I’m continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. We’re now about to enter one of the most controversial sections. I have to be careful in how I explain it.
This passage of Scripture is not controversial because we argue over what it means. On the contrary, the meaning of the words is very clear. We argue over whether or not to believe it as God’s Word.
Personally, I choose to believe everything in the Bible as written. That being said, I also believe that there’s no place in the Christian life for self-righteous hatred, bigotry, or condemnation.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
The first thing to note is what this passage is and is not saying. Too many Christians grab this verse and run with it to attack others. That’s not the purpose.
We have to remember that everything in Scripture is based in God’s unfailing love. There’s no one outside of God’s love.
Even in this section I see the grace and patience of the Lord. There’s a phrase that’s repeated three times – here, in verse 24 (which we looked at in the last post), and in verse 28. It reads, God gave them over.
That literally means that God surrendered or yielded to their desires. In other words, God allows us to do what we want to do. He doesn’t stop us, even if we head in a wrong direction. He gives us the freedom to choose our own path.
Another issue we need to understand is that sin is about actions and not desire. In my flesh, I may want to do wrong, but the spiritual battle isn’t over until a final decision is made.
Of course, that brings me to an important point…what exactly is sin? When people hear that word they immediately think, “Evil”. But the truth is that sin isn’t always evil or bad.
The literal definition of sin in both the Old and New Testaments is to miss the mark. God holds up the ideal of the perfect life. We strive to reach it. But, when we miss God’s best, even by a little, that’s sin.
The Bible is clear that all sin is the same in God’s eyes. It all comes with the spiritual death penalty. There’s no grading on a curve. A white lie and murder are equal before the Lord. That’s why we need a Savior who carried all of our sin to the cross.
As human beings we like to assign different values of severity to sin. We think some are worse than others. Because of this, we’ll vocally attack some lifestyle choices, while we nurture others.
Case in point – before the pandemic you would have to stand in line to get in a buffet restaurant on a Sunday after church services conclude. We would happily join someone with a gluttonous lifestyle, as they satisfy that craving. (I can say that because this is one of my personal battles I’m trying to overcome in my life.)
Finally, we have to realize that we’re all under God’s grace. There’s no condemnation until the final judgment when Christ returns.
STD’s are not God’s judgment on alternate lifestyles. Just as heart disease and cancer aren’t God’s judgments on overeaters and smokers.
Yes, as Christians we need to know what actions the Bible labels as sin. But we also need to walk in the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what our dark society needs right now.
Question: How do you show Christ’s love to those who are not living by God’s standards?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi