“Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in Him is being talked about all over the world.” – Romans 1:8 (NLT)
“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” – Romans 1:12 (NLT)
Faith. The most important part of being a follower of Christ. You literally cannot follow Him without having faith.
True, authentic faith in Christ is something that seems to be rare in our society today (specifically American/Western Christianity). There is a lot of people who claim to have faith, but they fail to actually live out this said faith. And you cannot have faith UNLESS you live it out. This is why the faith of the Roman church was being talked about all over. They had faith that they put into practice. They lived what they claimed to believe. This is how it’s supposed to be.
This kind of faith becomes an encouraging force for those who witness it. Our faith is supposed to encourage others, and be encouraged by the faith of others. It is a constant, revolving cycle. Hence why gathering together with other believers is so important, and not something that is suggested but rather commanded.
Our faith is what makes us right with God. Faith is the beginning of righteousness. It guides us on the path of right living before the Lord. As Paul says in verse 17, “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'”
It is no mistake that Paul goes from talking about righteous living being rooted in faith, straight into sin and God’s anger towards it.
From verse 18 all the way through 32, Paul points out that there is no excuse for those who “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (v. 18). When God created the earth and sky, He made it clear through His creation that He is real. Yet people ignore this and choose to remain in their wickedness. Paul talks specifically about homosexual relations in the context of this passage. In v. 26-27, he discusses how both men and women abandoned the natural way of sexual relations and turned to having relations with the same sex (i.e. men with men, and women with women). They distorted the truth and abandoned the natural, God ordained way of things, all for the sake of personal pleasure and satisfaction.
This is the path that leads to death. Faith leads to righteous living, which is life. Sin, abandonment of God’s natural way, leads to death and perversion. There is no getting around it. No gray area here. Simply black and white. There is no ignoring the truth that God has made so clear since the beginning of time. The only reason anyone does not abide by truth is because they choose to ignore the reality of what is. And this is why we live in a world where truth is believed to be relative to the individual, rather than absolute for the whole of the world.
We cannot ignore the truth. We cannot tolerate the ignorance to the truth. We either abide by it, or we don’t. There is no middle ground on this.