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Sin in the Book of Romans: What Paul Said About Humanity's Sin Nature

Updated on July 7, 2009
The dark doorway to condemnation is wide for sinners, yet the Book of Romans reveals through Christ, He can light a path so we can walk the narrow road to salvation.
The dark doorway to condemnation is wide for sinners, yet the Book of Romans reveals through Christ, He can light a path so we can walk the narrow road to salvation.

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.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Paul points out sin to show the need for Christ.Then he says once we know Christ we should be followers of Christ.The Bible Says new are to walk in the Spirit.That sounds like maybe we should turn from sin.Which is repentance Bible says repent and believe turn from unbelief to belief in Christ.And bare much fruit.We all produce fruit but what kind of fruit?good or evil.Remember christ said depart from me i do not know you even tho they cast out devils in his name.Sin is not to be taken lightly.

    • profile image

      John Paul 

      6 years ago

      2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

      It's true that those who believe in Jesus are led away from sin. But there are no conditions on God's grace.

      Only God knows if certain homosexuals, who continue that sinful behavior, truly accept Christ and through him God's grace.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      St Paul’s Understanding of Sin

      There are more than thirty words in the new testament that convey some notion of sin, and St Paul employs at least twenty- four of them. He makes very little use of the “guilt” terminology in the psychological sense, but it may fairly be said that many of the things he says about sin include the thought that sinners are guilty people. After all to commit a sin is to be guilty of that sin. While it cannot be said that Paul has a morbid preoccupation with sin, it can be pointed out that he recognize that the evil that barrier to fellowship with God and that unless some way is found of dealing with the problem of sin, all people as sinners face a time of moral accountability(Rom2:16). But with this we must also says that Paul’s prevailing attitude is not one of unrelieved gloom and pessimism. Rather, he continually rejoices that in Christ sin has been defeated so that the believer has nothing to fear in this world or the next.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Netanya, I must say I do find Paul to be rather full of him self. Christ spoke of abandoning ego, while Paul often comes across boasting and embracing it, yet he charges others to abandon their ego.. Not to say that Paul doesn't raise good points and speak of thruth. Its just his over glorifying of his self is far more than just trying to establish "who" he was.. And yes there a many contridictions between them. I would love to get my hands on a nothing but red letter book (words of Christ).

    • profile image

      Royal Diadem 

      10 years ago

      Excellent hub, great research and understanding of that portion of scriptures in Romans.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I find Paul quite a difficult figure. Whilst the teachings of Jesus are commendable, much of what Paul says contradicts Christ. Christ was for the dissolution of societal constructs that act to marginalize, we see this in his call to abandon the traditional family unit and find ones community in G-d (Mark 3:31-35). Paul seems keen to reinforce them however Ephesians (6:5-9) when he instructs slaves to be obedient. I find Christ for revolutionary spiritual thinking, and Paul for protecting the status quo. Any thoughts on this?

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Huious - mature son in Greek. It's not our obedience, but Christ's obedience that we call Father Abba. The only place the Bible says to fear is here (Hebrews 4:1) Fear not entering God's rest. The other 365 times fear is mentioned telling us not to fear. Isn't it just like a little child that rests in this kind of peace? We fear what we're told not to and don't fear what we're suppose to (resting in God's grace).

    • meetbrandon profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Houston, Texas

      James, thank you, sir!

      Carrie, Amen and Amen! I thoroughly enjoyed your new hub!

      Leroy, isn't Paul so powerful? I, too, have read Paul's works consistently throughout my young life as a Christian and have been able to glean so much from one follower of Christ. He is indeed amazing. Thank you so much for reading!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Brandon I love the Story of Paul and have read his epistles over and over he was used so powerfully by our Lord to help build the Church. Keep hubs coming the word is the Truth. Amen!

    • Carrie Bradshaw profile image

      Carrie Bradshaw 

      11 years ago from Manhattan

      Confirmed! Dead on! I just read the entire book of Romans today! I've just written a new hub about the New Covenant Commandments and how we have faith and DO His commandments because we LOVE Him. We indeed are under grace, but to rely on that alone makes us least in the kingdom of heaven, the Word says; but to be saved by grace and keep His commandments, we are great in the kingdom of heaven! Amen!!

    • profile image

      James DeRuvo 

      11 years ago

      Well done, Brandon. It's dead on.


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