THE ROMANS ONE SPIRAL - P4
“Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips.” (Romans 1:29).
In this fallen human experience of sin, there was, is, and will be much injustice until Jesus takes up His throne on earth and rules the nations. But until then, there are times “I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice” (Job 19:7). There are times when the authorities not only don’t give justice but actually deliver the injustice: “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations [dispossessing someone of property] from My people,’ declares the Lord God” (Ez. 45:9).
And violence and destruction in society without consequences or justice can lead to anger, which can lead to strife: “For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife” (Pro. 30:33).
As Believers, Scripture teaches us that we are to stand firm and not give way in the face of wickedness and injustice, for “like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (Pro. 25:26) - he is good for nothing. We do not stand up to wickedness for our sake, but a “righteous” man or woman in Christ is often all that stands between the wicked and their prey—all the people that rely on us for protection, a good job, help and support, etc—without which they are preyed upon by the wicked. Job was such a man, for he recognized it was his duty to God to stand firm against wickedness, even using defensive violence: “I delivered the poor who cried for help, And the orphan who had no helper...I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth” (Job 29:12; 17).
And sometimes standing up for what is right in a culture devoted to sin can even be seen as causing unrest and strife: “Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me As a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land! I have not lent, nor have men lent money to me, Yet everyone curses me” (Jer. 15:10).
HOWEVER, in our response to injustice, we are warned to never be unjust: “do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways” (Pro. 3:31). For “the deeds of the flesh” include “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions...and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
But even worse than this is justifying acts of violence as righteousness. Isaiah accused the Jews that they “fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high” (Isa. 58:4). Planning violence and strife towards the innocent, these Jews made a pretense of blessing it as service to God, daring to pretend it was done in righteousness.
This is to “know” good and evil for ourselves. God determined good and evil, but we play-act that we are God so we can call evil “good” to justify our works of the flesh as “righteousness.” We make ourselves “gods” to judge others by our “good”. And it is by this worshiping of our “creature, rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25b) that we get to a place where thousands of people do violence to the innocent in the name of “righteousness.” It is an act of self-worship to justify injustice as a response to a perceived injustice.
It is true that throughout history, there has been much injustice. Just as there have been many times that people responded to injustice by justifying acts of injustice themselves that became more brutal and evil than the thing they set out to stop. We’ll continue our look at the “Romans One Spiral” as it relates to societal strife, destruction, and violence in the next Devotional. Lord willing, Amen.