The Eventual Results of Resisting God’s Love
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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Jesus said that everything that was kept secret would eventually be made known. That’s not a statement to strike fear into us about being ashamed, but a reassurance that justice will be done on behalf of all of those hurt by something that was kept hidden. This terrible list of what people do when their thinking turns to a depraved state serves as a warning too. A person might read this and think, “Well, I’m not full of murder and maliciousness,” and that is good. But we have to be honest about what our potential is if we try to live a life independent of God.
I once worked with a bunch of homeless felons. They had killed people and stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars. They were in a Bible study because they had to come if they wanted to have a bed to sleep in. When they read this section of Romans, some of them laughed.
“Disobedient to parents was the least of my problems!”
Instead of reading that list and thinking about how distant those activities are for most of us, be honest and realize that every one of us has amazing potential. We have amazing potential to do all of those things before the end of the day! Without God, and without seeking His will, we’ve got no guardrail to our behavior except our own desires.
Finally, check out that last scary line:
they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
That’s the thing that scares people, and rightly so. Sometimes we shy away from being seen around this or that person for fear of looking like we are showing approval for something. This is at the crux of a lot of the struggles the church has had throughout history. That struggle started the first time the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being a sinner because He ate with ‘sinners’. Jesus wasn’t afraid of being accused of giving approval for evil deeds, because He knew that He wasn’t. He was so confident in the way He was preaching forgiveness and mercy, that He wasn’t afraid of the perceived approval. Outsiders had their perceptions, but no one could spend much time with Jesus before they knew He wasn’t giving approval to people’s sin.
God has given a righteous decree and the more we know God the more clearly we know the ins and outs of those decrees. The more we know God, the more secure we grow in sharing the truth of His love and knowing what we approve and what we don’t. When we humbly embrace the fact that the only strength we have is from God, the bolder we become in sharing that strength and fleeing evil.