Romans 1:18-32 is a passage which describes the downward spiral into which men plunge when they remove God from His rightful place. Though God has given enough proof of His existence, divinity, and eternal power by the material world He has created, some are bent on suppressing this evidence to pursue their own concepts of freedom. Though these individuals profess to be wise, in reality they become foolish. Their hearts are bent on fulfilling their twisted lusts. They applaud and approve of any lifestyle that shakes a defiant fist at Almighty God. Paul was describing the Gentile world in his time, but doesn’t Romans 1:18-32 sound like a fitting description of some aspects of today’s society?
What else should we expect when we remove the eternal God from our educational systems and the values that shape public policy? Not every atheist is immoral, but society in general becomes debased when people no longer feel accountable to God, no longer have eternal purposes in their lives, and live primarily for present pleasure. People talk about their rights, but give no undergirding reason for those rights. Unlike the founders of this nation who cited our Creator as the basis for our right to life and liberty, often today rights are assumed to belong to people based on what those in power deem to be equitable. This rationale has proved to be deadly many times in many nations throughout history.
However, Christians living in ungodly societies is nothing new. The Bible has very applicable instructions for how we should behave righteously when the world around revels in wickedness. Peter wrote, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:11, 12). Christians have escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful lusts and have become partakers of God’s nature (2 Pet. 1:4). We continue to give considerable effort to add righteous qualities to our lives such as faith, moral excellence, knowledge of God’s word, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). We give considerable effort to add these and make our calling sure lest we become blind and fall into our former ways. We do not want to become entangled again in the defilements of the world that pose such a serious threat to our eternal souls, knowing that if we did, we would be worse off than before our initial escape/salvation (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
When the world becomes darker in wickedness and sin, then the Lord becomes more noticeable as the light of the world (John 8:12; 1 John 1:5); and those who follow Him stand out and shine all the brighter in reflecting God’s glory (Mt. 5:14-16; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15). Our ultimate goal is not to arrive at utopia by political success here on earth, but to point people to the treasure in heaven (Mt. 6:19-21) where our premier citizenship is (Phil. 3:20).