21 For 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 foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
While knowing what God has made plain to all, namely His eternal power and godhead (vs. 20), mankind actively and willfully refuses to honour God as God (suppressing the truth) or give him thanks. They refuse to acknowledge they are a debtor to his daily common grace. He provides them sun, rain, beauty to observe, life, breath, food, and many other undeserved kindnesses. Yet they refuse to acknowledge these gifts from Him and are thankless.
This suppression of truth leads on a continual life-long downward journey into greater and greater depravity.
They become futile (they are given over to worthlessness) in their thinking and their foolish hearts grow darker (vs. 21b).
They are growing in their foolishness while growing wiser in their own eyes (vs. 22).
Instead of acknowledging the glory of the Creator God, they direct the honour toward created things. They worship idols made after the image of created things. They worship other people (movie stars, sports stars, music stars, etc.). They spend their money, energy and resources to see their movies, attend their concerts, or go to their game. Never once do they acknowledge the God who gave them their talent.
Consequently, God gave them up to the lusts of their flesh. God shows His wrath by allowing mankind to pursue what we love (vs. 18). By nature, man will continue to sink lower and lower in his depravity. God's wrath against mankind is shown as he gives them up to what they love most.
Vs. 24 "Therefore God gave them up..."
Vs. 26 "For this reason God gave them up..."
Vs. 28b "Therefore God gave them up..."
In our fallen, sin-loving condition we all deserve to be forsaken to our own devices and inevitable destruction.
And yet as we continue through Romans we learn of incredible mercy that God offers to even the most depraved heart.
On the cross Jesus (who knew no sin) was forsaken so that we who deserve to be forsaken by God, could be accepted instead (being made "the righteousness of God, in Him").
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
vs 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
God's righteous wrath burns hot against mankind in our unrighteousness.
vs. 18b who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
They are so deeply in love with their sinful acts of unrighteousness, and the truth is so inconvenient to their love for sin that they "suppress" the truth. That is, they actively deny it. They hold it down. They commit to a worldview that denies God and any divine authority to which they will have to give an account. Or they create a God of their own minds who is tolerant of their sin.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
It's not that they are simply without enough information to know that they are committing acts of treason against God. The reality of God's existence is known to everyone. God's creation attests loudly to His existence. This refusal to acknowledge what has plainly been made knowable to all is enough to condemn mankind and make him deserving of God's eternal righteous wrath. No one, not even the person in the remotest corner of the globe, who lives and dies in a culture of pagan idolatry has an excuse. God is just to condemn man on the basis of his sinful disposition towards God and his love for sin.
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Paul continues to describe the utter depravity of man. Due to their refusal to acknowledge God he has given them up to their own destructive, sinful passions.
Their hearts are filled with every kind of unrighteousness (vs.29). In this list of evil passions Paul includes everything from disobedience to parents (vs.30), to murder (vs. 29), to hatred for God (vs. 29).
In the heart of every person is the potential to perform every kind of wickedness. Being the sinful humans we are we tend to see ourselves and our society in a better light than God describes us. This is the result of our becoming so accustomed to sin ("everybody's doing it") and the fact that we can't see the true inner thoughts of people (God says of our hearts "it deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9). Another reason we do not always see the exhibit of man's wickedness to its full degree is because God in his mercy and grace continues to restrain evil in the world. He has not completely abandoned us to our self-destructive devices. If he would fully give them up to their passions, they would die.
Paul writes that those who practice such things "deserve to die" vs.32. Speaking of the same deeds of unrighteousness in Romans 6 Paul says. "For the end of those things is death" (6 vs.21). Then in the same chapter, vs. 23 he writes "the wages of sin is death."
This is what we all deserve right this moment. Death and damnation. But God is offering wrath deserving sinners a mind blowing gift; "eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 3:23b). The Lord Jesus came to earth and lived the perfect life which we could not. Then he died as though he were guilty of murder, thievery, adultery, disobedience to parents, lying, and so forth. He who was sinless, had the sinners sin imputed to his account and was judged by God on the cross. "He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (1 Cor. 5:21).
Is the Lord using His Word to show you your sinful condition? Are you beginning to see the depths of your depravity? Are you beginning to get a glimpse of the glory of the God you have so hated? Are you starting to catch a glimpse of his mercy, grace, and love? Ask Him to show you more. Repent of your sinfulness and receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
Because mankind has wilfully chosen to reject God as King and Creator and instead serve the passions of their lustful hearts (vs. 24), God (the very God they reject) hands them over to their self-destroying pursuits.
The gay agenda (homosexuality) is evidence of God's wrath (his giving men up to what they really want when they are given the freedom to choose). Homosexuality is not freedom, it's God's wrath and punishment against mankind in their rebellion against His created order.
Just as they exchange his glory for that of images of creeping things (vs. 23), and exchange the "truth of God for a lie" (vs. 25), women have "exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature" (vs. 26). The same is true of men who give up natural (God-designed) relations with women in exchange for a homosexual lifestyle.
Paul calls homosexual lifestyle "dishonourable" (disgraceful or shameful) (vs. 26). Paul says they are "consumed with passion for one another" (vs. 27).
These sinful acts are God's "penalty for their error" (vs. 27b), this is NOT freedom, its enslavement to lies, lusts, and passions that will ultimately end in death and eternal hell.
Why? "They did not see fit to acknowledge God." And therefore in judgement God handed them over to what they love most "a debased mind to do what ought not to be done" (vs. 28).
1 Cor 1:21-24 "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Paul was not ashamed to preach this offensive gospel. A message containing truths over which Jews stumble and Gentiles consider to foolish. ("You want us to believe in a crucified Saviour? How ridiculous!")
But why was Paul not ashamed to preach this "foolish" gospel?
Because that very message is "the power of God unto salvation" for those who will believe it (Rom.1:16). It pleases God to save by means of that "foolish" (from the unbeliever's standpoint) message (1 Cor. 1:21).
To "those that are called" from among Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:24) that "foolish" message will reveal "Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Therefore do not be ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ crucified and risen again. God is pleased to save the world (Jews and Gentiles) by its power!
Why not start by handing out gospel tracts to trick or treaters tonight along with a generous helping of candy?
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