Imagine a doctor who discovers a long-time patient has cancer. She knows the news would make her patient very upset, so she only tells him to keep eating healthy and exercising, and he should be fine. The patient feels relieved when he leaves the office, but how has the doctor served her patient?
There is a difference between hearing what we want to hear and hearing the truth that we need to hear. Psalm 53 is one place the Bible tells us the difficult truth we need to hear.
The inventor of the weather vane said its purpose is to remind us that human nature is fickle. Similarly, this first section of Romans is a reminder of our character. It is uncomfortable truth to be reminded of, but it is for our help, encouragement, and learning.
Some may recall a teaching method used to ingrain material in students' heads: Remember, Recite, Remediate. After material is taught, it is repeated until the students can recite it accurately. Romans 1:18-32 is a repetition of the truth about fallen humanity. It was not written primarily to convict sinners, since the letter was written to believers in Rome. It is a reminder of what we were before the Lord saved us.
On Palm Sunday, the crowd shouted "Hosanna" as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. The word means "Save now!" They certainly wanted a conquering king to overpower Rome at that time. But this was not God's plan. His plan of salvation went beyond human wisdom.
The issue of salvation really comes down to a question of authority. Who will I believe? By what wisdom will I live my life? King David gives his recommendation in Psalm 36. This wisdom psalm reveals secrets of life to help us navigate life as God intended. David was the king over the nation of Israel, with a powerful army at his command and many wise advisors. Furthermore, he had a privileged place in salvation history – the promised Messiah would come through his line. Yet he directs the people of Israel to look to the Lord for wisdom.
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