Christians may despair of the shape of the world today with all its problems and sin, but it would not have surprised the Apostle Paul. Even in his own day he could write that God had given men up “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves … to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom. 1:24, 28–31).

To what does Paul attribute this enormous wickedness of men? “Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21, 22). Men did not give thanks. This, in a nutshell, is the cause of evil in the world. Satan was not content to give thanks for the high position he had in the family of God. Adam and Eve were not satisfied with thanking God for his bountiful provision for them. They focused rather on what was not given to them and “became futile in their thinking.” We repeatedly prove our kinship to the first pair by neglecting to thank God for what we have and complaining over what we do not have. Not content with the lands and things they have, people covet what belongs to others, and so there are wars and thefts. Not content with the income they could earn if everyone were given a fair chance, people conspire to keep certain groups “in their place” by handicapping them, and so there is ...

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