Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Book of Romans: Chapter 1 Part 3 - The wrath of abandonment!
by F Gordon
Last time we were in chapter 1 we looked at the
beauty of God's revelation of Himself through creation and how all creation
speaks of a Creator. Everywhere you look you can see God's hand, His divine
power and things about His character which are beautiful. So we got up to
verse 20 last time where Paul is starting on this theme that all men are
really without excuse because there is enough revelation given- both in the
conscience that man has been given and the moral conscience which is God
given. And not only that, all men are without excuse because there is enough
in creation that they can search out to know that there is a God. So those
are the really good things that we looked at last time.
Today we are
going to look at the results of whenever that light and revelation is
rejected things happen. So out of the beautiful things we are back in the
pig pen. It is not nice reading when you get to the end of Romans 1 but it
is a reality and you can't scoot around the outside of it because we will
see that it is the very culture that we are living in now.
What happens when you reject God?
Romans 1:21-22 because, although they knew God, they
did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their
thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (22) Professing to be
wise, they became fools...
Paul is speaking here about what happens to people
that reject the evidence of God. The first thing is that they did not
glorify God and nor were they thankful. The Bible speaks a lot about
thankfulness for what God has done for us as His creatures, and actually
having a heart that is thankful towards Him for all of those things. So
these people are not thankful at all for all the things that God has
provided and Paul says that they became futile in their thoughts and their
foolish hearts is darkened; professing to be wise they became fools.
Now the Bible says a fool is someone who says in his
heart that 'there is no God.' God calls that person a fool. Once someone
begins to reject the light and the revelation that is given, philosophies
and vain thoughts start to come into their mind. Evolution is a prime
example of something that is taught these days within our schools. It is
taught as a truth rather than man's theory. It is taught as 'the truth'
about our existence and how we got here. It is one of the biggest lies ever
to come down to human beings. Vain imaginations, theories and humanism deny
the existence of God who created us for an intelligent purpose. Professing
to be wise they became fools. There is a progression.
Romans 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible
God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed
animals and creeping things.
The order Paul starts with is 'man' and then he goes
down through the animal kingdom right down to the bottom to where things
creep along the ground. Bob Dylan sung that song years ago- 'You are going
to have to serve somebody'. "You may serve the devil or you may be the Lord,
but you are going to have to serve somebody." Everybody worships something.
Idolism has come in and the first thing that Romans talks about is that man
is now actually worshipped. So either self is worshipped as an idol or it is
someone else that is put up in that place and they are idolized and
worshipped. In a lot of the Asian and Indian cultures you see idols
everywhere, things that they fashion with their hands and bow down to. I
heard a missionary from India who said that in Hinduism they have 300
million gods. How you could ever come up with that amount is unbelievable
but everything is worshipped as a god. So idolism is rampant in those
But what idols do we have in our culture that we
face? Money is huge in our secular society. An idol is anything that takes
the place in your heart that really God should fill. Sports heroes are
looked up to and idolized. Sport is huge in our culture! A person's position
is also worshiped. So the result of the rejection of the revelation of God
is that man falls into these things. He comes up with theories that deny the
existence of God. He will worship something, everyone has to worship, and
either it is himself or another man or an idol that they has been fashioned.
The dreaded "giving - over"
Romans 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to
uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among
Three times Paul uses this term...a giving up or a
giving over. It's a judicial term, as in when a judge gives a sentence. It
is a giving over by God, of people, nations and cultures because they reject
the light and the revelation that they have been given.
Psalms 81:11-12 "But My people would not heed My
voice, And Israel would have none of Me. (12) So I gave them over to their
own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels.
When Israel wouldn't listen to His instructions,
wouldn't listen to His prophets, and would have none of the Lord, He gave
them over. He essenitally said 'Ok... You can walk in your own counsel. You
can walk in your own wickedness - away you go." In Hosea he said the same
thing about Ephraim.
Hosea 4:17 "Ephraim is joined to idols, Let him
Israel is worshipping idols; let him go his own way.
This is a different thought concerning God; that He actually gives people
and cultures over to follow their own wickedness. When I was thinking about
this it came to me that as a parent you can actually do this in part. So far
I have never had to do it, but many parents do. If you have a wayward child,
someone who refuses to listen to your counsel; you know that the road they
are walking down is wrong and you can see trouble coming for them, but they
still refuse to take any instruction from you, in a sense you have to cut
the rope and give them over or allow them to walk that path and feel the
sting of sin and its consequences. This is the thought that God is giving
over - there is a point where He lets you go.
The story of the prodigal son is actually like that
as well. The father knew his son. He knew what his son was like. When his
son came to him saying 'give me my inheritance' his father knew that he was
going to blow it. He knew he was going to waste it because he knew the heart
of his child. I love the fact that the father gave it to him anyway. It's an
interesting thought that God in this parable, gave the child what he wanted
even though He knew what he was going to do with it. It wasn't until he
reached the pig pen; the end of himself, and the sinfulness of sin came down
upon him and stung him hard that he came to his senses and said 'I have
sinned against heaven, and I have sinned against my father'.
C S Lewis said 'There are only two kinds of
people in the end. Those who say to God, 'Thy will be done', and those who
God says- 'thy will be done.' He is actually right. In the end there
are two kinds of people. You either say to the Lord 'I will follow your
will, your will be done,' or God will say to you 'You follow your own will,
your will be done.'
The slippery slope... and culture then and now
Romans 1:24-28 Therefore God also gave them up to
uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among
themselves, (25) who exchanged the truth of God for the 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 vile passions. For even their
women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. (27) Likewise
also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for
one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in
themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (28) And even as they
did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
You have a progression here and that is why people
are in the pig pen. They reject the light and revelation that God has given
them and come up with all sorts of reasoning's. Idol worship is next and
always following on with idol worship is sexual perversion. Paul lived at a
time when homosexuality was accepted. In Rome, much of the Roman Empire and
its emperors were either homosexual or bisexual and it was accepted and was
legalized. They had legal prostitution of boys; there were public holidays
for legal prostitution of boys. It was a big part of their culture. Even in
Paul's time the emperor Nero took a boy called Sporus, and married him in a
public ceremony. After he married him he was actually joined to another man
in marriage. So this is the culture in which Paul is writing this letter.
Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as
with a woman. It is an abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as he
lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall
surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Under Jewish law these things were punishable by
death. They were an abomination to the Lord. To Paul it was not a practice
in Jewish or Hebrew culture because of the laws that God had given. But for
the rest of the nations around them it was normal. But God had called Israel
to be separate and the way that the Lord views this type of behavior is that
it misses the mark, it is wrong, it is sin, and is something that is
abominable to Him. When you get to the New Testament, Paul in 1 Corinthians
chapter 6, 9 and 10, lists homosexuality as a sin. The people that practice
these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul comes into this
culture and highlights that this is what happens when people begin to reject
the light and the revelation.
Most of you would realize that things have changed
radically in our culture - when I was young, what we have been discussing
was not accepted. It was unlawful. In school it was thought as something
that was wrong. Thirty to forty years ago everything that you watched on
television,( like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and the Brady
Bunch), had a man, a woman and a family. This was the context in which we
grew up and it was normal. Then we started to have shows where unmarried
people lived together. That was the first step which became acceptable over
a period of time. Today, what have you got? You have virtually whatever
goes. And a lot of it is actually due to the media. Whoever controls the
media controls the way people think. If you tell a lie enough times and for
a long enough period people will believe it. This is what has happened with
the media concerning homosexuality. It is not only approved it is promoted
as an alternative lifestyle, and is approved of.
Thirty years ago, we could not say we lived in a
similar culture to what Paul was talking about in Romans 1. However, now we
do. We are living in very similar times and this type of behavior is
accepted as okay. The media is a lot to blame; but the church has been
silent, it has lost the battle on morality. Church leaders and pastors and
celebrants now have to face these issues about homosexuality and the joining
of a man with another man. A lot of leaders have bowed to culture rather
than to what the Bible says; they are interpreting the Bible by the culture
as opposed to the other way round. In so doing they have had to compromise
the Word of God. It says plainly that this practice is a sin of the flesh,
one among many, but it is a sin of the flesh that the Lord Jesus can deliver
Paul says 'God gave them up to uncleanness to
dishonor their bodies.' . He says that it is shameful, they are in error. He
also says that it is against nature. The natural order of things is male and
female. That is the way that God created us. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam
and Steve. Even in nature there is no procreation between the same sexes. So
nature tells you that it is wrong, you can't procreate. It is just a
selfish, self gratifying act and there is no procreation from it. In both
the Old Testament and the New it is wrong behavior, it is a sin, and it is
A recent example - how things have changed
My son attends a Christian school and they take
Christian studies. They have debates and I was talking to him the other day
about some of the issues that they discuss in his class. It is 50/50 in his
class as to whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Opinions are split down
the middle; and this is in a Christian school. In his history class he was
the only one who stood up and said that the Bible says it is wrong. It is
amazing how much it is promoted and the argument is that it is natural for
them. But Paul says it is actually against nature. I don't doubt that you
can have tendencies that way but we all have tendencies to sin. This is what
it is, it is a sin and it is something that the Lord Jesus Christ by His
life in us can actually free a person from. We all have tendencies to steal,
hate, commit adultery... they are all sins, but it is still an individual
choice whether you act on those tendencies. The Bible would say that those
homosexual tendencies, even if you were born with them, are still wrong. The
Lord Jesus Christ, by His spirit in you, can free you from that.
This is what I really feel has happened in our
culture. We had a good spiritual foundation put into this country. A Bible
based spiritual foundation which has been rejected. It has been rejected
outright by our leaders, and our population. When something goes out
something else comes in to fill the vacuum, it is filled with something
else. It always happens. What has come in? You have got secularism.
Liberalism has come in. So in other words there is a consequence for acting
this way. Some people have said that Aids is a consequence of that sort of
behavior. I looked up the Family Research statistics which may go along with
this. The average age of a man dying with aids is 39, which is young. The
average age of all other causes of death for practicing homosexuals is only
41, which I thought is incredibly young. One percent of homosexual men live
to 65 or older. If you contrast that with the statistics of heterosexual men
the average age is in the 70's. Paul says here that they receive in
themselves the penalty of the error which was due. When I read that and
looked at the statistics, I thought, these stats have to be telling us
something loud and clear.
Out with genders...
Romans 1:28-31 And even as they did not like to retain
God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those
things which are not fitting; (29) being filled with all unrighteousness,
sexual immorality,  wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of
envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, (30)
backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil
things, disobedient to parents, (31) undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving,
The Greek word for 'debased' means metals that have
not passed the test. This has actually become true because I found an
article which stated that in Michigan a mother and son have gone public to
transition to father and daughter. So in other words Arthur wants to become
Martha and Martha wants to become Arthur. This is what happens. They went
public and God gave them over to a debased mind. You wouldn't even have
considered this 20 - 30 years ago. But this is what is happening. It has
even taken a further step and has gone into gender issues. We now have
genderless toilets, which is pushed in the schools because kids don't know
what sex they are. You have genderless roles coming in. You are no longer
male or female, genderless will be a box you can tick. It is beyond reason.
It is debased. This is the world in which we find ourselves, very similar to
that which Paul wrote about. Paul also writes about things that come from
this giving-over - There is a big list there. Too much to go through each
one but this is the state of where the world is.
Finally hearty approval is given
Romans 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God,
that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the
same but also approve of those who practice them.
We see here the final step in this downward
progression. The lie is now promoted, appauded, and they want others to
partake of it. It eases their conscience if someone else is doing the same
as they are; it makes it easier on them. It is flaunted. Look at the whole
gay 'pride movement'. It is encouraged by the media who flaunt it. They want
you to accept it, be a part of it and justify it. So how are we to respond
in a culture like this?
We will look at one verse just to end on a
Philippians 2:12-16 Therefore, my beloved, as you
have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my
absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (13) for it is
God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (14) Do
all things without complaining and disputing, (15) that you may become
blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the
world, (16) holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day
of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
'But the Lord knows how to deliver the righteous
from temptation and to save the ungodly for the Day of Judgment'. Keep
working out that which he has actually put in you, and stay close to Him; He
says 'shine'. So let your light, as a Christian, shine. Yes, it's a dark
place. When you look up at night it's all dark apart from the stars. They
just twinkle away. It's the same when God looks down upon the earth there is
darkness and perversion all around apart from the saints. They are the ones
that are shining forth their light. And the last thing we are told to hold
onto is scripture and let scripture be your guide and your path through this
life. Interpret your culture by scripture, and not the other way around.