By John C. Carpenter
The church of believers in Rome was full of wickedness and sin. The apostle Paul addressed these sins: vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [opposed to holiness and God]; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:26-32). The widespread sin of the Roman church, which included homosexuality, was apparent to Paul, but what was the reason for that sin?
As with some in the modern day Christian church, the body of believers in Rome was full of many types of sin, sins of the flesh (Rom 1:24, 1:26) as well as sins of the mind (Rom 1:28). As the author of the book of Hebrews wrote, the believers in Rome, had been enlightened, had tasted of the heavenly gift of salvation, had been partakers of the Holy Ghost, had tasted the word of the gospel, and had experienced the powers of the world to come (Heb 6:4-5), yet they were deeply in sin. These believers in Rome were indivuduals who had come to a saving knowledge of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and professed to love God, yet sin remained rampant in their church. For His own reasons, which we shall discuss later, God the Father gave them up to uncleanness [physical and moral impurity], through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves (Rom 1:24) as well as gave them up unto vile [dishonourable, disgraceful, shameful] affections (Rom 1:26). Homosexuality was not uncommon in the Roman church. In his letter, Paul also accused the church of having vile affections, inordinate passion and lust for the forbidden, resulting in dishonour, reproach, and shame. Paul further explained that the women in the congregation had exchanged the natural, instinctive use of their bodies for that which was beside, beyond or opposed to the natural use, as originally designed and intended by God. The women were lusting after and having sexual relations with other females; they had become homosexual. Likewise, the men in the congregation exchanged their natural sexual relations with women for unnatural relations with other men, and burned, or were consumed, with lust for one another, and also had become homosexual. Paul warned that because the men in the church were performing, in error, deeds and acts that were indecent, unseemly, and shameful, they would fully receive in themselves the resulting payment and reward for their intentional, delusional, and deceitful straying from piety and God's standards. The reward and fruit of their homosexual behavior may have well been physical or emotional illness. Additionally, Paul also explained that their resulting reward [consequences, fruit] was meet, that is, the reward was necessary and appropriate. If what he had already written was not painful enough, Paul added that the church in Rome was filled with all unrighteousness (injustice, iniquity, wrong), fornication (harlotry, including adultery and incest), wickedness (malice and plots), covetousness (extortion, greediness), maliciousness (badness, depravity, malignity, evil, wickedness); full of envy (jealousy, spite), murder (slaughter), debate (quarreling, contention, strife, variance), deceit (craftiness, subtilty), malignity (bad character, mischievousness); whisperers (slanderous detraction), Backbiters (talkative against others), haters of God, despiteful (insulting maltreatment, injurious), proud (appearing above others, haughty), boasters (bragging), inventors of evil things (contrivers of worthless, bad, and injurious things, wicked, depraved), disobedient to parents (unpersuadable), Without understanding (unintelligent, foolish), covenantbreakers (disagreeable and treacherous to contracts), without natural affection (hard hearted), implacable (implacable, truce-breader), [and] unmerciful (merciless). Wow! The quantity and quality of sins is shocking. Remember, these sins were occurring in those in Rome who professed to love God the Father and considered themselves to be believers in Jesus Christ. Sadly, this sounds and looks very much like the modern day Christian church. Paul added that the individuals committing these sins not only well knew about the judgment of God, that those committing such sins were worthy of death, but that some in the church in Rome not only continued to sin, but took pleasure in such sins (Romans 1:27-32). The Roman church was in a low state. The church in Rome was not only practicing sin, but was in bondage to numerous extremely heinous sins, a bondage which God the Father had certainly allowed, if not engineered. Despite knowing of God's coming judgment of their sins, some of the believers in Rome not only continued in these sins, but continued to enjoy them.
The church at Rome was in deep sin, which God had turned them over to; but why. Paul gives us the answer in the verses preceeding our subject verses. After the apostle Paul wrote believers in Rome that he was ready to preach the gospel to them (Rom 1:15), that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Gentile], and that the righteousness of God is revealed to the Jewish faith as well as the Gentile faith, and that the just shall live by faith, Paul immediately gives the reason for their bondage to sin: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness [wickedness] and unrighteousness of men, who hold [know, yet resist and oppose] the truth [of the requirements of the gospel] in [while continuing in] unrighteousness [iniquity, injustice, wrong]; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [the physical creation which can be seen], even [specifically] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [to give honor, to magnify] him not as God, neither were thankful [refusing to express gratitude]; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools [simpletons who truly did not understand the truth, became insipid, lost their ability to influence], And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore [because of these things] God also gave them up [cause to surrender to, bring into bondage to, be controlled by] to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause [because of these things] God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature (Rom 1:18-26). In essence, their entire focus changed from God to man, and for this reason God allowed their bondage. Their hearts had lusted after the flesh, after self, after worldliness, and God gave them what they had desired. However, there was a catch: God gave them the lust which they desired, but the fulfillment of that lust also came with something they did not expect - bondage.
Paul further explained that many in the church at Rome hold [possessed] the truth in unrighteousnes, meaning that they knew the truth of the gospel, and they knew the behavioral requirements of the gospel of Christ, yet they resisted and opposed doing what was right and desired by God. Paul explained that they should have known about the invisible things of God and His gospel because God had shown it to them through the visible things in life, which things were evident from the time of creation. Through His creation, God had shown them, specifically, his abundant, miraculous, eternal power, as well as His Godhead, or divinity. In God's view, the believers in Rome had no excuse for their lack of understanding of the invisible things [expectations] of God. Additionally, the church of believers in Rome knew about God, but they did not glorify [give honor and magnify] to God, neither were they thankful for God, for creation, for their lives, nor for what God the Father had done in them, through them, and for them. They became vain, foolish, and idolatrous in their minds and thinking, and their hearts were darkened, or became full of error. They also began to think of themselves as wise, or having worldly understanding and knowledge beyond reality. In God's view, many in the church became fools [simpletons who truly did not understand the truth, became insipid, lost their ability to influence] and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made more like corruptible man and animals of creation. The scriptures teach us that because of their attitudes toward God and the lusts of their own hearts, God caused them not only surrender to but become in bondage to physical and moral impurities through dishonoring their own bodies between themselves. They went so far as to worship and serve the creatures, including man, rather than God the Father, the creator of all, for which case God gave them up to be in bondage to vile, dishonourable, disgraceful, and shameful passions and lusts. God turned the Roman believers in Christ over to sin and bondage because He was angry with them because, despite their knowledge of, and resistance to, the gospel of Christ, their ungodliness and unrighteousness blatantly and persistently continued.
Paul responded to the problems in the Roman church by writing two things: First, Paul warned the church about the consequences of their sin, and secondly Paul advised them what to do about it.
Paul clearly warned that continued disobedience on the part of the believers in Rome would result in God's indignation and wrath: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious [resistant, rebellious], and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation [affliction, pressure, trouble] and anguish [calamity, distress], upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile (Rom 2:7-10).
After giving his warning, Paul posed the key question to the Roman believers, followed by his advice: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve [be a slave to, be in bondage to] sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin (Rom 6:1-7). Paul explained that because believers in Christ are [or should be] buried with Christ by baptism into death, believers should not only be dead to sin, but walk in newness of life [priorities and behavior]. Paul explained that believers in Christ should not be in bondage to sin, but be free from the slavery of sin. Paul exhorted the believers in Rome,For in that he [Christ] died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members [body parts, including the mind] as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not [should not] have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye [some of you] were the servants of sin, but ye [some of you] have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness (Rom 6:11-19). Paul summarized his advice: believers in Rome, and elsewhere, should not serve or be in bondage to sin, should consider themselves dead to sin, should not let sin reign in their mortal bodies, should not yield [allowed, aided, provided, used] their bodies as instruments of unrighteousness, but should yield their members as servants to righteousness and holiness. Paul, again, summarized and simplified his argument by explaining that their unrighteousness, which they were now ashamed of, would result in death, while their holiness would result in eternal life through Jesus Christ (Rom 6:21-23). Paul further added that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in believers who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, because those that walk after the flesh live according to the the things of the flesh, while those who walk after the Spirit live according to the things of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:4-5). Paul, again, summarized: For to be carnally minded is [results in] death; but to be spiritually minded is [results in] life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against [the enemy of] God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:6-8). Paul also warned that even though crucifying the flesh and following the Spirit of God in the pusuit of righteousness and holiness was a struggle and war that would certainly result in suffering, but Paul also encouraged the believers in Rome [and all believers] by saying this: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18).
In the world, and even in the Christian church, worldly values and standards have replaced Godly values and standards. Today, many in the world, and the Christian church, are calling good things evil and evil things good, including the evil of homosexuality: woe [grief and lamentation] unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still (Isa 5:20-25).
Despite what many out of the church and some in the church claim, scriptures clearly warn that homosexuality is a sin: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination [morally disgusting and abhorrent]. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion [unnatural, evil, naughty, wicked, without profit, worthless]. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 18:22-30).
The old testament also warns us about many other sexual sins: and the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Andthe man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination [loathsome, detestable, disgusting, abhorrent]: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Andif a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness [heinous crime, lewd, mischief, wicked]: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you (Lev 20:10-14).
Paul also warned sinners in the Corinthian church about the fruits of their sin: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).
Paul wrote Timothy, Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane [heathenish wicked], for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers [prostitutes, debauchees, fornicators], for them that defile themselves with mankind [sodomites], for menstealers [enslavers], for liars, for perjured [falsely swearing] persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:9-10).
Many in the church believe that salvation cannot be lost, but Jude corrects this error. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, wrote I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 1:5-7). Jude give us three examples of salvation gained and lost. Israel [a type of new testament believers in Christ] was initially saved, but God later destroyed those who believed not, some angels who rebelled against God left their own heavenly habitation in the presence of God and were reserved into everlasting judgment and darkness by God the Father, and, according to God, some Sodom and Gomorrah believers in God who gave themselves over to fornication and homosexuality will eventually suffer the vengeance of eternal fire and damnation. Salvation followed by sin [rebellion against God] cannot only result in bondage, but eternal damnation as well.
The apostle John taught that Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother (1 John 3:4-10). Regarding fornication, Paul instructed Corinthian believers in Christ, Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife (1 Cor 7:2-4).Scriptures teach us that Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed [should be] undefiled: but whoremongers [a debauchee, fornicator, one who prostitutes themselves] and adulterers [paramour, apostate] God will judge. Let your conversation [life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Heb 13:4-5). Believers are instructed to do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers (Deu 6:18). Paul instructed the believers in Corinth, But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:17-20). In the book of Leviticus, we are instructed to Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you (Lev 20:7-8). While addressing sin in the Corinthian church, Paul gave them the following instuctions: Casting down imaginations [vain sinful and destructive thoughts], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God [and His will for us], and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor 10:5-6). To those in Thesalonica, Paul defined God's will for believers in Christ when he wrote For this is the will of God, even [specifically] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (1 Thes 4:3-7).
In response to the sin of some of the believers in Rome, Paul described the all of salvation:And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom 8:28-30). The apostle later instructed Roman believers I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God [which is the believer's sanctifiction] (Rom 12:1-2).
The apostle Paul also exhorted the believers in the Roman church to behave in ways which would please God as well as benefit the contemporary Christian church: it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh,to fulfill the lusts thereof (Rom 13:11-14)AMEN.

TCH Mini-
                    A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance"
(Psalms 42:3-5).