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Romans blog post 14: God forsaken?

June 17, 2015

  Romans 1:24-32

So we move on.

Men and women have made their choice. They ignore the evidence of a creator God. And they invent their own gods. Whether it is pagan gods or gods of materialism.

Now the scary part.

Based on mankind’s choices, God makes a choice.

He decides to give them over. Effectively to give up on them and to allow them to live as they want to live.

Now a long list of sins are mentioned in these verses with a strong emphasis initially on sexual sin.

But I think it is worth saying that it seems God gives up on these people, because of the choice they have made about him. That again in verse 25 seems to be the crux of the matter. They have exchanged the truth for a lie. They gave the praise that belonged to God to someone else.

But he is stated to give them up to a way of life. the main focus seems to be on sexual behaviour, both heterosexual and homosexual. I am not going to go into the specifics on that here, as I am likely to end up pleasing no one!

Paul seems to be saying that because of their choice about worshipping him, God lets them go.

I have to comment here that it seems that as long as a man or woman maintains their resistance to God there is no hope. But surely when that is later followed by faith in Jesus, repentance, and an openness to know and worship God, then grace is always there.

As Christians I do not believe we have any mandate to choose who we will preach the gospel of Jesus to. That gospel is for all men and women. In Jesus’ story, when the farmer sowed the seed, he threw it everywhere! God sent his son into the world because he loved the world, every last man and woman, boy and girl.

Unfortunately it may be God’s prerogative to give up on a man or woman who he loves but who is steadfast in their choice to ignore him. That is not our choice. We are his ambassadors looking to bring peace and reconciliation everywhere.

Sinful desires, shameful lusts and a depraved mind. Can’t imagine that many clean living atheists for example would be very happy with that description!

Christians are always quick to single out certain practices, particularly sexual ones, as the test of a person living without God, but some of the other items listed raise eyebrows.

Disobeying your parents for example.

Gossiping.

Arrogance.

These are all the evidence of a Godless, wicked, depraved people.

The flip side, and the challenge for us Christians of course, is that those who trust God, need to be living Godly lives. The church has been the home for example for far too much gossip. Often dressed up spiritually as prayerful concern!

What on earth do we make of this passage? It is very hard stuff! It can never be used to justify Christians condemning a particular group of people as being unloved by God. In a church I know very well, a preacher recently announced “God hates sinners”. That statement horrifies me. As do the banners of American baptists announcing “God hates gays”. As God IS love that cannot be true.

We must love who he loves.

These issues are not easy and I do not feel able to comment fully. There are difficult issues for the church to work out, and in my view churches are grappling more and more with these.

But at the root of this is the horrifying thought that when a person makes their choice to live without God, and is steadfast in that, ultimately they will be given what they want. Life and eternity without any of the benefits that God wants to give. God will not force himself upon them.

Paul describes a people who are steadfast in their resistance to God and steadfast in their lifestyle.

Let’s pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and grace.

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