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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Consequences of Unbelief (Romans 1)

Often times the passage God puts on my heart from my daily reading is a controversial one. And really, since these are topical devotions, I could just skip over the unpopular passages; except God keeps pressing me to write out what He is saying even in these.

So, since my desire with these devotions is to please God, I will keep writing about the passages He presses upon my heart. In this case, it's Romans 1.

The book of Romans is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to encourage and teach the church in Rome. He jumps to his first doctrinal teaching in the first chapter, talking about unbelief and its consequences.

He emphasizes that God's wrath will be revealed against all who suppress the truth about God.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

In other words, to tell someone that God does not exist and that they can live their life however they choose with no consequences is a bold-faced lie. There are consequences to leading people to sin and leading people away from God.

When we embrace God, He makes Himself known to us. Likewise, when we reject God and exchange the truths of God for a lie, we see one of the saddest statements in the Bible:

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity.

When we reject God or even when we just choose to not focus on God, sin no longer stings; it no longer seems wrong. Sin seems ok and even normal when we choose to unplug from God.

We also find that as we take our eyes off of God, every one of us will be drawn to some kind of sin. That sin that we crave will be different for each one of us.

Paul speaks in Romans 1 of sexual sin, specifically homosexuality:

Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

So, it may be easy to read this and think, "well I don't commit that sin," so I'm ok. But then Paul goes on to list all the other sins we may be drawn to when we reject God and focus on ourselves and the world around us:

Romans 1: 28-30 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.

The bottom line is when we reject God, He gives us over to embrace the sin that we crave. The longer we attach ourselves to that sin, the harder it is to turn back to God. But if we repent of our sins and focus the eyes of our heart on Jesus, the burning desire for those sins will melt away like dross on silver being burned off by the refiner's fire.

Paul ends the chapter with a reminder that not only should we not practice those sins, we are also not to approve of them in any way:

Romans 1:32 Although they know the ordinances of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

I find this last verse to be the main point that jumped out at me. On the one hand, I am not to judge others who sin differently than I do. But on the other hand, I am not to approve of or celebrate their sins.

So for example, if I have friends or family members who choose to get married in a union that goes against God's definition of marriage, I personally will not attend that event because I don't want to "give hearty approval" to a celebration that goes against God's Word.

Yet, I am called to love them and pray for them to turn back to God. But loving them doesn't mean celebrating their choice to sin. Loving them means caring about them, praying for them, and taking every opportunity to share the hope I have in Jesus with them.

Dear Lord, It's so easy to read something like this and want to judge those who sin differently than I do. But You are the judge, not me, Lord. You have called me to love and share your message of salvation, not judge. At the same time, You have also called me to refrain from approving, consenting, agreeing to, or celebrating the sins of others. So, Lord, I need You to guide me in how to do that in a loving way so that I am leading people to Jesus, not pushing them further away. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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