There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away… Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10-18 (NIV)
This is God’s assessment of humanity, and He built restraints into human life to cut back evil. Here are four of them…
God restrains sin through law
If there were no laws, our streets would not be safe. The law restrains sin. It is a good gift from God. Thank a police officer. Tell him or her that she is a gift of God to this fallen world.
God restrains sin through conscience
We saw earlier that Adam was a law to himself. He did not need law because God wrote it in his heart. Even among those who do not acknowledge God, there is some residue of this. We call it “conscience.” That’s why Paul says in Romans 2:15, “Their consciences also bearing witness…”
God restrains sin through common grace
This is the kindness of God to all people—the love of a mother for a child, the kindness of a neighbor for an elderly person. Where do these things come from? They are an echo, and an evidence that we are made in the image of God. Every act of kindness ought to result in thanksgiving to God, even when it comes from an unbeliever.
God restrains sin through judgment
Sin is like a massive weed that would destroy the world except that God, in His kindness, cuts it back. That is what happened in the flood. When nations become intolerably evil, God either sends revival or He causes them to fall. That is why the Bible says, “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Prov. 14:34).
Where have you seen God’s restraining work?