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September 3, 2017

"A GOD GAVE THEM UP"

TEXT: Romans 1: 22-32
READING:  Psalm 115: 1-18

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SUBJ: The dreadful state of mankind wherein God has given them up to the tendencies that have clearly manifested in many and the fact that they refused to acknowledge God as the reason.
AIM: That we might look with great care on the things which have befallen men and that we acknowledge the grace that has made the difference in us.
INTR: In the pursuit of Biblical exposition we are often faced with issues we would prefer to bypass. It has been well said the last few verses of Romans 1 are the most tragic in all the Bible.
1. Often in travelling a highway we come to a part we would rather avoid such as a tunnel underwater. But, we continue because the destination is that important.
2. To fully reveal the greatness of the grace of God such passages as is before us are included – not all truth is pleasant, but all truth is essential.
3. It is important that we be reminded that we are not in the business of pronouncing judgment on any, nor do we have the right. It is incumbent upon us to look with compassion on all and desire the mercy of God on all – sin is the same in all ages, and in all forms is despised by our Holy God.

THESIS: The condition of mankind that we witness is not new to this age. It is rather the consequence of having changed the glory of God, the truth of God, and seeking to abandon the knowledge of God and thus having been given over to the things that only fallen men do.

I. A first cause (vv. 22-24)
1. Three times in this passage we encounter the expression that “God gave them up” are simply that God gave men what they want
2. We do well to examine the reason perhaps more than the consequence.
3. Here, the reason is they esteemed themselves wiser than God and so became fools:
1) We observe that in the absence of God men become idolaters and
2) They will worship an image they think to be like themselves and such were the Greek myths and those things observed by Paul
3) But, they do not stop there – they worship objects of the animal kingdom
4. And so, we read “wherefore” and that God also gave them the consequence of refusing to worship God – they will prove their own foolishness. God gave them up to uncleanness!
5. Persistence in the way of a fool ends in divine abandonment and it seems that emotions intended to serve the creation is soon turned to lusts of most evil sort.
6. A profound consequence of these profession of wisdom above that of God is the rejection of the scriptures which becomes more prevalent as sin becomes more open and accepted.

II. A second cause and consequence (vv. 25-28)
1. The second cause of divine judgment is witnessed in that they “changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the creator.”
1) They would rewrite the Bible to suit their own desires and depict God as blessing anything they do. (In the destruction of Sodom God would have been charged with a hate crime).
2) The idea is that of denying the right of the creator to rule and define standard for His creation
3) And we note that it is He who is “Blessed for ever. Amen.”
2. And so, we read “For this cause…”
1) God gave them up to vile affections – it is to be noted that this is not the cause of the condemnation; it is rather the consequence of it. In worshiping the creator, divine order is set aside.
2) It is not needful that we become graphic in calling out that which the Scripture makes plain nor are we to condemn – we are to pray for mercy!
3) It is enough that in v. 27 the Word identifies them as “receiving that recompense of their error which was meet.” Sin begets sin!

III. A third cause (vv. 28-32)
1. We are reminded of v. 18 and the fact that men seek to suppress the knowledge of God in themselves and in others.
2. V. 28 suggests that in spite of all their denial and attempt to dethrone God in their thought and in their cultures, the knowledge of His existence persists.
3. The thought here is of refusal after testing and so they reject God an all His counsel.
4. The third thought expressing of abandonment to their choices:
1) While such a situation has found expression at various times
i. Such as men in the day of Noah
ii. At the feast of Belshazzar and
iii. In modern dives and nightclubs of all sorts (I could not help but wonder at what was going on sometime back when a terrorist shot up a Florida nightclub (not condoning or condemning any situation) but noting that the things herein condemned are being celebrated throughout the land as has been the manner down through the ages.
5. The Bible does not single out one form of sin above another as we note in verses 29-31.
6. The ultimate condemnation is that knowing the judgment of God as having pronounced a death sentence on such persistent behaviors do them and have pleasure therein.

IV. A final thought
1. We must ever be reminded of the hatred of sin and it was even the things mentioned here that was cast on our Lord as He went to the cross and the Father could not look on Him because of it.