Monday, May 25, 2009

Righteous Judgment based on Deeds

The truth that God is going to righteously judge all men both believers and unbelievers according to their deeds/works comes as a shock to most professing Christians. However this truth is established over and over in the Bible and it is an absolute certainty whether we like it or not and whether we suppress it or not. We are told as Christians that our works will be tested by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15); and that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Romans 2:6-10 shows us the differences between the deeds of the lost and the deeds of the saved and that on the basis of a man’s deeds God is going to render a righteous and accurate verdict regarding each man’s eternal destiny. We ought to be very interested in knowing these differences to see what characterizes our lifestyles to know whether or not all is going to go well with us in the day of the righteous judgment of God. Are you interested?

Let me give you a brief list of opposite lifestyles upon which God will make His perfect evaluation of each person: obedience/disobedience; Lordship/lawlessness; Spirit or faith/flesh; eternal/temporal; faithfulness/faithlessness; good deeds/evil deeds; and works wrought of God/works wrought of self.

Now let me hurry to establish this truth before you get confused and think that I am a heretic teaching salvation by works – salvation is by faith alone but saving faith is not alone! Therefore good deeds that are a result of saving faith are a perfectly valid basis for God’s judgment as well as the absence of good deeds because of the absence of saving faith. Obedience to God is what was lost in the fall of man and obedience to God is what is restored in man’s salvation through the gospel (Romans 1:5).

The practice of a person’s lifestyle forms an accurate and reliable indicator to his or her paternity – whether or not he or she is a child of God or a child of the devil – “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot [practice] sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7-10). This is why the Lord Jesus Christ speaking of false prophets and false Christians said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16, 20).

This passage in no way declares that men are saved by works but only that they are judged by works! Paul will deal with this truth in greater detail in chapter 3. We do not work for salvation (that is legalism and a denial of the gospel of Penal-Substitution); we do not have no works after salvation (that is libertinism and a denial of the results of the gospel of Penal-Substitution); however, we do work from salvation (this is loyalty/lordship and a proper response as a result of the gospel of Penal-Substitution).

Belief determines behavior and therefore behavior is an accurate and reliable indicator of belief so that judgment based on behavior is totally accurate and appropriate (Romans 2:6).

So based on this truth that God is going to render to each person according to his deeds, let’s examine the deeds of the saved man and the lost man and the outcome of the judgment of each.

The deeds of the saved man (2:7) – living in light of eternity

The first deed of the saved man is that he perseveres in doing good. The saved man comes up against all sorts of obstacles to his obedience to God. He is hated for his unwavering obedience and unwillingness to compromise what his Lord has told him to do. He is persecuted for the sake of righteousness; he is insulted; and he is falsely spoken evil of all because of His love for and obedience to Jesus as Lord (Matthew 5:10-12). We are told that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) and yet the saved man perseveres in his obedience to His Lord regardless of the consequences. God is going to look at my lifestyle and your lifestyle to see if we continued in our obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ regardless of the consequences. Are you persevering in your obedience to God because of your love and reverence for God or are you being disobedient because you are afraid of what others may think or say about you?

The second deed of the saved man is that he seeks for glory – from God not man. Jesus said to the self-righteous Jews in His day, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44). He also said in John 7:18, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” So to seek glory from God we have to seek the glory of God which means that we do not seek our own glory but His. Our Lord went on to say this, “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me” (John 8:28).

So the one who seeks the glory of God speaks the Word of God without altering its content or intent. He doesn’t walk in craftiness watering down the Word of God in order to tickle the ears of men and gain glory from men. God is going to look at each man’s lifestyle to see if he remained true to His Word and sought the glory of God or if he sought his own glory by being a man-pleaser rather than a God-pleaser. Are you seeking God’s glory and the glory which comes from God or are you seeking your own glory and that which comes from other men?

The third deed of the saved man is that he seeks for honor – honor from God not man. By doing God’s will God’s way and seeking the glory of God rather than your own glory, God will honor and say on the Day of Judgment, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” The honor which comes from God is based on honoring God. God said through the prophet Samuel, “Those who honor Me I will honor…” (1 Samuel 2:30). Just as the lost seek glory from men and not God they also seek honor from men and not God. Many falsely believe that if men glorify and honor them that God will also glorify and honor them. But they have forgotten that what men esteem is detestable in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).

God is going to judge the lifestyle of each man to see if he sought the honor which comes from God by honoring God or if he sought the honor which comes from man by honoring man. As a lifestyle are you seeking God’s honor or your own?

The fourth deed of the saved man is that he seeks for immortality – immortality that comes from God not being immortalized by man. This means that the saved man sows to the Spirit and not to the flesh. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). So the one who lives for self will reap corruption and the one who lives for God will reap eternal life. No one can live for God in the flesh; it can only be done in faith. This is why Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). Seeking immortality means that one is living in light of eternity and living for God and not for self. God is going to judge each man’s lifestyle to see whether or not it was marked by living for God or living for self. As a lifestyle are you living for God or living for self?

For the man who the deeds of his lifestyle is persevering in doing good, seeking for glory, honor, and immortality from God, he will reap eternal life because he has believed and received Jesus as Lord through the gospel.

The deeds of the lost man (2:8) – lives for the temporal

The first deed of the lost man is that he is selfishly ambitious. This means that the lost man is self-centered and not God-centered and that he seeks to rob God of his worship – and many will do this under the pretense of worshiping God – it is called hypocrisy. The lost man does not persevere in doing good; he seeks for glory and honor from man robbing God of His glory and honor; and he sows to the flesh and not the Spirit.

The second deed of the lost man is that he does not obey the truth. The lost man cannot obey the truth because he is in the flesh (this is the purpose of the Law – to show men that they cannot obey and that they need a Savior) and the flesh does not and cannot subject itself to the law of God (Romans 8:7-8). The lost man does not obey the Lord because he does not love the Lord but loves himself instead.

The third deed of the lost man is that he obeys unrighteousness. The lost man is a slave to sin, he loves his sin, and therefore he is lawless and unrighteous. The lost man sets his mind on the things of the flesh and not the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5-6) and therefore he is not seeking immortality which comes from God. The lost man is living for the temporal and not the eternal.

Because of the deeds of the lost man he will reap wrath and indignation. Everything he does is for the purpose of serving and pleasing self. He has the spirit of antagonism against the Lordship of Christ. And because of this he will reap God’s wrath and indignation.

The outcome of judgment for the lost (2:9) – tribulation and distress.

Tribulation has the root meaning of exerting extreme pressure and affliction or anguish. Distress literally means a narrow place and came to refer to severe confinement or constriction. Besides capital punishment the lost will endure eternal solitary confinement. There will be no parties or fellowships in hell!

The outcome of the judgment for the saved (2:10)

The saved will receive glory from God and honor from God and peace from God!

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all who are in tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). According to the practice of your lifestyle which group will you be in?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Hebrews are without Excuse

As we move systematically through the book of Romans studying the Holy Spirit inspired explanation of the gospel, we are seeing that all men are sinners and that they are rightly under the wrath of God and that the only way that God will save anyone is through the gospel. The reason for this is because God cannot forgive sinners apart from the sinner’s penalty for violating God’s Law being paid by a willing and able substitute. This allows God to be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ.

So in explaining that the gospel and it alone is the power of God unto salvation – that it is the only way that God will save – the apostle Paul went on to show that all men everywhere are in need of the gospel because all men everywhere are sinners that are without excuse before a holy God.

So far in our studies we have seen the charge made and the evidence given that the heathen are without excuse because that which is known about God is evident within them for God made it evident to them and because the creation itself clearly reveals the attributes, power, and nature of God. And yet the heathen suppresses the truth about God and instead of worshiping and serving the Creator they become idolaters which leads to defiled hearts, degraded passions, and a depraved mind.

But now in Romans 2:1-29 the apostle Paul turns his attention to the Hebrew and shows that he also is without excuse because he too is under sin. As Paul has developed the sinfulness of the heathen and established the truth that the heathen rightly deserve the wrath of God, he anticipated a loud amen from the Hebrews – from those who had God special revelation and not just His general revelation. This would be what Paul would begin with to establish the truth of the guilt of the Hebrews and that they too needed the gospel.

In Romans 2:1-5 the apostle Paul gave three evidences that established the guilt of the Hebrews before God and therefore they too are without excuse.

The first evidence of the guilt of the Hebrews was hypocrisy (2:1-3).

A judgmental attitude proves the guilt of people who judge others when they don’t even live up to the standards by which they hold others accountable – and yet the judgmental hypocritical person shows that he or she knows enough of God’s standards to have also made an accurate assessment of his or her own condition before God. If one has enough knowledge to judge others he has enough knowledge to judge himself rightly. This is exactly the warning of Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge lest you be judged.” If men would make it their business to judge themselves rightly and not others then they would see their need for forgiveness, would confess their sins, and receive God’s only remedy for their sin. That’s why the Bible says that if we would judge ourselves rightly then we would not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31).

But the problem with religious hypocrites is that they want to hold others accountable to God’s standards while exempting themselves. The self-righteous man who knows God’s Law and God’s righteous judgment is amazingly adept at applying it to everyone but himself. The self-righteous hypocrite falsely calculates his own sinfulness and guilt. The word “suppose” means to calculate or estimate. So the apostle Paul nails the self-righteous man (in this case the Hebrew) to the wall and shows him how unreasonable his calculations really are. Here is a man who has the Word of God and can calculate that others are sinners but that he isn’t; he can calculate that God will judge others for the same sins that he commits but that God will not judge him. So we see that here is a man who thinks that God will judge him by a lower standard and show him favor because of who he is. The self-righteous man expects God to show him partiality in judgment.

So those who pass judgment on others and practice the same sins themselves are proven to be sinners because they are proven to be hypocrites. There are sins of the flesh – which were mostly catalogued in chapter one and there are sins of the spirit – hypocrisy which is catalogued here in chapter two. Sins of the spirit bring greater judgment because they are committed under greater knowledge and greater light. Sins of the spirit called down our Lord’s severest condemnations while He was on earth.

The Hebrews were condemning the Gentiles and practicing the very things they condemned in the Gentiles. They thought they were free from God’s judgment because they had God’s Word and were God’s chosen people. However, God’s judgment is righteous and according to truth. He does not have two standards of judgment – one for the Gentiles and another for the Hebrews – so in judging the Gentiles the Hebrews were guaranteeing their own judgment on the same basis.

The second evidence of the guilt of the Hebrews was presumption (2:4).

God had given the Hebrews many blessings and God had been very patient with them and this should have brought the Hebrews to repentance but instead it caused them to become presumptuous. It is not the judgment of God but the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. However men in their sinfulness take the goodness of God as a sign that they are pleasing to Him or that He owes them something.

When we know that we rightly deserve God’s wrath and that He hasn’t given that to us yet but instead has given us His kindness and tolerance and patience, we should be moved to repentance over God’s goodness in light of our badness – and that especially when we see that God in His goodness has given His only Son as an atoning sacrifice to pay our sin debt in order that He can forgive us – while we were yet sinners.

The self-righteous hypocrite thinks lightly of or thinks down on the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience. This means that because he overestimates his own righteousness, the self-righteous underestimates and presumes upon God’s goodness. The purpose of the kindness of God is not to excuse men of their sin but to convict them of it and lead them to repentance.

The third evidence of the guilt of the Hebrews was unrepentance (2:5).

The person who because of stubbornness and an unrepentant heart, judges others but not himself and presumes upon the goodness of God is storing up wrath for himself in the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Stubbornness translates “sklerotes” which literally refers to hardness and is the word from which we get the medical term, “sclerosis.” Arteriosclerosis refers to the hardening of the arteries and so here the Holy Spirit was speaking to the self-righteous, presumptuous Hebrew as a hard-hearted man who refused to repent.

Much more dangerous than clogged and hardened arteries in the physical heart is the clogged and hardened spiritual heart that has become unresponsive and insensitive to God through the hardening by the deceitfulness of sin. Men with bad, hardened, or stubborn hearts need new hearts – and spiritually speaking this is the condition of all men. This is why we must preach the gospel to all men because this is how God removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh in its place.

To stubbornly and unrepentantly refuse God’s gracious pardon of sin through Jesus Christ is to store up wrath for oneself in the day of wrath and righteous judgment of God. The righteous judgment of God is inescapable and men who are not forgiven through Jesus Christ as their substitute can never escape the wrath of God for their sins.

Self-righteous, presumptuous people have a stubborn and unrepentant heart and although they believe that all will be well with them on judgment day – they are wrong!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Depraved Mind: Impropriety

We have already established that idolatry is the root cause for all the rotten fruit which is revealed in humanity. Because man turned from God to idolatry he went down instead of up; he devolved instead of evolved; and he is in the state of proceeding from bad to worse (2 Timothy 3:13). In his downward spiral into sin man has arrived at a defiled heart (impurity), degraded passions (immorality/homosexuality), and a depraved mind (impropriety). So we see that man’s heart, soul, and mind have been corrupted by idolatry. The very things that men are supposed to love the Lord his God with he uses for every purpose under the sun except for loving God.

In his fallen state man is worthless and useless – he is totally depraved. This is why we read, “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:12). So you see that total depravity means that all of man, his heart, soul, and mind, is corrupted by sin and is not used properly by any man to worship God. The word depraved or reprobate is used to denote that which does not pass the test. It was used to speak of metals that were rejected by refiners because of impurities. The impure metals were discarded and therefore considered useless and worthless. This is the state of all men who have not been regenerated and cleansed and purified through the gospel.

In our last study, Devolving not Evolving, we stated all three categories of rotten fruit which comes from the bad root of idolatry. However, we did not go into any detail about the third and final root of idolatry.

The third fruit of the root of idolatry is a depraved mind (1:28-32) – impropriety. Just when you thought that you might be off the hook and that God missed you in his incriminating evidence He nailed you to the wall with indisputable evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that you too are a guilty sinner in need of the gospel. These verses deal primarily with interpersonal relationships between men. We clearly see the violation of “Love your neighbor as yourself” so that we see that idolatry (breaking the first half of God’s commandments) leads inevitably to breaking the second half of God’s commandments. Idolatry is the root which causes the fruit of our disobedience to God to grow.

The depraved mind has a predetermined and inevitable disposition to do those things which are not proper – the depraved mind is bent toward impropriety. The depraved mind does not dwell on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, whatever is excellent, or whatever is worthy of praise, instead the depraved mind dwells on the exact opposites. The depraved mind fills itself with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil.

Let’s look at some of these negative and condemning improprieties that all men everywhere are guilty of in some form or fashion:
Unrighteousness – that which is not right
Wickedness – that which is ungodly, evil, or morally bad
Greed – desiring what others have, itching for more, covetous
Evil – ill will, malice, malignity, a desire to injure
Envy – to feel displeasure and ill will over another’s happiness, success, reputation, or possessions. Envy causes hatred toward another because he or she has something that you want or are something that you cannot be – it was for envy that the Jewish leaders delivered over Jesus to Pilate (Matthew 27:18).
Murder – Murder is just one step beyond envy although there are other reasons that men murder besides envy.
Strife – contention or wrangling
Deceit – this word in the Greek means “fish-bait” and came to mean to lure, to ensnare, to beguile, to deceive. When a man lies – about anything – he is deceiving. When a man holds back the truth by not speaking it when he should – he is deceiving.
Malice – a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another
Gossips – secret slanderers, whisperers, tattlers, idle talk about the private affairs of others.
Slanderers – backbiters using false and defamatory statements or reports in order to injure the character and influence of another.
Haters of God – hateful to God
Insolent – boldly rude or disrespectful; despiteful; insults others
Arrogant – proud or haughty; showing oneself above others, with overbearing air of superiority and treating others with contempt
Boastful – the one who speaks with excessive pride especially about himself concerning that which he does not really possess – one may even boast in his humility!
Inventors of evil – always looking for and finding new ways to sin
Disobedient to parents – are you surprised that this is an indication of a depraved mind?
Without understanding – without spiritual or moral understanding; spiritual stupidity
Untrustworthy – covenant breakers; without good faith; promise breakers
Unloving – without natural affection
Unmerciful – without mercy, cruel.

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (1:32).

The heathen are under sin and therefore rightly under God’s wrath and they are without excuse. There is only one remedy – the gospel! Since God has given man over to depravity and depravity is a judgment of God on sinful man then we cannot legislate or mandate morality but must go with the gospel to sinners for it and it alone is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Devolving not Evolving

In order that you and I may properly interpret and properly apply this portion of Scripture we must keep it in its proper context. Any portion of Scripture that is lifted out of its context becomes a pretext and can be twisted and made to say anything you want it to. If we end up with the wrong interpretation then we will also end up with the wrong application and then will have become guilty of twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction.

So to be sure that we don’t do that to this portion of Scripture let’s put it in its proper context: Here the apostle Paul was establishing the truth of why he preached the gospel and nothing but the gospel to every man. In chapter one of Romans, Paul was establishing the truth that all Gentiles everywhere are under sin and without excuse before a holy God and are rightly under God’s wrath. God has revealed the truth about Himself to all pagans both through conscience (1:19) and through creation (1:20) but because all men are ungodly and unrighteous, they suppress the truth that God has revealed in unrighteousness (1:18) and are therefore without excuse and rightly under condemnation.

This truth brings us to a dilemma: How can a holy God forgive sinners and remain holy and just? How can a God who is a God of strict justice; who is a God who will not and cannot lie; how can He release the guilty from the charges without lying? God tells us in His Word that He will not acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:7) and that He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:3). So do you see the dilemma: How can a holy God acquit the guilty without lying and while remaining holy and just?

There is only one answer to that dilemma: Penal Substitution – a totally innocent man who has never once sinned against God must be willing to pay the penalty of the guilty by receiving the punishment due the guilty so that God can forgive the guilty based on the truth that His Word has been upheld through punishing the substitute. This is the gospel – that Christ lived a perfect life and as a substitute for sinners was punished on their behalf so that God could offer a full and free pardon, demonstrating His grace, mercy, and love, while still remaining holy and just.

Since all men are rightly under the wrath of God and since God cannot and will not pardon them except on the basis of Penal Substitution – on the basis of the gospel – then Paul stated the truth that he was under a moral obligation to all men to preach to them this gospel (1:14) and that the gospel and the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (1:16) and it is through the gospel – Penal Substitution – that God imputes His righteousness apart from the Law to the one who has faith in Jesus (1:17; 3:22-23).

So this is the context of Romans chapter one: Paul was under moral obligation to preach the gospel to all men because it and it alone is the remedy for the dilemma of how a holy God can forgive sinners and remain holy and just and because all men everywhere are sinners and are rightly under condemnation being without excuse. From 1:18 to 1:32 the apostle brought the charge that all men are sinners and then he gave the evidence to prove it. This is to establish the truth that all men need to hear the gospel if they are going to be saved – a truth that Paul will deal with more clearly in 10:9-17.

Now we will take into consideration 1:24-32 as the apostle unfolds the evidence of the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men everywhere who suppress the truth. We will see the root of the problem and the fruit of the problem.

First we will consider the root of the problem (1:21-25) – idolatry. This section does not teach evolution (that man started low and climbed high), but devolution; that man started high and because of sin he sank lower and lower. Idolatry in all of its forms is a suppression of the truth of God which He revealed about Himself. Therefore idolatry in all of its forms is a corruption of men’s proper relationship to God his Creator. In and through idolatry man doesn’t honor God, he doesn’t thank God, he doesn’t approve of God – but instead man sets his honor, thanks and approval on that which is not God and on that which God has condemned. All idolatry, not matter what form it takes, is an expression of a stubborn heart which absolutely refuses to receive the truth, love the truth, and obey the truth.

I want to give you at least three categories of idolatry so that you will be sure that you are not suppressing even this truth that God has given but will believe that at the root of the problem all men everywhere are idolaters: (1) idols made by hands (2) idols formed in the mind – god of your own liking and own imagination but not the true and living God (3) idols formed in the heart – god of substitution – love of self, love of money, love of pleasure.

So at the root of the problem is idolatry which is a result of suppressing the truth of God because of wrong attitudes. Therefore man does not properly relate to God by worshiping and serving Him and Him alone – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is replaced by idolatry and worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.

Wrong attitudes always lead to wrong actions and wrong belief always leads to wrong behavior. So now we will consider the fruit of the problem (1:24-32) – the evidence that man is under God’s wrath and judgment and therefore without excuse and in severe need of the gospel. If man doesn’t properly relate to God by loving, worshiping, and serving Him then neither is man going to properly relate to his fellow man – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” will not be fulfilled but will be violated over and over.

The first fruit of the root of idolatry is a defiled heart (1:24-25) – impurity. Because men suppressed the truth of God and exchanged the truth of God for a lie, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity – God gave them over to a defiled heart. Idolatry leads to all sorts of impurity. Many false religions – say, “Idolatries” – are based on sexual impurities. The Bible declares the truth that sexually impure people dishonor their own bodies – “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Many false religions/idolatries also dishonor their bodies through cutting, maiming, piercing, tattooing, or flaunting their bodies. Underlying the dishonoring of one’s body is the idolatrous attitude that my body is my own and no one is going to tell me what I can and cannot do with it. However, the Christian now knows better – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Idolatry is at the root of impurity and impurity is one of the fruits of idolatry. In its essence idolatry is improper worship and improper service (1:25). In his sin and folly man turns from God to serve idols but in salvation the order is reversed and that which was lost is restored – man turns from idols to serve the living and true God – “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

The second fruit of the root of idolatry is degrading passions (1:26-27) – immorality (specifically homosexuality). Because of men’s suppression of the truth and their incessant idolatry and impurity, God gave them over to homosexuality – that which is against nature. The natural was exchanged for the unnatural and as a result of a defiled heart came degrading passions – do you see any evolution in this?

Here the Bible speaks of a burning desire and it means an inflamed, intense, burning desire for homosexual activity. The homosexual’s desire for his or her sin is so strong that he or she believes that God has made them this way. However, it is their idolatry and sin that has made them that way. In just the same way that God doesn’t make people into drug addicts but they make themselves into such, God doesn’t make people into homosexuals.

There are consequences to sin and some sins have both psychological and physical consequences. Just as the man who tampers with powerful mind altering drugs and after one use burns in his desire for more and more and the more he does the more he harms his own physical well-being so it is with the homosexual. He burns in his desire wanting more and more (he can’t help himself) and harms his own physical well-being. They receive in their own persons the due penalty of their error – an uncontrollable desire and the destruction of the body.

The third fruit of the root of idolatry is a depraved mind (1:28-32) – impropriety. Just when you thought that you might be off the hook and that God missed you in his incriminating evidence He nailed you to the wall with indisputable evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that you too are a guilty sinner in need of the gospel. These verses deal primarily with interpersonal relationships between men. We clearly see the violation of “Love your neighbor as yourself” so that we see that idolatry (breaking the first half of God’s commandments) leads inevitably to breaking the second half of God’s commandments. Idolatry is the root which causes the fruit of our disobedience to God to grow. Is there any hope? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Penal Substitution – the gospel!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Truth Suppressors: The Heathen are without Excuse

The apostle Paul, beginning in Romans 1:18 began to explain the reason that the gospel must be preached if men are to be saved. This is a courtroom scene where the charges are made and then the evidence to prove those charges is given. From Romans 1:18-3:20, both the Gentiles and the Jews are charged as being sinners and therefore this is a case against the whole world so that the whole world may become accountable to God (see Romans 3:19).

The truth of the guilt of the whole world is of utmost importance in establishing the truth of justification by faith and therefore the truth of the guilt of the individual is of utmost importance if he or she is to receive justification by faith. You see, the guilt of the whole world (which means every individual in it) creates a dilemma – how can a Holy God forgive sinners and still uphold His law? Put another way – how can a Holy God of pure and undefiled justice, which demands that the penalty for breaking the law be upheld, forgive sinners and still be just and not a liar?

There is only one answer that will properly resolve the dilemma of how a Holy God can forgive sinners and still remain just in the process – Penal Substitution. Penal Substitution simply means that the penalty for violating the law is paid by a willing and able substitute in order to pardon and forgive the guilty party. This is the heart of the gospel; this is the only way that a Holy God can forgive and remain true to Himself; and this is the reason that Jesus Christ is the only way for men to be saved.

As long as we believe that God can save and is saving some other way besides through the gospel of Jesus Christ then we do not have to be concerned about missions and evangelism. But as soon as we believe God’s truth that He cannot and will not save any other way then missions and evangelism of the genuine biblical sort are absolutely necessary.

Since it is true that God cannot and will not save any other way, the Holy Spirit made it plain that all men are guilty before God and that no one will be saved apart from hearing the gospel and believing the gospel. God wants us to know that the whole world is guilty before Him; that He cannot save apart from faith in Jesus Christ who paid the sinner’s penalty; and therefore we are under obligation to all men to eagerly preach to them the gospel (Romans 1:14-17).

Our text reveals that the heathen are without excuse; that they are guilty before God; and that they are in need of the gospel if God is going to forgive them.

First we see the charge that the heathen are under sin and that they are not truth seekers but are truth suppressors (Romans 1:18). This verse teaches us that not only do men love sin but that they also will not on their own turn from sin. Instead, this verse charges that they suppress the truth – they do not seek the truth, they do not want the truth, but they actually suppress or hold down the truth.

This charge is a serious charge – it indicates that men don’t love what God reveals about Himself and therefore they don’t love the true God. Do you see a problem in that? Well if they don’t love Him they won’t obey Him and neither will they glorify Him nor will they worship and serve Him. This is the essence of sin so therefore the charge that men suppress the truth is a charge that men are by nature and by choice sinners.

Next we begin to examine the evidence that the heathen are truth suppressors and not truth seekers (19-25). Here we see that although men come up with may different forms of religion, it is because they are suppressing truth and not seeking truth. They are fashioning a god of their own making to their own liking. Judging by appearance we would conclude that all the various religions of the world prove that men are seeking God and seeking truth. However the evidence actually points in the other direction – that men are suppressing truth – for if all men everywhere were seeking truth and receiving the truth that God is revealing then all religions everywhere would be based on the same truth. So to say that all the religions of the world prove that men are seeking God then the truth that God has revealed concerning this not only from nature but also from His Word would have to be suppressed (Romans 3:11).

God has given revelation of Himself to all men through two primary avenues:

The inner revelation of conscience (19) – the law of God and His moral code is written on the heart of all men everywhere (Romans 2:14-15).

The outer revelation of creation (20) – reveals the truth of God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature.

With the combined witnesses of conscience and creation, every man is without excuse because every fact shall be established on the basis of two or more witnesses.

Suppressing the truth always leads to idolatry (21-25)