“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, ‘The righteous by faith will live’” (Romans 1:16-17 NET).
God’s power for salvation is found in the gospel (literally “good news”) of Jesus and it is for everyone who will believe. That is, indeed, good news! God’s righteousness has been made known in this good news as people obey and are cleansed, made righteous, by being united with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 6 for a detailed discussion of this).
With God’s power to be safe from our sins, it would seem almost inconceivable that anyone would fail to take advantage of the safety God offers. Yet some choose to ignore God and go their own way (see Romans 6:15-23). Those who reject God will be rejected by God.
Three times in Romans 1 we find the phrase “God gave them up” (Romans 1:24, 26, 28 ESV). Sometimes we find people whom we try and try to influence and finally we “give up,” having done all that we can do. Can you imagine God giving up on people?
God gives up on those who worship idols rather than him. This was part of God’s commands for Israel given at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20:3-5). Through the creation of the world God has shown his power and divine nature – that he is God! This can clearly be perceived in the world around us. Yet most people today refuse to acknowledge God as the Creator and believe that everything around us happened by chance – we are just lucky to have been the ones to evolve to the top!
Paul wrote, “So they are without excuse…Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up…because they changed the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:20-25). What an indictment on those living in the first century. What an indictment on those who reject God today!
When God created the first man the only thing not good about him was that he was alone (Genesis 2:18). So he created a woman to be his companion. Men and women are equal before God but different. They are designed to be compatible in every way. This is the basis of a lasting relationship as husband and wife (Genesis 2:24).
Sadly, people have wanted to change God’s beautiful design. Over the past few years same sex relationships have gone from being tolerated to being promoted! This is nothing new – this was happening in the first century, too. Notice what Paul wrote: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions”(Romans 1:26). And he spells out exactly what he meant in the verses following.
What is the real problem in all this? “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 1:28). This was the world that the first Christians lived in. And this is the world that we live in, where people are not only consumed with sin but they approve of those who live in sin (Romans 1:32). God has given them up – his judgment will come.
What is the solution? It really is very simple – accept the good news of Jesus, the power of God for salvation. “The righteous by faith will live.”
Readings for next week:
14 August – Matthew 27:1-31
15 August – Matthew 27:32-51
16 August – Matthew 28
17 August – Romans 1
18 August – Romans 2