature
The Book of Romans
The Nature of Sin in Humanity
In the first three chapters of the Book of Romans, Paul reveals to Roman Christians the sin nature of humanity and how every person deserves to be condemned for those sins.
Paul, self-described as “unashamed of the Good News about Christ,” offers that through faith a person has life, but without the grace of the living God he shall find death (Romans 1:17-18).
The most unfortunate thing about this truth, Paul points out, is that all people at birth know God and his law, yet many still suppress the truth.
Born into Sin, Knowledge
With the creation of each human life, Paul argues the truth about God’s existence is made known. This principle is first described in Romans 1:20 (NLT), “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature.”
As a result, Paul said, people have no excuse for not knowing God.
This point brings an important rebuttal to those who might object to a belief in God’s existence, who often ask how the Creator could condemn his creation who might not have been reached by the message of Jesus Christ.
While missionaries work to fulfill the Great Commission in many nations around the globe, the fact remains many others go unreached.
But, in Romans 2:14-15 (NLT), Paul addresses those who might argue this point by saying, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”
Despite Internal Truth, Sin Prevails
Unfortunately, even still, the Book of Romans tells us many people will suppress the truth by showing their wickedness. They will know God, Paul says in Romans 1:21, but won’t worship him as God or even stop to give him thanks, much less a passing thought.
Instead, they idolize God’s creations rather than the Creator himself.
"Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God,” Paul writes in Romans 1:28 (NLT),"he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done."
As a result, their lives become full of sin’s by-products, including wickedness, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deceptions, malicious behavior and gossip. Worst yet, Paul said these people become backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud and boastful (Romans 1:29-30).
Sin Earns 'Terrible Judgment'
The stubborn, prideful ways of the sinner eventually lead to a day of judgment, Paul said, when God’s terrible anger will be revealed.
“You are storing up terrible punishment for yourself,” he writes, adding, “He will judge everyone according to what they have done,” (Romans 2:5-6 NLT).
Just as the faithful and upright earn their rewards in heaven for their deeds (Matthew 5:12), a punishment both righteous and just is stored for those who continuously allow themselves to fall into temptation and commit sin.
While “He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers,” Paul writes, “he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness,” (Romans 2: 7-8 NLT).
Paul also warns those who pass their own judgment on others, offering that condemning other sinners is hypocritical when oftentimes the judge is guilty of the very same sin.
Rather than judge, Paul says focus on God’s kindness and patience in tolerating your own sins and work to correct them; after all, “Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you away from your sin?” (Romans 2:4 NLT).
Ultimately, the apostle states Biblical law is designed with one thing in mind: to get people to turn from their sin nature and abide in the wisdom of Christ Jesus.
“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God,” (Romans 2:19 NLT).
Remember, scripture points out that all man will face judgment for what they have done, and at that point, no excuse will matter.
Consider your own relationship with Christ today: Are you following God’s laws? Are you allowing God’s will to be your guide? Or are you just making excuses? Work to avoid temptation, keep faithful to God’s word and you can be assured today of your salvation.