The Other Side of the Gospel
Romans 1:18-32 August 5, 2001
Scripture Reading: "Who Am I?" by Neil Anderson in Victory Over the Darkness.
Why did we read this list about who we are?
It is because we tend to forget the truth about who were are – about who God intends for us to be.
You might have thought you were O.K., but unless you believe what we just read, you might not be O.K.
So maybe you need to know why you might not be O.K.
What is it that you need?
Paul would tell us that it is the gospel – a righteousness from God.
Introduce Romans 1:1-17 -------
Now there are two sides to every story or issue.
Johnny and Suzie - fighting:
We cannot truly understand the whole story or issue until we hear all sides.
Most issues are not so simple – like the gospel.
Like if I said you need righteousness from God, you might not be convinced because you don't know why.
You haven't seen the need.
You thought everything was O.K.
But there is another side to the story.
The gospel is the "good news."
But the good news means nothing if there is not "bad news."
We understand much better by knowing that there are opposites and comparisons.
The picture of the human race after the "fall" is not a pretty one.
We must know our need for the good news.
We are often not even aware of how bad our condition is – how bad the news is about us.
Illus.: The bed chart of the sin sick human condition.
Illus.: Focus on the Family Newsletter, July, 2001:
Like Paul, Dr. Dobson does not want to be sensationalistic, but we need to understand the bad news if we are ever to do anything about it.
We are reminded about the world situation in the "days of Noah."
5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
6 ¶ The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth— men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air— for I am grieved that I have made them."
8 ¶ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
(Genesis 6:5-8 NIVUS)
The picture Paul paints here is an ugly one. I confess that there are some neighborhoods that I dislike driving through, and I avoid them if I can. My avoiding them does not change them or eliminate them. God’s description of sinners is not a pretty one, but we cannot avoid it. This section does not teach evolution (that man started low and climbed high), but de-evolution: he started high and, because of sin, sank lower than the beasts. Four stages mark man’s tragic de-evolution.
What is the truth about man's condition that reveals his greatest need?
I. Cycle One
A. Narrative (vv. 18-20) - Ignorance
1. It is a simple ignoring of the evidence, a self-induced blindness.
2. God has made the truth plain enough, and He has made Himself evident. We will find that ignorance is no defense.
3. That’s how sin starts—ignoring reality. “God? What God?”
Human history began with man knowing God. Human history is not the story of a beast that worshiped idols, and then evolved into a man worshiping one God. Human history is just the opposite: man began knowing God, but turned from the truth and rejected God. God revealed Himself to man through creation, the things that He made. From the world around him, man knew that there was a God who had the wisdom to plan and the power to create. Man realized too that this Creator was eternal . . . “His eternal power and divine nature or the Godhead” (Rom. 1:20), since God could not be created if He is the Creator. These facts about God are not hidden in creation; they are “clearly seen” (Rom. 1:20). “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
Men knew the truth about God, but they suppressed it and did not allow this truth to work in their lives. They suppressed it in order that they might live their own lives and not be convicted by God’s truth. The result, of course, was refusing the truth (Rom. 1:21-22), and then turning the truth into a lie (Rom. 1:25). Finally, man so abandoned the truth that he became like a beast in his thinking and in his living.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost this true knowledge of God through willful ignorance.
II. Cycle Two
A. Narrative (vv. 21-23) - Idolatry
1. It is failing to glorify or to give thanks to the Creator.
2. It is bowing before created things.
Man knew God; this is clear. But man did not want to know God or honor Him as God. Instead of being thankful for all that God had given him, man refused to thank God or give Him the glory He deserves. Man was willing to use God’s gifts, but he was not willing to worship and praise God for His gifts. The result was an empty mind and a darkened heart. Man the worshiper became man the philosopher, but his empty wisdom only revealed his foolishness. Paul summarized all of Greek history in one dramatic statement: “the times of this ignorance” (Acts 17:30).
1Corinthians 1:18-31 is worth reading at this point.
Having held down God’s truth and refusing to acknowledge God’s glory, man was left without a god; and man is so constituted that he must worship something. If he will not worship the true God, he will worship a false god, even if he has to manufacture it himself! This fact about man accounts for his propensity to idolatry. Man exchanged the glory of the true God for substitute gods that he himself made. He exchanged glory for shame, incorruption for corruption, truth for lies.
Note that first on the list of false gods is man. This fulfilled Satan’s purpose when he told Eve, “You shall be as God!” (Gen. 3:5) “Glory to man in the highest!” Satan encouraged man to say. Instead of man being made in God’s image, man made gods in his own image—and then descended so low as to worship birds, beasts, and bugs!
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost this true knowledge of God through misguided worship.
III. Cycle Three
A. Narrative (vv. 24-27) – Immorality/Indulgence
1. This is idolatry too. Our unmanaged impulses are in charge, rather than God being in charge.
2. Our patient in ICU yells, “Hey, this is fun. I’m free.” But is he? We are free to suffer the natural consequences of ignoring God’s direction.
3. “Oh, the church has always made such a big deal about sex.” That’s been because it is a big deal. It is part of our creative partnership with God. It is an identity at the center of our personality. There is a plan for our sexuality – and it is God's plan.
"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
(Malachi 4:5 NIVUS)
From self-imposed ignorance to idolatry is just one short step, and so also it is from idolatry to immorality. If man is his own god, then he can do whatever he pleases and fulfill his desires without fear of judgment. We reach the climax of man’s battle with God’s truth when man exchanges the truth of God for “the lie” and abandons truth completely. “The lie” is that man is his own god, and he should worship and serve himself and not the Creator. It was “the lie” Satan used in the Garden to lead Eve into sin: “You shall be as God!” Satan has always wanted the worship that belongs only to God (Isa. 14:12-15; Matt. 4:8-10); and in idolatry, he receives that worship (1 Cor. 10:19-21).
12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
(Isaiah 14:12-15 NIVUS)
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"
(Matthew 4:8-10 NIVUS)
19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?
20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
(1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIVUS)
The result of this self-deification was self-indulgence; and here Paul mentions a vile sin that was rampant in that day and has become increasingly prevalent in our own day; homosexuality. This sin is repeatedly condemned in Scripture (Gen. 18:20ff; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 7). Paul characterizes it as “vile” and “unnatural,” as well as “against nature.” Not only were the men guilty, but “even the women.”
Because of their sin “God gave them up” (Rom. 1:24, 26) which means that He permitted them to go on in their sins and reap the sad consequences. They received “in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (Rom. 1:27, nasb). This is the meaning of Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven” (literal translation). God revealed His wrath, not by sending fire from heaven, but by abandoning sinful men to their lustful ways. But there was is more stage to come.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost this true knowledge of God through disobedient living.
IV. Cycle Four
A. Narrative (vv. 28-32) – Impenitence/Impudence/Insolence
1. Wickedness recruits partners for hell.
2. Greed says “Only I really count.”
3. Malice is so envious of others that it has to cut them down to size.
4. Gossip defies Jesus. He says that we are to speak to another face to face. But gossip whispers to anyone who will listen.
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
(Matthew 18:15 NIVUS)
5. Some children obey themselves, and entertain their peers rather than obeying their parents.
When man began to feel the tragic consequences of his sins, you would think he would repent and seek God; but just the opposite was true. Because he was abandoned by God, he could only become worse. Man did not even want to retain God in his knowledge! So, “God gave them over” this time to a “depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28, nasb), which means a mind that cannot form right judgments. They now abandoned themselves to sin. Paul names twenty-four specific sins, all of which are with us today. (For other lists, see Mark 7:20-23; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; and 2 Tim. 3:2-5.)
But the worst is yet to come. Men not only committed these sins in open defiance of God, but encouraged others and applauded them when they sinned. How far man fell! He began glorifying God but ended exchanging that glory for idols. He began knowing God but ended refusing to keep the knowledge of God in his mind and heart. He began as the highest of God’s creatures, made in the image of God; but he ended lower than the beasts and insects, because he worshiped them as his gods. The verdict? “They are without excuse!” (Rom. 1:20)
This portion of Scripture gives ample proof that the heathen are lost. Dan Crawford, British missionary to Africa, said: “The heathen are sinning against a flood of light.” There is a desperate need for us to carry the Gospel to all men, for this is the only way they can be saved.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost this true knowledge of God through overt defiance.
What is the truth about man's condition that reveals his greatest need?
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost it through willful ignorance.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost it through misguided worship.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost it through disobedient living.
Man's greatest need is righteousness from God because he has lost it through overt defiance.
In order to understand the good news, we also have to understand the bad news.
The other side of the gospel is the wrath of God that only he can satisfy.
It is satisfied in the death of Christ, the Son of God, for our sins.
By faith in him and in his sacrifice we have his righteousness that satisfies God's wrath.
God's love and wrath are compatible.
They are both seen in the cross.
Most people believe that God's wrath is primarily revealed in the OT because it is the immediate consequence of so many events or disobedience – it is more transparent.
It is not that there isn't love in the OT, but that God's wrath seems to take precedence.
Most people believe that God's love is primarily revealed in the NT because it is at the forefront of most of Christ's actions.
It is not that there isn't wrath in the NT, but that God's love seems to take precedence.
But the truth is that both God's love and his wrath are ratcheted up a notch as seen in the cross as well as in the Revelation.
Revelation 14ff does not present a kinder, gentler God.
The good news is that God's wrath will end when it is satisfied, but that his love will never end as believers will experience it for eternity.
Wrath, like love, includes emotion as a necessary component.
But wrath, unlike love, is not one of the intrinsic perfections of God, rather it is a function of God's holiness against sin.
Where there is no sin, there is no wrath – but there will always be love in God.
Godlessness is progressive. I begin by failing to listen. Then I misdirect my worship, my honor. Then I move to sins against nature. And then I step into sins against society. It starts inside and works its way out.
God is angry with that. He’s angry with the dirtying of His world. And He will, in His time, remove all the dirt. Then He will make a new world. The human race is a critically ill patient, whose only chance for survival (to escape the old world and move into the new one) is to respond to the heroic treatment offered by a patient, loving God. Grace!
And this grace is found only in the cross of Christ – God's wrath and God's love in divine but compatible tension.
For those that come to him in faith for salvation, God's love will prevail.
For those that refuse to come to his offer of salvation, God's wrath will prevail.
Hell is God's best for some people – it is what they wanted – God loves them enough to give them what they wanted which is his wrath.
9 ¶ 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
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 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.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIVUS)
Let us come to Christ this day in divine and holy remembrance of the cross and his righteous sacrifice upon it – God's wrath satisfied in love – God's eternal payment for sin through what we could never do for ourselves because of our condition.