With a recent ruling in the US I wanted to share some thoughts from a perspective I’ve not seen yet, which I hope will provide some insight as to the ways of the Lord.
I could list any number of sins and works of the flesh from the New Testament – strife, adultery, witchcraft, hatred, drunkenness - But in none of these is it said God becomes directly involved. They are just a person being a sinner, or struggling disciples doing what disciples in process do. (Galatians 5:19-21 list works of the flesh, and he is talking to believers, not the unsaved)
When God does become involved: Not all sins are equal
But in Romans 1:18-32 Paul lists a classification of sin God does become directly involved with, which explains why discerning people can sense there is a spiritual battle taking place. The context is the lowest form of revelation about God: People who see Him or evidence of Him in nature, yet reject Him.
“Who hold the truth in unrighteousness…because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” v18-20
Not ignorant of God
Paul lays out the case that the most basic, foundational way of realizing and knowing God is through His creation – in nature His nature and eternal power can be seen. He says the same in Acts 14:17, that “He has not left Himself without a witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our lives with food and gladness.”
But for people who reject evidence of Him in nature, and THIS is the key, he says: “For even though they knew God (some translations say ‘knew about God’), they did not honor Him as God nor give thanks, but they became futile in speculations and their foolish heart* was darkened.” v21
What God expects
God has an expectation within Himself that when someone sees nature they at the very least will acknowledge there is a Creator, and perhaps give thanks to Him for His creation. This group of people see Him in the natural world, but refuse to honor Him as God nor give Him thanks to Him for nature.
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, and of birds and animals and crawling creatures.” v22-23
This speaks of idolatry and the principle that this group of people begin purposely giving homage to creation rather than the Creator – the core root of idolatry is elevating creation to the level of Creator thus elevating the rule of man rather than the rule of God - in other words, it becomes a personal effort against God.
Now watch what God does when they decide to reject knowing Him and purposely – that is the point – purposely do things to deny Him:
“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worship and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” v24-27
Paul restates yet again in conclusion: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper.” v28
Understand that context: Because they rejected God in nature, He allows them to experience the ramifications of what rejection of nature means - living the opposite of what is natural. God promises that what we sow is what we reap. Therefore to reject creation in proper context of Him as Creator opens a person to the opposite of that nature.
Un-believing the lie
In principle it isn’t different than a person who rejects the sanctity of his or her marriage vows, which opens them up to the opposite of the marriage vows they forsook, divorce. It isn’t any different than a person who rejects sound financial practices as outlined in scripture opening themselves to the opposite of sound handling of money, and encountering financial hardship.
The difference is this sin involves people who know or know about God as seen at the most basic level possible, in nature, and still reject Him – therefore by rejecting nature they experience the opposite of nature. They don’t want Him, so He turns them over to what they want.
Don’t make the mistake
If a Christian doesn’t know the spiritual root of this class of sin they could easily get caught up in the politics or emotions of the day.
Paul concludes by listing sample behavior that follows such a rejection of God and His turning them over to their own minds to pervert nature as they have already settled in their hearts to do, but the list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, and concludes that they “..give hearty approval to those who (also) practice them.”
The reason I am writing this essay
I see churches divided over the issue, caught up in the emotion and wanting to demonstrate their love to all, completely oblivious to foundational spiritual context. The issue is that SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has elevated a sin which is the result of the rejection of all that is God as seen in nature, to Constitutional right status.
The NT lists many ‘works of the flesh’ in Galatians 5:19-21, but he doesn’t say God became involved in turning people over to those sins. In I Corinthians 3:3 Paul tells them because there is envy, strife, and divisions among them they are living like un-born again people and are mere babies in Christ – but He doesn’t say God became involved to turn them over to that sin.
The issue Paul brings up is that when people see God and evidence for Him in nature, and then reject what they see of Him in nature, He allows them to live out the rejection of the very nature they rejected, which results in perversion.
Sin, all sin, is like fruit on a tree. You can pick fruit all day long but not affect the root of the tree. As defined by the Bible, sin is the throwing off of the government of God, therefore the issue is first acknowledging God as God, even at the most basic level of seeing Him in nature, and then, ‘Who is Jesus?’
Next week – what about Christians in this category, and where is the USA headed?