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Inventing New Ways Of Sinning
Romans 1:28-32 Sexual immorality is nothing new. The apostle Paul saw it and what it led to 2,000 years ago. He also knew that the proper response to it was rooted in love.
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.”
Romans 1:28-32 NLT
Paul’s letter to the Romans has a huge impact on those who study it:
Saint Augustine gave his life to Jesus in 386, after he picked up a scrap of a scroll from the ground containing Romans 13:13-14 and took the words to heart
A monk by the name of Martin Luther pondered Romans 1:17 and “grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise... This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.” That began the Reformation…
A failed minister and missionary, John Wesley, attended a Bible study at which Luther’s commentary on Romans was read. He later said “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine.”
John Calvin noted that “When anyone understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”
Today my random pick of scripture pointed me to Romans 1:28-32, where my research into the first chapter showed just how impactful the words of Paul are in this epistle. Considering many of the “Greatest Of All Time” of Christianity found Romans to be life-changing, it’s worth deep study.
While I’m not going to start a series on Romans (perhaps someday…), the chosen verses resonated with me in terms of looking at our fallen world today. Starting with Romans 1:18, Paul begins to demonstrate the necessity of the good news of salvation from God’s righteous wrath.
Perhaps a naive reader would ask, “Why would God be upset with us?”, so Paul provides a laundry list of reasons — our sins against God and against other men, suppressing God’s truth, refusal to glorify God, ingratitude to God, and more.
This next section is being written in love with the honest hope that it might convict some of you to speak out to others — also with love — about the need to turn from sin and to seek salvation.
Leading up to today’s verses in this epistle, Paul is very direct in calling out sins of the flesh — in particular, homosexuality practiced by both genders (at least in Paul’s time, he didn’t have to contend with an alleged “spectrum” of genders…). Like the world today, the Roman empire in the days of the Apostles glorified homosexuality and marriage between those of the same sex at the highest levels of government. The emperor Nero not only “married” a castrated boy named Sporus, but later Nero was the “wife” in another “marriage”.
As Paul points out, these sinners love their sins so much that they “encourage others to do them, too”. Sound familiar? Today, we see “Pride Month”, “Drag Queen Story Hours” for children, and it seems that every movie or TV show has to have at least one LGBTQ+ character in an attempt to normalize sinful behavior. There’s open discussion in the media about making pedophilia and bestiality mainstream as well.
Once sinners have fully embraced their “foolish thinking”, it leads to “every kind of wickedness”. Want to know just how bad things can get? I highly recommend reading a book titled “Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope” by Christopher and Angela Yuan.
Christopher is a gay Christian man who truly repented and now devotes his life to sharing the Gospel with others. In this book, he unashamedly describes his former lifestyle and how it transformed him from a boy who was attracted to other boys into a drug-addicted, HIV-positive prison inmate.
Fortunately for Christopher, his mother Angela is a fervent believer in intercessory prayer, and God acted on her prayers. Christopher was born again in Christ while in prison, began a ministry, and now speaks publicly on faith and sexuality. What changed him? Realizing that his identity was not as a gay man or even as a sufferer of HIV, but that his identity was in Jesus Christ.
So what’s my point with all of this? One of the things that was the last straw for Barb and I at the mainstream church we used to attend is that they fell away from “hate the sin, love the sinner” to “accept the sin, love the sinner”. Accepting sexual immorality (or any other sin for that matter) leads to accepting every other kind of wickedness as well.
By accepting sins of any kind and even advocating them, you are not doing the sinner any favors! You are directly threatening their salvation, and that is not love! Instead, you are saying that whatever society sees as normal is more important than what God says is right.
That’s where we as Christians should draw the line: we cannot accept sin, and we should do everything we can to bring sinners to new life in Jesus. The difficult part is doing that in a way that shows our love for even the worst sinner…
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
My Lord and Savior, I thank You for Your Word, which guides me in how to live a righteous life in an evil-filled world. I ask You to give me the courage to speak out against sin, the wisdom to do so without anger, and the love to share Your Good News with others who may hate me for doing so. In Your Blessed Name I Pray, AMEN.