Day 15: Romans 1:28-2:11
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
Romans 1:28-2:11 (NIV)
Our relationship with our Holy God is just that. A relationship. And relationships require two or more to engage each other. To remain in relationship, there are mutual expectations.
We often approach difficult passages like “God gave them over to a depraved mind” (v. 1:28) with a jaundiced eye. The idea of a God who “gives up” on us doesn’t seem to fit the oft-emphasized God of grace who is “forever patient” with our rebellion. Perhaps it even is offensive to us. How can He be full of grace and truth, yet demanding and judgmental?!?
Paul’s writing reveals that there comes a point at which God yields to our will. Rather than a reflection that He has given up on us, it confirms that we have given up on Him. Essentially, He acknowledges our willful surrender to self, the world, and Satan. A visible example was demonstrated when Judas gave in to Satan's temptation, and Jesus commanded him to “do what you must do quickly” (John 13:27).
Jesus didn’t give up on Judas. Judas gave up on Jesus by yielding his will to Satan. There came a point when God no longer had patience, forbearance, or grace to compel Judas. Or putting it in the context of Paul’s thoughts above, Jesus “gave him over” to His enemy. And knowing Jesus’ compassion, He did so with great anguish and heaviness of heart.
Paul thus speaks to our condition in a clear and sobering manner. If we refuse Jesus’ work on the cross as our atonement and provision for our sin then we are, even now, “storing up God’s wrath against ourselves” (v. 5).
So, is God a grace-filled loving God who would that none of us be separated from His love? Or is He is a Holy God demanding righteousness from us? And the answer to each is… yes.
Much like with Judas, for each of us, there comes a point…