2.4 – Destroying Creation (Romans 1-2)

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Romans 1-2 reveal the failure of humanity in respect to his image bearing priesthood, and as a result of that, the whole creation suffering. Romans 8 takes this theme up later, and shows the restored priesthood bringing renewal to the whole creation.

It starts with idolatry, which we see Adam and Eve indulging in in the Garden. From this flow sinful acts, like murder and immorality, etc. Sinful acts are the consequence of us putting ourselves first, of our own self-centredness. God isn’t punishing these acts in a legal sense, but the acts bring about their own results, their own destruction.

Romans 3:23 sums up the situation, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” This is to prevent Jewish or gentile boasting, but the nature of the human fall can also be seen in these three chapters. It isn’t a legal fall, but an image bearing fall. Man has failed to reflect God’s glory into the creation, and because of that, destructive, rather than nurturing behaviour patterns take over. The judgement of God consists of God handing man over to his own will and allowing what mankind does to eventually bring about its own consequences. None of the judgment or consequences comes from God’s own actions.

In Psalm 8 it speaks of the restoration of man’s image bearing through Christ. Man is crowned with the “glory and honour” Romans says he has fallen short of, meaning his rule over the creation is re-established once again. This is the background Paul is writing from in its Hebrew setting. The glory of God here speaks of mankind’s image bearing rule in renewing the creation. It isn’t a legal bar we must jump over to get into heaven.

We can see here that Romans isn’t a letter about man meeting God’s legal requirements, so we can go to heaven when we die. The view of Paul is about the creation being set free from its corruption, by a restored priesthood. This restored priesthood is the new family, in which acts of love and service take over from acts of self-worship and oppression of others. And this is brought about through the cross, by which God justifies both Jewish and gentile peoples, making us to become one new family in love, expressing mutual forgiveness and selfless acts of rehabilitation towards others.

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