TUESDAY 8TH AUGUST, 2017 READ – DAY: Act 22; Night: Prv 7-9
THEME: VILE PASSION
TEXT: ROMANS 1:18 – 32
HYMN: EMHB 501 – Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of Sin
Paul’s argument is similar to the one in the “Wisdom of Solomon”, a popular ancient Jewish work widely circulated by this period. His arguments would thus have been timely and easy for his readers to follow. Stoic philosophers argued that the nature of God was evident in creation. At that time, they could even assert that no human race was so uncivilized as to deny the existence of God, and, along with others, argued that the human mind points to what God is like.
Pagan gods acted immorally in the popular myths; one who worshiped them (1:23) would end up acting the same way. Paul argues that distorting one’s view about God’s character perverts one’s sexual treatment of other people. Ancient Jewish people recognized that both idolatry and sexual immorality characterized Gentiles.
The refrain “God gave them over” (1:24, 26, 28) tells how God’s wrath (1:18) works: He lets people damn themselves as they warp their own humanity. As in the Old Testament, God can turn people over to their own hardness of heart (e.g., Isa 6:9-11; 29:9-12; Jer. 44:25-27). Some writers have called this “penal blindness”.
Although many upper-class Romans were affected by Greek ideals, many other Romans, especially Roman philosophers, regarded homosexual practice as disgusting. Graeco-Roman moralists sometimes opposed gender reversal as “against nature,” which would resemble the Jewish argument from God’s original purposes in creation (Gen 2:18). Although Jewish texts speak of Jewish adulterers and thieves, they nearly always treat homosexual behaviour as a Gentile practice.
Paul did not choose this example of sin to be controversial with his readers; his Jewish and Roman Christian readers alike would have agreed with him that both idolatry and homosexual behaviour were sinful. But unlike idolatry and homosexuality (Rom 1:18-27), sins like greed, jealousy, slander, arrogance and ignorance also occurred in Jewish lists as sins some Jewish people committed.
MEMORY VERSE: Romans 1:32 “Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practise such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practise them.”
PRAYER: God Eternal, help to guard my path in this world of sin so that I may not sin against Thee, Lord.