What may dwell within? Why is it that so many would have a spiritual takeover from God one minute and still want to maintain free will in the next? Why is there an inconsistency in teaching how the Spirit dwells within us (we so much want a physical presence)? We are told that God does not dwell with man yet we would still have it to be so.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1: 24-28)
Homosexuality and the phrase “same sex marriage” are in the news today having gained civil status with a sanction by courts and through fiat within the Executive and Justice Departments. And though such sexual behaviors have been on the books for a very long time the sanctioning of same sex marriage is new. Its proposal and acceptance by societies has never before had any legal standing. Specifically with what we deal with here at CMS we will note that the Word of God never lends any status to these activities. They are listed in the sins column. Yet somehow that has not stopped state governments, the Federal government and some churches of men from seeking and granting legitimacy to behaviors and activities which considered all by themselves simply have none. And that is due to pure atheism with a heady disregard for religion in general, Christianity specifically and a clear and hearty disdain for the oldest book on the planet.
The above reading from the first chapter of Romans plainly states that neither God nor the ambassadors of Christ ever sanctioned such behaviors. As part of this, God did not sanctify or legitimize any homosexual acts, or for that matter any type of sexual activities or relationships of any kind outside of marriage. And marriage itself is given by God “from the beginning” and is taught as granted only between men and women. All other sexual relationships and associated behaviors are discouraged on every level and in every place where they are discussed whether in the Old or New Testament.
The same behaviors and the penalty for practicing them were covered in the Books of Moses and the punishment was always the same. If caught in any of the named sins or any others, the elders and leaders were directed to remove all of the participants or offenders away from the camp or outside the city and they would immediately be put to death in front of the people. All “sins of the flesh” were indiscriminately treated this way. It might appear to some folks that God is more diplomatic now as he has written that there is no immediate punishment and we must wait to be paid for participating in such actions until we die and appear in final judgment. But rest assured we will all so appear: whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5: 10 and any number of other places).
Jesus stated: “a man should be joined to his own wife… and what God has put together let not man put asunder.” Regardless of what court or magistrate here may say or may legislate to the contrary, if nothing else had been written, taken all to itself, to any Christian, this excludes the possibility of homosexual marriage as ever being acceptable before God. And what is unacceptable before God should be unacceptable to his children: that is if we wish to be called his children. Any other view of the Old or New Testament instruction would amount to an abridgment, a blatant and unauthorized change, pure ignorance or decided disinterest in following the commands found within the Word of God as they have been written and given out.
With all of that noted, I believe that people will do pretty much as they choose especially if they have no care for such things, or when they think they have the right to legislate for God and remove his laws out of their lives and out of the picture. That has been tried several times through the ages too.
This is all very straightforward and does not require an explanation and it should be taken exactly for what it is and as written. It is not very much different to the lack of godliness in striking down generations of the unborn in the womb in the name of reproductive rights.
But what really strikes me in this selection (Romans 1: 24 – 28) is how the apostle employs the same phrase three times in his argument in three sets of alternating sentences. And most of the scholars note that where the phrase is translated in English as “God gave them over” or “God gave them up,” it literally means God handed them over. This is similar to where it is stated in the scriptures that either God hardened, or that a particular person or persons, had hardened their own hearts.
God has given them up. The present tense: God gives them up.
He hands them off. He has figuratively turned to stone as far as concerns them. And he does this to all unrepentant sinners, not just to those found in continuing sins of the flesh. I wonder: do we know what happens when God drops us from his hands or when he hands us off? And who do you suppose it is to whom he hands us off: to ourselves or some other? What happens when our family gives up on us, our co-workers, or our friends?
Paul argued here that God would hand the people who practice such things over to their passions and to the impure activities that they were pursuing. He wrote that they dishonor their own bodies: men with men and women with women. Then he stated that God would allow them to be handed over completely to these dishonorable passions. They would end up being ruled by the impure desires within their lives. Last of all he wrote the Christians in Rome that if anyone chased after such behaviors God would in time hand them over to be ruled solely by their own debased minds. You certainly cannot find any hope here for those who participate in such things.
We impose some sort of hierarchy of sin within our own minds. Yet God here and everywhere else in the Bible says the exact same things about every ungodly pursuit; and much of that is covered in the paragraph following this in Romans chapter one. To read this passage you ought to get the feeling God will not tolerate those who continue to participate in any sin. And you would be right.
It seems that God just does not discriminate – or is it that he is completely discriminating? The end product is the same in either understanding. We all will get the same treatment and justice will be served if we continue in sin — period. Case closed. Whether we like it much and agree with it or not, the words read the same from cover to cover. If you sin and never set yourself right with God before you die – “you will surely die” – and you will be handed over: cast away with no hope forevermore. God has said that he will not tolerate any who sin, no matter where you start with the reading; and he states that no sin will ever come into his presence. So it seems we can practice whatever we like – but that no matter what, God will recognize our choices and will in time react accordingly.
It is not people but ungodly acts that are condemned and which will get anyone who continues in them into eternal trouble. The people are condemned only if they continue in the unwarranted acts: sins. And if unrepentant, then they will be condemned by God in all eternity. So it is not a stretch to say that if the action is condemned by God, then anybody found unrepentant and who continues doing those sinful things – that he or she is bound straight for the pit and the fires of Hell. There is simply no way to escape.
Perhaps we ought to think of it as God passed them off, like a deputy turns a felon over to the courts and to the jailer. It is an overt act. God is the active participant in the doing and any person found in these sins when the time comes will end up in eternal punishment. They get to the point where they are completely passive and will have no say at all when the judgment is set. There is no public defender for them. So there is no way out if anyone strays too far or for too long. Passions and unsightly things will take them over completely. And the judgment is cast in stone.
Paul closed by noting that these things “ought not to be done.” So it seems that there is nothing either good or pure about these thoughts and behaviors: any of them. God said not to follow after such things or to practice them. And without a turning away — if we continue to do such things we will end up separated from God for eternity. Jesus in Luke thirteen asked his disciples a rhetorical question as to whether they thought those who had died in two widely known tragedies of the day had been worse sinners than other folks. He finished that lesson by stating, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” He repeated the sentiment twice in case we are not paying attention, are a little slow, stubborn minded, arrogant or just plain hard of hearing (verses 3 and 5). I think he meant what he said. What do you think?
So, it really doesn’t matter what a priest, reverend, father so-and-so, a politician, president, judge, newscaster or teacher has to say now does it? Christ states that unless you were following God’s instructions, it did not matter if you had been bred out of Abraham’s seed or if you had been born a heathen – you were still caught dead to rights if you continued to practice these things or any of the others on any disapproved list. You would not make it over to the safe side… no matter what. To state again: “…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Only wicked people try to make ungodly things, irrational things and sinful things out to be reasonable and acceptable. That process is called Rationality. It is the illogical exercise whereby we attempt to make the irrational seem legitimate. And it is applied all too commonly today. Yet sin is sin whether we like that narrow application or not. The KJV correctly notes where Christ said, “Strait is the way that leads to life everlasting…” This word s-t-r-a-i-t is not the same as s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t as in a line drawn with a ruler. It means “a difficult passage,” i.e. as the Straits of Magellan and the Chilkoot Pass are dangerous and difficult to get through. To continue he also said “…wide is the way that leads to destruction.” That road is very well lit, easy to locate and widely traveled. Therefore plain reason notes that if we believe what has been written, that it is not useful to mix dirt in with the drinking water… the bad with the good. We will sicken and die as a result. Those are clear distinctions. That is exactly as God would have it. The Lord of Hosts did not ask for our opinion on things, what the prevailing winds of rationality might offer today or in the future, or whether we agree with Him or not. If that were not plain enough, the writer of Hebrews also wrote that the cost for such things will be paid by all who continue in sin — no matter what. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Do we believe that?