by: Gary L. Hutchens
An old line of reasoning points out how futile it is to close the barn door after the horses have already gotten out. The door should have been closed before they got out. To close it afterward does no good at all. Effective foresight eliminates the need for as much hindsight as most of us seem to be destined to use.
An important text emphasizing this principle is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom. 1:18-32). The beginning of that text is powerful and lays the groundwork for what follows: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (vs. 18). The phrase “wrath of God” is powerful. It communicates God’s ultimate judgment upon an individual who does not repent of living an ungodly, unrighteous life.
The next several verses lay out the basic reason as to why the lives of those of whom Paul is specifically writing ended up being so ungodly and unrighteous. They turned away from God and worshipped idols (vs. 19-23). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (vs. 22-23).
There is no such thing as goodness without God. To turn away from God is to open the barn door, but in this case it is what is let in rather than what gets out. When people turn away from God they open the door to all kinds of ungodliness and unrighteousness. True goodness will not be an identifying characteristic of their lives. The longer they choose to not let God be the guiding and governing influence in their lives, the more they will become swallowed up in ungodliness and unrighteousness. It is a natural development.
A terrifying statement follows: “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness…” (vs. 24). It is repeated, “…God gave them up to vile passions.” (vs. 26). Again, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind…” (vs. 28). Why? Because they “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator...” (vs. 25).
They opened the barn door, and all kinds of ungodliness and unrighteousness entered their lives. Sexual immorality (vs. 24), including lesbianism and homosexuality (vs. 26-27). But much more; “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;” (vs. 29-31).
A person, knowing he cannot walk with God while living in sin, turns away from God to take part in some sin that appears alluring to him. He intends to only become involved in a limited amount of sin. But the barn door is open. The devil confronts him with more temptations that seem appealing, and he repeatedly gives in. His life steadily becomes more ungodly and unrighteous. The sinfulness of sin becomes less clear to him. Since God is no longer the guiding force in his life, he becomes more and more sinful. The barn door to ungodliness stands open, and unless he comes to his senses, repents of his sins and comes back to God, “the wrath of God” awaits him (Rom. 1:18)…
Gary L. Hutchens