Do You Deserve the Wrath of God?
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 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, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
This section, the opening section of the Body of the Book of Romans begins with verse 16 and 17. The good news about Jesus Christ is introduced in these verses.
The good news is that there is a way to righteousness for people that actually works. Paul says it this way: the righteousness of God is revealed. It is righteousness that is from God and received by faith. In other places, Paul calls this a gift. That is good news. Jesus Christ properly understood and received produces righteousness for the believer!
There is also bad news introduced in this section. And the bad news is that as we look around in life, we see the wrath of God revealed on all the unrighteousness of men! The very fact that Jesus would be and do what He is and does and folks would reject that is a sign of God’s wrath!
The point of Paul communicating about wrath is so you can see that you are deserving of wrath, then you can turn from your ways in the moment of understanding, and trust in Christ’s gift of righteousness. You can know forgiveness, but that is not all of the gospel. You are also going to live a righteous and good life by trusting in Jesus’ teaching and the power of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to not trust our own understanding and desires. Example:
I Timothy 6: 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction.
The desire to be rich is practically reflexive. You don’t need to be taught this desire. And yet…
10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But the love of God is the source of life!!! So we don’t make the acquisition of money the goal of our lives, but the love of God!!
In our passage today, let’s begin with a little review. Let’s talk about our behavior in life and how it affects our knowledge of God. Every. Single. Day.
- Behavior and the Knowledge of God
- God is knowable
All truth is God’s truth and folks who don’t know God personally can discover things that are true.
Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living.
Lot’s of “moral” unbelievers/atheists even. All moral action is rooted in God’s revelation of Himself.
The knowledge of God and the knowledge of how to live are connected.
Who is Jesus, What did He come to do?
- Bad behavior erodes the ability to know God
Unfortunately, this can move from one area of life to another. Bad actions beget bad, thinking, bad thinking begets, bad desire, bad desire begets an enslaved will.
From thinking/understanding to feeling/desire. To goals and dreams. Ted talked about being more like the animals. Our modern scientific view of people has embraced this concept whole heartedly. Why we do what we do can be strictly hormonal. Our actions affect our brain chemistry. Addictions can result. I have a desire for pleasure, I pursue that desire. What are the consequences? Is pleasure a good God? What would you tell your children? Can you eat whatever you want all the time? You can as an adult. As a child the adult tells you no. Can I watch whatever I want? Does it promote mental, social and spiritual health? Romans 8 says that the mind set on the flesh is death!
God gave them over to depravity. Adam, to Cain to Lamech to the thoughts and intents of the heart of man are only evil all the time.
- Good behavior enhances the ability to know God
The example of the preaching of John the Baptist!
3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
- The Example of Human Sexuality
- God’s standard for human sexuality
Adam and Eve. Within marriage we have the appropriate confines of sexual expression. That is all. Why would we see this as limiting? Example of other animals. Why does this matter? Well, if it is naturally occurring in nature… you mean like the killing of the sick, injured, old and very young in order to eat them?
Hormonally we are driven to reproduce. And God was gracious and made the act of sexual expression pleasurable. It is pleasurable, physically, psychologically and beneficial for survival.
Human sexuality is cursed in Genesis 3.
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
That which is necessary for life will be a source of death to many. Human sexuality is dangerous. It is especially dangerous for women. Abortion is a consequence of this. What makes human sexuality less dangerous for women and children? Marriage.
What about King David, Solomon and other Old Testament saints who had multiple wives. Where is their rebuke? It is in Matthew 19:
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.( In order to protect the woman!) But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
- The twisting of God’s plan for human sexuality
If human sexuality is just about pleasure then what? Well, the natural constraints of the danger of sexuality keeps it in check. And if a couple are not married and becomes pregnant, it cannot be hidden and they get married if there is honor.
Or, one can be homosexual and avoid the pregnancy issue.
And then in 1960 the birth control pill is invented. And we have begun a grand social experiment. And human sexuality is now even more about pleasure because the natural danger element is diminished.
What are the consequences?
Adultery, the abandonment of marriage, abortion, huge explosion in sexually transmitted disease, loneliness and divorce.
But, to our culture sex is still about pleasure. Pornography, sexting in Jr. High and High school, homosexuality, complete sexual confusion and the promotion of that as health.
What is the truth? All things that are pleasurable must be balanced with discipline. Pleasure is not an end in itself because of the wrath of God. Pleasure will not be our god without our spiral into destruction. God’s wrath is demonstrated in the downward spiral into chaos.
The definition of sex has become completely person centered and relative to their desire. This is to our own destruction. 40% of transgender people commit suicide, and gender reconstruction surgery makes no impact on that statistic. This should not make us hate folks caught in this cycle of thinking.
- The reactionary nature of those under wrath
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
If you disagree with the cultural standard for human sexuality, prepare for huge blow back! What right do you have etc. And if I accepted the culturally relative standards, then I would agree with them, but I do not. There is a standard established by God, it is clearly seen in healthy humans. If we obey the standard, we can see clearly not only the value of the standard, but the absolute necessity to manage our sexual desires in a healthy way! We live in a world where discipline is necessary!
God forgives sin. God does not allow for the blindness associated with sin to be removed. Romans 6: is all about this.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but under grace? Far from it! 16 Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
As we come to the end of this example of the human sexual spiral of sin, we see a list of sinful behaviors! And these behaviors are a lot more accessible to me than the sexual sins! Why is this? What is Paul wanting people to see? I believe he wants you to see that…
III. The Wrath of God Fits All People
It is important for many reasons to see yourself as a just target of the wrath of God. 1. Humility in your relationship with God will make you obedient and submissive. 2. Humility in your relationship with others will make you merciful and patient. But we have problems seeing ourselves as deserving of wrath. And it’s related to the same blindness that comes from our disobedience and lack of gratitude toward God. The first problem that I see is that…
- We see ourselves as better than we are
This is where we are headed in chapter 2:1
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
Chapter 3: 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
We have a standards problem:
We don’t think God will actually judge people, lots of people, harshly.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ should scare the hell out of people, literally! If God will not judge, then why did Jesus die horribly?!
Galatians 2: 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
We have a perception problem! If that’s not the key idea in the wrath of God here, then what is it? We behave badly and lose the ability to think and desire and then God gives us over and we leave the room where truth is, the room of self-denial and the submission to the truth and will of God. And we enter the room of personal pleasure.
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes. Proverbs 21:2
2 Every person’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord examines the hearts.
Jeremiah 17: 9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind,
To give to each person according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
We use different scales for ourselves.
We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. This makes us out better than we are!
- This list is hard in verses 29-32
Avoiding homosexual behavior is easy! Condemning homosexual behavior is easy!
29 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, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
Greed, envy, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolent, arrogant, boastful, disobedient to parents.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
I John 2:15-17
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
- Show what you understand
31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
This is a sermon in itself!
If we understand this wrath of God, then we will be faithful to God when tempted. This will cause us to submit to His standards regardless of our desires.
Secondly, if we understand this we will love God because He love us!! And we will love others because God loves others and our purpose in life is to be like God!
Thirdly. If we understand this, we will be merciful toward others when they do not treat us in a loving manner. They are blinded by whatever desire holds them captive. I should be able to relate to that!!