Category Archives: Romans

Romans 1:18-32 – The ignorance of sin

Paul spends three chapters in the book of Romans to convince his readers that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). To get to this conclusion, he begins at Romans 1:18 to speak of the way humans suppress the truth about God.

There is a great deal to discuss in these verses but note a few of these.

1) Paul describes the human race as spiralling further and further away from God rather than being a morally maturing breed. Note verse 22, the description of replacing worship of an immortal God for images: first images that look like mortal humans (who at least were made in the image of God), then of birds and of animals and then of reptiles – is it a coincidence that this verse begins with the image of God and ends with the image of the deceiver of Genesis 3? People are not getting better and better. No achievement or progression of mankind can get us closer to God or being more godlike. When we get to Romans 3, we will discuss the doctrine of ‘total depravity.’ Humanity is not ‘basically good with traces of evil’ – rather, humanity is blind to the truth about God and is blissfully unaware of its utter rebelliousness. NB Ephesians 2:1-3!

2) Note that God is not active in producing sin in us. Rather, he ‘gave [us] over in [our] sinful desires of [our] heart. ‘God gave them over’ is repeated in verses 24, 26, and 28 – our desires, our passions and our minds are all warped in a direction away from the truth.

3) There is a dark description of the condition of mankind in these verses. A description that needs to be taken seriously. But note the broad spectrum of sin covered in this passage: wrong worship of God, wrong use of our bodies, wrong approach to sex, and wrong approach to human relationships. I particularly take note at ‘they disobey their parents.’ It may sound humerous among so many ‘worse’ activities or thoughts, but this is to illustrate how profoundly horrible and basic our sin is. Remember the 5th commandment? Paul is not describing ‘those people out there’ but our own hearts – for all who are yet to be introduced to the Saviour!

I’ll leave you with a quote from a blog that I think is really helpful in relation to this weeks passage and a link to the much longer blog…

Psalm 14 puts it succinctly:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Ps 14:1)

The one who removes God from consideration, who is unresponsive to God, is a fool. In the words of John Woodhouse:

People who do not take God seriously find it very difficult to see the seriousness of not taking God seriously. To refuse to take God seriously is the ultimate stupidity but once you have committed it, the inevitable effect is to blind you to its idiocy. It does not seem at all stupid not to take God seriously, if you don’t… Our sinfulness gets in the way of seeing our sinfulness.

A similar point is made in Romans 1, where the downward spiral of sin begins with a suppression of the truth (perhaps the suppression of the truth by the first man and woman in the Garden) but descends very quickly into the foolishness David was speaking about in Psalm 14:

For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise they became fools… And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Rom 1:21–22, 28)

Ultimately it is sin itself which is the root cause of the contemporary abandonment of sin.

Read more of this blog here, particularly the points made toward the end of it…

Romans 1:1-15 – The Start of New Things

Hello everyone and welcome to the first mailout from this blog site – Growth Group Resources. These emails are aimed to help you and not to bog you down with extra work! The aim is to feed timely information to your email inbox in order to prepare for your upcoming Growth Group meetings. It is not mandatory information! It is here to help if you need or want it.

I expect that most groups will be getting back together in this first week of February. Since it is a new year it is a good opportunity to restart your group. Even if all of your members are the same from last year, it can be very helpful to welcome the group and go over some basics to make the year feel like a new beginning.

Orientate your group to the group’s culture.

I have found it helpful in the past to talk to the members of my groups about what they expect for the group – what they expect of themselves, of others in the group and of the leaders. You may help the group to uncover areas like growing in gospel maturity, growing in number and in caring for one another pastorally.

Make everybody feel at home. See if you need to organise a supper/morning tea roster. Discuss what you will be doing each time you meet. Discuss how you might follow each other up or pray for one another.

I think it is always a good idea at the beginning of the year to begin the group again. A fresh start!

Beginning a new book of the bible

We will be reading through the book of Romans all year as a church – this is unusual because we would normally divide the year up between Old and New Testaments and between books of the bible and topics. I’m excited to be devoting the bulk of this year to studying this one book because it has been such a life changing book for so many people – maybe you have a story of how it has helped your faith.

In your first study for the year, you may like to help the group get an overview of the whole book of Romans. You could do this in three steps 1) chat about what you know about the book 2) Read Romans 1:1-15 and ask a few observational questions 3) take a helicopter tour through the whole book via a list of memorable verses. You may not have time to do all of what is suggested in this post, so think through what you want to get out of the time together and how you want the meeting to end.

Firstly – Talk about what you know about the book of Romans

Discuss what you all know about the apostle Paul who wrote it. Summarize some points from an introduction to the book from a study bible, or from the New Bible Dictionary. You might discuss some stories of famous people who were influenced by this book (see an article by The Influence of the Letter to the Romans on four theologians – also make use of a discussion of The Theme of Romans_morris).

Secondly – Read and discuss Romans 1:1-15

Read Romans 1:1-7

What do these verses teach us about Paul, the gospel and about Jesus Christ?


Read Romans 1:8-15

What do these verses tell us about the relationship between Paul and the church in Rome? Ie, what is he thankful for? What does he hope for?


What does Paul see as his primary job description?


Thirdly – Look up some memorable verses in Romans.

You might just look up the verses in the first 8 chapters and then let the group read the rest on their own during the week.

1:16, 1:17,
3:10-12, 3:20, 3:23-24
4:25, 5:8, 6:14, 6:23, 8:1-2, 8:16, 8:17, 8:28, 8:38-39
9:14-16, 10:11-13
12:2, 12:9-10, 13:1, 13:10, 13:11, 14:8, 14:17, 15:20

Prayer for the week:

Dear Father God, thank you for the good news that you have promised from ancient times – the good news regarding your Son who is our Lord by faith. Help us to serve you by knowing the gospel in order to share it with others. We look forward to all that we will learn from Romans and ask for your Spirit of understanding and encouragement. May we also be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith this year. Amen.