I wanted to skip the thoughts below because they are tough to think about.
However, they are in the Bible and they speak to us even though they are not a part of the positive side of the Gospel. God uses both positive and negative truth to get our attention and to teach us.
So much of what we believe and teach in the New Testament church is explored in the book of Romans given to us by the Apostle Paul. Today I am looking at Romans 1. This chapter takes us back to Genesis to deal with our fallen nature and to explore more of why we are the way we are and why we function in the fallen world the way we do.
THE RIGHTEOUS LIVE BY FAITH! Romans 1:17. I am so thankful Paul starts with this positive statement as he is dealing with the sin of idolatry and accompanying sins. There is hope for us though faith in Jesus. We rally in that hope even as we look to and experience the negative elements of life resulting from sin, our sin.
Men and women of the world, listen to Paul. He does not paint a pretty picture of the way you think.
Before I go to far, I must caution, even myself, and all who call themselves followers of Jesus. We believe in Jesus and His power but we may become guilty of any of the shortcomings of the rest of the world, the non-believing community. So, be on guard lest you too fall prey to the same carnality and calamities Paul condemns in Romans 1.
Back to the world: what are the major characteristics of the ways of the world that Paul outlines here?
Non-believers suppress the truth(verse 18). Christians have the ability to do that as well. Non-believers do not honor God and give Him the glory that He deserves(21). Our/their thinking becomes “futile.” I said “our” because this can happen to believers so subtly. I have to apply II Corinthians 10:1-7 when my thinking goes “futile.” I am on my knees sorting things out, pleading with God for clear thinking on my conflicting thoughts.
After futility, if we allow the futility to linger our hearts become darkened. Dear believer, you don’t want to go there!! Rise up! Get into the Word and ask God to lead you out! He will do it! I have seen Him rapture me and others and He will to do that for you as well.
Hyperlink all these verses.
Before I delve into verses 24-32 I need to point you to chapter 3:9-12. “Are the Jews any better off?” “Are the Christ followers any better off?” No, Paul says, none of us can claim righteousness. No one seeks after God. So, we believers don’t bring any merit of our own to the table. Our works per-Christ are just filthy rags. Our works post-Christ only bring glory to Him if they are done in His power. So, we have nothing to boast in before the world.
I believe the Spirit wrote the passages as in 1:24-32 first because He is Holy and wants us to understand the depth of our depravity. Secondly, because He wants us to see our state and desire to be brought out of it and liberated from the sin that holds us back.
Here we see how depraved the flesh can become. Men worship creatures (idols) and not their Creator. Women developed unnatural relations and attractions. Men gave up natural relations with women and developed passion for men performing shameful acts. Paul speaks here of a debased mind. In addition to the sins just listed he lists many more sins which are characteristic of the debased state:
envy, murder, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, haters of God, haughtiness, boasting, inventors of evil, heartlessness, and ruthlessness.
He concludes by saying that those who practice these things deserve to die!
These are serious. They cause me pause. I give thanks for my forgiveness. I ask God to lead me far from these thoughts and acts, to take my heart to holiness and righteousness.
Psalm 106:15 tells us there is a stage where God gave people up to their desires but that resulted in a wasting disease of the soul.
What are you thinking and feeling? Do you crave/desire idols and the sins listed above or do you long for the experience of goodness with God? Do you know which choice really satisfies your soul?