Wandering the savage garden…

Study on Romans 1: verses 18 through 32

My bible study group (or “life group,” or “small group,” whatever you’d like to call it) is doing a study on Romans, using the Journey Church’s online study.

It’s interesting, if a bit overguided – it’s like a lot of similar studies in that it more or less walks readers through the chapters.

What does verse 17 say about this topic? What’s the seventh word in verse 18?

That’s an exaggeration, for the most part, of course; the study expects readers to use different translations, so there’s no way to definitively answer a question like “what’s the nth word?”

But the point remains: the study’s interesting, the questions are mostly there for filler and to make sure the study leader doesn’t run out of steam.

This last week’s section was the beginning of where Romans’ tires meet the road, if you will. The first few verses introduce the writer (Paul), the next few verses back up his authority and testimony…

Then verse 18 starts in describing Man’s relationship to God. It’s not a pretty picture: basically, as a very short summary, man sees evidence of God in the world around him, and rejects God despite this, replacing the Creator with the Creation. Paul walks through the entire Decalogue, basically recounting it in terms of the sin we bring to the table.

One of the men in the study had a really good point about how the list of sins is laid out: it’s a list of what we do, what we say, and what we think in sin. That doesn’t map quite to the Decalogue, but it’s a really neat way to think about it.

One of the questions I had was about the primary sin involved in the section. To the rest of the group, I think it was “idolatry,” and the text actually refers to idolatry, the replacement of the worship of God with the worship of an image.

To me, though, it was a little more banal; to me, it was lying. We lie about the nature of God, which allows us to lie further about who He is, which leads us to idolatry, murder, covetousness, and the others.

Meanwhile, if we were honest about what we see and feel around us, through the Creation, we would understand God’s nature and power, and worship and honor Him alone.

Thus: to me, it starts with a lie, and progresses from there.

It’s an interesting study, really, because of the people participating in it; we’re all fairly well versed in the Bible, so it’ll be fascinating to see the ripples our study creates in each others’ lives.

I’m really looking forward to chapter two. 🙂

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