The Book of Romans Part 5 (1:18-32) Progression of Rejection

We broach today’s subject with our continued reliance on the Lord for guidance and wisdom in our studies.

This portion may very likely be one of the most powerful passages in
scripture delineating the wrath of God and also often misused. It has
been used to show how God hates homosexuality and also used to support
that men can be saved by looking at creation. I’ve seen this portion
used for teaching that the only way to preach the gospel is to start
with creation. It has been used to illustrate the pre-flood conditions
(and subsequently limited to that time period) and a few times I have
seen it used to support homosexual relationships.

I am not supporting these views, simply mentioning them in a
tuning-fork format. Perhaps you have heard the hum of today’s passage
in one of the tone’s mentioned in the previous paragraph. Yet, an
interesting feature about each of these arguments is that they
sometimes focus so wholeheartedly on the point they’re trying to make
that they ignore what the passage is actually saying.

The Just Shall Live By Faith?short review
If you remember, we left off
with a discussion regarding the point Paul made that "The Just shall
live by Faith". We brought to light that this was a direct quote from
Habakkuk where the prophet was asking God some serious questions.
Firstly, he asked God why the violence in the world hasn’t been dealt
with. When God answers that He has raised up a cruel nation to be God’s
bringer of wrath, Habakkuk is moved to ask why God uses wicked people
to hurt people more righteous.

God answers the shuddering prophet with words of comfort that are to
be written in stone and to be counted on, for these words are true.
Although the wicked will feel wrath in the oncoming judgment, the just
shall live by faith. If you wish, substitute the word "live" to
"survive" and you’re closer to the comfort God was offering Habakkuk.

God’s Wrath Against Unrighteousness in the Heathen (part one)
It’s in light of this verse that we find ourselves in chapter
1 verse 18 where Paul points out that the very wrath of God is revealed
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who
suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Paul is about to illustrate how
God is righteous even in his expression of wrath?by the very fact that
He judges those unrighteous acts of men who are willingly and guiltily
sinful.

The verses then progress to point out that God has made certain
aspects of Himself known to these guilty sinners by placing this proof
within them and before them. Note that the passage does not say that
these men can not recognize the truth nor does it say they can not
choose to obey the truth. What it says is that they suppress the truth
with their unrighteousness!

Paul takes a step back, to cover all the bases, and shows how from
the very foundation of the world the invisible attributes of God are
clearly seen. Some readers completely ignore the middle phrase which
points out which invisible attributes Paul is referring to. Paul is not
referring to the gospel seen in creation, or the cross of Chris, nor
even the love of God. Those things are seen at the cross where Holiness
and Love collided to fulfill the scheme of God to redeem His creation!

No, the invisible attributes that are spoken of here are the eternal
power of God and His Divine nature. These things deal with His
authority, His rule over all creation and His spiritual and powerful
being so much above the visible finite creation. If you wish, the fact
that He is All Powerful and the fact that He is Sovereign.

Sovereignty of God in Creation
So often, some of us hear the term that "God is sovereign" and we
may start preparing our counter-Calvinist argument. Let us not forget
in all of our studies that God is the ultimate authority and designer,
that He has orchestrated how the very cosmos work together, down from
the invisible quarks and anti-protons up to the stars and galaxies in
all of their expansive greatness. God upholds the entire universe,
encased in time while He Himself exists out and above time. Ladies and
gentleman, God is sovereign and praise the Lord that He is.

Praise the Lord that He is so powerful. We see the aspects of design
(be you a young earth creationist or an old-earth believer) in the
awesome cosmos and it begs for the hand of an artist in such
awe-inspiring proportions! These things are clearly seen, not so much
as tangible evidence that there is an all powerful God but almost like
a compass pointing North?these things point to the presence of God.

Choosing Against God
The argument can be made due to the tense that the fact that men
"knew God" but this loses it’s gloss, as it were, if one were to try to
use these terms to mankind today. Rather the mind of man knew God, each
and every man, but they did not individually honor Him as God or give
thanks. This is true of every single generation and each unregenerate
sinner. The man has known God in these technical aspects and yet
ignored the evidence and became weak or futile in his thinking. This
man’s heart which had embraced foolishness by ignoring the evidence
before him has lost it’s exposure to light and understanding, growing
dim and though this man professes to be wise he is actually become a
fool.

This process then is not so much an argument against types of sin,
but rather showing the corruption or degradation of the guilty sin
found in men everywhere?the rejection of the preliminary evidence of
God. Because they have done these things in their now darkened thinking
and foolish heart, they decide to exchange the glory of the
incorruptible, all powerful, sovereign creator God into an image, a
picture or a sculpture of finite men, birds, four footed animals and
things that crawl. The sin was the original rejection. The natural
progression of the sin is the turning to something other than God,
turning from the infinite towards the finite.

Don’t be confused by what Paul is saying here. It is no small thing
to have choices before God. This is exceedingly wicked was has been
done here. Mankind has in effect turned from the worship of the One who
deserves worship and have placed that worship on the creature. (v 24,
24)

Now we find a decision by God. If men decide to turn from Him and
embrace foolishness and the lusts of their hearts are illustrated by
where they’re gravitating towards?God gives them over so that their
very bodies are dishonored or bring shame among them (v 24). God gave
them over to the very passions of their flesh (v 26) and the
progression of being given over to those passions is to revel in every
conceivable action that can be done.

So no longer is man focusing on the finite and natural, but focusing
on corrupting the finite and natural by doing that which is unnatural
(v.26, 27). The verses say that women burned in desire towards one
another and men committed with men that which is indecent and received
in their own bodies the penalty of their error?turning their worship
from God to something other!

This isn’t rape spoken of here, nor is it "temple-homosexuality".
This is all of those things including homosexual relationships in every
shape or form. This is every degraded action that results from having a
darkened heart, weakened mind and consumed by the very passions of the
flesh.

Unrepentant Men and the Downward Spiral
What does man do? Does mankind realize his wickedness and turn
from it? No, just like in the days of Noah where men’s thoughts were
continually wicked all the time, mankind has enjoyed this position of
wanton disregard and they found that they didn’t even have to
acknowledge God any longer. God made a decision based on their
disavowal of Him and that was that they were to be given over to their
depraved minds.

No longer are they simply slaves consumed to the burning of the
flesh, worshippers of creations, but they are also justifying it in
their minds which are now lacking of the water of God. Those minds,
eager to be filled, seek now to be filled with every single form of
unrighteousness and wickedness and the list goes on. It spans from what
mean do in their actions (envy, lie, gossip, murder) through what they
are in their persons (haters of God, insolent, arrogant) and ends at
how utterly void of goodness they are (untrustworthy, unloving,
unmerciful). Mind you, the verses at no point say that these men (past
or present) don’t know how to do good. It says that they knew the Good
and chose to ignore the Good.

Now the verses end with the fact that although these wicked people
knew the ordinance of God that if a person practices these things they
are worthy of death, they in their depraved mind and consumed body, do
these things and applaud those who practice these things as well (32).

This is a dark charge against the heathen, indeed. God has shown
enough light to make people question and what do people do with that
light? Suppress it. Ignore it. No longer acknowledge it. Revel against
it. God, in His sovereignty and supreme power decides to let them do
what they wish…He will not force them to change. He gives them over to
what they wanted and the human heart is exposed for the futile, foolish
thing it is.

The moralist is in the same boat, we’ll see in the next post.

Facebook Comments

1 thought on “The Book of Romans Part 5 (1:18-32) Progression of Rejection

Leave a Reply