Romans 1.29-32 – Do we approve?

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


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. 

Romans 1.26-28 – The natural relationship

In an example of how far society has ‘progressed’ since the latter half of the nineteenth century, Charles Spurgeon would not read aloud this passage at church. In the house of God, the house of prayer, where His name is lifted, glorified, and His people are being sanctified, this passage was not to be read. It (and the following paragraph) contains practices that are not glorifying to God, neither are they truly edifying to His people. 

Sometimes the Word of God we read in our Bibles can be a little hard to really grasp, where knowing the context can make all the difference, or perhaps understanding the original languages. Romans 1.26-28 is not one of those passages. It details a sinful lifestyle as a punishment for sin. It details a way of life that, sadly, many gladly pursue in spite of what God says.

Paul wrote to a culture where homosexuality was celebrated. When we consider the emperor at the time was Nero, and when we consider the abhorrent sexual lifestyle he lived, as the ruler, we can see how little society has progressed. Paul writes to challenge this,

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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.

28 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.

If we have exchanged the truth about God for a lie as we read yesterday, then one punishment for this is to be given up to dishonourable passions

The freedom to do as we please is, actually, a judgement in itself. 

We are actively working ourselves away from God when we choose to live in these kinds of ways, when we exchange natural relations as Paul puts it. Being given over to our debased minds and when we do what ought not to be done, we exchange the truth about God, the way He wants us to live, for a lie.

The lie that you can choose what will make you happy – God knows what will make you happy.

The lie that if nobody is being hurt its ok – God is being hurt by our choices, and ultimately so are we.

The lie that we know better than the all knowing, all powerful, all wise Creator of heaven and earth. We don’t. 

The natural relationship we are to pursue, bigger picture, is with God. When we pursue this relationship, He sends His Spirit to live in us, and all of our earthly relationships are reevaluated, reassessed, sometimes reinvigorated, and sometimes replaced. 

Point to ponder – Am I pursuing, first and foremost, the natural relationship of child to Father?

If yes, then how does this influence my thoughts about my earthly relationships?

Prayer today – Lord, help me to live today first as a believer in You. Help me focus first on the natural relationship of child to Father. Give me your perspective, your love for others, your heart for those around me. Help me to be the salt and the light in the community you have called me to. Help me to live for You today.