January 19, 2018

Confessions of a Closeted Book Thrower

Romans 1

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Greeting

Paul, a servant1 of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son,...

Greeting

Paul, a servant1 of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David2 according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Longing to Go to Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,3 that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,4 both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,5 as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”6

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,7 in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 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.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[2] 1:3 Or who came from the offspring of David
[3] 1:13 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[4] 1:14 That is, non-Greeks
[5] 1:17 Or beginning and ending in faith
[6] 1:17 Or The one who by faith is righteous shall live
[7] 1:20 Or clearly perceived from the creation of the world

Confessions of a Closeted Book Thrower



Central Truth

 Hard truths reveal the person we really are.

Devotional | Romans 1

Until 2011, I found the gospel confrontational because of a prideful and selfish heart condition that rejected God's best for my life instead of my own desires. Its message put me at odds with its good news....

Until 2011, I found the gospel confrontational because of a prideful and selfish heart condition that rejected God's best for my life instead of my own desires. Its message put me at odds with its good news. It challenged my sexual identity. How could God create me gay and then condemn me to hell for being born that way? This wrong belief is the primary reason I have sent the Bible airborne.

Romans 1:18-32 had been used as a weapon against me at gay rights rallies by counter protestors. Words of judgment about my character and eternal damnation flowed freely. It seemed they cared more about being morally right than they did for me. That did not equate to a loving God.

As a new believer, I found that Paul’s stance on sexuality and marriage challenged me. The truth-telling words of Romans divided my heart and revealed my selfish motivations. They exposed me to the hard truth: I was not born gay, but a sinner. My orientation was not toward women, but toward selfishness and self-protection. I was dominated by my emotions, attractions, and desires.

Gulp. Those hard truths forced me into a decision: choose my way or God's way. When confronted by words of truth, we respond in one of the following ways:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Deny they exist at all.
  3. Manipulate them to suit our needs.
  4. Respond to the truth by surrendering our will to God's will.

The gospel exposed the root causes of my sexual and relational brokenness. My greatest sin was a prideful heart condition that said I knew better than God. I idolized women and sought relationships with them because I thought I needed women to make me a whole person. My sinful heart caused me to reject God’s intended design for me.

The gospel shows us that God is the only One who can meet our deepest needs and satisfy our longings. For this reason, I join Paul in proclaiming I am unashamed of the gospel. It has transformed me from the inside out. As a result, I know that God is for me and I can trust Him with every aspect of my personhood.

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Bio | Hope Harris

Hope Harris here, and I am a closeted book thrower. My book tossing is not a noble cause to rid the world of books filled with lies or filth. Friends, I literally send books airborne across the room. The top book I have thrown is the Bible. The launching has usually been incited by Paul’s writings. Pray for me, I need it!

My next confession is, in the past, I have wanted to rip Romans 1 from the spine of my Bible and shred it with my bare hands. Discover why I was so provoked.

Discussion Questions

1. Are you a closeted book thrower? What kind of books are you throwing? What does this reveal about the condition of your heart?

2. Do you wrestle with rejecting the hard truths of God’s Word in favor of your own will and desires? List those things and why they are so important to you. Now take a courageous step and share them with a trusted friend, accountability partner, and/or your community group.

3. Have you experienced the transformative power of the gospel? Or are you seeking just an assurance of heaven and avoidance of hell? Are you willing to relinquish control of your life to the Lord and let the power of the gospel change you from the inside out? The heart of God is to bless you and give you a true, meaningful life.

For those who do not know my story, read it here.

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