#4 You Are What You Believe
Today we will see the results, the outworking of the inward belief system of sinful man. Call him what you will, Atheist, Humanist, Environmentalist, he has suppressed the revealed knowledge of God that all men have received, and has willfully bowed down to idols of every shape and size.
Now what’s going on here? It is simple, men think they are smarter than God, can do a better job of running this world than God and they therefore, 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Do you want to know why this world is in the mess that it is in right now? It’s not global warming. It’s not those pesky Christians trying to force their morality down people’s throats. (The exact opposite is true; Christians have become mute, especially with the government proposing to include the preaching of the gospel in the list of hate crimes as other countries have done.)
Men have trusted in themselves and each other, depended on flesh for their strength and their hearts have turned away from the Lord God. Why is this? It is because they hate the truth! They hate being exposed for the lot of filthy sinners that they are and so they are doing their level best to suppress any form of Christian expression.
Notice that I did not say religious expression. The truth is that other religions can do as they please. Satanists and witches can flaunt their wickedness and preach their doctrines and the world doesn’t care. Muslims are left alone because they will kill you if you try to suppress them. But Christians; they must be silenced! Why? What is the difference? It is this; God’s message speaks to the heart and reveals the inner workings, the inner motivations, the monstrous evil that lurks in the hearts of men. God’s word is truth and it is light. And men will not come to the light lest their evil deeds be exposed!
This is what we are going to see today; men suppressing God’s truth, smothering it or muzzling it so that there is a famine in the land of hearing the word of God. And in place of God’s truth they raise up for themselves other men or idols in various forms to worship, to follow, to obey. They refused to worship the true God 23 and instead exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Now how many people do you suppose would go up to a statue and bow down and worship it? Understand that there are many religions in this world that do just that. It is part of their belief system and since they are people of faith the world encourages this kind of behavior. In many cases they give hearty approval to this kind of behavior.
This is where Christianity and other religions come into contention. The true Christian comes to the word of God for his direction in all things. When we encounter idolatry such as I have just mentioned, we go to the law and to the testimony, the word of God. And what does God’s word say about such activities? Much!
Consider specifically the 1st and 2nd Commandments. Notice that I said commandments, not suggestions, not guidelines for happiness or whatever other drivel is being taught elsewhere. Now before I quote these first two commandments let me be clear that other religions, those which consider themselves to be Christian, but have removed the second commandment to make a place for their idolatry are indeed not Christian but instead offer another gospel. Despite all the outward trappings of religiosity, the truth is that they have taken away from the word of God to indulge in their sin.
Here are the first two commandments in full: 1 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
As you can see, God has forbidden any form of worship to any other God but Himself! And He has forbidden any form of idols, in any form for the purpose of worship! This is the pure and simple truth. And He warns us in (De 4:15) saying, “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves IN THE FORM OF ANY FIGURE, THE LIKNESS OF MALE OR FEMALE, 17 THE LIKENESS OF ANY ANIMAL THAT IS ON THE EARTH, THE LIKENSS OF ANY WINGED BIRD THAT FLIES IN THE SKY, 18 THE LIKENESS OF ANYTHING THAT CREEPS ON THE GROUND, THE LIKENESS OF ANY FISH THAT IS IN THE WATER BELOW THE EARTH. 19 “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
Do you see the completeness of the prohibition? There is to be absolutely no idolatry of any form whatsoever! There is only ONE GOD and you are to serve Him only! This is the command of God. Note also that there are no loopholes whereby we might slip in a little idolatry here and there. IT IS FORBIDDEN!
Therefore we are to understand that God has issued a command that men worship no other God’s but Him. And He has commanded that they make no statues, no idols, not even for the purpose of worshiping Him. Remember the prohibition from the Deuteronomy passage…you saw no form so don’t make! You have no template to go by Therefore if you have made a statue, even for the purpose of worshiping God, you have…
1. Broken His Holy Commandment.
2. Made is a lie for you have not seen God. You do not know what He looks like.
This is the truth of the matter. So what do men do with God’s commandments? The question could be asked and answered in this manner: what do any little children do when they are told no? The answer is that they immediately try to find a way to get around the prohibition. In the case of sinful man and the Law of God, we see first suppression, then rationalization “What that really means is…”and finally action.
Do you see the juvenility of sinful men! Couple this with the modern notion that there is no God; there are no absolutes and therefore no restrictions of sinful behavior. “Why we might damage their little ego’s if we prohibit them from ‘expressing themselves freely.”
The fact of the matter is that sinful man will not have God reigning over them. They hate His laws and His person and everything that has to do with Him. Consider as an aside that men hate God so much we cannot have Christmas Trees anymore. Now they are holiday trees. We cannot have Christmas Vacation at School anymore. Now it’s Winter Vacation. This is just the start of what is on the horizon.
There are men and women laboring day and night to accomplish their goal of removing God from the public square. They are working feverishly to remove any reference to God, Christ, Christmas; anything Christian, from any books, buildings, schools; anything that will disturb their consciences or hinder them in performing their ungodly deeds. They will do it by oppression, legislation, by whatever means they can contrive to rid the world of God.
The problem for wicked men and women is this; God rules in the affairs of men and there is no scheme to remove Him from His Sovereign Throne. Though hand join hand and all the people of the world gather together to fight against God, say, in the Valley of Megiddo, they will be defeated. Sure you can kill the messenger. People have been killing God’s messengers for centuries. But that hasn’t stopped God or even slowed Him down!
And as to these servants who have been killed in action: consider the words of one martyr in India. He was arrested for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine that. He told men and women about the danger they were in and the way of escape through Jesus Christ. He spoke of the sacrificial death of our Lord on the Cross. And for this they sentenced him to death!
As they slashed his skin and filled the wounds with salt and chili powder he said to them, ‘formerly Satan wounded me with his fiery darts. The blood of Jesus healed those wounds. The suffering caused by your wounds is not much.’ Enraged by his words they began to skin him alive. “I thank you for this” he said. Tear off the old garment for I shall soon put on Christ’s garments of righteousness. He was finally burned at the stake, all the while praying for his persecutors.
This is just one example of the lengths men will go to in order to silence the truth. Why? Because they have a plan! And their plan involves the grossest of perversions. Men want to sin! It’s who and what they are. God and His law just gets in the way. They were born, dead in trespasses and sins and apart from God’s intervention, they cannot get enough. And so they suppress the truth of God. This willful suppression of God’s truth results first in a downward spiral into idolatry. Then it gets worse. Listen to the Word of God! 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. The idea here is sexual sin which will be borne out in the text.
Notice what happens. “For they exchanged the truth the reality of God what He has said about Himself for a lie, they rejected anything that had to do with the one true God who created all things and they replaced Him with idols and they worshiped and served the creature people, animals, trees, anything they could come up with in their own sin-darkened minds, anything rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
And then…what is the result of this deadly exchange? What happens when men turn from God and worship idols? What happens when men and women suppress any mention of God in the public square? Perversion! That is exactly what happens. There is perversion of the truth of God and then perversion of life. Listen carefully to what Paul is telling us and see if you can find anything good or wholesome, anything positive in the language being used here so as to condone the practices of these who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; Now notice that word degrading. When someone has been degraded is that a positive thing? When women are raped they are said to have been degraded. This is far from a positive thing, indeed it is horrific for any woman to have to be subjected to such treatment.
Now notice: men exchanged the truth of God for a lie, for idolatry in its various forms and since they worshiped a lie, God gave them over, delivered them over to the evil that lurks within their hearts. The result is unnatural affection, degrading passions or shameful lusts. It is seen in this: for their women exchanged the natural function (phusikos; that which has been produced by nature or inborn) for that which is unnatural, Women, having been given over to degrading passions have turned aside from natural sexual intercourse to that which is monstrous and perverse. They lust after each other and pervert what God has created!
And it is not only women who are involved. Verse 27 says; and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts this is of course homosexuality. It is according to the word of God, a perversion of the natural order of things. And just as the wages of sin is death it says that they are sinning in this perverse manner and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Recall that Paul said in verse 18 that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. They have closed their eyes and plugged their ears to God’s truth and have done that which is unnatural. They have stored up wrath for the Day of Judgment and this debt will be paid in full. Understand that this is not some mere impulsive outburst of anger aimed randomly at people whom God does not like. It is the settled, determined response of a righteous God against sin John 3:36; “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
In that the wrath of God is revealed we understand more accurately, that it “is constantly revealed.” The word essentially means “to uncover, make visible, or make known.” Now God reveals His wrath in two ways:
1) indirectly, through the natural consequences of violating His universal moral law, and 2) directly through His personal intervention from the sentence passed on Adam and Eve to the worldwide flood, from the fire and brimstone that leveled Sodom to the Babylonian captivity, each clearly displays this kind of intervention.
The most graphic revelation of God’s holy wrath and hatred against sin was when He poured out His divine judgment opon His Son on the cross. God has various kinds of wrath:
1) eternal wrath, which is hell;
2) eschatological wrath, which is the final Day of the Lord;
3) cataclysmic wrath like the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah;
4) consequential wrath, which is the principle of sowing and reaping; and
5) the wrath of abandonment, which is removing restraint and letting people go to their sins. In that here it is stated that God gave them up we see the fifth form, God’s abandoning the wicked continually through history to pursue their sin and its consequences
And do you think that God’s wrath is just against sexual perversion? You’d be dead wrong. As we continue in verse 28 we see that all of mankind is included in this outpouring of God’s wrath. All mankind is included and if you look over the list of sins carefully you will see that no one is exempt.
Men and women, you will see go into sin with their eyes open. They don’t just stumble into it. They do as they believe. They are what they believe. Paul puts it this way, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, men willfully suppressed the knowledge of God and His Holy Laws, willfully closed their eyes to righteousness, because they decided they were too advanced for God, because of this God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 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.
Sinful men believe themselves to be advanced in knowledge, advanced in culture, advanced beyond truth, beyond God’s moral Law. And look where it has taken him. Kids are murdering kids at school. Students are having sex with teachers. Government officials are openly practicing homosexuality. They are advocating perverse laws exalting homosexuals and removing God’s Holy standards, at the same time promoting books that speak blasphemies and outlawing the Bible. Do you see how upside – down this is!
But none of this has taken God by surprise. Let me close with the word of God which sums up the whole situation. Nearly 2000 years ago He warned us in (2Ti 3:1-8) saying, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
God will only let evil go so far before He crushes it. Sin may reign for the moment. Wickedness in high places is having its day of rule. But one day Jesus will return, just as He promised. Every eye will see Him, every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, even those who didn’t see fit to acknowledge Him while they dwelt on the earth. Suddenly He will come, not as a servant but as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will put all enemies under His feet and from that day on, righteousness will reign forever.