Monday, January 26, 2009

Does God Ever Give Up

Please read Romans 1:18-32. Hear ye! Hear ye! Court is now in session! Paul could have used those awesome words at this point in his letter, because Romans 1:18 is the door that leads us into God's courtroom. This picture Paul paints here is an ugly one. When I lived in North Minneapolis I avoided some neighborhoods. My avoiding them did not change nor eliminate them. God's description of this section does not teach evolution (that man started low and climbed high), but devolution, he started high and because of sin sank lower than the beasts. There are four stages that mark man's tragic devolution. First, intelligence. Human history began with man knowing God. Man was not a beast that worshiped idols, then evolved into a man worshiping one God. Human history is just the opposite. Man began knowing God, but turned away from the truth and rejected God. God revealed Himself to man through creation. From the world around him man knew that there was a God who had the wisdom to plan and the power to create. Man realized too, that this Creator was eternal, he knew of "His eternal power and Godhead". Innate human reason deducts that God could not have been created if He is the Creator. The word translated "Hold" can also be translated "Suppress, or hold down". Men knew the truth about God, but they did not allow this truth to work in their lives. The result was refusing the truth. They suppressed truth in order that they might live their own lives and not be convicted by God's truth. Finally, man so abandoned the truth that he became like a beast in his thinking and in his living. Second, ignorance. Man knew God, but did not want to know Him or honor Him as God. Man refused to give God the glory He deserves. Man was willing to use God's gifts, but he was not willing to worship and praise God for His gifts. The result was an empty mind and a darkened heart. Man the worshiper became man the philosopher. This empty wisdom only revealed his foolishness. Having held down God's truth and refusing to acknowledge God's glory, man was left without a god. Man is so constituted that he must worship something. This fact about man accounts for his propensity to idolatry. If he will not worship the true God, he will worship a false god, even if he has to manufacture it himself. Man then exchanged glory for shame, in-corruption for corruption and truth for lies. First on the list of false gods is man. This fulfilled Satan's purpose when he told Eve "You shall be as God" (Gen. 3:5). "glory to man in the highest." Instead of man being made in God's image man made gods in his own image, then worshiped birds, beasts and bugs. Third, indulgence. From idolatry to immorality is just one short step. If man is his own god, then he can do whatever he pleases and fulfill his desires without fear of judgment. We reach the climax of man's battle with God's truth when man exchanges the truth of God for "The lie". The lie is that man is his own god and should worship and serve himself. It was the lie that Satan used in the Garden to lead Eve into sin. Satan wants the worship that belongs only to God. The result of self deification is self indulgence. Here Paul mentions homosexuality. This is repeatedly condemned in Scripture. Paul characterizes it as "Vile and unnatural," Men and women were guilty. Because of sin "God gave them up." He abandoned sinful men to their lustful ways. Forth, impenitence. When man began to feel the tragic consequences of his sins, you would think he would repent and seek God, but just the opposite was true. Because he was abandoned by God, he could only become worse. Man did not want to retain God in his knowledge so God gave them over to a depraved mind. That is a mind that cannot form right judgments. They now abandoned themselves to sin. Paul names 24 specific sins, all with us today (Rom 1:29-30). But the worst is yet to come. Men not only committed these sins in open defiance of God, but encouraged others and applauded them when they sinned. How far man fell. He began glorifying God, and ended exchanging that glory for idols. He began knowing God, and ended refusing to keep the knowledge of God in his mind and heart. He began as the highest of God's creatures, made in the image of God and ended lower than the beasts. The verdict? "They are without excuse!" Dan Crawford, a missionary to Africa said "The heathen are sinning against a flood of light." There is a desperate need for us to carry the Gospel to all men, for this is the only way they can be saved. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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