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Bible croppedMore ‘forbidden’ Bible verses — the kind you rarely hear at church these days.

Past entries include: Psalm 12, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14.  

Today’s reading comes from the English Standard Version.

Romans 1:16-32

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

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

 28And 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. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though 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.

St Paul was preaching to the pagans under Nero’s rule in 1st century Rome. This centre of the empire had people from many lands and all classes at any one time. Much like today’s postmodern world, they were embarrassed by the Gospel. This is why Paul makes a special point of announcing that he is ‘not ashamed’ of it.  He states that the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.  (He is drawing on Old Testament references here, one of them being Habbakuk 2:4 also refers to faith which gives us life with God.)

Paul’s ‘righteousness of God’ refers to a just God who will forgive transgressors.   

In verse 18, Paul says that a man who lacks faith is subject to condemnation: he is ungodly and unrighteous.  Yet, even now that the pagans of Rome have the wherewithal to know God, they have resorted to their own notions of what worship entails and what He expects from them. 

They did not honour and serve God the way they should and, as a result, corrupted themselves. Although they thought their ways were wise, they were, in fact, foolish.  They viewed Him in their own image, more like the things they knew instead of the Almighty. So, God saw that they held Him in contempt and passed judgment on them; they ended up following their lusts, however unnatural they were.  God saw that such desires were what the people deserved. (Sodomy was very popular in ancient Rome — it was seen as a normal, pleasurable act.  It was also perfectly legal.)

God once again proved that man is an unrighteous being.  Man is never fully free from impulse and sin.  Once the Romans no longer disdained sin, they ran headlong into evil. They no longer cared about following Him.  They ended up taking pleasure in breaking taboos. They called evil good and cherished it.  Therefore, God, seeing that they wished to be reprobates, allowed them their way.  However, as long as they fell deeper and deeper into sin, they would distance themselves further from Him and from salvation.  They would die in body and soul.

This is a ‘Repent, repent!’ passage.  Sounds awfully like some segments of Western society, I’m sorry to say. 

You can read more here and here.

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