October 22, 2021
Today, we are reading God’s word.
Why are we reading Romans?
Because it is my jam! Actually, because many consider this to be the greatest literary works of all time. It lays out the Gospel, salvation, and God’s love to ALL people who come to Him. It helped me tremendously as I tend to want to be an overachiever, depend on works for worth, and have a past of believing that is how you gain God’s favor. But Romans says otherwise. Our salvation comes from what He has already done for us, not what we will ever do. We must die in the flesh, accept His gift of Grace and be reborn in the spirit of Jesus Christ. That is Romans and it is amazing.
The Whole Series…
In this passage…
This passage is heavy, y’all!
And, boy, does it speak to today- in more ways than one.
This passage may be a harder one for some to work through. You may feel like you are being called out. You may be surprised that it says what it says so plainly. You may wonder why you have never heard or read this before. Possibly, pastors don’t want to be so direct in front of a whole congregation.
I am going to just read it and let it speak for itself. Remember, Paul here is addressing Rome, but just as so much of the bible the words transcend time and place.
*The passage here is in the New Living Translation. I typically read the English Standard Version, but today, for this tough passage the NLT uses pretty plain English so we can understand the thought and intent. Read different versions to gain more understanding.
God’s Anger at Sin
18But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
~Romans 1:18-32 NLT
In this passage, Paul is talking about what sin can do when we turn from Him, our minds become dark and confused. He is setting up the rest of the book of Romans to prepare you to understand salvation. This passage highlights aspects of our human, sinful nature and that God will not stand in your way if that is the road you want to walk down. He asks you to praise Him and not the things and the desires of the world, but He will leave you (‘abandon’ NLT or ‘give them up’ ESV) if that is the road you want to take.
It starts by addressing people’s rejection of God. He is all around us and in all the created things. His power and divine nature is undeniable.
Instead, they found other things to worship, things of this world over our sovereign God. This changes people. This darkens one’s heart and while believing they are wise, it states they become fools.
The desires of the heart are not of God. When we praise things other than God it opens the door to act fully in sin and our desires. It may start with something small, something the world, especially today says is natural because it is our heart’s desire. But is that of God? If we were walking with God would we go down that road?
Sin then creates more sin. “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” Romans 1:29
This next passage requires some examination…
In the ESV it ends, “but give approval to those who practice them.” That one calls me out. How willingly have I just accepted things and ‘approved’ sins I know are against God because this world has told me I should? Just something to think about.
But we need to talk about death here.
This will become one of the most important themes of all of this book. We must die, our sinful, self in the flesh, original sin from Adam, sinful self does, in fact, deserve to die. We deserve to be punished for the unabashed things we have done against our creator, God. And, God willing we will put that sinful self to death, and rise up in Jesus, in spirit when we accept Him and what he did for us as our Lord and Savior. This is what it means to be born again. This is Grace! We deserve to die and not live eternally with God for the things we have done. We do not deserve redemption, but we have been freely given it! Grace. Did you know that? .
And this is why Romans is so amazing- it will explain all of this!
Questions to consider…
Where do you see examples of this passage in today’s world?
2. Where do you see people today claiming to be wise, but instead they are foolish?
3. Paul depicts a progression through this passage of one’s fall further from Him into sin. In verse 21 where does this process begin?
4. What does this passage say about encouraging or approving of ‘these things’?
Last week ~ Greeting, A Longing to Visit Rome, and The Righteous Shall Live by Faith, Romans 1:1-17….
…Next week ~ God’s Righteous Judgement, Romans 2:1-16
As we begin reading the book of Romans, it is good to know some backstory- Who wrote it? Why? When? Who for? Why is it special?
was a man chosen by God to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. He was an unlikely pick and a testament to God’s grace and how He pursues us. His radical transformation from a Christian persecutor to who many consider being the patriarch of the Christian faith was shocking and beautiful. It symbolizes all of our hope. As Paul writes in many of his letters, in summary, if ‘this sinner (referring to himself) can overcome and be born again in Christ we all have hope in Christ.’
The letter of Romans was written by Paul to the church in Rome about 57 A.D. He wrote to them to let them know he was on his way and to apologize for not coming sooner. He also wrote this not knowing if he would make it there alive, as his ministry of bringing Christ to the world was very dangerous, something we so take for granted.
The church in Rome was not planted by Paul himself, unlike many others at the time. It is believed that the church in Rome was most likely formed by the Jews who had been in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10).
This was written to help clear up and bring the full Gospel to those disputing the justification and mercy of Christ to all believers and not just those who first kept Jewish law. At this time, there were still a lot of Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentiles who wanted to become Christians must become Jewish in their customs first before being saved by Christ.
The main point of Romans – Paul bringing the heat! He teaches that it is not by law or works that we are saved. It is not by what WE do, but by what GOD DID for us that saves us. We are justified solely because of Christ amazing gift of grace to forgive our sins. We were never expected to be perfect as God’s law is an expression of Him and therefore perfect. Our works are impossible in saving us because we are not perfect as only God is. We are expected to accept our imperfection, recognize our sin, accept His gift of grace, rely on Him through faith, and because of this our works become an expression of our love and knowledge of what He and only He could do. Law, nor works save us or make us Christian.
Resources used in this study:
Halley’s Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley
N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides, Romans, N.T. Wright