Our men’s group studied Romans 1:18-23 this week. In this passage, Paul explains how sinful humanity exchanges the worship of God, their creator, for the worship of creatures. In other words, humanity exchanges true worship for idolatry. It began in the garden when Adam and Eve were deceived, and exchanged the truth of God for a lie. They exchanged their loyalty to God for loyalty to themselves and self-preservation. This downward exchange continues to this day in all sorts of ways. Paul will specifically list some of these ways in the rest of chapter 1.
But, as Paul will share later Romans, this downward exchange does not have the final word. Only the “great exchange” has the final word (Calvin). This is the Good News. As Paul will also say in 2 Corinthians, “He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5:21). On a Roman cross, Jesus Christ, the righteous one, took upon himself what should have been given to all the unrighteous, all of us. The Righteous One of the universe took upon himself what should have come to you and me. The one took the place of the many. The great exchange took place. Christ takes our sin upon himself, and we receive his righteousness, so that when God looks at us, as Barth said, “We are justified. We are no longer sinners, for where we are, there stands Another. God looks at this Other.” God looks upon the Righteous One who took our place. This is the great exchange, and this exchange has the final word for all time.
Therefore, what should our response be? Paul says it within this passage, in Romans 1:21, we “honor Him as God and give thanks.” The only appropriate response to the Good News is a life full of worship and thanksgiving to the One “who became sin on our behalf.” Amen.