Two sins that lead to all others.

It’s always about you.

Idolatry.

Sexual immorality.

The delusion of the age.

We must have courage.

 

Wednesday after Pentecost

Romans 1:18-27

 

May 28/June 10 2009

 

 

Immediately after Pentecost, we begin reading The Epistle of Paul to the Romans. This is arguably the most difficult, theological and “head spinning[1]” Epistle in the New Testament.

 

As with all Scripture, however, there are always simple messages that we can glean , as long as we read with purpose, expecting to be instructed in righteousness[2] by some detail we read

 

Much of the things St Paul says in today’s reading are very simple. It would be good to talk about them now, while we still can.[3]

 

It would be a great mistake to regard Paul’s words as only referring to idolaters and sexually immoral people, whom Paul refers to here:

 

23 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.” (idolatry)

 

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 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 recompense of their error which was meet.” (homosexuality, or in our political speak of the day, both “Gay” and “Lesbian” relations)

 

The most important part of the entire reading is the first verse, and it’s follow-up, which describe two kinds of sins:

 

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”

 

The scriptures must be read in a personal way. This does not mean that they will tell us what car to buy,  or whether or not to do missionary work in another country, but they will speak to our personal hearts, if we listen. Although Paul goes on to describe some of the more extreme examples of holding “the truth in unrighteousness”, we err greatly if we do not consider this admonition to also refer to us.

 

When we read these words, we must wonder in which way they refer to us. To ponder this, we first must understand what holding “the truth in unrighteousness” is.

 

Let’s define it as: saying we believe something, but not doing what we say. This describes all sin. Now, St Paul’s words are very personal, and should make us tremble!  The Holy Theologian tells us:

 

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  (4)  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1John 2:3-4)

 

And:

 

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1John 4:20)

 

Do we “hold” the truth, and yet remain unrighteous, with our passions and sins and selfishness and laziness and all the rest? If so, then St Paul’s admonition applies to us.

 

Let us not despair, because if we are true Christians, with the “honest and good heart[4]” that our Savior described, then although we are guilty of sins, we will not  be guilty of the greater sins which St Paul described (which lead to all terrible, immoral sins):

 

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

 

I have told many people many times that sin, of itself, will not kill us. If it were absolutely deadly, no one would live. Only unrepentance will lead to death. God will forgive all sin, except that unforgivable sin[5] – to not repent. If we do sinful things, AND justify them, we have become vain in our imaginations and have darkened hearts – and God will not abide where there is darkness.

 

Death from sin is a process, with progression, just as gaining eternal life is a process with progression. All sins lead to death, because, unchecked, sin leads to more sin, and eventually, the corruption of the mind so that we are unable to stop sinning. All righteousness leads to more righteousness, and eventually, we are free from sin. Which way are we progressing, towards Jerusalem, or towards Jericho[6]? The way we live our life, the priorities we have, the beliefs we espouse, our own personal honest and integrity – these will determine which road we walk.

 

St Paul’s admonition censures two great sins which lead to all the rest of the woes and illnesses of the heart:

 

1. Holding the truth in unrighteousness, that is, being sinners.

 

And

 

2. The greater sin, which is one of the heart – to not glorify God, and as a consequence of not carefully attempting to follow the commandments, making excuses for our sins, and becoming vain in our imaginings and darkened in our hearts.

 

As for the first sin, there is repentance, and the grace of God which will help us. As for the second, there can come a time when we are incapable of repentance, because our lack of care regarding personal purity and the following of the commandments will have lead us to have a “hardened heart” like Pharaoh. From this sin there is not repentance.

 

If we fear the first, and struggle against it, we will not commit the second.

 

Now, we must say something about the immoral sins that St Paul mentions.

 

Absolutely, these denunciations of Paul refer to what they appear to be referring to: worship of idols, and immoral same sex sexual acts. Of course, our society tries all day long to find some way to change the meaning of these words, but they are very clear. God considers sexual activity between those of the same sex to be impure, “unseemly” and “unnatural”.

 

We must pause here to make two important points.

 

This passage does not mention adultery, but it is also a grave sin, mentioned at many other places in the scriptures. Also, there are different kinds of sins and weaknesses. We understand that even to “look at a woman to lust after her” is adultery, so the church has always understood, as her High Priest has taught us, that sin can occur, even if it is only in the mind.

 

Any impure thoughts are debilitating to the soul, but when we fight them with courage and not with an attitude of “making excuse with excuses in sins”, we will eventually, with God’s help, be at peace. Sexual lust of all kinds can be a very strong and persistent temptation, and to even have this temptation is a sign to us that we are not yet righteous. We truly fall when we give in to the temptation and act upon it, and make it a thousand times more deadly to our soul when we make excuses for it. Can a person afflicted with sexual impurity (of any kind) be saved? YES, OF COURSE, but only if he struggles against it.

 

Our politically correct age is making it a sin to say there is sin. If we understand sin for what it is – something which debilitates the soul and makes it sick, then we can fight this view. To call homosexuality a sin (and to offer solutions for it) is an act of Christian love. My brethren, do not fall prey to the pernicuous propaganda of our age. All sin hurts, and leads to death. It must be fought, and we must equip others weaker than ourselves to fight it, not matter what our government or major papers or television programs try to tell us.

 

To have a moral opinion of life is not easy, and it takes courage. Many so called Christians are afraid to live this way. May God help us. If we attempt to live moral lives with great effort, we will not be prone to the great delusion that our society is trying to confuse us with. This is only solution for our modern predicament. If we are strict with ourselves, and try to live morally, we will not be confused when the world tries to sell us a bowl of pottage, whether by propaganda, coercion, threats or punishments.

 

 

 

Romans 1:18-27 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 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. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 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. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 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.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-10.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-10.doc

 

New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 



[1] “Head spinning” – Sometimes when I try to understand the depth of Paul’s theology, as I think on the multiple layers of though contained in even one (LONG) sentence, my head spins!

[2] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Timothy 3:16  )

[3] The impending “Hate Speech” legislation and the overall tone of our society which considers the only sin to be proclaiming that there IS sin, will make any discussion of morality, and especially sexual morality, very dangerous. It will, unless God intervenes, soon be a crime to publicly espouse the church’s view about sexual morality, especially regarding homosexuality. People will go to jail for standing up for the truth, after being slandered as purveyors of “hate speech” and inciters of violence”. Are you ready for this? The only way to be ready is to live a moral life NOW, because when the time comes to stand (and loose your job or life or liberty in the process), you (and I) will not be able to do so, unless we are strengthened by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who only abides in a place that is pure.

[4] “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15  )

 

[5] The church understands blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to be lifelong unrepentance ”Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Mat 12:31)

 

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:  (29)  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mar 3:28-29)

 

[6] See the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Jerusalem is a symbol of righteousness, and Jericho of sin.





Redeeming the Time

↑ Grab this Headline Animator





We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas