Sunday, February 3, 2019, Evident Grace Looked at Romans 1:24-31:

Romans 1:24 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!

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. 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 decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

From those verses, we pursued this Big Picture Question:

The Wrath of God and Shame Part Two

Big Picture Question:  What happens when God’s gives up?

The Dishonor of God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

Dishonoring God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

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!

The book of Romans teaches us a valuable lesson.  It talks about what happens when a person doesn’t thank God or doesn’t recognize that He is God.  Since these people are not giving God thanks for all He does, He allows them to live like He doesn’t exist.  And it gets bad. 

God cares about how we honor our bodies. Why does the Paul pick these examples?  I think for a couple of reasons.  First God care about how we honor our bodies.  He calls our bodies temples of the holy spirit. 

Use your best OT imagery here.  Think about how God would strike people down who misused the temple.  He handed the entire nation over to pagan countries for punishment when they misused the temple.  How your body is that temple. God cares about what you eat, how you sleep, and who you sleep with.  These are not light and trivial matters.  And this doesn’t just relate to the abuse of the body, it relates to the worship of the body as well.   That can happen from everything from sex outside of marriage to over idolizing a size or shape or speed.  Both are sins of selfishness, disregard of the body God has given you as well as the over exaltation of the body God has given you.

Now what we have here in these passages is a list of what God does when He pours out His wrath by removing the restraints of sin.  Never forget that.  God every day retrains sin.  Though it is hard to believe, people are not as bad as they could be.  Just imagine, if God removed His restraint on sin completely, every temptation would result in sin, but it doesn’t to God’s praise.

However, one aspect of His wrath is removing restraint and allowing people to pursue sin unabated thus storing up more wrath for the day to come. You see when you know that God exists and you continue to live sinfully, in fact even pursue idolatry, God removes restraint and gives you exactly what you want.  He hands you over to sin.Why does God do that?  Because it gives God glory to punish sin.  He shows His justice. He shows He is sovereign.  He shows He is God.  So, He hands people over to their sin because that is what they are worshiping anyway.  It is like God says, “Oh you want to worship the creature and the creation instead of the Creator.  Have at it.  I won’t stop you.”

Paul specifically mentions fornication, adultery, and the like by referencing lusts and the impurities of the heart.  One wonders why Paul mentions specifically sexual sin here.  He easily could have mentioned any other sin, and “impurities of the heart” cover all sin, but Paul mentions outward noticeable sins. Paul is saying that when sin goes from being hidden and secret to open and flaunted that is evidence of God removing restraints on sin. 

If you know someone who shakes their fist at God and openly relishes the unease of which they place you by bragging about their sin, they have been handed over and the restraint of sin is being removed.  What follows is a list of sins that God detests and to which He hands people over to. 

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

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. 

Whew what a list.  Some of the sins that God mentions here result when God removes His restraint and pours out His wrath.  We have homosexuality, coveting, malice, envy, murder, strife deceit, maliciousness, gossiping, slandering, hating God, insolence, proud, disobeying parents, foolishness, faithlessness, and on and on.Essentially there is no sin that God does not hand people over to.That also should be a pretty humbling list because somewhere in the midst of that list, you should all find yourself.

Now let me say a couple of things here before move on.

This passage is very clear and there is no amount of Greek translation work that can be done to make it say anything different.  I studied Greek in seminary just like the folks who twist this passage.  What is says is clear:  the passage is saying that homosexuality is a dishonorable passion, it is contrary to nature, the acts are shameless and merit penalty from God.

There is an entire theological library of work that tries to make this passage say something different than it does.  Many will say that this passage speaks of non-monogamous homosexual relationships, but that is quite a stretch no matter whether you read this passage in the Greek or the English.There is no context enough here or anywhere else in scripture that speaks to God condoning homosexual behavior as long as it is monogamous.   There is of course an entire theological and scientific library of work that speaks to homosexuality being genetic.

Well I’m neither a geneticist nor the son of a geneticist nor do I play on TV, or save a lot of my car insurance today, but I do know this.  Scripture says that we are born inheriting Adam’s nature of sin, so saying that we are born sinners is nothing new and not an excuse or a provision for sin.

Big Picture Question:  What happens when God’s gives up?

The Dishonor of God Leads to the Dishonoring of Self

The Unnatural Leads to a Due Penalty

Truth:  The continual dishonoring of self and God leads to God giving a person over the due penalty of their sin.

Application:  Christians are called to live with a gracious thanks for God and to our neighbors because He rescued us from being handed over to our sin.

Action:  Seek with every person (Christian, non-Christian) to relate to them as a sinner in need of Jesus.

How Then Should We Understand Sexuality?

The pattern of sexuality to help guide us is the image of Jesus Christ and His bride the church.  That is the pattern by which we understand all sexuality.  Committed, sacrificial, love between a man and a woman from Ephesians 5. Jesus, the groom, laying down His life for His bride, the church. 

But some folks will say, “Love is love”

When we speak of issues like “love is love”, we turn love in an amorphic, undefined emotion, malleable for any circumstance.  But the Bible defines love, both in definition and direction.  It’s definition is sacrificial.  Its direction is either

How does the Bible describe love?

Agape – Godly, parental, spousal love

Eros – erotic love

Philos – brotherly, friendly, love

When we say “well I love this person.  I’m not hurting anybody so why do you care?”

To make our affections define who we are, we must admit that our emotions can deceive us.  For example, our anger can cause us to think wrongly of another person.  Jealousy can deceive us to think wrongly of a friend or even God.  Our emotions are not our defining direction.  Our faith in God is, and so we look to Him to define love. 

If our emotions are not directed and defined as He as directed and defined them, we ask should then?  Our faith in God and what He defines.  What we can’t do it, is redefine God’s definitions to meet our emotions. 

But some say, “I was born with these affections.  How can God call them wrong or condemn me?

We are all born in sin.  Each and every one of us.  There is no indication that we are mapped towards one sin or the other, but even if we were, that would excuse this sin or any other.  We should say, “I am born a sinner just as much as you are.  The danger is defining ourselves by something other than what God calls a good. The danger is defining our eros love in someway different than a pattern of Christ and His church.

Identifying Yourself by Your Sin changes your identity. 

All sin separates us from God.  The agenda for sexual acceptance in our country is not different than the acceptance for every other sin. 

The church lost the battleground of sexual sin in our culture when we are either hypocritical prudes or openly okay sexual sin in other areas. 

The Bible also says eating shellfish is wrong, so isn’t saying homosexuality is wrong out of date or out of place?

One argument has been, well yes, the OT says homosexuality is wrong but it also says you can’t shellfish. I know you dig some shrimp.  This argument is a misunderstanding of the law of God. 

There are three types of law in the OT:  civil, ceremonial, and moral.

Civil were the laws governing how Israel as a state should function.

Ceremonial were the laws regarding the sacrificial system.

And moral were the laws defining how we reflect the character of God in our day to day lives.

Hebrews makes it clear that both the civil and ceremonial laws were fulfilled by Christ but the moral law stands.  So, yes, you couldn’t’ eat shellfish because they would make you unclean and you couldn’t offer sacrifice for your sins if you were unclean.  But Christ has made us clean and nothing we eat will make us unclean.  So, enjoy your shrimp on the barbie.  But the laws regarding the direction of our sexuality is part of the moral law and that still stands. 

Why does the church get so enraged with homosexuality?

We see this sin as greater than ours. It challenges us sexually and most of us carry some manner of sexual shame in our lives.We fear appearing liberal.We just don’t know how to love people who are different than us.

What then do we do?

If we want to be the most Jesus like that we can, then we should befriend those of other sexual orientation without comprising our biblical convictions.  Jesus was numbered among the sinners, the prostitutes, and tax collectors. 

We are not Jesus.  We must love every person as, “You are a sinner in need of Jesus, just like I am.”

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