One of the things that Paul does in the book of Romans is to strip away any excuses that we might try and use to justify our actions. Paul lays out a clear-cut and logical argument that we are all guilty of sinning against God and need the forgiveness only provided by Jesus Christ. The first thing that Paul does is strip away our excuse of ignorance. In Romans 1:18-23 Paul makes it clear that we have enough evidence in nature to recognize that there is a God but we can often times choose to ignore him.
When we choose to ignore God on a regular basis it leads to what I think are two of the scariest verses in the Bible:
"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."
There comes a point in our rebellion against God where he just lets us go. What Paul is saying is that when we choose to live a life of rebellion God actually honors our choice. God allows us to continue living a life of rebellion. What we must remember is that all sin is rebellion against God and whenever we choose to live a life of consistent sin we are in danger of God honoring that request. Paul continues a few verses later to describe some of the characteristics of a rebellious life:
"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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless."
I don't know about anyone else but there are a few things on that list that I am guilty of doing. Paul also makes it clear that there is a penalty for such behavior:
"Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."
Paul is saying that even if we deny the existence of God we still recognize that moral wrongdoing is punishable. Paul also makes it clear that it is not just that we engage in these behaviors but that we also give approval to others when they do them. And that is really just another form of excuse making. Excusing someone else's bad behavior is just as wrong as excusing my own.
Fortunately this is not the end of the book of Romans. But it is another reminder that I am still a man in need of a savior.
And for the record–I skipped verses 26-27 for a reason. It is not to excuse or minimize the behavior found in those verses. Rather I skipped them in order to point out that the behaviors listed in verses 29-31 are just as rebellious.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.