This phrase was not a part of my regular vernacular before I moved to Vernon. Sure, I knew that it was true according to Scripture, but it wasn’t something I spoke about often. But then a couple of my close friends started saying this pretty regularly. Sometimes in jest, but most often with a heart for being real about what the Bible says about us, which leads them to live with a sense of profound gratitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
As I have been moving through the book of Romans in my personal study time, I finally have come to the end of chapter one. And this final verse is a doozy.
and although they know the ordinance 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. – Romans 1:32
This verse, which I’m focusing on today, immediately follows a list of sins (not an exhaustive list) that characterize those who have chosen to abandon their Creator and worship created things instead. You can go back and read Murder & Envy if you would like to hear my thoughts on that passage.
Anyway, here’s the indictment. Here’s what we deserve if we have committed any sin, for the preceding list covers a wide range of our sin struggles, great and small.
According to the truth of Scripture, we deserve death.
I, Nathan Roach, am a sinner. Daily I struggle with sin. God has said that apart from Christ I deserve death.
Here’s the fact of the matter. Not only do we as human beings sin against the righteous and just Lordship of Jesus, we know better. Earlier in Romans we see that all of mankind inherently knows that there is a God, and thus inherently knows what is good and what is bad (Romans 1:18, 21).
When you boil it down, our sin is cosmic treason.
God sits upon the throne in heaven. Right now I’m reading Revelation in my quiet time (don’t worry, I’m not charting or diagramming the end times) and although there is a bajillion different things in that book that I know absolutely nothing about, I have been encouraged and in awe of the way it proclaims the glory of God (Revelation 5 stunned me), the Lamb who was slain is worthy of power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12). It is against this God, this King, that we are committing treason every time we sin.
You see, too often I view my sin as first and foremost transgressions against whomever I sinned against. So if I say something out of anger towards Jamie, I feel as if I’ve sinned against her, and so on.
But the reality is, our sin is cosmic treason in the face of the Creator of all things.
Every time we sin, we challenge and defy God’s right to reign over his creation and to impose obligations on us as creatures made in his image. – R.C. Sproul
Our sin is a big deal.
Our sin results in us deserving death.
You know, that’s what makes the second part of this verse even more painful to read. Not only do wicked men know that death is what they deserve for celebrating and walking in lifestyles of sin, they also celebrate and approve those who do the same.
Isn’t that such a clear picture of much of what’s wrong in the world (it shouldn’t be surprising that God’s Word portrays the reality of the world we live in)? We rebel against God, and instead of repenting, we accept and celebrate and condone and praise those who walk in sin as well.
I’m plenty guilty of this.
Let’s take the sin of gossip and slander, of speaking about those who aren’t in the room. I hate this sin. I hate that it seeps into my life from time to time. I do my best to fight against it, but in my weakness I fall into it. Here’s the mental gymnastics I do. Instead of acknowledging that I have sinned against God by speaking about one of His image-bearers in an ungodly manner, I choose to say to myself ‘everybody does it, it’s okay if I fall into it too from time to time. Besides, it’s a small town, it’s just part of it.’
Gossip and slander may not seem like damnable offenses, but before a perfectly holy and just God, they are.
So not only do I know that death is the price for sin, I accept and celebrate those who sin as well.
Shame on me for the times I twist my own version of morality because I don’t want to be allegiant to the commands of the God who made all of this.
That’s why our culture condones sin. It eases the conscience and cosmic treason becomes communal. It’s easy to not feel guilty for something that is culturally acceptable.
This is where the chapter ends.
But thankfully it’s not where the book ends, nor is it where the story ends.
This bleak picture of our sin is where the gospel shines the brightest. We deserve death, but we have been purchased through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We fail daily, but Christ lived a perfect life that we could not, and DIED THE DEATH WE DESERVE.
So as a follower of Jesus, I don’t have to worry about the eternal punishment of my sin. I am set free in Christ.
I have been saved by God in Christ. I daily seek to become more like Christ. I want to learn to love what he loves and hate what he hates.
I deserve death, but because of Christ, I don’t get it.
This is the message every person in our community needs to hear. Wherever you may be reading this, it is the message every person in your community needs to hear.
People are dying without the hope of Christ. They are receiving eternal death in hell. We must not be complacent. We must speak.