SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained & Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (May 24, 2015)
SECTION: The Perversion of Righteousness (Romans 1:1-18-3:20)
SUBTITLE: The Revelation of God’s Wrath (Part 3)
SUBJECT: The wrath (anger) of God
SUMMARY: God wants you to know he is angry with mankind
SCHEME: That each member of NKBC knows the truth of God so well that you are always prompted to worship and serve the living and true God rather than to worship and serve idols.
Our theme is: The wrath (anger) of God
Proposition: God wants you to know he is angry with mankind
Interrogatory Sentence: Why is God so angry at mankind?
Transitional Sentence: Our text reveals three reasons why God is so angry at mankind.
· …because mankind has suppressed the truth of God
· …because mankind has subverted the truth of God
· …because mankind has spurned the truth of God
The Perversion of Righteousness
Title: The Revelation of God’s Wrath (Part 3)
Text: Romans 1:24-27
Theme: The Wrath (anger) of God
Thrust: You should know God is angry at sinners who pervert righteousness
Transition: Our text tells us that God has revealed his wrath against, or is angry with…
· … Gentiles (Heathen) who have suppressed the truth of God
· … Gentiles(Heathen) who have subverted the truth of God
· …Gentiles (Heathen) who have spurned the truth of God
Last week we reminded you that Paul is using this section, Romans 1:18-3:20 to show that all men are condemned as unrighteous sinners. Paul is proving that all men, both Gentiles and Jews have perverted the righteousness of God and stand condemned by God.
Paul explains very carefully and very thoroughly that all men are in need of a righteousness that can only be supplied by God. Paul’s argument is this – God is revealing His anger or His wrath against all those who have perverted the righteousness of God – all Gentiles and all Jews, with no exceptions.
Toward this end, Paul addresses three groups or types of people in this section:
· He addresses the gentiles, whom I call the Sinful Heathen
· He addresses the Jews, whom I call the Sinful Hebrews
· He addresses both groups combined, whom I call the Sinful Humanity
Last week we began looking at the first group of people who have perverted the righteousness of God and that group is…
The Sinful Heathen (18-32)
appokaluptetai gar orgn qeou...
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”
We made the point that it was King David who said, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”
And so, I believe that we have to stop and ask ourselves, “Why is God angry at the wicked, or the heathen?
Of course we see the answer in our passage of 1:18-32. The answer is, “The wicked, or the sinful heathen has perverted the righteousness of God.
We asked the question how the heathen perverts righteousness. We began with the answer that the sinful heathen has perverted the righteousness of God when they…
Suppress the Truth of God (18-22)
“…who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” (18b)
How does the sinful heathen suppress the truth of God? Our text reveals that first of all, they suppresses the truth of God…
We saw last week that the heathen suppresses the truth at least three ways. They suppress the truth of God:
By their Impious Attitudes (18-20)
It is an amazing thing – When mankind is confronted with the inner voice of God somehow demonstrating the truth of His existence, the heathen refuses to submit to this revelation. It seems that the more the conscience is informed by God the more the sinner hardens himself against the truth of God. He evaluates God’s truth and rejects as unworthy or without value.
So we see that the heathen suppresses the truth by his impious or ungodly attitudes toward or about God.
[There is a second way the heathen suppresses the truth.]
Our text reveals that, they suppresses the truth of God…
By their Impious Actions (21)
In verse 21 Paul gives us three (3) ways that the heathen suppresses the truth of God by their impious or ungodly actions; they dishonor God, they are ungrateful towards God, the speculate incorrectly about God. They refuse to value God as being God, they refuse to give thanks where thanks is due, and they speculate incorrectly about the character and nature of God & about everything else.
IOWs, they dishonor God, they disrespect God, and they distort God.
Well there is a third and final way the heathen suppresses the truth of God. The sinful heathen suppresses the truth of God…
By their Impious Adoration (22-23)
They love the wrong things. They reject God, therefore they do not love God. So they love other things and replace God in their affections with idols. We see that…
First of all – they substitute the worship of God for the worship of themselves.
Second – they substitute the worship of God for birds, and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. They make idols of birds, animals, insects and they worship them rather than God who created them.
So last week we saw that the heathen suppresses the truth by their impious or ungodly attitudes and they suppress the truth by their impious or ungodly actions and they suppress the truth by their impious or ungodly adorations.
Our theme continues to be: The Wrath of God
Proposition: You should know God is angry with those who pervert righteousness
TRUTH FOR TODAY
[So, let’s move to the second way that the Sinful Heathen perverts the righteousness of God. First they suppress the truth, secondly they…]
They Subvert the Truth of God (24-27) (Read verses 24-27)
Subvert means “to cause the downfall, to ruin something, or cause the destruction of something, or to undermine the principles of something or someone, or to corrupt something.”
The Sinful Heathen subverts, or undermines the principles or corrupts the truth of God by, “…exchanging the truth of God for the lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…”
We have to ask ourselves, how does the Sinful Heathen subvert or undermine, or corrupt the truth of God? The answer is in our text. There are at least three (3) ways the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God. They subvert the truth of God with unbelievable purposes, unthinkable practices, and unnatural passions.
[Let’s start with…]
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness…”
In addition to having become futile in their thoughts, their hearts darkened, becoming fools and idol worshippers, God gave them up or delivered over to uncleanness.
I want you to notice four (4) important things about this phrase:
First of all – this phrase God gave them up is used three (3) times in verses 24 to 28. This is a very serious revelation. To see it used three (3) times is very serious and it should make us take very careful note to its meaning.
Second, the word “therefore” shows that this delivering up or this handing over of sinful heathens is a direct response of God to the willful and active rejection of the knowledge provided by God to the sinful heathens, or Gentiles.
Thirdly, the Greek word is παραδίδωμι. It means to deliver up or to hand over to someone or something. It means to abandon to something or someone.
Fourth, our word carries within itself the flavor of “retribution”. The idea comes from the OT usage of this word in such places that describe God handing over the Israelites to their enemies for the purpose of punishment, i.e. to be defeated by their enemies.
In our passage God is handing over, delivering up or over sinful people for punishment for rejecting the knowledge or information that He provided to them.
This is serious! God is handing over people to someone or something for punishment.
So, what is it that God is handing over these sinful people?
“…to uncleanness…” God gave these heathen, the ones who rejected the information that He had provided to them over to uncleanness.
What is “uncleanness?”
It is moral impurity. This word implies the defilement of the soul by all kinds of wrongdoings.
Normally it is used in connection with sexual profligacy. Sexual profligacy is normally thought of as unrestrained or unrestricted sexual activity, such as promiscuity or even prostitution.
How serious is this uncleanness?
· It precludes or excludes men from any fellowship or relationship with God
· It is an absolute alienation from God and His presence
· It is a description of the immoral state of an individual prior to conversion
· It is the expression of the nature of the unregenerate man whose actions are determined by a commitment to innate unnatural desires inside a sinful human
· It is a removal or loss of any desire to purification or cleansing from sin
That is how serious this “uncleanness” is.
What governs this uncleanness or these unbelievable purposes?
“…in the lusts of their heart…”
This word lust suggests direct impulses towards sexual satisfaction. It is a driving, almost, if not uncontrollable hunger for sexual activity. It can be likened to hunger or to thirst. Context determines whether a good desire or an evil lust is under discussion.
Look at the purpose in giving or delivering these sinful heathens over to their lusts. It is “…to dishonor their bodies amongst themselves…”
God gives or delivers sinners who reject the information about him over to the power of their own lusts so that they dishonor their bodies, to disgrace their bodies, to shame themselves amongst themselves by the abuse or misuse of their bodies.
Now liberal theologians don’t like to think in these terms. They don’t like to think that God would hand one of his creatures over to the power of internal lust for the purpose of disgracing or dishonoring themselves.
As a matter of fact a Welsh liberal theologian interpreted this as simply “the handing over” as the outworking of the natural processes of history. He took this action away from God and made it non-personal or impersonal. He thinks that man just historically decided to become sexually deviant.
Chrysostom viewed this as a passive sense. He thought that God merely withdrew his influence from these sinful people and let them plunge into sin that they had already chosen.
Godet, a French theologian thought that “God ceased to hold the boat as it was dragged by the current of the river.” He felt God had a hold of their “boat” but just let it go. And when He let it go the current dragged them into this uncleanness.
What they all are saying and what they mean is that God would never be party in actively handing someone over to sin in order to be punished by that sin.
Let me quote from Douglas Moo’s commentary on Romans. I think this gives us the exact idea or meaning of Paul’s words.
…the meaning of hand over demands that we give God a more active role as the initiator of the process. God does not simply let the boat go – He gives it a push downstream. Like a judge who hands over a prisoner to the punishment of his crime has earned, God hands over the sinner to the terrible cycle of ever-increasing sin. 
Keep in mind that God is not some Meany who hands people over to their uncontrollable lusts for no reason. No, the purpose is remedial or reformatory. The depth of sin in which the sinner is pulled into is designed to awaken the sinner to the awful consequences of their sin and to cause them to repent.
Also God does cause them to or make them to sin. He hands them over to sin for sin.
The sinful heathen, the unconverted man or woman is full of lusts that apart from God’s grace, controls them. These lusts lead them to such horrible lows of dishonoring or disgracing themselves through sexual immorality.
[So, the sinful heathen subverts, or corrupts, or undermines the principals of the truth of God by uncleansable purposes. These purposes are the lusts that control and drive them into sexual immorality which is designed to shame and dishonor themselves.]
Secondly, we see that the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God by…
Unthinkable Practices (25)
“…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator...”
First of all, the first clause of this verse is not continuing the thought begun in verse 24. Verse 23 has already told us why God is handing the sinful heathen over to their lusts. Verse 25 is actually starting a new sentence and should have been translated that way.
Verse 25 is not looking back, but it is looking ahead. Verse 25 provides additional basis for why God handed them over to their sinful lusts. He did so because of their choice to sin, it is looking toward the consequences of their sin.
Second, the truth of God that Paul is talking about is the truth of the fact that God had revealed Himself. God revealed His existence. The natural response was to worship God. But sinful mankind determined to suppress that revelation and to subvert it by the unthinkable practice of idol worship.
What is “the lie?” The text says: “…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie…” What is the lie?
First of all, it is singular, so it is a single lie.
Second, it can be defined or determined. Paul meant the Romans to understand him
The lie is the lie of idolatry. It is the lie that promotes “worshipping and serving the creature rather than the creator.” The lie is that God can be dishonored, disrespected, distorted and then dismissed in order to be replaced by man, animals, or insects.
The lie is that there is benefit from rejecting God. It is thinking that there is nothing wrong with replacing God with some aspect of God’s creation. The lie is that you can reject God and reverence idols for comfort and without consequence.
And so sinful men who reject God practice unthinkable things such as worshipping idols or developing gods of their own imagination.
Is the practice of worshipping idols truly “unthinkable?”
Well, I think Paul answers that question for us when he wrote, “…who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Paul adds a doxology or a benediction. When Paul reflects on God, His character, His revelation of Himself, and the suppressing and subverting of His truth, he shrinks back in what may be revulsion at the very thought of these practices. Paul knows that He owes His very being, his life, his soul, and his salvation to God adds these words of praise and adoration.
How can anyone substitute God for mere creatures that can do nothing for them? So he concludes his thought with an Amen. He adds a solemn word of affirmation and approval to what he just said.
[Well, the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God with unbelievable purposes, unthinkable practices. He believes a lie & he worships creation rather than God.]
Now, we see the third and final way that the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God, and is by…]
UNATURAL PASSIONS (26-27)
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions…”
Because man rejected the knowledge of the existence of God and replaced God with an aspect of creation in order to worship and serve creation rather than God, God handed them over to the unclean lusts of their heart (24) and to their vile passions. Once again this is not a passive action on God’s part, this is active, God pushed them over the side if you will, and He handed them directly over to the vile passions of the sinful heathen.
But, Paul does not focus on sexual immorality in general at this point. Paul becomes very specific and we would add graphic. He now focuses on the most disgusting manifestation of a person’s vile passion, and that is willful homosexuality.
Look at the progression:
· God gave them up or over, He handed them over
· To the passions that are vile and bring dishonor
· So that their bodies are dishonored
“…for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust for one another…”
Paul is showing that the vilest form of human desires of sexuality is homosexuality. It is not just Paul by the way. The bible is clear on the subject of homosexuality. It does not considered it to be an alternative lifestyle or a personal choice. The bible does not treat this vile passion lightly.
The bible clearly teaches that sexual intercourse is a gift and command from God, it is between a man and a woman, and more specifically it is between a husband and a wife. Any other practice such as homosexuality is contrary or against the design and will of God.
Let me say, I was not able to find any reason or suggestion for why Paul listed homosexual relations between women before he wrote about the homosexual relations of men. It may be that he wanted to emphasize the perversion of male and male sexual relations by the latter part of verse 27.
Here is a side note – Paul did not use the normal Greek word for women, he used the word qeleia, which means female. It seems historically that in most cultures women have been more reluctant to become involved in promiscuity or homosexuality. But not all women who reject God will fall into homosexuality.
In Jewish writings and teachings gross immorality was connected to idols. Although it is not considered inspired Scripture, in the book The Wisdom of Solomon, “the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication and the invention of them was the corruption of life.” (14:12)
Paul was familiar with that ideology. We have already seen him make his case, crafted like a great lawyer – exchange of the true God for idols is the cause for God’s handing them over to be punished by their vile passions of sexual immorality and homosexuality.
The Greek Word unnatural means “against nature.” All of creation testifies that the normal sexual use of women is by men and the normal sexual use of men by is by women. Therefore we conclude two things:
· Homosexuality is not normal in the plant or animal world, or anywhere in nature
· Since it is against “nature” or the divine created order, it is against God
Whether it makes sense to you and me, whether we think it is a right or wrong practice, and regardless of any pleasure benefited it is against the divinely ordained order of God’s purposes. God creates each and every creation to serve a distinct purpose. God created man to use the women for sexual purposes and He created the women to use the man for sexual purposes.
So, to wrap up Paul’s thought in this verse, the words “sinful passions” show these activities to be contrary to God’s will. When you think on these things clearly and biblically it is clear that Paul has depicted homosexual activity or behavior as a violation of God’s created order which is an indication of the suppression and subversion of the true knowledge and worship of God.
This is the horrible extent and excesses that God allows the sinful to sink into.
This was necessary for at least four (4) reasons:
· To demonstrate how wicked it is in the sight of God to refuse to worship Him as God and to worship and/or serve anything in creation.
· To demonstrate how corrupt the human nature is as a result of the fall
· To demonstrate to believers the depth of the evil and wickedness that God delivered us from
· To prove the falseness of any and all pagan or heathen religion apart from God
Do you see just how horrible it is to reject or deny God? When human beings want to be free from God and God’s truth, they are handed over to sexual immorality, which includes homosexuality.
By the way, no one is born into homosexuality. All people are born into sin. All individuals have different tendencies, temptations, proclivities, and such. No one is born a homosexual any more than someone is born a thief, or a murder. Any person who becomes a habitual and unrepentant thief, murderer or homosexual does so by their own choice.
Verse 27 continues with “…likewise the man leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful…”
This verse is connected to verse 26 by the word likewise. The same wicked passions and lusts that lead women to engage in wicked homosexual acts cause men to do the same thing. Homosexual acts between men are against the created order of things by God.
Paul says men burn for one another. Burned, to be set on fire. It is a known and proven fact that there is a burning level of lust among homosexuals that is beyond our imagination and it is rarely known among heterosexuals.
The homosexuals of Sodom burned so much in their lust for the angels that visited Lot that they were made blind and they wearied themselves trying to find the door into Lot’s house so that they could satisfy their burning passion with the angels in Lot’s house.
And lastly, Paul writes: “…and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
Let me say two things here, first, this phrase has caused a tremendous amount of confusion, speculation, and wild interpretations. Second, it really is self-explanatory and not confusing at all.
Those who are homosexuals and by the way the sexual promiscuous heterosexuals, both have had the restraints of God removed in order for them to be handed over to these disgusting and perverted behavior are controlled and punished by their passions causing them to be perverted, have actually gotten what they deserved.
The penalty for rejecting God and His truth and for worshipping and serving creation is to be controlled or ruled by sexual immorality, whether it is heterosexual sins or homosexual sins.
If you reject God and His truth, God will hand you over to the control of your flesh. Your passions, your lust.
So the sinful heathen not only suppresses the truth by ungodly attitudes, and ungodly actions, and ungodly adorations; the sinful heathen subverts the truth by unbelievable purposes, unthinkable practices, and unnatural passions.
[What do you say we wrap this up, shall we?]
Romans 3:18 says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That is a quote from Psalm 36:1. As a matter of fact the first four verses are a description of those who have rejected the knowledge and revelation of God. They do not fear God.
In his book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis chose a Lion to represent Jesus Christ. At times the children in the story felt comfortable to run their fingers through his mane, take rides on his back and enjoy being in his presence.
But his roar was ferocious enough to introduce an element of fear. It prompted one of the children to ask, “Is Aslan safe?” The thoughtful answer was, “No, He’s not safe, but He is good.”
God is a God of love and justice; grace and wrath, and sometimes I think we need to hear Him roar to remind us of His holiness. We need to remember that our God who is indeed very good, is also not safe in some instances. He is a God of wrath. He is a God who is angry at the wicked, he is angry at those who suppress and subvert His truth.
So, I exhort you as genuine believers to: know the truth of God so well that you are always prompted to worship and serve the living and true God rather than to worship and serve idols.
Remember, Solomon wrote in Proverbs 11:21, “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished…” (Proverbs 11:21, NKJV)
Let’s pray! J
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)