“The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust. When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes.” Proverbs 11:6–7

Two passages spring to mind in considering these verses. The first is our Lord’s words in Matthew 10:39: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” His words are in keeping with His teaching concerning discipleship in Luke 9:24 and the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16ff.

The second passage is Romans 1:18ff, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…. For God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” “Godhead” should probably be translated “Godhood.” Nature’s purpose is to reveal God’s power and God’s divine nature. The observable laws of nature, of cause and effect, reveal to the open heart the power of the Eternal and of the divine attributes of the Being to whom worship and obedience are due. Simply put, there is enough revealed in creation to condemn an unbelieving man to Hell. No man has an excuse.

Romans 1 seems to include in nature’s laws the law of sowing and reaping, the law of the nature of truth (truth is fidelity to reality), the law of design (both in nature and ourselves), the law of willful ignorance (darkness descends on you), the law of depravity (lust is never satisfied), and the law of distraction (from God and from like-minded fellow travelers). Unsaved man manages to substitute an artificial, complex, unfinishable construct in the place of the concrete, simple, settled revelation of God’s heart and will.

The longer I live and observe the devolution of society, the more I am able to observe the various stages of human degradation Paul outlines in Romans 1:18–32. God is truth and His truth is hinted at by His creation of nature’s laws. Unsaved mankind rebels against accountability and against nature’s laws because those laws conspire to reveal God’s truth. Therefore, in order to overcome God, unregenerate man actively suppresses the truth. Human cultures decide that God, if there is a God, must be a mirror image of fallen man with all his corruption (corrupt like the decaying of a fruit).

It is a short step down from truth suppressed to truth redefined. Unregenerated man prefers to exchange the truth of God for a lie. Lies are often easier to believe because they are usually more convenient. In Romans 24f, humanism takes center stage and man’s lust becomes his guide. The trouble with lust is that it is never satisfied, leading to uncleanness and dishonored bodies.

From unbridled lusts arise vile passions. The shamefulness of homosexuality is lost upon those who reject the design of God in nature’s laws. Shameful can also be translated deformed.

The final section is a grocery list of downright sin and evil. The consequence of violating God’s law is eternal death and there are many cases where a direct line between unbridled lust and physical death is easily drawn: “When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more. But the righteous has an everlasting foundation” (Proverbs 10:25).

From Paul’s description of the devolving, reprobate mind there are several conclusions that can be drawn. First, those who go against nature’s laws that reveal God are often intent on elevating personal sovereignty. “…It is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” (Proverbs 13:19). They try to erase boundaries and limits, the greatest of which is the tyranny of death. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” By violating God’s limits they are self-limiting (e.g., by addictions, ceding their own self-control).

As the unregenerate man strives to suppress and redefine truth, his emotions become king. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). And “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30). In our day this devolution of our culture has led to behaviors like “virtue signaling” rather than virtue honoring. “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment. But a man of understand walks uprightly.” The ignoring of God’s law, suppressing truth and redefining it, has fed the popularity of toleration, pluralism, and relativism. “The fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” The consequence of all this cannot be avoided: self-destruction. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death…a wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.”

The contrast with belief and submitting to nature’s law in its revelatory function is stark. Nature’s laws are full of the tyranny of boundaries for man just as the Ten Commandments limit, but in their limit, life is found. Honoring God-ordained limits preserves your stewardship of your life. Instead of honoring emotion, the believer sees thoughtful worship as paramount. There is no ceding of self-control for the saint, rather he is to take control in obedience to God. He does not “virtue signal,” he “virtue fulfills” through personal restraint and obligation. Instead of self-destruction, the reward of accepting God’s sovereignty and nature’s revelation is the preservation of your life. Trust and obey.