Today Paul continues his lament, of sorts, about the sad state of those who have exchanged the truth about God for a lie, those who God has given up to a debased mind. Having a debased mind has the idea of being quality checked and being found lacking, being unapproved.
Yesterday we said that the freedom to live this way was a judgement in itself, in that our lifestyle can put more and more distance between God and us in terms of the close, loving, and personal relationship He desires. The list of characteristics here is long, lewd, and lacking in love for God or for others. When we exchange the truth about God for a lie, this is how we become,
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 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.
There are sins in there that are societally unacceptable (evil, murder, maliciousness, inventors of evil), but there are also sins in there that society tells us are no big deal (deceit, insolent, haughty, boastful, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless, gossips, slanderers). What we take from this is that we are being held to a different standard, and it is far above what society deems ok. The plumb line of God’s Word, will, and ways is far straighter than the crooked line of our modern society. As the old saying goes, you know a line is crooked because you have seen a straight line, and we have (John 17.17, Psalm 19.7-10).
Perhaps the most striking part of this passage is the ending. Paul says, with a frankness and clarity that would have him vilified in today’s society, those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. So, the exchanging of God for a lie, the exchanging of relations that are natural for those that are contrary to nature, the list above, those who practice such things deserve to die.
We have moved on from times of stoning and the like (John 8.7), so Paul is not advocating capital punishment, rather the spiritual death that takes place and the eternal separation from God that is waiting for those that practice lifestyles like this. Then, the bolt that makes us sit upright, that not only those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but those who give approval.
WE NEED TO BE SO CAREFUL WHAT WE APPROVE.
This can take many forms; the shows we watch on television, the movies we watch, the books we read, the events we attend, the words we choose when talking about all of this. It seems like a task that we just cannot do in our limited human capacity, and we can’t. But, the same power that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead lives in us (Romans 8.11). The Spirit will guide us in our choices, our relationships, our interactions, our approvals, and our denials.
Prayer for today – Father God I come to you in the name of Jesus and in the power of your Holy Spirit and ask that you show me any areas of my life that would cause me, or others, to stumble. Help me approve what you approve, and to disapprove of what you disapprove of. Help me to love those that choose to live in a way that you don’t approve of. Help me to leave the judgement to you and you alone. Create in me a pure heart, Lord, and renew a right Spirit within me.