I have a message from God in my heart

    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:

There is no fear of God

    before their eyes.

2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves

    too much to detect or hate their sin.

3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;

    they fail to act wisely or do good.

4 Even on their beds they plot evil;

    they commit themselves to a sinful course

    and do not reject what is wrong.

Sin is a slippery, down-hill slope, and it starts, in some form, with the rejection of God (1b – as in Romans 1:18-32). Although Alec Motyer has an interesting observation to make:

‘The issue is not whether God exists but whether he matters; not his reality but his relevance. It is the position of many people all the time; it is the position of believers some of the time – not as a stated creed but in practice’ (‘New Bible Commentary’, p.508).

It is sadly true that, even as ‘believers’, we can be ‘practical atheists.’

A few years ago, my wife, Jilly, tried to engage a couple of friends in a conversation about spiritual matters. They didn’t fall out with her, but their attitude was, in essence, ‘Why would I want to go to church?’ The issue wasn’t whether or not God existed; they just felt no need for Him. As far as they were concerned, life was good and they had all they could need.

At its core, sin is about self-love (2): the rejection of the true God and the enthronement of self in His rightful place. When thinking about the word ‘sin’, I often think of it as ‘’sIn’: it is when ‘I’ am in the middle of my life calling the shots. It is when my theme song has become ‘I did it my way.’ This self-love blinds us so that we cannot see ourselves as we really are, and cannot hate what we are, or have become (or are becoming). For sin does tend to be a slippery down-hill slide, and can lead a person to a place where verse 4 is their reality. It is possible to see a Putin type figure in this verse, but it is has become true for many unknown people also.

What hope is there for sinners? As we will see, it is to be found in the love of God.