Romans, being a book that leads us from Nonbelievers to mature Christians does it by a series of arguments that results in five high points which I call mountain peaks. The first peak is in Chapter Three. Paul wants to show that “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” Chapters One and Two can only be understood by keeping in mind that everyone is shut up in sin. Otherwise one becomes one of the many who have fallen into false ideas.
Romans starts out with Paul introducing himself to these people whom he has never met. He refers to Jesus and than mentions his Apostleship that he received from Jesus. He then wants to lead them to his main argument of Chap one, but does so by praising the people and expressing his burning desire to come visit them. Finally in verse 16, he states that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and that once saved, the righteous live by Faith.
With that, he transitions to the opposite point, the wrath of God is revealed against ungodly men who suppress the truth. We must read the passage carefully, but keep in mind that Paul in Chap 3 is going to conclude that all are sinful. It is important that you do not give into the temptation to look at these people a feel holier than them. Or that if you do, you must read Chap 2. Let’s look at these people that Paul mentions in Chap 1.
There are three groups. The first are people who knew God but did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Instead they became futile in their speculations and professed to be wise. They chose to worship man or animals. God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts, to impurity, so that their bodies might be dishonored.
The second group exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator. In this case, God gave them over to degrading passions. So many people use this to justify persecution of Homosexuals. They don’t stop to consider that when they have heterosexual sex outside of marriage, they stand equally condemned, as they are if they damage their bodies with alcohol, tobacco, or food. In fact, we would do well to remember Jesus’ command, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Why is one form of dishonoring our body any worse than another?
Now the third group is a little different. This group did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer. God gives this group over to a depraved mind, to do things that are not proper. Pay careful attention to this list. These people are filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, murder, strife. So far, wecan look at the list and look down on these people. Then Paul mentions things like deceit, slander, arrogance, boasting, and finally gossip. Gossip! We feel so comfortable gossiping and have all sorts of ways to justify it, yet God, through Paul shows it as just as evil as anything else on the list. These people who are without understanding, maliciously hate homosexuals, persecute them and even kill them while giving hearty approval to those who practice the same things. (v 32) It is amazing all the things we justify in giving hearty approval to.
This list focuses on the nonreligious. One thing central to this passage is “God gave them over to …” We try to cure all these things by passing laws or by using social pressure that can include lynch mobs. We forget that the passage is showing that when they rejected God, “God gave them over to …” The obvious implication is to get them to turn back to God. As a foretaste of later, I will tell you that it is not by laws, but only by introducing people to the Loving God that this happens. Still, if you are feeling superior, wait for Romans 2