Romans 1:32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
In a way, Romans 1 is comforting, because it helps to know that things have been this bad before. This reads like a description of the 21st Century, particularly in America but actually around the world. The thing that is most distressing is the strong pressure to make perversion normative, to the point that it is not just celebrated, those who continue to call it perversion are actively punished. It is a truism that you cannot legislate morality, but at this point the pressure is on to try to legislate immorality! (Actually, it is far more activist judges and public officials, rather than legislatures, that are doing the legal damage.) What is called for is steadfast obedience to God, even in the face of persecution, but then, that hasn’t changed throughout history! Those who care what God has to say have got to stand tall and strong, even though that can invite attacks, remembering that in Christ we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37) Society around us may be distressing and disgusting, and it is, but we have got to speak the truth in love, not compromising for the sake of social or other expediency, recognizing our own weaknesses and relying on God. It is again a truism that we are to hate the sin but love the sinner, but we must keep a clear focus on the fact that true love is not at all weak, but rather strong to insist on what is best for the one loved, rather than on what they ask for.
As a pastor I find that all areas of life are interrelated. What I just wrote about love is true in marriage, it is true in parenting, and it is true in every other part of life. That’s why Jesus could condense the entire Law into the commands to love God and love our neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40) My job is to teach people what agape love looks like. That certainly includes words, but it must be founded on a lifestyle that practices it. I find I agree with Augustine, who said, “Love God and do as you please.” The problem is of course that we don’t love God properly, and actually don’t even love ourselves properly, but rather love pleasure. (2 Timothy 3:4) I’ve got to seek God and watch over my own heart, teaching, encouraging, and admonishing others so that they may do likewise, so that together we may avoid the devil’s traps and destroy his works, to walk in all that God intends for us.
Father, thank You for all that You are doing in, around, and through me. Thank You for the beautiful evidence of progress in some to whom I have been ministering. Thank You for the Word You have placed in me for this morning. I pray that I would deliver that Word clearly, undistorted, so that it may penetrate hearts and minds to set people free and move them into active discipleship, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!