Romans 1:18-32 is a very sobering passage. The NIV Bible titles it “God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity.” The verses list an abundance of sins that provoke God’s anger. The list includes everything from sexual impurity and idolatry to arrogance and hatred. The stern passage concludes with this warning, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:32; emphasis added).

     Notice, Christ-followers are challenged not only to resist evil desires, but we are admonished not to give approval to those who indulge in depravity. If a despondent man is standing on the roof of a high building threatening suicide, it’s sick for the crowd below to cheer him on or encourage him to follow through and jump. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)

      It concerns me that some who claim to be Christians imagine themselves as being tolerant when they openly endorse false beliefs and evil behaviors. In a culture where flaunting sin is common and opposing sin is seen as hate, many believers yield to peer pressure and cheer depravity, call good what God calls evil, and undermine the Biblical plea for repentance. It is one thing to be kind and respectful. It is another thing to approve and enable.

     As our culture drifts farther and farther away from God, it is necessary for God’s people to “stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13) and be willing to be a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV). That means not “liking” or approving of depravity just to be seen as tolerant or to avoid conflict. Evangelist Shane Pruitt recently tweeted, “No matter how much a culture celebrates and affirms sin… it still doesn’t stop being sin”.

   Quote from Shane Pruitt:  No matter how much a culture celebrates and affirms sin….it still doesn’t stop being sin.

     Often when a spiritual leader speaks against sin or calls for repentance, shallow believers protest “This doesn’t sound like Jesus! Jesus loved everyone and welcomed sinners.” Indeed, Jesus did welcome sinners, but He also motivated them to turn from their transgressions, live a transformed life, and be saved.

     When Jesus began His ministry, His first recorded words were, “’The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15). He also warned, “…unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3).

     The Jesus of the Bible was “…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He was compassionate to the sinful woman at the well (See John 4) yet confronted her with the truth of her sin. “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:18). In Matthew 10:21 Jesus reminded the Rich Young Ruler there was one thing he lacked, demanding him to “…go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” And in John 8:11 Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery but then added, “…‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

     Acts 2 records that on the Day of Pentecost Simon Peter boldly confronted the audience, charging they had murdered the Messiah whom God then raised from the dead. Simon Peter was not being judgmental or self-righteous. He was stating facts his audience desperately needed to hear. “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Act 2:37). Peter did not tell them to just celebrate the fact that God loves them as they are and receive His grace. No, instead “Peter replied, ‘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’” (Acts 2:38).

     The first step to receiving God’s forgiveness is to be remorseful for our sin and allow God’s Holy Spirit to transform the way we think, feel, and behave. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate once prayed, “Lord we thank you we can come to you just as we are. But remind us we dare not leave as we came.”

     Rather than endorsing sin, the compassionate and faithful response of Christians is to encourage others toward repentance and to receive salvation from sin. Understandably, that is not easy to do in this era of cancel culture when there is so much pressure to conform and unpleasant consequences from social media bullies. Similarly, some influential leaders of Jesus’ day felt that same pressure and stayed silent. John’s gospel records, “…many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:42-43).

     The 18th century English poet Alexander Pope warned of sin’s sinister progression over time: “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

     Instead of embracing what God calls evil, or being intimidated into silence, let’s emulate Jesus who was “full of grace and truth.”


   Bob Russell is Retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.