Gospel 2 Romans 1 v 18 – 32 The swelling up of the settled anger of God

gospel 2

Paul stated the theme of his letter to Christians in Rome in Chapter 1 v 15 – 17:

The good news is the power of God

That brings deliverance to everyone who believes

    Because in the good news – in the the gospel –

       The fair judicial approval of God is revealed –

           By a gift of persuasion that leads to obedience

Now, in Chapter 1 v 18 – 32, Paul immediately begins to set out the context for this message of good news and why it is necessary. Once again I note the importance of small linking words which I will put in CAPITALS –

The news of deliverance and God’s judicial approval is good

BECAUSE (FOR)

     A swelling up of settled, passionate anger and opposition of God

     Is uncovered from the spiritual real of heaven

On the basis of

     Every kind of refusal by humans to give honor

     Where it is due

AND

     Every kind of human injustice and opposition

     To what is right

 

Unrighteousness within human beings means that

Humans hold back, tie down and restrain what is true to the facts

BECAUSE

            Experiential knowledge of God clearly exists within them

BECAUSE

            God has illumined and made Himself plain and apparent

BECAUSE

            (Although) He is unseen, away from the created world

                        Both His everlasting ability to perform

                                    And His revealed deity

                        Are being understood and apprehended

                                    By the means of things made and clearly seen

                        Leading humans to be inexcusable –

                                   Having no ground of defense

FOR THIS REASON (Because of unrighteousness within)

            Having come to know God in personal experience

            They did not value, honor and give weight to God for who He really is

            Nor did they give thanks

BUT INSTEAD

            Their thinking became aimless and pointless and without understanding,

     Their very core was darkened

            Asserting and affirming themselves to be wise and skilled

                        They became dull, sluggish and turned to foolishness and

                                    They changed the honor, renown and splendor of God

                                          Into forms and images of

                                                Decaying humans and of

                                                Birds, and

                                                Four-legged animals and

                                                Crawling creatures or snakes

THEREFORE

            God handed them over –

            Inside them, eagerness and desire in the core of their being led them to

                        Impurity and to ceremonial uncleanness

                        To shameful indignity and

                        To the dishonor of their physical bodies among themselves

                             No matter who it was who changed the truth of God

                            With regard to who He really is –

                                     Intentionally turning the truth into semi-truth and lies

                                    And worshiping, standing in awe of

                                    And giving service to created things

                                                In the presence of the One Who has created (them)

                        (Who is worthy of praise leading through the ages – So be it!)

The Apostle states it again: (v26)

BECAUSE OF

  This unrighteousness

            God handed them over to

            Raw strong feelings of valueless dishonor –

                        Females changed natural use and function –

                                    Leading to that which is closely alongside

                                    Their inner nature and constitution

  In addition, in the same way

                        Males, having sent away the natural use of the female

                        Burned in their strong desires and lust for one another

                        Males with males

  This improper lack of purpose works out to the end point –

                        They receive back within themselves

                        The corresponding reward of their deviant error –

                                A recompense that must inevitably happen

AND

            Exactly in proportion to the fact that

                        They did not examine and test (their knowledge) in order

                        To hold on to and recognize God in their experiential knowledge

            God handed them over to

                        Their mind and reasoning not passing the test –

                                    Leading to their manufacture and construction of

                                                That which is improper and unfitting

            Having been filled to capacity

            With all kinds of

            Injustice, pain-ridden wickedness and

           The desire for more possessions

            An undercurrent of malice, full of

                                    Embittered grudges, murder, quarrels, deceitful treachery

                                    A malicious disposition

           Whispering sneaky gossip and criticism

           Slanderers, hating God,

          Violently insolent, proud, arrogant and disdainful

          Flaunting themselves in a boastful way

          Contriving and inventing evil from within

          Unwilling to be persuaded by parents

          Unwise because they fail to put the facts together

          Breaking agreements, unfeeling and without compassion.

  They have known in experience

        What God has announced to be judicially approved of:

                        That whoever performs such things as a regular practice

                                    Are weighed and balanced

                                    And found to be deserving of death

BUT

            Not only do they manufacture and construct these things

            They also identify with, agree and are of one mind with

                        Those who actively and regularly practice them

Comments

Of course, some see these sentiments as ‘unfashionable’, ‘outdated’, or ‘politically incorrect’, especially when it comes to the statements about homosexuality and lesbianism. Some Christians talk about God’s love and our need as Christians to reflect and extend God’s love to so-called ‘gay’ men and women. Such Christians reinterpret raw strong feelings, desire and lust for same-sex partners as ‘love’ – and so they reason that as Christians we should celebrate same sex partnerships as expressions of sincere love, and that we should express loving acceptance of them in the same way that God lovingly accepts us. I do not see that kind of reasoning being presented here by the Apostle.

But this raises the question of the purpose of these posts. I am not in the business of ‘apologetics’ – the religious discipline of defending or attempting to prove the truth of religious doctrines, especially to ‘outsiders’, through systematic argumentation and discourse. I take this stance with regard to apologetics based on the Apostle Paul’s encounter with the Epicurian and Stoic philosophers in Athens. They heard Paul preaching the gospel and wanted to know more: ‘they took [Paul] and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.’ (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) Acts 17 v 19 – 21. Paul preached the gospel to them but ‘when [the philosophers] heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.’ At that, Paul left the Council. Acts 17 v 32, 33. Paul did not go back, not even to those who wanted to know more. He was not interested in doing nothing but talking about and listening to ideas, or trying to defend and justify his ideas in the face of the alternative philosophical points of view of ‘outsiders’.

There is, you see, a final court of appeal in these matters for Christians and I suggest that is God’s word expressed in Scripture. I may not openly refer unbelieving Gentiles to Scripture – after all, the Old Testament Scriptures are largely written for the Jews. Nevertheless, Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) form the ground, base and foundation of the Christian’s understanding of spiritual realities, and Christians embrace it more and more as they grow in the faith. Much, if not all, of the New Testament consists of Apostolic teaching – the teaching of those directly commissioned by Jesus to declare the gospel – and Christians are encouraged to hold on strongly to this teaching and practice.

Therefore, my responsibility here is to remain faithful and true to what the Apostles taught. It is not my responsibility to engage in endless debates with ‘outsiders’ by trying to justify or defend what the Apostles taught. Like Paul, I walk away from such debates. My responsibility is, as faithfully and accurately as I can, to present Apostolic teaching, whilst recognizing that such teaching is spiritually discerned and that even being able to receive it, is a gift. Those who are able to hear let them hear. As for the rest, let them go their own way (Matthew 15 v 14, Luke 6 v 39).

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About Robert Laynton

Robert Laynton has a B.Sc.(Hons.) degree in psychology and was a member of the British Psychological Society, becoming a member of their Transpersonal Psychology Division and a contributor to their Journal, 'The Transpersonal Review'. He also gained a Post Graduate Certificate and Diploma in counselling. He suffers from Bipolar Affective Disorder. He likes photography, walking, listening to jazz, reading American Crime Fiction from the 40's, 50's and 60's and enjoys watching older films, especially film noir. He lives in England.
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