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View of God
I have noticed, the older I get, the
more important focus becomes. An introvert may see no one's problems but her
own, as the tendency is to look inward; an extrovert may see everybody else's
problems but his own, as the tendency is to look outward. One is no better off
than the other is. Life can get all out of focus for both. An old song says,
"Life is all out of focus, with no way to keep it in line." Sometimes there
seems to be no way to keep life in balance. We seem to live at extremes
achieving balance only occasionally as we swing from extreme to extreme.
They have become filled with every kind
of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant
and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they
are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (NIV)
The foregoing verses describe lives
out of focus, lives, which have swung to extremes with no human way to achieve
balance; lives so extreme they think they are balanced. "Almost every term used
to describe this society springs from a selfish life which exploits others for
personal advantage." (Richard A. Batey, The Living Word Commentary, The Letter
of Paul to the Romans, Sweet Publishing Company, Austin Texas, Pg. 31) These
lives are so out of focus words like love, commitment, selflessness and
fellowship are no longer in their vocabulary. A society so extreme community
living has died. Lives so dead isolation is the only option for living with the
stench. God has given up on them. They are reaping the due penalty for their
These verses in Romans describe the
condition of the world when Christ came. In 2 Thessalonians Paul indicates the
same condition would arise again. We can only wonder if today we may be living
in time frame of which Paul speaks.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The coming of the lawless one will be in
accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit
miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who
are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so
be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will
believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the
truth but have delighted in wickedness. (NIV)
Both passages deal with societies
unashamed of immoral behavior. Societies so extreme, antisocial behavior is the
standard by which to live. They are not only engaged in these behaviors, they
also approve of those who practice them. (1:31) A world unable to blush. When a
society reaches such an extreme, you can rest assured Satan is having his finest
When the Bastille, a castle-like
prison in Paris, was about to be destroyed in 1789, a convict was brought out
who had been confined in one of its gloomy cells for many years. But instead of
joyfully welcoming his liberty, he begged to be taken back. It had been so long
since he had seen the sunshine that his eyes could not endure its brightness.
His only desire was to die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive. In
the same way, some men continue to reject God until they eventually become so
hardened in their sin that they prefer the way of darkness and death.
How can a society get so far of
No doubt you have occasionally seen
an apple with a wormhole in it. But did you ever wonder whether the worm began
to bore from the inside or from the outside? Well, scientists tell us it began
on the inside! They say that the egg is laid in the blossom, and after the
wiggly, undesirable little creature hatches in the core, it eats its way to the
skin. The worm of sin operates the same way--from the inside out!
It begins with suppressing a
sufficient knowledge of truth. (1:22)
Eve began it all in Eden. It looks good. It tastes good. It will make me wise.
It will make me God. Immediately, as you read the first six chapters of the
Bible, you understand the end of Seth's descendants who sought truth and Cain's
descendants who sought themselves. Seth's descendants are saved and Cain's
descendants perish. The flood in Noah's day is testimony to where this kind of
reasoning eventually leads.
It is a refusal to be educated.
Ignorance exists in two
forms. There is ignorance, which exists through lack of education
and there is an ignorance, which comes through refusing to be educated. What
could have been known about God had been made plain to them. (1:19) God's
eternal power and divine nature had been clearly seen and understood. They
willingly suppressed the truth.
Intellectual honesty and
integrity are gone. The truth has been abandon.
Paul describes a world suppressing the
truth because of its wickedness. This is not a world gone awry struggling with
its weaknesses in search for truth. It is a world abandoned to its wickedness.
Futile senseless minds bent on serving their lusts.
Truth was exchanged for lies.
Suppressing truth begins subtly and ends with thinking the knowledge of God is
not worthwhile. The erection of idols was a testimony of their belief in deity.
However, they endeavored to recreate God. Moreover, they decided to make
themselves God. They " . . . exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images
made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." (1:22)
We limit our view of God.
Today most people believe
in God, but they have a limited view of God. The danger is not that they don’t
believe in God, but God is recreated into their own image of him. This is
usually done as we try to fit God into our own desired lifestyles without having
to conform our lives into the true image of God. Church doctrines may give us a
limited view of God by stressing certain attributes of His nature to the
exclusion of all others. Too often, this is done to serve our own self-interest.
We formulate a doctrine that makes us comfortable with ourselves as we are or
desire to be.
For, as I have often told you before and
now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of
Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach,
and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
Suppressing truth becomes so
real we began thinking wrong is right.
We ask questions like, "If it is so wrong, why does it feel so right?" It feels
so right; we begin to believe we were born that way. It seems so first nature.
We begin to believe it is the way we should live. When we reach this point, the
worst thing possible happens. God abandons us.
Paul is not talking about
heathens that don't know any better.
He is talking about why people become heathen in the first place. They have
God's law written on their hearts. (2:14) He is talking about persons who know
the truth and suppress it. He is talking about those who know truth and refuse
to do it. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it,
sins." (NIV James 4:10) This is the beginning of heathenism.
When we go the wrong way spiritually,
in one sense we do so on purpose. Douglas Corrigan acquired the title,
"wrong-way Corrigan ", in 1938 when he took off in his plane from Brooklyn, New
York, on an announced flight to Long Beach, California. A little over 23 hours
later, however, he touched down in Dublin, Ireland, and asked officials, "Is
this Los Angeles?" For years people laughed at his "miscalculations," but
finally in 1963 he admitted that his trip across the Atlantic had really been
planned. Unable to get official clearance to cross the ocean, he just went ahead
and made the flight "by mistake" on purpose. Sometimes this is what we do
spiritually. We go the wrong way on purpose.
Where Is Our World Today?
Paul is not giving a
teleological argument for the existence of God in the verses for our lesson
today. Don't get
confused. It is an anthropological argument for the existence of heathenism and
depravity. It is not a matter "Can they know God?" It is a matter of why they
don't know God. The evidence for the existence of God is plain and simple. Even
the heathen understand this concept.
It is much harder for us to
accept man's depravity.
Don't lose your focus in this chapter. It is about man's sin. Depravity abounds
as men deliberately deny God. There seems to be no question about God's
Paul prophesied the same thing would
happen in the last days in which we have been living in since Pentecost. (Joel
2:28; Acts 2:16-17)
2 Timothy 3:1-7
But mark this: There will be
terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,
ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control,
brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of
pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its
power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their
way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with
sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but
never able to acknowledge the truth. (NIV)
Even today, there is no question
about God's existence. This is evidenced when we say, "Well, this is the way God
made me." We even build churches around our perversions as we honor the way God
To the pure, all things are pure, but to
those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their
minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their
actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing
anything good. (NIV)
Our world is out of focus. Paul
indicates God abandoned these unbelievers to immorality and sin as punishment
for their sin. It is odd. Today we are endeavoring to justify immorality and sin
as we deny God. The immorality and sin the world is so caught up in is actually
the judgement of God against our unwillingness to believe. A world so out of
focus and perverted it can find joy in its own punishment for sin.
I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not
his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, LORD, but only with
justice-- not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. (NIV)
The Christian community has even
jumped on the bandwagon encouraging others to find joy and fulfillment in the
judgement of God. We make God into our image by saying: "I like to think of God
as a God of love. I can't conceive of this kind of God sending anyone to hell."
The question is how receptive
are you to the truth you possess?
That is the difficulty with the Bible. It always gets personal. The suppression
of truth begins on a personal level. Potentially it can plunge the whole world
into darkness. Someone had to begin it. It is obvious others have bought into
it. Paul indicates it begins with refusing to acknowledge God's truth. The
culminating effect perverts our very nature as human beings. The pinnacle of
perversion is reached as men and women seek to have sex with their own sex. It
culminates in destroying the very purpose for which we were created.
Do you understand your personal
need for truth? Are you
willing to admit your need of truth? Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need
a doctor, but the sick, I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
(Mark 2:17) The truth can only become relevant to our lives as we recognize our
needs. To deny our needs is to deny the truth.
The bad news isn't that we are in
need. The bad news is, too many refuse to recognize their needs. We like to
think "You're Okay and I'm Okay" just as we are. The consequence of refusing to
accept our needs is a rejection of God. "In moral and spiritual terms we are all
sick and damaged, diseased and deformed, scarred and sore, lame and lopsided, to
a far, far greater extent than we realize." (J. I. Packer quoted in EPA Liaison,
Oct 1994, Via InfoSearch Database, Arlington, Texas.)
It is not that they can't be saved.
They refuse to be saved.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the wicked will not
inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor
idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor
thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit
the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you
were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by
the Spirit of our God. (NIV)
Even for a world
abandoned by God to dishonor itself there is still hope. The cradle of
Christianity began with the world Paul describes in this chapter. There is still
hope for each of us. Recognize your needs and God's power to salvage your life
through the good news about Jesus Christ. Paul proclaims salvation for everyone
as we shall see as proceed in the book Romans in future lessons.
- What kind of
world does Romans 1:29-31 describe?
- What was the
condition of the world when Christ came?
- How does one
come to a point where they become unashamed of immoral behavior?
- How did Eve
suppress her knowledge in Eden? What does the flood in Noah’s day say about
- What is the
between lack of education and willful ignorance? How would categorize those
mentioned in Romans 1:29-31?
- How does
looking within ourselves for answers limit our view of God? (Philippians
- What does Paul
say about the last days? (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
- What is the
source of moral corruption? (Titus 1:5-6)
- What is the
punishment for their sinful living?
- How receptive
are we to the truth?
- What does 1
Corinthians 6:9-11 say about the possibility of such a world being saved?