The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened..
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions... committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness... evil..murder... inventors of evil..unloving, unmerciful; 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.
~ Romans 1:18-21,24-32
What we tolerate, we encourage. Tolerating (allowing) sexual immorality and abortion in society and in the church is what God considers tolerating the intolerable. Did you know that 88% of the fornicators who are murdering their children by abortion are professing Christians? If pastors and Christians do not do they can to preach and teach morality and hinder human sacrifice in the shadow of our steeples, we are, in effect, giving our passive permission and providing a sort of 'benediction' over it. In Isaiah 1:15 God declares to His people: "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood." Church, tolerating the systematic shedding of the innocent blood of their neighbors is the epitome of neglecting the duty implied in the 6th commandment.
It is very likely that the syncretism which brought the fury of God against the Jews is now aimed against the visible church. When we assimilate into a culture and take on its customs and idols, we incur the wrath of God along with them.
Matthew Henry notes: "The Jews persisted in rebellion after they settled in the land of Canaan. And these elders seem to have thought of uniting with the heathen. We make nothing by our profession if it be but a profession."
All human beings know better than to be sexually immoral and slay their offspring. Even heathens have the internal knowledge that murder of babies is wrong. Yet, over 2700 church women are paying to have their children slain every single day in America. The church should know BEST about what is evil and has the responsibility to be salt and light in the culture, educating the conscience with God's moral Law. And yet, the very people IN THE CHURCH are leading the way into abortuaries to offer human sacrifice! Over 19,000 infants IN THE CHURCH are slaughtered every WEEK!
Listen to the God's Word to His people through the prophet Ezekiel:
"And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter, that you slaughtered My children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?.. When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you." ~ Ezekiel 16:20-21; 20:31
The Lord tells His own people that He will no longer listen to them when they make appeals to Him because they have participated in infant sacrifice, offering the gifts of their children, HIS GIFTS to them, to the idol of Molech. Today, the idol is humanism.
The Geneva Study Bible notes that God "...condemned those things, and counted them as abominable...for that which God required as most excellent they gave to their idols...He shows that the ingratitude of the people deserves that God should cut them off, and that they should not have the comfort of His Word.~ Geneva Study Bible
How interesting that many pulpits are bereft of solid Bible preaching and so many leaders of Christian organizations have nearly abandoned the truth of God and substituted humanistic platitudes and church activities. We are losing the comfort and truth, the salt and light, of His Word!
Even the ungodly have a guilty knowledge of God and His righteous requirements. They KNOW that they deserve the wrath of God. Has the church fooled herself into thinking that in spite of her tolerating the sacrifice of her children, her many traditions and rituals and activities make her heard of the Lord? Will much of Christendom, like the heathen, end up finding God as a powerful Judge, since they were unwilling to know Him as gracious Father who demands honor and obedience? Are we, in the visible church, in the climax of guilt against a holy God along with our godless neighbors?
In the book of proverbs, the discription of the whore is that her ways are the ways of death and her house declines into hell. Has the majority of the modern church become a blood-guilty whore?
Three times in Romans 1 we find the phrase "God gave them over". I've taken the following excerpts from a stunning sermon called "What's Wrong with America" (http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/america.htm) by John MacArthur. (As you read what is happening to American society, please consider how the modern church is committing the sin of turning aside from the revelation of scripture and looking the other way while the infants are being slain in the shadow of their steeples.)
Now that word ("God gave them over") can have a judicial sense, that is, making a judgment on a criminal and handing him over for execution or punishment, and I think that is its intention here, because the whole scene here is "Man found guilty before God, and God's wrath released (back in verse 18) against guilty man."
The wrath of God then acts judicially to sentence sinners, and the first phase of that sentence is to just let the restraints go, and let them go the way of their own choices, turning them over to the uninterrupted course and its effect that their sinful choices will produce. To put it another way, they are deprived of "restraining grace."
Sin is so rampant in our country, it is so widespread, it is so tolerated by people in leadership and even people in the church, it is so widely tolerated it is pandemic: it is endemic; that is, it is in the very fabric of our life that I believe God has just taken away the restraining grace that might preserve our nation, and has let our nation run to its own doom.
Sin is both the cause and the effect. Sin and more sin, and more sin, and more sin, results in more sin, and more sin, and more sin. Sin causes it: sin is the result of it. Wrath means that sinning people are allowed the freedom to sin more blatantly as restraining grace is taken away.
"In the end their humanism, or man-centeredness results in dehumanization of each other." ~ Alan Johnson
The epitome in verse 32, "And they know the ordinance of God." They know that. How do they know that? Because, "The law of God is written. . . ." Where? "In their hearts." They know the ordinance of God; they know what's right, "That those who practice such things are worthy of death, but they not only do the same, but they give hearty approval to those who practice them." They have no conscience; they have no fear; they are without reason; they are without understanding; they are like beasts--mindless. There is the lowest point of human descent.
The wrath of God is already at work in our society, and I would suppose that I would have to say that there is no surer, no clearer token of a society under the wrath of God then when that society refuses to define and hate sin, and on the other hand, when it tolerates sin and sinners completely. Listen, when a society reaches the point where it will not define sin, where it will not hate sin, where it will tolerate sin and tolerate sinners, but will not tolerate anger towards sin--that's a society under God's wrath. And that's the society we live in.
Schiller wrote, "The history of the world is the judgment of the world."
Paul says the problem with this is it is a blatant rejection of the law of God given to man. It is not man in his ignorance--it is man in his rejection that brings the wrath of God. Expanding on that reality then in verse 18, Paul lays out four specific reasons for God's wrath:
Four specific reasons for God's wrath:
Reason number one is revelation. In verse 19 it says, "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." In other words, God (listen to this) has inlaid the evidence of spiritual and moral truth what is right and what is wrong, in the very nature of man's being. He has inlaid also in the nature of man's being the awareness that there must be a God, and that God must be powerful, and wise, and good, and just. Man is not without the witness of divine reality and divine morality. Men can't plead ignorance because entirely apart from Scripture which is "Special Revelation," God has through "General Revelation" made Himself known. Notice the phrase there in verse 19, "That which may be known of God," that simply means "What is knowable."
What is knowable about God, what we can know about Him is made available to us. Where is this knowledge available? Within them: in the mind; in the soul; in the reason; in the conscience. You see, the very fabric of reasoning and understanding is made from the strands of the revelation of God. That's what Paul means over in chapter two of Romans, in verse 14, when he says, "The Gentiles who don't have the written Law do instinctively the things of the Law, because though they are not having the Law they are a law to themselves." Why? They show (verse 15) "the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them." Conscience, guilt, reason, a rational mind, those are faculties by which the proper conclusion is: there is right and there is wrong and there is God.
It is not obscure to believe in God, it's innate; it's readily apparent. It's not obscure to believe in right and wrong, it's innate; and just like when you wound your body you feel pain, when you wound that moral, rational soul you feel guilt. It's normal to believe in God; it's common sense. The mind dictates there must be a God and this is what He must be like.
Over in the Book of Acts, and verse 15 of chapter 14, just a very important word there: Acts 14:15, Paul and Barnabas, having an interesting time preaching in Lystra, "Men, why are you doing these things? (they say when these people want to come and grab them and make them gods) We are also men of the same nature as you, and we preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them." Now listen to this: "And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without. . . ." What? "Witness, in that He did good and He gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
"Since the creation of the world (since the very beginning when creation was first done, way back then--since the very start) the invisible attributes of God: His eternal power, something about His divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made." Romans 1:20
The very essence of a Creator and something of His character is absolutely everywhere, and for human reason to reject that goes against the grain of everything, and must be the blatant act of willful sin, and because of that God gives them over. The mind they refused to use becomes the mind that is useless--that is judgment. I believe that we are experiencing that kind of movement in our culture. Men have experienced God, they have experienced His wisdom, His power, His goodness in every moment of their existence, and He says they rejected Him. They suppressed the truth.
Men had the truth, men turned from the truth: verse 21, "For even though they knew God, they didn't honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened." There it is again: they didn't use their minds right and instead of thinking wisely, profoundly, sensibly, their thoughts became futile or empty and useless, and their foolish heart became black--the light went out!
Man finds God in creation, he finds God in reason, he suppresses it, he rejects God, he loves darkness, he plunges into darkness and the light goes out. Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote this,
"They," Paul says, "did not honor Him as God or give thanks." Man's problem is not that he can't recognize God, it is that he won't recognize God! For all the joy of life and all the beauty of life, and all the life, laughter, all the pain of life, all the tears of life, all the thrills, the pleasures, the talent, sexual fulfillment, all the children, all the families--for all the things that God fills life with He gets no thanks and "they become futile in their speculation." They get nothing but empty human ideas, and they are running wild in our culture. Aren't they? Isaiah said in Isaiah 47:10, "You felt secure in your wickedness and said 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you, for you have said in your heart, 'I am and there is no one besides me'" (boy, does that sound familiar).
I am the center of my world, no one sits in judgment on me--that's how stupid men have become. Because they would not allow their rational mind, where God had planted the knowledge of Himself and the knowledge of good and evil in their conscience, they would not allow themselves to follow that path; they rejected that, they have now become foolish in their speculations. They are empty, useless, self-gods, and they have been sucked into the vacuum of their own emptiness and nothing is there but darkness. Their foolish heart was darkened. Now they can't know God because the light went out.
Wrath, because men received revelation; they had the opportunity. Wrath, because they rejected it. Thirdly,
This is the third cause--rationalization: men insist they are doing fine. Verse 22, "They profess to be. . . ." What? "Wise." They don't say, "Oh, woe is me, I'm in a pit. I've become an idiot. I've lost my sense. I can't find my way." No, they have convinced themselves that they are erudite. The major rationalizations today are egalitarianism, freedom, and psychology. You know they think they are wise.
When he says (verse 22), "Professing to be wise they became fools," he uses the word "moraino" (Greek), moron we get from it. That's what it means, they think they are wise and they are morons.
There is a fourth cause, in spite of the fact that man rejects revelation, and fully rejects the God and the truth revealed because he wants no compunctions in his life. And in spite of the fact that he rationalizes that he is really very wise and everything is fine, he still will inevitably invent something that becomes the fourth cause:
He can't exists without some sense of religion. He has got to believe in something or someone. He has got to have some shrine he bows to, so he creates his own God to accommodate his useless mind. Voltaire says, "God made man in His own image and man returned the favor." Verse 23, "They exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for (here's their religion) an image in the form of corruptible man and birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." Look at verse 25, same statement, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is God blessed forever. Amen." Look at verse 28, "And just as they didn't see fit to acknowledge God any longer."
So, all of those say they wanted to get rid of the true God, the incorruptible God, the real God and the truth of God, and in the place of God they wanted to make their own religion full of lies. They wanted to worship the creature rather than the Creator. They did not see fit to acknowledge God. You see, what you have to understand is, man does not rise, he does not ascend from the muck of paganism and ignorance to the truth of God. He falls from the truth of God into the slime of religion. Religion is not man at his highest; religion is man at his lowest. He is down at the bottom when his willful rejection of the true God is allowed to invent false gods to accommodate his own life.
In Second Kings 17, verse 14, it says, "The people didn't listen, they stiffened their neck like their fathers, who didn't believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings which He warned them. They followed vanity (or emptiness) and became vain and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord commanded them not to do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves molten images."
That's exactly what happens, you start at the truth of God and you descend into the muck of religion. Religion is man at the pits. It is the ultimate insanity. Religion is the ultimate insanity. It is the wickedness of man rejecting God and creating non-gods.
So, is it any wonder that as a society we are struggling with an ethical moral system? How can we have an ethical moral system when there is only one in the universe and we have abandoned it? And when you abandoned it as verse 18 to 23 describe, then verses 24 to 32 tells you. "If you abandon God. . . ." What? "He'll abandon you," and just take off restraining grace.
You say, "Is there any hope for America?" Well, the hope for America would be the same as the hope for any people. First of all, a return to God as Creator, God as Creator and Law giver. And if this nation does not return to God as Creator and Law giver--the wrath will continue.
I want to close with a text of Scripture and then an illustration. The text is in Psalm 81, verse 11, "But My people didn't listen to My voice and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart to walk in their own devices." That's it isn't it? They wanted it and they got it. But then this, verse 13, "Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries. Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him." In other words it would become so popular that people would fake being spiritual. Then verse 16, "But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat; and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." There's a promise, isn't that? God says, "I let you go, but I could come back if you'll turn to me." The first point of turning is to turn to God as Creator and Law giver, and once you affirm that then His law becomes your standard.
When man believes there is no God, all sense of orientation is lost and he is in a mad frenzy that ultimately will end in death. There's hope. You have to pray for that. If our nation will turn back to the Creator and the Law giver who is the true God and submit to His Word He will bless us. If not the wrath will continue to unfold.
Father, we are so grieved as we look around us at this time in our history...and the whole nation is plunging into an abyss of blackness with minds that are absolutely useless, trying to solve massive far reaching problems of iniquity without a standard, and really being given the curse of their own sin: more sin, and more sin, and more sin, unrestrained.
We see Your wrath and all we can do is plead with You that You would be gracious to Your people and that You would open their hearts to saving truth... And that the Word of God could again become the authority in this land as it reflects the Word of the Creator, for Father, unless that happens many shall continue the plunge into the darkness from which they cannot recover.
We remember what you said to the society before the flood, "My Spirit will not always strive with man." There comes a time when grace runs out. Lord, before that happens in this land, we can only ask that in Your mercy You would call out a remnant of such proportion and devotion that they might begin to bring a new sense of direction by turning the hearts of this people towards God, towards You...
That You would turn them; that they would look and see You the Creator, the Law giver, the Redeemer, who in Christ has purchased their life for time and eternity.
We ask this only that You may be glorified in Your Son's Name. Amen.