Romans 1:26-32

In Romans 1:26-32 Paul continues to talk about God’s response to those who failed to recognize who God was and is from Creation and the world around them. He just allowed them to pursue their own passion with no filter on what they did. “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.”

God “gave them up” – we see that phrase three times in Romans 1 – Paul wrote this from the city of Corinth, where every sort of sexual immorality and ritualistic prostitution was practiced freely. The terminology here refers to this combination of sexual immorality and idolatrous worship. “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.” Sin begins in the mind, and is encouraged by the enemy who tells us that it just doesn’t matter. But Paul and this chapter make clear the price of sin – in the here and now – and in eternity. It is a bad outcome either way.

Paul gets in our face with concrete examples of the kind of things which are not fitting. Notice how “socially acceptable” sins (such as covetousness, envy and pride) are included right along with “socially unacceptable” sins (such as murder and being unloving). There is no differentiation between sins in God’s eyes. Sin is sin, and carries a price. “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.”

Like knowing God, we normally know that we are sinning as well. God is clear through scripture that there is a price to pay for sin – it is death and eternal separation from Him. This isn’t some little punishment. Eternity is a very long time. But when we sin, Paul is clear we deserve to die. “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.” The other part of our willingness to choose sin – as it is always a choice – is that we often try and drag others along with us. We tend to want to have others as part of the activity. That doesn’t change the outcome – eternal separation from God is the price we pay – but somehow it makes us feel better about it.

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