WHEN GOD GIVES UP by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Friedrich Schiller, a german poet, philosopher, historian once wrote, “The history of the world is the judgment of the world.” I don’t know exactly what it meant to him but, to me, that describes the passage we are about to read.
Romans 1:20-25 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Overall Background: In the passage we just read Paul continues his discussion about the wrath of God. He is not talking about God’s wrath against original sin—the sin nature that came to us through Adam and Eve. For original sin God’s answer is very simple: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Application: If you are lost this morning, He stands with arms open wide to welcome you home. Just like the Father of the Prodigal Son, 20“. . . when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (Luke 15:20-24) That’s how God is waiting for you if you are lost.
God has poured His wrath upon Jesus Christ. He became the propitiation for our sins. All you have to do is look to Him and be saved.
Wrath comes in when we willfully reject the offer of God. Listen again to Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress (hinder, block, hold down) the truth in unrighteousness,”
Throughout history peoples, nations, and civilizations have individually and collectively rebelled against God. In turn God’s wrath came upon them. By the way, some people think that God’s wrath comes in big disasters. That may be true but not necessarily. When we read Romans 1, we see that God’s wrath is seen when He gives up. When after we continue to reject Him and refuse to obey Him and resolve to do what we think is right, there comes a point when God gives up.
Paul lays out the decline.
1. FROM KNOWLEDGE TO REBELLION
21because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God,
Background: Throughout the history of this world, countless multitudes have seen God’s beautiful creation but they have refused to glorify God. Take for example the sun.It is the source of light and life for our planet. The energy from the sunlight supports almost all life on Earth via photosynthesis, and drives the Earth’s climate and weather. It provides the necessary warmth to keep us healthy and functioning.
Did you know that very early in the history of our world – the sun was looked at not just as a wonderful gift from God but as God Himself? What I am talking about is SUN WORSHIP. In Genesis 10 we meet a man by the name of Nimrod = marad (Hebrew) which means to rebel. In essence, his name meant “let’s do as we please.” The Bible calls him a “mighty hunter before the Lord.” He was a hunter – not of animals but of men. means “rebellious one before the Lord.” He tried to turn people away from God and to follow Him. Nimrod led the people of the world at the time in the land of Shinar, Babylon, the land of modern day Iraq to build a temple to the anti-God. Now it has a strange phrase in the end – “a tower whose top is in the heavens.”
People have misunderstood that to mean that it was a very tall tower that reached the clouds. Not true. In fact the original language simply writes: “a tower whose top is heavens.” This was a temple that was dedicated to the worship of the heavens, the worship of the constellations, the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars (zodiac). On the top of the tower was a representation of the zodiac with the sun probably in the center. Sun worship was a powerful religion.
God came down to confuse their language and scattered them to keep them from building this temple. Did you know that sun worship did not die? It continued in Africa, Ancient Egypt, Aztec mythology, China, Greece, India (The Sun God in Hinduism is an ancient deity, worthy of immense worship. The Sun is referred to in Sanskrit as “Mitra” or “Friend” down to the invariable warmth, life-giving nature and optimism its light brings to mankind.), Indonesia, Japan, Europe (Sól – Old Norse for Sun or Sunna – Old High German for Sun.), Persians, and Romans.
The English noun Sunday derived literally means “sun’s day.”
21because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God,
Application: Let’s jump ahead a little – Do you think there is an effort in America to hinder the general truth about God and His creation? It is a sin to teach creationism in America.
What’s more? nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Application: Do you think in America we have become UNGRATEFUL, FUTILE, and FOOLISH? We need to remember that this nation was founded upon Biblical values; that this nation has been blessed by God through the years; that this nation is standing today because God’s hand has been upon us.
2. FROM REBELLION TO IDOLATRY
What’s more? 22Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Background: When people refuse to glorify the Creator, God calls them “fools.” God does not debate with the atheist. He only gives one half of one verse to the atheist – “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”
What’s more? 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
If a human being refuses to believe in God, it does not mean he doesn’t believe in anything. They will find something to believe. NATURE ABHORS A VACCUM. G.K. Chesterton once said,“When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.”
People all over the world worship all kinds of creatures. They worship bugs, snakes, cows, trees, rivers, mountains. In Egypt they used to worship Khepri, the scarab beetle. It is a dung beetle. It roles the dung down a hole in the ground and lays its eggs in it. Then the newborns crawl out of the ground. So they worship it as the God of self-creation. You remember the plagues that God sent against Egypt – swarms of flies (4th plagues) were beetles.
Someone might say, “In America we don’t worship idols.” Are you sure? Anytime we have something that we love more, fear more, and value more than God – it is an IDOL.
In fact, human beings take their worst vices and make them god. Alcohol – God Bacchus; Sex – Sacred Prostitution.
For e.g. Can you ever turn on TV without being bombarded by either of those two.
3. FROM IDOLATRY TO SEXUAL IMMORALITY
24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Background: “God gave them up” means “God shut them up to the consequences of their sins.” God’s wrath does not have to come in a storm or an earthquake or a tsunami. Sometimes it comes in God allowing us to self-destruct. Adrian Rogers calls them “some of the most chilling words in the whole Bible.”
Application: Young people listen carefully – when we sin and deliberately sin, don’t wait for the hammer to drop. Sometimes God’s wrath is not in striking us but in turning us over to ourselves. Growing up my biggest fear was not that God would put His hand on me if I sinned. My biggest fear was that God would remove His hands off me.
What did God give them over to? Listen to verse 24 24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
Background: The word for “lust” is epiqumia which means “passionate desire for forbidden pleasure.” God gave them over to passionate desires for forbidden pleasures to dishonor their bodies. Meaning: God gave them over to sexual self-destruction. God did not give them over to the sin of anger, bitterness, envy, or hatred. He gives them over to the sin of sexual self-destruction. Why?
Listen carefully: The way a person acts sexually tells a lot about what’s going on internally. Sex is really a type of worship. It is a desire to be one with someone; to share our deepest feelings with someone; and to find the deepest satisfaction in someone. Only a marriage relationship can give us that. If you go outside of marriage, it doesn’t work.
When we reject God, He removes the restraints and people try to sleep around and have multiple sexual encounters and one-night stands and they come back empty. God is pulling back the covers to show the emptiness that is in our hearts without Him.
Application: Boys, girls, men, women – beware of the sin of sexual self-destruction. Your friends might say – “that’s not really sex,” “it’s not a big deal,” or “you’re just getting to know each other.” With every encounter, you are revealing the emptiness of your hearts. Only God can satisfy your longings. Only God can fulfill your cravings. Only God can meet your deepest needs.
We often hear about “safe sex.” Adrian Rogers said “The sex that God created was not mean to be dangerous.”
4. FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY TO LOSS OF SEXUAL IDENTITY
26For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
We are talking about homosexuality. Why did God give them up to this vile passion? Because human beings have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, God has removed the restraint and they have exchanged the truth of their bodies for a lie. My identity comes from God. He is the measuring stick. Remove God and our fundamental identity is gone.
– Homosexuality is not biological, it is psychological.
– Homosexuality is not a condition, it is confusion.
5. FROM LOSS OF SEXUAL IDENTITY TO SELF DESTRUCTION
28And 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; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, violent. . .
Background: Now we come to the final chapter of any culture or civilization. Paul gives us a list of 24 specific sins – the worst and most heinous sins.
- People know they are doing wrong.
- They do wrong anyways.
- People know what others are doing is wrong.
- They approve them anyways.
- It is the complete loss of all sense of right and wrong. God has now given them over.
- It is now Hell on Earth.
- If you look at the final chapters of some of those ancient civilizations, they were marked by all these vices.
Application: People ask me – Are we under judgment in America? To the contrary, we are ready for revival.
Make no mistake; we have done a few things wrong: It started with the 1947 Supreme Court definition of the separation of church and state. Then the 1962-63 decision by the Supreme Court to ban prayers in public school. Back in 1996, D. James Kennedy said – “God has been thrown out, and the metal detectors have been put in.” Then the 1973, Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. But I see a change coming.
What do you make of what is happening across the world? It is Barbarism. Sure we need to aggressively defend ourselves and be on the offensive.
Having said that, the formula is there in the Bible.
2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”