SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained & Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM June 7, 2015)
SECTION: The Perversion of Righteousness (Romans 1:1-18-3:20)
SUBTITLE: The Revelation of God’s Wrath (Part 4)
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 4)
Text: Romans 1:28-32
Theme: Sinful Men Spurn the Truth of God
Thrust: Sinful Men who spurn the truth of God pay a severe penalty
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
Two weeks ago we saw in verses 22-24 and in verses 25-27 how sexual immorality that pervades humanity has its roots in the rejection of the true and living God in favor of gods and idols of the imagination and making of sinful heathens. Mankind saw the evidence of God – His Godhead and power, and rejected that knowledge and chose to worship idols.
We saw how the sinful heathen subverted the truth of God. We said that to “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 asked 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.
God gave the heathen up, or delivered them over to an unbelievable purpose. God delivered them up to uncleanness in order to dishonor themselves with the goal of recognizing the uncleanness resulting in their repentance.
We defined “uncleanness?” We say that it is moral impurity. This word implies the defilement of the soul by all kinds of wrongdoings.
Secondly we saw God gave the heathen up to unthinkable practices.
“…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator...”
Then we saw a 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.
Our theme continues to be: The Wrath of God
Proposition: You should know God is angry with those who pervert righteousness
TRUTH FOR TODAY
First of all, we need to note, that no other passage in the bible shows more clearly what happens to mankind who chooses to leave God out of their thinking by suppressing, subverting, and spurning the truth of God that He has revealed to them in creation.
Second, we need to note the seriousness of rejecting God. This is a very sobering and serious section of Scripture. Without trying to repeat myself there is at least three things that we need to see the seriousness of:
· How serious it is to reject God, particularly in favor of idols & false worship
· How serious sin really is.
· Here is the reason men sin. Here is why they do what they do.
Thirdly, we need to note the fact that this section is not just for the sinful heathen. In order to understand and appreciate Paul’s letter to the Romans, we need to see ourselves in this section. We too, were once controlled by our innate sinful passions and lusts.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes we believers take a superior attitude towards sinners, especially these type of sinners. We have the tendency to look outside of ourselves and even outside of our own fellowship and forget something very important.
Why do some believers seem to have such a very low view or opinion about their salvation? Why do some Christians seem to have so little appreciation for the fact that they have been redeemed? I think because many believers forget what Paul said in the very next verse:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.” (Emphasis mine, 1 Corinthians 6:10-11, NKJV)
We cannot forget that this section has some application for us. We were once sinful heathens who had rejected the knowledge of God. But God had mercy on us. God chose to save us. So, do not become smug and self-righteous and even rejoice in the wrath of God that is visited upon those who reject the knowledge of God.
So, the sinful heaven perverts the righteousness of God. The pervert the righteousness of God in at least three ways.
· They pervert the righteousness of God by suppressing the truth of God
· They pervert the righteousness of God by subverting the truth of God
· They pervert the righteousness of God by…
SPURNING THE TRUTH (Vss. 28-32)
“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…” (28)
The first thing we have to ask ourselves is what is the reason the sinful heathens spurn the truth of God? Why do they spurn God’s the truth that God revealed about Himself?
We answer this question by examining
The Cause of Spurning the Truth of God (28)
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge…”
A more literal reading is “even as people did not see fit to retain God in knowledge.” I don’t know if you can see Paul’s relationship in this phrase as punishment or as retribution against the sinful heathen’s actions. Paul seem to emphasize this element of punishment with a “word-play” between “see fit” and “worthless.”
They did not like or they did not deem it or determine the retention of God’s knowledge to be worthwhile. In other words the knowledge God provided was useless or worthless to them. Rather than regarding the knowledge of God as a precious treasure they thought it was as worthless as an ordinary rock with no value. We know God then allowed the sinful heathen to fall deep into idolatry and immorality.
To have knowledge means to acknowledge God and to retain and respond to the knowledge of God that God has provided to mankind in and through creation.
Our word for knowledge implies a “practical” or even “applied” knowledge.
Now, what does it mean to refuse to retain the knowledge that God had revealed?
The verb means to try, as to try a case in court. They looked at the evidence that God provided, examined it as an attorney would examine a witness, and they concluded from that examination that the evidence was worthless.
The verb also informs us that it means to put to the test, to examine, or to deem or regard as worthy – or to approve something as valuable or having value.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.” (1 Corinthians 16:3, NKJV)
Paul had collected money from the Corinthian Church and he was going to take it to the saints in Jerusalem who had been impoverished by the famine and by persecution. But he didn’t want to handle the money. So he wanted one or two men from each church or region of churches that gave money to actually carrying and handle the money.
So he told the Corinthians to find some men whom they would examine, test their character, and deem worthy of useful to carry the money. He said test or approve these men, and give them a letter of your approval and I will give them your gift to take to Jerusalem.
So the idea is to examine all evidence of the character of the men, test their character and then determine if that character is useful and of worth or value.
In our section, the sinful heathen did not think it was worth the trouble to retain the knowledge of God. They actually considered the knowledge or truth of God to be useless.
For a third time, Paul informs his readers that God has given up or delivered up the sinful heathen. Previously in this section Paul described God giving the sinful heathen up or over to immoral acts. These acts were described as:
· against the order of God
Now Paul describes this giving up or handing over as:
“…to a worthless or useless mind.”
“…God gave them over to a debased mind…”
What Does This Word, “debased” mean?
It means useless or worthless.
Now let’s see just what Paul is saying and just how serious this is.
First – people who refuse to acknowledge God end up with minds that are disqualified from being able to understand and acknowledge the truth or the will of God.
Second – sinful people are fundamentally unable to think or decide correctly about God, God’s truth, or God’s will.
Third – this is why the sinful heathen cannot understand or practice biblical principles
It is only by the HS that any man can overcome this deep seated blindness and perversity.
As a matter of fact we see this in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually (HS) discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)
Jesus spoke of the spiritually useless mind this way, “But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD, nor do they understand His counsel…” (Matthew 4:12, NKJV)
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “…having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18, NKJV)
The word depraved means “not standing the test, failing or failure.”
This word was used of metals that were rejected by metal workers because of impurities in the metal.
So the metal was considered worthless or useless
The heathen’s mind is considered by God then and given over to being useless or worthless in regards to spiritual things.
“People will call them (Jeremiah is speaking of the wicked, those who rejected God) rejected silver, because the LORD has rejected them.” (Jeremiah 6:30, NKJV)
Rejected or worthless, useless silver. Silver with no value because of impurities. That is what Paul meant when he wrote that God delivered them up or over to a mind that was impure rendering it useless or worthless in regards to spiritual things.
The sinful heathen spurned the truth of God, rejected it, and considered it worthless. The sinful heathen was displeased with God and chose to reject God’s truth and chose to follow their own passions. They forsook God and as a consequence God delivered them up to a useless and worthless mind, a mind that is destitute and void of spiritual judgment.
We need to note something very important here:
This being handed over to uselessness and worthlessness does not mean that all men are as bad as they can possibly be.
Nor does it mean that God gives up every sinner in the very same way or to the very same sin (s). God permits men to sin in sinful, shameful, and even senseless ways. Some practice gross, horrible, or vile sins while others are not as gross or vile.
Not all will become serial killers or rapists
Not all will become homosexuals
Not all will fall into the depths of drugs and the destruction brought on by drugs
Some will lie, some will cheat, some will be proud. Some will be divisive and cause strife and turmoil.
God will have mercy on some sinful heathens and He will harden and condemn other sinful heathens.
Verse 18 states that “…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven…” How did God inflict His wrath? Gave them the sinful up or delivered them over. God abandoned the sinful heathen to their own sinful and wicked ways.
So the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God. The cause for subverting the truth of God is the fact that God delivered the sinful heathen over to their sinful passions.
The second thing we see as we examine the fact that the sinful heathen subverts the truth of God and that is…
THE CATALOG OF SPURNING THE TRUTH OF GOD (Vss. 29-31)
It is obvious that verses 29-31are a list of vices. Vice lists are common in Paul’s letters. This catalogs or lists are usually associated with problems and sin in the local churches that Paul is writing to.
This is not exhaustive. It is not a list or catalog of all sins that are available to man. Simply because it is not on the list doesn’t make a sin any less sinful or damming to man.
This catalog of sins is not directed to or indicative of problems or sins in the Roman church. (Not yet anyways)
Paul is not saying that every sinner commits every sin in this catalog or list. He is saying that all men sin, and they sin in degrees, thoughts, words, and in actions.
According to some who are smarter than me this catalog of sins seems to be divided into three (3) parts or divisions:
· The use of the Greek participle names four words that categorize the vileness of sin:
o Unrighteous – the violation of the standards, holiness, righteousness of God
o Sexual immorality – a total surrender or abandonment of sexual purity
o Wickedness – describes breaking restraints and satisfying lusts of the flesh
o Covetousness – greedy desire to have more than God determines is enough
o Maliciousness – evil, wicked desire to hurt or injure someone
The idea is not to draw any distinctions between these sins, Paul seems to use them to describe the overall or comprehensive sinfulness of those who spurn the truth of God. When you spurn or reject God’s truth, God gives you up to this type of being.
Looking at this division we can only conclude just how vile and nasty is sin. Look at it; sin is violating God’s holy standards, an abandonment of sexual purity, the breaking of normal restraints and pursing the absolute gratification or satisfaction of the fleshly desires of the sin nature, greedily desiring more for yourself than God has determined to be proper, and a wicked desire to hurt another human being.
· The second division several sins seem to modify the Greek word “full of.”
The word Paul used, “full of” is an adjective. It is used in reference to people, whose minds are filled with thoughts and emotions, either good or bad. The context tells us what the mind is filled with. Because the sinful heathen subverted the truth of God and God delivered the sinful heathen over to the control of his/her sin nature in this context the mind spoken of is filled with bad thoughts and emotions.
In other words, these behaviors fill the thoughts of sinful, unredeemed people.
The third division in this catalog of sin seem to highlight the depth of sin. They seem to highlight the creativity in sinning. It also shows that sin wrecks:
o Relationships with other peoples
o Relationships in the home
John Phillips in his commentary saw the catalog divided in this manner:
· Debased human character – unrighteous, immoral, wicked, covetous, and malicious
· Debased human conduct – envious, murderous, divisive, deceitful, violent, proud, disobedient to parents, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving and evil
· Debased human conversation – whisperers, back-biters, boasters
· Debased human concepts – haters of God, inventors of evil things, undiscerning,
Regardless of how you want to divide, analyze, or pigeon-whole this catalog of sin it shows how vile and wicked sinful men are. It also demonstrates the penalty or punishment, the wrath of God on those who determine that the truth of God is worthless or useless and not worthy of retention.
So, the sinful heathen has perverted the righteousness of God by subverting the truth of God. As a result the heathen has been delivered over to sin. We have seen the cause of this worthlessness, the catalog of worthlessness, and now we will conclude with the…
THE CONSEQUENCE OF SUBVERTING THE TRUTH (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.”
The first consequence that we see in this verse is…
The Embracement of Sin
The absolute and full depth of the weight of sin is seen in this verse. This is a mind-boggling statement. Despite the rejection of the truth of God, despite the suppressing, the subverting, and the spurning of the truth, despite the abandonment of God to their darkened, foolish, worthless, and useless minds, these sinful heathen are aware of God’s disapproval of their conduct.
In fact this awareness is much more than just a passing notion. They know the decree or ordinance of God which states that death is the penalty for those who embrace these sins.
The Gentiles, the sinful heathen who have never had the law of God know that God disapproves of their behavior and they know it deserves death. But even knowing this, they are powerless over sin and so they embrace these sins with gusto.
The word “who” is used by Paul to refer to the sinful heathen, the Gentiles. The purpose of verse 32 seems to be to emphasize the totality and depth of willful rebellion against God. Paul makes it clear that the sinful heathen really does know that the sinful behavior they embrace is wrong. The present tense use of the verb shows that this isn’t some prior notion or even a future notion but a present moment awareness that what they are doing is wrong. Not only that, but deep down there is an awareness that they deserve to be punished by God.
This is why so much consistent sinful behavior is drowned in alcohol or drugs. Not an occasional or even social drink, but the “numbing” of their conscience in order to continue to embrace sin. This is why depression is so rampant today, why suicide is increasing, why so many people have mental disorders. Much of it is caused by the awareness that the sin that so many embrace is wrong. They may never make the connection but even though God abandons you and you continue to embrace sin you know it is wrong.
By the sin leads to sin. One sin leads to another. Pride can lead to lieing, cheating, anger, even murder. Sexual immorality leads to further and sometimes even more debase immorality. Sin is very aware of the “law of diminished returns.” The more you sin, the more you sin, the more you sin.
The second consequence that we see in this verse is…
The Endorsement of Sin
“…but also approve of those who practice them.”
It is hard to believe that the depth of their sin could be any worse. But only do these sinful heathens practice such despicable sins knowing they are sin and knowing that they deserve God’s punishment, but they also give approval or commendation to others who practice the same sin. Kind of like birds of a feather flock together or maybe misery loves company.
The person who practices such evil or wicked sin, even though their sin is inexcusable, can at least plead the mitigating circumstance of horribly strong temptation to sin. But those who encourage and approve others to sin are doing this from a settled conviction.
The reason they approve of others who practice the same sin seems to be at least two fold:
· They are making a pitiful attempt at finding some justification for their sin
· They are attempting to turn public opinion to make their sin favorable
This shows the full extent of God’s rejection. God’s standards are known, his judgment is known yet the encourage others to sin anyways. The hatred of God is so severe that they risk greater judgment and penalty to carry out their evil desires
So God’s wrath is poured out on those who not only practice sin but take great delight in their sin and encouraging others to also sin.
So, we have seen that the sinful heathen perverts the righteousness of God. They pervert the righteousness of God by suppressing the truth of God, by subverting the truth, and by spurning the truth of God.
The sinful heathen spurns the truth deeming God and His truth to be unworthy or having no value to them, by engaging in the most despicable catalogs of sin, and by doing those sins in light of judgment while encouraging others to commit the same sins.
[What do you say we wrap this up, shall we?]
Jesus said, “…he who does not believe is condemned already…” (John 3:18, KJV)
This is God’s case against the sinful heathen. Now you know why God said that they are without excuse. Regardless of whether the heathen are those sinners of Pauls’ day in Greece or Rome, or those living today in what used to be the good ole USA who are forcing God out of their thinking, all are without excuse and are guilty before God.
There is a certain species of ants in Africa that builds its nests in very deep tunnels in the earth. There the young ants and the queen ant live. Although they may be great distances from the nest foraging for food, worker ants of that species are able to sense when the queen is being molested and they become extremely nervous and uncoordinated. If she is killed they become frantic and rush around aimlessly until they die.
What better illustration could there be of fallen man. Even in his sinful rejection and rebellion, he cannot function properly apart from God and id destined only for death.
So, I exhort you as genuine believers to: put away sin in your mortal bodies!
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)