“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:20–21

Over 100 years ago the RMS Titanic sank beneath the waves. Who can forget the first images of the Titanic after resting on the bottom of the sea? As impressive as the dark images of the storied ship were, equally as memorable is the corrosion which appeared to be draped down the sides of the bow slowly eroding the ship. What was the glory, grand achievement, and celebrity of the “unsinkable” ship is now a tragedy, a disaster and a proverb.

But the seeds of its destruction were with it from the very beginning—in its design and in its material. The corruption visible on the ship to this day was present in the imperfections of the steel used in its construction. The steel plates of the hull and the iron rivets which held them in place could be said to have been corrupted in their manufacture. The tests of the material attest high levels of oxygen and sulfur, increasing the brittleness of the metal. Scientists say that the sulphur combined with the magnesium in the steel to form “stringers” of magnesium sulphide creating “highways” for cracks to follow.

The technology of the day did not remove enough of the impurities to allow the plates to bend under great pressure. Instead, they broke and tore and were rather brittle, especially in the freezing temperature of the north Atlantic waters. The wrought iron rivets also failed in the impact with the iceberg. They were apt to have their heads shear off and break as the iceberg scraped the side. The water pressure and enormous strain built up along the length of the ship. Seams popped open and caulking failed. The hidden corruption from the foundry is now visible for all to see in the ghostly images of the Titanic riding on the sea bottom.

Sin is just such a corrupting force in your life. Its corrupting influence is “baked in,” as it were. Adam doomed his descendants to inherit the sin nature (Romans 5:12). As you live out the stewardship of your life, the corruption from within leaves its telltale evidence in sinfulness, sickness, and unbelief. Even after one is born again, the ravages of the corrupting influence of the sin nature does not stop. It is a constant spiritual battle for a believer to keep sin at bay and live for the Lord. A believer must keep on the lookout for sin’s corrupting effects.

“Corrupt,” in its verbal form, means to become putrid, to lose purity, to rot, to break, separate, and to dissolve. Decomposition, spoiling, depravity, defiling, polluting, perverting and debasement all are reasonable words to illustrate corruption. Corruption, wherever it appears, twists the law into injustice, perverts the good into evil, pollutes the truth into poison, and debases the virtuous into selfishness. Always.

While there are “good” unsaved people, theirs is an earthbound goodness that is still defiled by the corruption of depravity. Only a believer has the God-given advantage of real choice to obey God from a willing, spiritually alive heart. Our text describes that advantage as “liberty” (release from the tyranny of sin, though not its presence…yet). All of creation is subjected (arranged under) to futility (aimless, restless) and subject to the natural process of decay awaiting the restoration of all things under the Lord Jesus Christ. Futility describes the lostness of mankind without the intervention of God’s grace through the blood of His Son. The reason for Christian “liberty” is explained in 2 Peter 1:4, “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Corruption seems to be the eventual state of everything man touches. Genesis 6:11f describes the world of society only a few generations past the Garden of Eden: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Psalm 14:1f reads, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.”

Unregenerate man’s wisdom devoid of God’s truth is a primary source of corruption; 2 Peter 2:12f explains, “But these like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness….” If these passages do not describe the day in which we live, I do not know what does.

The point of all this review is found in Isaiah 1:1. God says, “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” As Matthew Henry says, “It is good for those privileged by the new birth, to consider that they were shapened in sin…let us seriously reflect upon our guilt…to do so will tend to keep the heart humble, and the conscience awake and tender.” Trust and obey.