“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:22-27
I’ve been called a bigot. I’ve been called ignorant and close minded. Many people will read the verses above and see it as an attack. But, that is simply not true. I don’t quote the words above to offend anyone. I quote the apostle Paul to tell you a story: My story.
I was raised in a Christian home. My father was a deacon and Sunday school teacher. My mother was a greeter at church and would occasionally lead the congregation in worship. I was blessed by God to have this life at home. But, I ignored God’s blessing, and I treated it as a curse. Christ was the focal point of my family, but I focused my eyes elsewhere.
As I grew up I followed the pattern of Romans 1:25. I “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Although I knew who God was, I didn’t worship Him as God. Instead I served created things. I sought the approval of man. I tried to find happiness in my athletic achievements (which were few). I placed my hope in attaining popularity, dating the “hottest” girls, and would worship anything that offered me praise. As a result, I deemed myself worthy of glory, and I placed myself on the throne of God.
“Therefore God gave [me] up to dishonorable passions…” God let me pursue the things of the world. I became overly prideful. I became lustful, perverted, and developed an addiction to pornography. I sought out anything that would bring me even the slightest bit of satisfaction. But, these things never fulfilled me. As a consequence I fell into a depression, and began to have suicidal tendencies. “Though [I knew] God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, [I] not only did them but gave approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)
I was dead in my sins. I was a child of wrath, and I was deserving of judgment. But then God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my sin, made me alive with Christ! (Ephesians 2) God penetrated my heart, and He saved me! He took His rightful place as Lord of my life; and He place me in my rightful place, humbly at His feet. In this He justified me!
From this point God began to sanctify me, and still is. He pulled me from the depression that I was in. He removed from me my addiction to pornography, though it was a slow and painful process. But, He also gave me satisfaction beyond all comparison. He gave me the joy of knowing that despite my sin, and despite my transgression, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sin. (John 3:16) And no-one can ever take that away from me.
See, the Gospel didn’t check my morality. The Gospel didn’t condemn me for my actions. The Gospel saved me from my actions, because I was condemned already. (John 3:17-18) The Gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated my heart and transformed me. It allowed me to stop my actions out of the overflow of my appreciation for Christ’s sacrifice. For this I am eternally grateful.
So, recognize Christ’s work on the cross. Not only this, but understand that no-one comes to God the Father except through Jesus. (John 14:6) Know that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) By these things I will not waiver, because I know they are true. The grace of God saved me from the depth of my sin, and it will do the same for you. All you must do is repent, and follow Jesus.
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” – Acts 2:38-41