Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
Romans 1:25-27, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
In order to understand the glory of the gospel, we first need to fully understand just how bad the situation really is. Paul was not pointing fingers; he was not trying to point out how bad everyone else was around him. Instead, he was showing us how far we, all of humanity, have fallen away from God’s righteousness. So, when Paul talks about “they” it is best to understand it to mean human beings in general. All of humanity is prone to turn away from God because of the fall and original sin. In turning away from God, they exchanged the truth about God they saw in the natural world and pursued and worshiped their own gods they created.
In this passage, we see Paul giving a second example of the exchange in terms of sexual sin. In our culture, the LGBT lifestyle has come front and center and Paul’s words here have become a crucial text in the debate about homosexuality. In this text, we see Paul saying that men and women are guilty of exchanging natural relations for unnatural. Homosexuality is to be seen as a sin, in that it violates God’s created order just like the list of sins that Paul lays out in verses 26-32. This has been the church’s understanding of this text for millennia, but lately this view is being challenged.
Of late, there have been attempts by some to understand Paul’s words on homosexuality in a more positive light. But all of these attempts fall short in being true to the scriptures. For example, recently the interpretation of the word “natural” has been at the center of the debate. In responding to this new insight to the word “natural,” John Stott wrote: “Today some homosexual people are urging that their relationships cannot be described as unnatural, since they are perfectly natural to them. We have no liberty to interpret the noun nature to meaning my nature, or the adjective natural to mean what seems natural to me. To act against nature means to violate the order that God has established, while to act according to nature means to behave in line with what the Creator intended.”
In Matthew 19, Jesus quoted Genesis and told us the Father’s intent when he said: “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh… therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19: 4-6, Genesis 2: 24).” You see…it was God Himself who instituted marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And what God has united, we are not at liberty to separate.
In thinking through the application for this passage, the first thing that comes to mind is: We’ve got to make sure we are not trying to make the Bible say something that it is not…scripture cannot mean what it never meant.
We can’t try and make it fit our beliefs. Instead, we’ve got to make sure that our thoughts line up with what God has said to us in His word. If we’re struggling with a sin, we need to ask Him to help us to clearly see the truth and then ask Him to give us the power to change. It is not programs or treatments or education that can change a person, but it is the power of the gospel that changes people!
When dealing with sin, we must never forget that it is the gospel that humanity needs. It is Jesus’ death burial, resurrection, and His return that gives us hope. It’s in this gospel that we find God’s love and forgiveness. We don’t lash out hatefully and arrogantly toward this particular sin, but instead through prayer, concern, testimony, and compassion, we show the love of Christ…we become light to a dark world.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.