Continuing in Romans 1, verses 26-27 are a little more “PG-13” than many other passages in the Bible, and define some behaviors that I prefer not to dwell on for this lesson, so I won’t repeat them here (although I encourage you to read them as part of the whole chapter). One point I’d like to make here, though, is that God’s truth (see verse 25) isn’t just “a truth”. When we accept Him and His truth (the truth), we are better off and healthier.
To emphasize that point, if someone doesn’t think that it’s worth cultivating the knowledge of God in their lives, the alternative is going to be depravity. Continuing from the verses above:
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
Romans 1:28 NIV
I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone (at least, anyone who is old enough to have made some bad choices) who would disagree that what might seem like a tempting sin doesn’t ever seem to produce the joy that we had hoped for. Instead, sin comes with consequences. In Romans 1, those who choose to not give God the proper place in their lives end up turning to idols, and “God gave them over” to depravity.
By the way, sin has consequences for everyone. The only difference for Christians is that Jesus endured our sins’ consequences, freeing us from the eternal punishment that we deserve (although sin’s general side effects continue to persist in this fallen world until Jesus returns). For those who are still dealing with the consequences of their own sins, though, the good news is that this gift of salvation is available to everyone who will accept it.
In this chapter of Romans, verses 29-31 continue with a pretty messy, ugly list of specific kinds of sin, but I don’t think that it’s meant to be exhaustive. In fact, perhaps the sense of this passage is best captured in verse 30, which talks about inventing “ways of doing evil”.
Before condemning everyone who does these things, though, read through the list a little more slowly, and ask yourself whether you’ve ever done any of those things. Have you been greedy? Gossiped? Boasted?
To be clear, that doesn’t mean that we give these sins a pass just because Christians sometimes sin like this. These are still sins, but the point is not to pick and choose who sins “like that”, rather than “like me” (hence the name of this site, “Those Who Sin Differently“). Sin is sin, and the only thing that differentiates individuals in terms of our sin is whether or not each of us has accepted Jesus’ payment for those sins.
You can be righteously angry at sin in this world. It hurts the very people who practice it, as well as innocents around them. However, the solution isn’t just to drop the hammer on sin, or on people who sin. If we are to make real change, I think that we first need to ensure that we are focused on God, and then work to bring people back to Him. From the previous lesson, the source of sins isn’t necessarily the actions themselves, but a failure to recognize God as God in the first place.
On the other hand, if we start with acknowledging the truth, glory, provision, and authority of God in our lives, I’m pretty sure that we’ll all sin less, naturally. That’s probably a good place to start.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 2, 2022
- The Lookout, January 2, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.