Romans 1:24-2:4 commentary and application
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 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: 27 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. 28 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; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 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. 2 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Paul wraps this chapter up with walking us through what it looks like when God gives these depraved people up to the lusts in their hearts. We see that in their depravity and enmity toward God they choose to exchange the truth about God for a lie. Depraved man, in his hatred for God, would rather lie to himself about the evidence for God and His law than admit this truth. He will refuse to worship and honor the true God and instead will make a god in the likeness that he desires. He fashions a god in his own image and likeness, substituting his own laws and morals, instead of worshipping the true God. In this false worship God gives man up to the vile affections that are within their depraved heart.
One of those depravities mentioned by Paul is homosexuality. Paul points out that women and men went against the very way God had designed them. Women were not meant to have sexual relationship with other women, just as men were not meant to have sexual relationships with other men. Many churches today try to teach that we should be accepting of homosexuality even though the bible clearly teaches against this practice. We must not look to justify our sin over against what the bible clearly teaches.
Homosexuality is not the only sin Paul mentions here though. He gives a list of sins that depraved man is given over to. We also need to remember that all types of sexual immorality is just as abominable to God as homosexuality. I will not take the time to go over the whole list because there are many commentaries out there that do just that. All we need to do is look at the world around us every day and we will see some, if not all, of these sins being practiced and praised.
We must take special notice of the last verse,
“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.” Rom 1:32
These people are not left with an excuse for they KNOW inside, no matter how much they deny it, that what they are doing is wrong (and worthy of judgement) yet they continue in their sin and take pleasure in others that do the same things. This also is easily observable in the world around us today. We see men and women living in outright blatant sin and taking pleasure in those who live their lives the same way. They want to marginalize and silence those who would speak out against their blatant violation of God’s laws.
In wrapping this section up I think it is important to mention that there were no chapter breaks in the original letters. I believe it to be of utmost importance that we read on to the beginning of chapter two and briefly mention some very important points we need to consider.
If we are to read to just the end of chapter one it is very easy for us to become puffed up with pride. It is easy to read that last section and point our fingers outward at the world and think of all the people we see those sins in. So Paul does something very important. In chapter two he opens up by turning that finger right back on us!
Now we must remember chapter one is written about those who do not have a bible and are still accountable for their sin. Chapter two is about those of us that possess the law of God and do not fulfill it. If we go back into the last section of chapter one and reread it, thinking about our own lives before we were saved, and even after being saved, we may see that we do some of these very things!
“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 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.” Rom 1:29-32
We must not forget that this list describes the way all men are born, marred by sin, depraved, haters of God, liars, etc. We must not forget that if it was not for God’s mercy and His sovereign act of regeneration we would not have come to a knowledge of the truth and been saved. We must not become prideful and arrogant thinking that our salvation was somehow an act we did for ourselves and then look down on others who have not “saved themselves”. If we act in these ways we are no better than the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who believed they were righteous by their own actions and in no need of salvation from God.
It is important to read this list and see that we still have some of those characteristics of the old man within us even after regeneration. We still commit some of these sins yet we believe God has grace for us to cover them in Christ. Do we believe that same grace can save those who are not yet believers?
The sins Paul mentioned are ALL BAD and ALL DESERVE God’s judgement. We are not to teach others they are okay in doing such wicked things and that is why Paul says,
“But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.” Rom 2:2
BUT we must also realize that those who commit such things are NOT BEYOND GOD’S SAVING POWER. That is Paul’s point! If you look into God’s law, and point the finger, and use it to count your own righteousness and others failures (and condemn them to hell), then you are missing the point of the gospel. We are all condemned under the law and all in need of a savior, Jesus Christ (Rom 3:9-20). When we look at a list like that it should make us celebrate our God’s mercy, and spread the news of that mercy to all people. That does not make those sins okay, it does not mean that after we are saved we should continue in them. If we are truly saved our life will reflect changes to that old man and a cutting off of that sin. We will be made a good tree producing good fruit but we will still fight that battle against the flesh and its desires. The real question is do we leave room for grace from God for us but no room for that grace for others?
1. Do you believe God has given enough grace in Christ to save you despite your sin in your life? Do you extend that same idea of grace to others?
2. How do we express to people that God’s judgement against those who commit such sin is right yet leave room for grace to save people caught in those sins?
3. How do we use the law to lead people to the gospel?
4. How does leaving room for grace within the church fit with the idea of church discipline and the putting out of members who continue to sin?