Chapter 1:24-32 (ESV) - Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 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.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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.
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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 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.
Question to consider: Why are all of Paul’s arguments given in the past tense?
As we go through today’s passage, I want to make sure we understand Paul’s point to the church at Rome because if you hadn’t noticed, each paragraph begins with words like: therefore, for this reason, and since. This means they are all tied to the points Paul was making leading up to them.
This church was having disputes related to who had the right of authority between the Jewish and Gentile Christians. Paul’s emphasis was instead to say that all of us need the righteousness won for us by Christ, for all of us have been broken by sin. This breaking began when people denied what they knew to be true about their creator and started worshiping the creation.
Because of this (therefore!) God gave them over to that worship. Rather than desiring to do the things of God, God let them make their own “law” in regard to the things that they chose to worship. According to God’s design, man was supposed to become one flesh with his wife and produce offspring. The man and wife were to be the building block of society in order to fill the earth and steward it— care and tend to the land, plants, and animals God created. Rather than be stewards of the creation, God allowed them to become worshipers of it.
Because of this creature worship (for this reason!) God allowed their worship to devolve into sexual passion, and they traded God’s original relationship design for the ones that were pleasing to them. It began with men going beyond the marital relationship and taking on multiple wives to people who completely disregarded the marital covenant and became one flesh with whomever or whatever induced their passions. God didn’t cause this, and He definitely didn’t condone this, but He allowed them to experience the natural outworking of these passions.
Because people had entirely been given over to deciding right and wrong for themselves and the passions that resulted from this (and since!) all of mankind was filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, and malice. Instead of stewarding the world in the ways of God, all of mankind gave approval to those things that opposed them. Please notice that all of Paul’s points were given in the past tense. He was giving a defense for why he’s not ashamed of the Gospel. We all need it! We all have been corrupted by sin and cannot stand before God without the mercy given to us through Christ.
Dear heavenly Father, we ask that Your Holy Spirit not only convict the world of sin but our own hearts. Please give us a desire to be continually renewed and refreshed through the humble confession of our sin and the absolution that is only found in Christ. We look forward to the day when there is no more sin and death, and we can worship You the way You originally intended. Amen.