The Downward Spiral of humanity described in Romans 1:
The mysteries of the universe, the nature of man, the human condition, and every other over-riding universal mystery which humans have grappled with since we began, are all explained in the book of Romans. One such mystery (the understanding of which unlocks all the others) concerns the spiritual nature of man and his relationship to the Creator.)
The introductory chapters to Romans begins with:
Pauls mission as a messenger of Jesus -> He is not ashamed of this since -> the message has been entrusted with is the true means by which the Creator (now) reveals himself to people, and through whom people can be rescued from the Creators just punishment against humanity. -> People repress truth ultimately because they don't want to admit something which would change their pre-disposed tendencies to do whatever they want.
So after the introduction to his letter to the Roman Christians, and affirming his identity as a apostle appointed by the Creator, Paul goes on to say (paraphrasing) "I am not ashamed of messaege of Jesus, since that is the way God has chosen to release his power of in order to rescue the human race.
It is evident that they (we) need rescuing because of the condition we find ourselves in - one of being estranged from God and his law by the things we do and by our very nature of having inherited a 'sin or carnal nature' which seeks to live counter to God.
And so we are born into separated (to a degree) from Him, and 'under' the Creators wrath, The Creator being the one who is the author and definer of what is truly right and acceptable behavior for humans and what is not."
Yet Paul affirms that we once had knowledge of the Creator. And that this knowledge is evident from the Created world, and through our own conscience - that inner sense of certain basic right and wrongs.
But instead of doing what is right, Paul describes the downward spiral which humanity takes and has taken - on a universal, individual, national, cultural, etc level which, left unchecked, leads to an end state of a total depraved condition.
Within this whole discussion, we learn about the spiritual makeup of man and certaincause/effect relationships, just as in the physical world there are unchangeable laws (eg, If a person walks off a bridge, gravity will bring them to the ground).
In this passage is explained a number of these cause/effect relationships of the internal workings of all peopleand how our lifestyles and patterns of acting (in a state of ignorance) 'trigger' a response from the Creators universal system of laws.
These relationships are universally true and they explain 'where are we, how we got here, and how do we get back' (to the intended condition and purpose of the Creator).
So it starts this way in Rom 1:18:
"...The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
Any thinking person should realize that we live in an imperfect world and that evil exists, that bad things happen, and that we ourselves have done some of these bad things. It is therefore not a stretch to understand that a righteous Creator, who is responsible for laying the laws of good and evil and of judging those who break these laws, would attribute the plight of individuals as the wrath of God.
So if we do some forensic analysis of all of this, we might ask the question, 'where did it start to go wrong?'. If we look at that passage above, it went wrong when we suppress the obvious truth about God all around us. Put another away, we humans seem to have an inborn tendency to deny/repress/pretend it doesn't exist reality. The Creator is the Elephant:
This denial of truth is something we do inside ourselves.
Come to the conclusion that the main problem is with us. The fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves. The core issue is the broken (meaning, doesnt work right) state of our inner being. Everything from chapters 1 to 6 lead up to this, and there the solution is given - which explains why Jesus came and what our response should be to that event.
So the point he begins with is our human condition. It is interesting to note that it is not the love of God which Paul begins his explanation/thesis.
Firstly, the evidence for not only the existence of God, but also the evidence for understanding his character (of being all-powerful and worthy of recognition and honor) is all over the place, as Paul states "God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..."
And yet the human race did not recognize Him.
The first cause/effect relationship in the downward spiral of man is:
1) Since we did not recognize or honor the Creator from his Creation all around us, the effect was that our minds were infiltrated with futile thought patterns, and spiritual darkness came into our (foolish) hearts, taking us further from understanding spiritual truth. We variously refer in modern cultural parlance, to the psyche, the self, the mind, the emotions, the sub-concious, etc. So we recognize (unless you're a real dunce), that there's something deeper beyond five senses, flesh, blood, organs, brain, etc, that we are made up of.
The 'Foolishness' is that they did not recognize the biggest factor in the reality equation. It's referring to all people here - even those who never received instruction from someone about God.
The existence of a Creator is evident, according to scripture, by observing the created world, of which humans (of course) are a part. So this is a root of much that is wrong with the universe - that people see yet do not draw the obvious conclusion. It seems that our mechanism to logically deduce that which is plainly evident is broken. Yet it is also rooted in our will. From my observation, one thing I know for sure - is that people do not see what they don't want to see. That is, we have an infinite capacity to filter out facts which to not fit our already pre-drawn conclusions about something.
Mom: Bobby, I told you I wanted this room clean when I got home.
Bobby: no, you didnt tell me
Mom: Yes I did Bobby
Officer: You know you were going 65 in a 40?
Robert: I thought it was still 55 here
(and of course Robert only had two beers)
Denial (alcoholics etc) It is my observatoin that we humans have an infinite capacity to see what we want to see and to (therefore) believe what we want to believe. Much of the work of the Creator through the ages - through the law given to Moses, to the prophets of the OT, through Jesus, and now through the Holy Spirit, is to get to that denial, the core inner self of people which clings stubbornly to lies. the Holy Spirit will "Convince the world of sin".. Cultural (sodom and gomorrah) There have been many instances where I have tried to convince people of some obvious thing. It is an astonishing thing that evidence can be presented to us humans, and we can not see it, we actually don't want to. Does not see life but the wrath of God remains on him. From warnings on cigarette cartons.. So a lot more could be said about this dysfunctional part of ourselves - that thing in us that has the capacity to believe. It is through believing (or faith) that we enter into higher spiritual realities. The Pharisees of Jesus day saw him perform miracles over and over again, and yet they kept demanding a sign to prove that Jesus was who He said he was. Though they were eyewitnesses to his miracles, they had a strong disposition to not believe (since this threatened their whole worldview, their whole (incorrect) understanding of the scriptures. THey were truly spiritually blind, as Jesus said. Yet we are all blind until we are illuminated by God's Spirit so that we have a revelation of the truth. The work of the Holy Spirit is to continually present this evidence to us in a thousand different ways. "He will convince the world" 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.