This Book was written by Paul to the Christians at Rome. Many Christians read scripture, but glean superficial facts from it. They read the truths and try to apply them, but not with much success. I liken this to reading school texts as a pupil: doing just enough to get through the course to gain a pass.
Others, a very few, read more deeply and meditate on what they have read, trying to dig for the ‘nuggets’ only discovered by applying some hard work. These are the ‘A’ students. Even fewer are called by God to not just read and study scripture, but to teach it to others. They are not necessarily academically trained, but the Holy Spirit has given them a calling, so he also gives them the understanding to go with it. The sadness comes when the first type – those who do only enough to get by on – try to ‘teach’ those who are called! They give embarrassing ‘meanings’ but are convinced they have great insights, when they do not.
In my own study of Romans, I have come across many of the first type! Their ‘interpretations’ are not interpretations at all, but merely magpie collections taken from their favoured books or magazines, or even from looking at a commentary or two.
This reminds me of a naïve young man working in a grocery store, who, on reading in the press that I had just published a particular book, came up to me and said he would write his own book. “Oh?” I said, “What about?” He said he would write about African wild animals. I was perplexed, because I knew the fellow, who left school with no qualifications and had never left his home-town. I gently enquired about the book and he said he had collected children’s colour cards from packets of tea, and would just copy both photos and text into his own ‘book’. Oh dear!
Most Christians are like that; their ‘knowledge’ is secfond hand and sparse, but they think it is all there is to know. And what they think they know MUST be correct and MUST be the sum total of the subject (technically, this is called ‘eisegesis’)! Like other teachers I am now approaching Romans for the umpteenth time. Yet, each time I find something new and exciting. This is not possible unless a man is willing to swim right down to the lowest depths of the sea of knowledge (or, conversely, to the highest mountain tops). That is a fact of spiritual life!
If someone claimed to be a surgeon, and admitted that his knowledge came from reading a popular woman’s magazine… would you let him operate on you? Then why let amateur ignorant ‘theologians’ with arrogant claims cause you to change your beliefs and understanding, when they have no more idea than that unfortunate fellow who thought he could become a famed author by reproducing brief children’s notes from a tea packet?
Am I saying that only a teacher called by God may know the truth in any depth? No. I am saying that it takes hard work – reading, meditating, checking the rest of scripture – to get anything worthwhile from scripture, and we are ALL called to do that. In the early days of one’s salvation, a man can be excused his scant knowledge. But, if he remains in that scant knowledge and never puts anything but his big toe into the waters of life, well, he is destined to remain ignorant of many truths, and superficial in those truths that he does think he understands.
So, as you read through Romans, enter onto your own path of knowledge, by re-reading, studying, and meditating on these marvellous truths. Find out for yourself what God says through the Holy Spirit. Just remember that this path will always take you into a walled garden, in which truth is paramount and grows, but wild animals do not get in to destroy. God gives knowledge to all Believers who seek it, by measure: you do not need to go to college for this, or to be the cleverest person in your church!
It is fact that Paul wrote more letters than we have in scripture. There are also many attributed to him, but which appear to be spurious. The Book of Romans, on the other hand, is described by Matthew Henry as one of “superlative excellency”. Chrysostom had someone read the entire Epistle to him twice a week! Imagine if every Christian had a similar joy in reading the whole of scripture regularly.
Romans was written not from Rome, but Corinth, in 56 AD, when Paul was travelling to Troas. His host, Gaius, and Phebe, were both living in Corinth (the ‘church at Cenchrea’ is of Corinth). The Book is divided into two major parts: the first chapters are about doctrine; the latter about how to apply the doctrine to one’s life. As we see in John 7:17, when we apply practical teachings to our lives, these help to shine a light of understanding on the deepest doctrinal statements.
Here, then, is a book of some depth. The very first chapter is filled with information that needs our full attention and most studious reading.
Verses 1 - 7
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As was usual in those days, Paul introduced himself. His readers would know his name at least, but this was the usual form of address, used by Romans, and by those who were taught in Roman ways.
Paul says he is a ‘servant of Jesus Christ’. This is both factual and spiritual, for a servant is not above his Master; it is his task to convey whatever his Master wishes, in exactly the way He determined it to be said or done. No servant is free to change the message for any reason! Yet, this is what many ministers and others do today – they change the original message from God. They think they can interpret scripture in their own way, even when those who genuinely know better advise them they are wrong.
As a servant, Paul was “called to be an apostle” and “separated unto the gospel of God.” It is an important statement, for many today claim to speak from God, and to preach His message, yet they have never been called. There is nothing wrong with any man repeating what God says in His word. But, he has no right to claim he is called by God, if he is not. Yet, most men in pulpits today are not called by God. They elect themselves by their own efforts, mostly by attending a Bible college. It seems this causes them to think they ‘should’ become pastors and preachers, though beforehand they had no idea what to do after they finished their courses!
Paul, then, was called by God to be an apostle. As an apostle he was ‘separated’ to the Gospel; set-apart for that purpose. And note that it is the “gospel of God”. This has potent meaning: that the Gospel belongs to God, that it must be repeated faithfully without change or addition; and that there is no deviation from the Gospel we have been given. Many claim they preach the true Gospel, even when what they say is different from the scriptural definition. Thus, they are liars and usurpers. This is why Paul, in Galatians, calls their message a deception and anathema. Arminians in particular preach a totally alien Gospel, one that is not just heretical but evil.
As an apostle and a teacher of the true Gospel, Paul declared himself to be separate from other influences and fully immersed in God’s plan, preaching only the truth. In this he could state that all others were false, and that only His message was true. This was not arrogance, but fact. The same applies today. For myself, for example, I know that the Gospel I teach is the truth, and do not care if others say this is ‘arrogance’. If it is a proper declaration from God’s word, then my claim is real. Same goes for all who are in the same position.
This is why Arminians, universal salvation, and free choice, are all heretical, placing all who teach them in the category of liars and frauds. (I refer to those who are ardent, deliberate Arminians, not those who are taught by them, and who have not really known anything else).
Paul confirms that this same Gospel was promised and prophesied by former prophets speaking from God. It was the foundation of Hebraic hope and life, even though the Jews later turned against it, and still do, by rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah.
Paul says that the promise, the Messiah, came in the flesh in the form of Jesus, Who is the Son of God and yet also of the line of David. Christ proved His divinity by His own holiness and by His self-resurrection from the dead. All of it was a direct revelation of the Son’s power. As His people, we have been promised the same power (though not the same expressions of that power; obviously, what was of Christ is not necessarily given to us in every sense, but is of sufficient sameness as to make it powerful), and the same holiness is expected of each one of us.
Paul goes on to say that all Christians have been given grace; that is, the benefits and gifts of God, and a calling to speak of the Gospel to others, as men and women set apart by God for that purpose. We were not called by God only to then sit in pews, shake hands at the church door, and then go on with our lives as if we had no calling! It is not ‘up to the pastor’ to do these things… it is up to every one of us. We have, then, been called by God, just as Paul was called, to display our faith in real and observable terms before an unbelieving world (verse 5). Most of us prefer to hide our light under a bushel, but, we are called to speak out “for His name”.
Once saved there is no going back: we must prove our salvation by our words and actions. Among “all nations” we are the “called of Jesus Christ.” This tells us two things: that there are Christians in every nation in every age, and, that we are called by God to be Christians – a proof that we are elect and predestinated. It is true that one meaning of ‘called’ is to be invited, but this is not proof that the invite can be accepted or rejected at will. There are also invites by kings, to people who have no option but to accept. This is found in the second meaning of ‘called’ – ‘divinely selected and appointed.’ The ‘invited’ part means to hear the Gospel. The ‘selected’ part is the outcome of a prior choice by God. Thus many are called, but few are chosen.
As an apostle called by God to spread the true Gospel, Paul writes to the believers at Rome. Note that Paul is the one who went to Rome later. There is no record of Peter going there. Indeed, Peter features very little in scripture compared to, say, James, Luke (as Paul’s companion), or Paul himself. Paul wrote to “all that be in Rome”, but not everyone; he wrote to the “beloved of God, called (to be) saints”, which proves that his audience was the saved only.
To these, the saints, Paul sent the grace and peace of God the Father, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. He could do so because only the saved can have peace, from, and with, God; only they can receive His spiritual benefits. Charismatics tend to think God gives blessings and gifts to anyone who seeks them, whether or not they are saved. This has been the claim ever since the abhorrent Toronto Blessing, that deception of Satan that continues to this day.
Verses 8 - 12
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Paul thanks God for the Roman Christians, because their faith was broadcast throughout the known world (which is what is meant by ‘whole’ world). Paul heard about it whilst in Corinth.
The faith of the Roman Christians caused Paul to pray for them constantly. He says that God knew this to be true, for Paul served him with his spirit, meaning, his spiritual self and his soul. It was, then, part of Paul’s spiritual aim to pray for the well-being of the Roman believers.
This concern for the Romans led Paul to want to travel to see them, and so he prayed to God for this to come about. It certainly did, but not as Paul might have thought at first. Paul hoped he would have a ‘prosperous journey’, not meaning that he would be rich, but that the end result of the journey might be to the spiritual advantage of the Romans.
Paul longed to see them, so that he could give them true teaching and any spiritual gifts that God wanted to pass on to them, so that they would become fixed in God’s calling. He was hoping that both he and they would be mutually strengthened by each other’s faith. Which is the reason why Christians should not fail to meet with each other. Tea and cakes are fine, and so are social gatherings, but mutual teaching and support are of far greater importance.
Verses 13 - 16
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
We see from this text that the Christians at Rome were not Jews, but Gentiles. Paul wanted to teach them so that they would rise in knowledge and gifts, bearing much spiritual fruit for the Lord. Thus far he had been delayed from seeing them.
He said he was a debtor to both the Greeks and to the Barbarians. ‘Debtor’ in this text means that Paul had a duty to meet with them, just as he was bound to meet others, Greeks and Barbarians. ‘Greeks’ means non-Jews whose language was Greek. By ‘Barbarians’ he means any foreigner who did not speak Greek. It can also refer to anyone whose speech is rough or rural. He also owed a duty to meet with the wise and the unwise – those skilled in letters and those who were untaught and who therefore did not understand much (unwise). It is often my delight to speak with the ‘unwise’, because their faith tends to be simple, without pretension or arrogance. They also listen carefully and measure what I say, whereas many who think they know everything will argue along false lines of logic.
Therefore, says, Paul, I would like to come to visit you, also. All he means by this, is that he wishes to teach all who will listen to the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul does this because he is “not ashamed” of Christ’s Gospel. Are you? It seems to me that many Christians today are ashamed to tell anyone they are Christians, or they fail to speak of God, because they do not want to be thought of as ‘crude’, or ‘archaic’, or ‘unintelligent’. For myself, I cannot see how the intense study of God is ‘unintelligent’!
Paul says that the knowledge of God is powerful enough to effect salvation. This message was first delivered to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. Note the factual statement, too, of predestination and election: “to everyone that believeth”. That is, the Gospel is only powerful in those who are predestinated to receive it.
Verses 17 - 23
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
The main message in this section is that everybody is without excuse – they know of God and yet they continue to act wickedly. This applies to both the saved and the unsaved, but especially to the unsaved. As Paul says, “they are without excuse”. There is no point in claiming you have never heard of God, because the existence of existence itself is sufficient proof that there is a supreme God.
You might argue that many distant tribes have never heard of God, and that is why they worship trees and rocks. No, you are wrong. Even men in distant tribes have minds and intellects, and these tell them that something or someone must have made the things they worship! And they cannot get away with saying a ‘thing’ made it all, because things cannot make anything. Only a person can do that! They are truly without excuse. They may not come to know Christ when contemplating their surroundings, but they can certainly come to realise that good is better than evil, and can worship the great creator of all things who MUST be God. Indeed, this understanding is demanded by God anyway, whether or not people are saved! That is what Romans 1 tells us.
The Gospel teaches us that God is righteous and that righteousness is found in faith, a faith that builds up in greater faith (verse 17). This is essential in all Believers, because “The just shall live by faith”. Faith is our spiritual life-blood, essential and life-giving.
By ‘righteousness of God’ is really meant the righteousness to be found in us, for God is always and essentially righteous. It is His nature to be righteous. Righteousness is that state of man that allows him to be accepted by God. How to be accepted? By being saved. By going from “faith to faith”. What does this mean? It means we go from simple trust that God is real and that His Gospel gives us hope, to trust in Him after salvation and throughout our lives; it builds up like a wall of bricks, becoming stronger with every new brick. With this great spiritual strength the just – those who are righteous and keeping God’s commands – will live their very lives by trusting God alone.
Do YOU live by faith? Do you trust God alone? In every situation? If this is so, then it will be obvious in your outward expressions of holiness, truth and reliance on God’s word. You will show it by avoiding sin and by standing for truth. It will show by your life being vibrant and filled with righteous desires and actions. Only those who do not live this way are ‘bored’ Christians! Paul speaks of the Gentile (unbelieving) world as being deplorable. The same is so today… so why do Christians want to join it again, after knowing God in salvation? He has shown us how to be saved. He also shows us how to live. Only a fool ignores the way of life after being saved!
It is an error to think that ‘the Gospel’ is only about bringing a man to salvation. That would be like bringing a man out of a desert where he will die, and putting him into a city, alone. He still needs food, clothing and shelter! In the same way, the Gospel is not just about being saved. It is about living daily life in holiness. Therefore, the ‘Gospel’ is about being saved from hell and then about living a new life in Christ. Modern men preach only the first part, and then leave saved men to their own devices. That is not the Gospel in its fullness! Men must be taught how to live and to build upon salvation with trust in God in everything, removing all sin.
This is a steady and exponential activity, never ending and always rising higher. The Christian who stands still is in the same danger as king David when he stopped from warring and walked upon his rooftop. It was at that point of dropping his guard that he saw the woman who would bring his righteous nature, and kingdom, crashing to earth. The same happens to every Christian if he or she stops thinking along holy lines. That is why we must all constantly live by God’s rule and faith. It can take only one fall to ruin our entire lives. Thankfully, repentance will bring us God’s forgiveness, but certain sins will leave us with a lifelong reminder we will never get rid of. The reminder stays because it is meant to prompt us to greater things, not to bring us down.
The just shall live by faith. The life of a Christian depends on his or her trust in God. Trust or faith is not just notional. It is not simply an acknowledgment that God is in control – it means we actively seek to do His will every moment of every day. It is the thing that keeps us alive. It is our means of growing in Christ and knowing His freedom.
The opposite of living by faith is to live by sin and one’s own heart. For those who are saved, this is blasphemy, for the saved man who then goes on to sin blatantly is causing the name of God to be brought into disrepute. When the unsaved see us doing what they do and speaking as they speak, God is made out to be as nothing, a mere fable. His great work of salvation is smeared in filth. It is reasonable for unsaved men to observe a saved man, who does what they do, and to conclude that the saved man’s God must be nothing, if the man can go back so easily to his sins. No wonder so many modern people laugh in derision at God! And, his behaviour reflects back on his family, his fellow Christians, and his pastor, whose pastorship is then questioned.
Even so, God is true, whether or not the unsaved believe in His existence, and whether or not the saved, in their foolishness, go back to their sins, like a dog going back to its own vomit. When men commit sin though they know in their hearts that He is real, and when they know in their very beings what good and bad are, God is filled with wrath against them (verse 18). Not just against obvious or massive evils, but against “all” unrighteousness. From the smallest example to the greatest. This is because they “hold the truth in unrighteousness”. When men know what is good and true, yet do the opposite, they bring down the word and character of God. They drag truth and purity into the mud and trample upon it deliberately. In doing so, they laugh at God, and treat him with contempt… exactly as men are doing now, thinking they are clever.
They KNOW what God demands (verse 19) and they know it in their heads and hearts, though they are corrupt. All men who do evil know they are opposing God; they KNOW He exists and that their ways are wicked. But they continue to act sinfully. They cannot claim they did not know, for God has made sure His truth is within them. That is one reason why this text is applied to homosexuality. Those who practice this dark and evil depravity KNOW they are doing evil and that God demands they stop. But they continue anyway. The reason they shout so loudly against Christians is not because such people are convinced they are right, but because they know, deep down, that what they do is wicked and godless.
In verse 20 we see that Creation itself proves that God is with us and is real. The existence of created matter proves the existence of spiritual things. The created order proves God exists and that His power is obvious. Those who oppose this are “without excuse”, for they fight their own consciences and reality. This is a big reason why Christians must never give in to evolutionists. They can never prove their case, because what they believe in is not real. They KNOW in their hearts that their belief in Darwinism is unreal and unreasonable, but their sinful hearts refuse to accept it. Many admit that the ONLY realistic alternative to their ideas is God, and they will not accept that fact. Even so, God “hath (shewed) it unto them”. They are “without excuse”. No unsaved man can come to know God in full, but they can come across enough to prove God exists and that good is better than bad, etc. This is because no man can comprehend God unless he is a child of God.
In earlier days, when even the unrighteous openly admitted God existed, they did not obey Him but worked against Him (verse 21). Though they knew He gave them everything from air to breathe to food and sun, they still disobeyed Him. Because He did not strike them down immediately (though at other times He did), they passed from ordinary disobedience to inventing stupid idols of their own. They became ‘vain’ or useless in their minds, and as they devised their idiotic fables and ideas, so their hearts became darker and darker. But, this is still no excuse: if a man enters a room without windows and deliberately puts out the light so that he is in total darkness and stumbles, he cannot claim there is no light! He put it out himself and is acting stupidly!
Even today, when we speak with men and women who do wrong, they cannot claim they are acting through ignorance. They KNOW in their hearts that what they do is wicked and without excuse. They KNOW God’s word is true and must be obeyed, but their sinfulness prevents them from doing what is right. By pretending they are right, they prove themselves to be fools, people without worth or use! Everyone who sins is like this, not just the unsaved. Why listen to such people if they are fools?
Christians should never enter into ‘dialogue’ with fools, because what they have to say is godless. Christians may only declare the truth of God and leave it there. It is pointless to discuss other ‘possibilities’ or to talk about ‘alternatives’ when there is NO alternative to godly activity and beliefs. By entering into even a few minutes ‘dialogue’ Christians enter the world of evil and allow sinful men to breach their righteousness. There is no dialogue, no possibility, and no ‘alternative’ to what God says. Until Christians understand this, evil men and movements will continue to fill the land with sin.
As they openly discuss their sins and seek to change the minds of Christians (or just ignore them because Christians remain silent), they change the “glory of uncorruptible God into an image like to corruptible man…” Wicked men always want to drag God down to their own level, so that, in their minds, God becomes only like them and equally sinful! We must not allow this.
Such wicked men make God out to be anything they wish, whether idols made of stone or wood, in the shape of beasts, or ideas made of imagination – humanistic philosophies, man-made religions, bad interpretations of scripture, and so on. Today, ‘God’ is whatever men want Him to be, so long as whatever they make of Him conforms to their own earthly level of understanding and desire.
Verses 24 - 27
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
There are consequences to rejecting God and His laws. It is often thought that our sins cause degeneration. Though this is true, it is only the ‘top layer’. For the unsaved, sins are only the secondary cause of evils in our world. The primary cause is Satan, whose will the unsaved follow. But even he does not have the power to do as he wishes with us. He can only wreak his havoc if God allows him to do so.
In this text we see that men who insist on following their sinful paths are not acting out of self-control, but precisely because they have lost it. When men continually and deliberately act sinfully, God will leave them alone to their own devices. Such men reject God and His will; they flaunt themselves and their finite ideas and activities, and despise God. In such pitiful displays of human foolishness they prove their inability to think clearly and properly, and follow their own ruinous ways.
Such men and women become wicked, not just sinful. This means they know the truth but refuse to live by it; they know God is true, but they reject Him; they know through conscience that what they do is evil, yet they put their sin on a pedestal. And so God leaves them alone. I have seen this withdrawal by God from Christian lives. Christians who have reached such a base point in their lives are left alone by God, and their misery increases until they finally die. There can be no worse situation for a man than when God withdraws His favours, blessings and personal interventions. And, if the Christian does not repent, he will never again know God’s presence on this earth.
Whoever turns to wickedness does so because they are “(given up) to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts” (verse 24). Lust arises from those things men harbour within their own souls. When they begin to live by them, they lose all sense and reality, and Satan again controls them. Arrogantly, these men (and women) think they act from their own will. But, they do not. They are in the grasp of Satan. When they continue in such evil, God gives them up to the lies and deceptions they invent in their own hearts. This is depravity.
Men and women who sink to such depths of evil “dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” They already replaced God with idols of their own making, not understanding that if humans could make them, they could not be gods! From such idiocy, men go on to dig themselves into an even deeper pit. God made men in His own image… but sinful men made God into things lower than man, dishonouring and blaspheming the Lord of lords. Because of this ‘string’ of evils, one upon another, God gave them up to their own devices and lusts. As Matthew Henry calls them: “brutish and unnatural”. When men reach such a point, God unleashes Satan on them.
Under Satan they suffer greatly but enjoy it for a short while, because their created senses have been disrupted by evil. Though goodness and purity relieve men of their worst problems, and only serve to give mankind what is good and true and of benefit, men who allow Satanic influence to drive them, prefer what makes them ill and evil, causing pain and misery. They dishonoured God, so the next obvious step is to dishonour themselves. Just as insatiable drunks will willingly drink themselves into a stupor on the steps of a public place, not caring who sees and what happens, so depraved men and women will enact their evils in full view of mankind.
When a man gives up to his lusts, he also gives up his rights and freedoms. He becomes a slave to the lusts and cannot escape. This is because God is no longer his protection. This particular verse is all about homosexuality, one of the farthest outposts of sin that, when entered, does not easily give up its inhabitants. To become homosexual is to leave behind vestiges of normality, safety and decency. Which is why those who enter into it spiral downwards continually, doing more and more acts of increasing depravity. Many lusts and sins are included in this category: man with man, woman with woman, mankind with beasts, man trying to change into woman, woman into man, cross-dressing, paedophilia – there are so many sub-levels to this evil. It is what happens when men and women reject God. And that is why there are mini-Sodoms in different places in the world: San Francisco, New York, London, Thailand.
This is also why the false ‘church’ of Rome contains so many homosexual paedophiles. The ‘church’ practices the very idolatry spoken of here. Therefore, the idolatrous members go on to practice human depravities.
Henry calls these ‘spiritual plagues’ and he is right. A plague tends to cross all barriers unless a doctor stops it. In our day there are few doctors, and, of those, how many are willing to stop plagues that destroy the soul?
Homosexuals also have a false church, calling themselves ‘Christians’. They are liars, deluded and deceivers. Their interpretations of scripture are from the pit, wicked to the core and filled with sin. There is no such thing as a Christian homosexual, because we are told that a continuing homosexual will never enter heaven. But, there is such a thing as a Christian who falls to the sin of homosexuality. He will enter heaven, but his earthly life will be dogged with evil and misery… unless God removes him from earth suddenly to stop the dishonouring of the Lord’s name. If a man or woman falls to this evil, they must immediately be warned to stop. If they do not, they must be cast out of fellowship. This is what should happen to all Christians who practice known evils, no matter what they are. If the man repents he must then never again act that way, or even think about it, because it is a sin God particularly hates.
By worshipping idols (which means anything that replaces God, and which becomes their own leading aim) such men and women are given up “unto vile affections”. Note that it is God Who gives them up – they do not do it of their own accord. This tells us their position is even worse than they suspect. A ‘vile’ affection is one that is a disgrace, dishonourable. ‘Affections’ are passionate deeds, depraved desires, evils. In other words, they are unnatural. We are given an example: women who abuse their own bodies, doing sexual things that are not part of the created order.
The word ‘natural’ means something that is inborn, as determined by nature; and ‘nature’ was created by God. Thus, women changed from using their bodies naturally, as determined by creation, and used them unnaturally, ‘against nature’, which is defined in the Greek as ‘monstrous’, abnormal, perverse. Verse 24 says these women did such things “between themselves”. Thus, the text speaks primarily of so-called lesbianism, the female form of homosexuality. But, it also includes many other perversions, using animals and objects.
In the same way men also changed what was normal and natural. They left “the natural use of the woman” and “burned in their lust one toward another”. This is a more than obvious reference to male homosexuality. Like the female type, it is abnormal, perverse and unnatural. No devised human law can make it anything else!
These were “men with men” doing what is “unseemly”, a wrong thing, nakedly doing what is shameful. As a result they received “in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet”. That is, they had their ‘just reward’ for doing what was unnatural and evil, and the ‘reward’ matched their evil. The meaning of ‘meet’, dei, is that which is proper and right, brought about by someone’s conduct, a necessity of law and God’s counsel.
What were these ‘rewards’? The first meaning is that they were confirmed in their reprobate kinds. God refers to such men and women as ‘reprobates’ who will enter hell. It does not just mean that what they do is evil. It also means they are given-over by God and cast from His sight, never to receive His help, but only His final judgment. It also means anything earthly that comes about as a result of their evils. Today, this includes HIV and AIDS. It was once correctly called ‘the gay plague’ by medical experts, because only homosexuals contracted the disease. The term has since been covered up through the machinations of homosexual activists. HIV and AIDS, though passed on to others nowadays, is primarily a plague sent upon homosexuals because they are reprobates and what they do invites death by disease.
Many Christian teachers refuse to talk about this matter in the proper light. They have either fallen to the lie, or they know nothing of what homosexuality really means and its true nature, or they fear the consequences of standing for the truth.
Verses 28 - 32
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Continuing his discussion of these wicked men and women, Paul says they did not retain God in their knowledge. That is, they knew fully Who God was and what He said, but they chose to ignore Him. Because of this, God “gave them over to a reprobate mind”. A reprobate is one who is not approved, one who has failed the test, one who is unfit and spurious. Such a person is a castaway, rejected. It means that such behaviour proves beyond doubt that Christ is not in a person. So, if a man claims to be a Christian and yet follows a path of such evil, we may legitimately think of him as a liar and a deceiver, unless he repents immediately and changes back to normalcy (which he can, easily, because it is a matter of choice unless God gives him over completely).
If a man or woman deliberately chooses to become a reprobate, they will do “things which are not convenient” or unfit. They will automatically do what is wrong, because they are filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity and whispering.
Of course not all these sins are obvious in the character of the reprobate at any one time – but all are there in seed. In verse 29 and 30, the meaning of ‘reprobate’ is widened, showing that homosexuality is only one sinful presentation of a man or woman cast aside by God. Even so, homosexuality is of such a wicked type, it is filled to overflowing with many other forms of wickedness. Obviously, someone who has sunk to such a pitiable level will be unrighteous. The very acts they do are fornication, condemned by God, and wicked by definition. They covet what is evil, through evil lusts, and become malicious towards others who try to speak against them, and towards each other.
Such will envy others, especially (as we have seen in the numerous laws to ‘protect’ reprobates) the freedom they have to act. Homosexuality is well-known to police as a condition that spawns great violence where such people live together, and even murder. Where there is no actual murder, these people seethe with hatred, which is murder in God’s eyes.
They will debate everyone ceaselessly, especially in legal circles, so as to get their own way. They will even argue publicly as they fight to boldly flaunt their wickedness before everyone. In doing so they will deceive people on a grand scale, being very malign in their dealings, destroying anyone who stands in their way. And they hold intense and widespread ‘whispering’ campaigns, causing the public to become like a festering sore, accepting their evil lies, and condemning those who stand against them. Few people realize just how evil such men and women are.
Backbiters speak against others behind their backs, with the intention of ruining their characters. Evil people do this as a matter of course, and do not care who they hurt. They do it because they absolutely loathe and hate God. That is why they are also despiteful and proud. Despiteful means insolent, pouring insults on everyone, treating them shamefully. Homosexuals are always like this, whilst, at the same time, crying out that it is those who oppose them who are hateful! Thus, they ‘turn the tables’ by pretending that they (the enforcers of evil) are the ‘victims’. They are extremely arrogant.
They are boasters, who have no problem in telling others of what they do (at least, the parts that will not bring them into conflict with the public); they invent evil things – the current raft of wicked pro-homosexual laws are sufficient proof of this, as is the denial that most homosexuals want sexual contact with children. And, of course, they disobey their parents by making their lives wicked and against everything the parents may have stood for.
Yes, all these evils are also done by men and women who are not sexually evil, for ‘reprobate’ can be applied to all who live wickedly. But, make no mistake, this section of Romans 1 is specifically aimed at homosexuals, though it also covers others.
Those who are rejected by God have no understanding whatever of spiritual things, because they are blinded by their own lusts; they make and break promises easily, because they have no morals or ethics; they have no natural affection (meaning unsociable, inhuman, unloving, unnatural), which is why we know for a certainty, that homosexuals cannot ‘love’ each other in the normal sense; they are implacable – cannot be appeased by normal means and will remain hostile; and they are certainly unmerciful. They hate with such vehemence that they do not care how much evil they have to do to get rid of opponents.
Paul finishes this section of his letter by stating the truth – that these wicked people KNOW God judges them as unworthy and reprobate, and that God says they are unworthy to live, yet they continue to act wickedly and teach others to do the same. This is why homosexuals want to ‘teach’ children in schools that what they do is ‘natural’, but do not mention that such acts bring death on a large scale. Those who are reprobate love to teach others to act wickedly, and love to see them enact their evils in public…on TV, in films, on radio, in the streets, in closets, in other places.
For these reasons God rejects reprobates. They act outside His will, and deserve death. In Old Testament days this literally meant the death penalty. Today, such judgment is reserved for eternity – but foolish and wicked governments prefer the deaths of millions by a disgusting disease, to speaking truth of those who bring it about. Christians, too, remain silent in the face of these atrocities. And that is why such evils proliferate. Romans chapter one is more up-to-date than most Christians realize… or care.
© April 2009
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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