Lesson 5

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:26 For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. 1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. 1:28 Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, 1:30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; 1:32 who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with those who practice them.

 Today's Lesson 

In Yesterday's Scriptures Paul wrote that the beginning of all rebellion against God was idolatry. God's power and divine nature is revealed in His creation. But man chose to trade the truth about God for a lie and worship the creation rather than the Creator. As a result of man's decision, God gave them over to their own sin. Today's Scripture gives us the full measure of the consequences of man's decision. Paul's purpose is to show that each of us. unrestrained by God's influence, is helpless against sin.


Because of man's decision to reject God, "God gave them up to vile passions." Women lust after women and men lust after men. Paul states that these passions are "against nature" and "vile." The history of Judeo-Christian teaching from the Old Testament to the New is that homosexuality is an offense against the sovereignty and the established order of God. This teaching does not originate with Paul nor does Paul overemphasize it in this context. It is one of many sins that divide sinful man from a holy and righteous God.


The original question for Paul is not whether any particular sin in this list is truly sinful or evil. The primary question becomes, "Does God exist and if He does exist, what does God define as sin?" Paul gives us a listing of vile passions here that God calls sin: envy, murder, strife, deceit, slander, gossip, disobedience to parents, and homosexuality. If there is a Creator, if I was designed and planned and my life is not a cosmic accident, then I am forced to consider the moral judgment of the Creator. What does God consider evil? And then, because He has allowed me to choose, I must decide whether I will conform my life to His judgment. I can choose to disregard God's judgment. But, I must accept the consequences of my decision.


Paul says that all men have made this decision. We have, for our own reasons, chosen the path of rebellion and sin. We know in our hearts the good that God would have us to do and yet each of us turns to sin instead of serving God. We think highly of ourselves if we occasionally do a noble deed or make a grand sacrifice. But, in the daily acts of life we cheat ourselves and speak evil of each other, we lie to each other and worse, we fail to give God His proper place in our lives and in our hearts. Even the best of us is not worthy of God's grace and the closer we come to the source of divine light the filthier the rags with which we cloth ourselves are shown to be.


I have stated many times and feel compelled in this lesson to encourage the reader to read through Romans as a whole before tackling this book in the small pieces we must break it into. For if Today's Scripture were the whole of revelation we would be in dire straits. Man's rebellion is complete. I may convince myself that I am not everything on this list but, if I truly search my heart, my conscience stings of more than a few of these. And even if I did not read these here, I know that I fail even by my own moral standards, much less the higher standards of the divine. Who among man could ever truly say, "There is no fault in my thoughts or deeds"?


God has turned man over to his sinful passions so that sin might be shown for what it is. But God did not leave us in despair. He sent His Son to reveal a way that we might enter again into a state of righteousness. God offers us a righteousness that is based on faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The God that we rejected has returned to us. God has reconciled Himself to His rebellious children. Will you accept His forgiveness? Will you trust in the righteousness that God offers?


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