Truth is very important to God and should be very important to us as well. Tragically, truth is often suppressed by unrighteousness, which leads to the descending depravity of mankind for which the wrath of God is revealed. We consider these things from Romans 1:18-32.
Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 5
Descending Depravity – Romans 1:18-32
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 24th, 2017
- Over the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about the good news of the Gospel from Romans 1:16-17 and what it means for us and the rest of world.
Romans 1:16-17 ESV
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, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
- The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes – first to the Jew and then to the non-Jew.
- In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed – God gives to us what he demands from us. We start our transformational journey in faith and live righteousness through continuing in the faith.
- For many weeks, we have been studying the good news that has been revealed. Today we are receiving the bad news of God’s wrath being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. I want you to understand why God responds this way, how unrighteousness affects us (as individuals and as a society), and what we can do about preventing ungodliness and receiving salvation.
The wrath of God revealed
Romans 1:18-32 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
- God is against ungodliness and unrighteousness.
- The wrath of God is revealed in greater and greater degrees.
- Fallen world, futility of life, turning us over to sin, death, final judgment
- Unrighteousness suppresses the truth.
- It is a moral issue, not a mental issue.
- People who do not love the truth will not receive the truth.
2 Thess 2:10b-12 ESV
They refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- If you don’t love truth, you will be always learning but never understanding.
2 Tim 3:7 ESV
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
The truth of God made plain
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, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
- God’s eternal power and divine nature are on display in creation . . .
Ps 19:1-2 ESV
The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
- If you look at it, you will have to know of a designer. It could not happen by chance.
Naturalistic evolution is treated as a given in our culture: the belief that the universe, and human life in particular, evolved by the sheer forces of matter, time and chance. Given enough time and some matter to work with, chance has brought about what we see in the universe and in the human species today. God as creator and designer is simply ruled out and thought to be an unnecessary hypothesis.
But increasingly in our day this assumption of naturalistic evolution is being shown to be a philosophical prejudice rather than a scientific conclusion from evidence. Philip Johnson has led the way in this movement with his two books, Darwin on Trial and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. In 1996, Michael Behe, a biochemist who looks at the wonders of the microcosm of creation, rather than the macrocosm, wrote Darwin’s Black Box, and argued that the single tiny cell is “irreducibly complex,” and therefore the product of intelligent design, not chance. “Irreducible complexity” means that the immensely complex cell has a large number of parts that all work together in such a way that the absence of one part stops the entire function – which means that the functioning system of the cell could not be built up by small evolutionary steps in which the parts accumulated gradually.
For example, Behe considers the bacterial flagellum:
The flagellum is a whip-like rotary motor that enables a bacterium to navigate through its environment. The flagellum includes an acid-powered rotary engine, a stator, O-rings, bushings, and a driveshaft. The intricate machinery of this molecular motor requires approximately fifty proteins. Yet the absence of any one of these proteins results in the complete loss of motor function. The irreducible complexity of such a biochemical system cannot be explained by the Darwinian mechanism, nor indeed by any naturalistic evolutionary mechanism proposed to date. (William Dembski, “Science and Design,” First Things, Oct. 1998, No. 86, p. 25.) http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/displays-of-god-remove-the-excuse-for-failed-worship
- of pennies in pocket numbered 1-10
- The chance of pulling out the number 1 is 1 in 10
- The chance of pulling out the number 2 next is 1 in 100
- The chance of pulling out the number 3 next is 10 in 1000
- To pull out 1 through ten in order is 1 in nearly four million
- Attacks on creationism – taking away a creator – by suppressing the truth
- No one is without excuse
The knowledge of God ignored
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,
- The characteristics of a moral and spiritually healthy person honor God. They are honoring and honorable. They give thanks to God and are thankful people
- Because of our resistance, refusal to acknowledge and honor God, and be thankful to Him, our thinking becomes futile – useless, pointless, fruitless – and our hearts become darkened. We don’t think clearly and we don’t live in the light.
The glory of God exchanged
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
- Then we become idolaters by giving glory, honor and thanks to images. The modern day American images are wealth, materialism, power, fame, sexuality, appearance, youthfulness, fashion, intellectualism, tolerance, and freedom.
The protection of God removed
- God gives us up to the lusts of our hearts.
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.
- Part of the “revealing of God’s wrath” is giving us up to the lusts of our heart’s desire. “If this is what you want, then I will no longer restrain you from it.” of the prodigal son.
- We dishonor our bodies in many ways . . . (sexuality, overworking, idolizing, overindulging)
- We don’t like the truth about God so we exchange it for a lie. We prefer a lie over the truth. Many people look for a religion that will justify their actions. of my Dad . . . there is truth about God.
- God gives us up to our dishonorable passions
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.
- Because we have a moral issue of unrighteousness, our thinking becomes unclear and confused. We exchange the truth of God for a lie, becoming idolatrous in heart and justifying anything we want to do. Homosexuality is dishonorable and an error (not against their nature but against nature). “In the beginning, God made them Male and Female and told them to be fruitful and multiply.” Now we have sexual distortion that brings us into confusion, conflict and chaos – it is the passions in us that are the problem, not the truth about God.
- Here is the deal: it just gets worse!
- God gives us up to a debased mind
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 decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
- Again, see the source. Since we have unrighteous hearts, and because of our failure to acknowledge God in the truth of who God is, he gives us up to a “debased mind” (morally worthless mind). To do what ought not to be done (there is a right and a wrong), we are filled with all manner of unrighteousness. He makes a list of these things . . . not only those who commit these acts, but those who approve of them are guilty as well.
- The direction of our depravity is always downward. One thing does lead to another – flesh will always rot, lust is never fully satisfied. Our depravity always moves in a downward direction, individually and corporately.
- This is how societies always move. We, as Christ-followers, are called to be salt and light. We are to slow the process and bring clarity. It is important that we don’t get angry at the people that move this way, but instead, pray for their hearts and speak the truth to them.
- We also need to examine our own hearts and repent of our unrighteousness and suppression of the truth.
- Understand how important it is to have a righteous heart that can understand the truth about God. Repent for any and all unrighteousness in your heart.
- Understand the importance of honoring God and being thankful to Him. Choose to do this on a continual, daily basis.
- Understand how our depravity moves in a downward direction. Pray for mercy, repentant hearts and clean lives. Choose to be “salt and light” in your relationships and community. Never return evil for evil, but good for evil: evil is overcome by good . . . and leave room for the wrath of God (see Romans 12:12-21).
Questions for the week ahead:
- What did you learn today that confirmed what you already know, and what did you learn today that was new?
- What are you going to do with what you have learned?