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Romans 1:21-32

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Why is humanity so broken?

Notes & Transcripts
Romans 1:21–25 ESV
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Romans 1:21–23 ESV
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:21-
Romans 1:
INTRO:
This brings us to week four in our study of Romans. We started off slow… looking at Paul’s introduction as both a servant and an apostle.
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With the term servant, he was telling his readers that he was a doulos… a SLAVE BY CHOICE… Who, because of love for his master, and because of the Master’s love for him… he decided that the most appropriate choice for his life… was to give himself wholly to serving Jesus.
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With the term apostle he is telling us that he has been sent with a mission and a message… to declare the Gospel.
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In verses 2-4 Paul gives us a brief definition of the Gospel which he’s going to talk about considerably throughout this book.. and today’s study is no exception....
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And then, after giving this brief account of the Gospel in 2-4… he focuses the impact of that Gospel message upon his readers in verse 5..
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Along with the believers in Rome.. because of the Gospel… we have received grace. We also have been sent out with a mission:
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That mission is defined in vs. 5.
SLIDE 3

Our Mission: to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.

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From verses 8-15 we get some personal information from Paul… where basically, he tells the Roman believers that he has long desired to come and visit them.
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Last week, Erin cherry picked this beautiful passage in verses 16-20… leaving the doom and gloom that follows to me..
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IN VERSES 17 - 18… we learned about two things that are being revealed… because of… or more clearly stated in the begging of vs. 17… “In it...” or “in the Gospel”
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The first thing which is revealed (in the gospel)… is the righteousness of God. In what is this righteousness revealed? Verse 16 makes it clear.. In that good news that Paul is not ashamed of: IN THE GOSPEL.. righteousness is being revealed. TO WHOM? TO THOSE WHO LIVE BY FAITH.
This is for YOU… the believer. Righteousness is yours in the Gospel.
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THE NEXT THING WE SEE BEING REVEALED IS “THE WRATH OF GOD” -
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This revelation, also, is being revealed ‘In The Gospel’.
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to whom is this being revealed? TO ANYONE WHO NEEDS JESUS. TO ANYONE WHO RECOGNIZES THAT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITHIN THEM.. AND IN THE WORLD.. - and that Jesus is the only hope.
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-Many of us have a testimony where we look back and we recognized how our lies failed us… we recognized how broken we were, we recognized how our belief system did not give us the freedom it promised.
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When we recognized those things… they caused us to find hope in the Gospel
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One of the things that the Gospel reveals… is the ongoing human effort to, as vs. 18 states, suppress the truth.
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PAUL IS CONTENDING… that the “wrath of God” is currently being “revealed” in the gospel message in such a way as to expose the “unrighteousness of humans”.
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- And as we consider the list that follows… it’s not just an unrighteousness of deed… but also.. -IT IS AN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF CONDITION. -If life experience has taught us anything.... it surely confirms that we were born broken, into a broken world… where opportunities to break further abundantly exist.
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The Gospel reveals righteousness to those who embrace it by faith..
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But the Gospel also reveals a truth that pretty much everyone in the world can agree with..
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And that truth is this:
SLIDE FOUR

There is something wrong.

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Obviously… our definitions and applications of “wrong” may differ with the world...
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The verses we consider today… will address the hard and offensive state that humanity finds itself in… because of the generations and generations of sin that went before us.
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But let’s not part ways with the sentiment of the world so quickly..
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Now more than ever… our world is up in arms about the things that it sees as being wrong…
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Those invisible attributes of God… that image in which we were created… That ‘eternity which is in our hearts’… it peeks through…
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And people are looking upon wrongdoing… or their perception of wrong doing… and they are crying out..
Let’s agree…
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Apart from the Gospel, people decry the evil that is around them from a position of personal righteousness..
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But when the Gospel takes root… we begin to decry the evil that is within us… from a position of humility and brokenness.
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Yes, we all agree… something is wrong… BUT, THAT WHICH THE GOSPEL REVEALS… IS THE WRONG THAT PROVOKES OUR GREATEST NEED..
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When we shake our fists at the world and demand that it give up all its racism, abuse, and violence… -We do so, looking for a solution from within ourselves.
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When the Gospel reveals all that is wrong within us… we will lack the righteous indignation to shout down our own sin… - Instead, we will realize… that our sin reveals a need for God’s grace…
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Today… As we work our way through the dark and dreary content of verses 21-32… Let’s do so remembering: -These are the conditions that reveal to us… That God is displeased… and that something is wrong… And it is something… that SHOULD POINT US TO OUR GREAT NEED OF FORGIVENESS.
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SO… VS. 18: GOD’S WRATH IS REVEALED AGAINST THE UNGODLINESS AND UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF MEN…
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WHY? Why is God’s wrath towards man revealed?
verses 21-23 give us the answers.
+ + + Because they suppressed the truth about God, even as God made His presence undeniably known.
-They didn’t honor God, or give thanks to God.
+ + + In contrast to honoring and thanking God… mankind chose rather… to think in a useless, deceptive, and futile manner.
-Men declared that they were wise in denying God’s wisdom.
+++ They decided to worship images of created things, rather than the creator
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BASICALLY: mankind said… In spite of God… I will do what I want… believe what I want… worship what I want… and think what I want…
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So what did God do? How was this wrath… this state of strong displeasure… this anger… and God’s active response to His anger manifest itself?
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The answer is in vs. 24:
SLIDE 5
Romans 1:24 ESV
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
Have you ever wondered what the wrath of God looks like? -
-We often think of the suffering of Jesus on the cross… where the manifest wrath of God for the sins of mankind was poured out…
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-Maybe we have images of hellfire and brimstone...
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In today’s passage… we are given another image.
The word wrath defines a state of anger and displeasure… and implies a reaction… - We generally think of that reaction in terms of direct and violent punishment..
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But in Romans one… the punishment that comes from God’s wrath… is more passive than it is active.
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Because mankind did these things… God gave them up..
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This means… God handed over to, or conveyed something to someone…
-This generally speaks of the act of giving over a right or an authority.
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You want to live this way? You want to reject me? Ok. I’m giving you the right and the authority to live the life you want to live… but know this… there are consequences.”
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You see… the following verses are going to show us… a contrast:
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Mankind… Our species… our ancestors… our neighbors… our governments… - They chose, instead of living according to the design of their creator..
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And here’s what happens when you run any piece of equipment, machinery or software the way you want to… in total disregard to the instructions… in total disregard to the safety measures that are recommended…
… -Here’s what happens..
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Things break. People get hurt. The outcome is not satisfactory.
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And that’s what the following verses show us.
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The purpose, design, and order that God created us according to… is broken. -Humans did not follow the instructions. They did not regard the safety manual. They just did what felt right… and as a result… both guilty and innocent suffered for it.
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SLIDE 6
Romans 1:26–27 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Because mankind chose to do things their own way… they literally broke, for many people, the means by which the sexes relate..
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This isn’t just an issue of homosexuality… this is an issue of broken sexuality. So many people struggle to process this part of their lives in a way that is in accordance to their design.
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You don’t have to look at our culture too long to see that it is so broken and messed up concerning the issues of sexuality.
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Romans 1:
The number of children that are abused in this manner is staggering. That has a severe affect on those children as they grow up. They no longer process sexuality the way they were designed to.
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The pornography industry is bigger than professional sports. The sex trafficking industry is everywhere. Kids in our world are growing up with this stuff… and if you think things are messed up now… it’s only going to get worse.
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PEOPLE CHOSE TO DO SOMETHING, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO THEIR DESIGN… and God gave them up to it… He gave them the freedom and the authority to break all the rules… and as a result, that part of our humanity… for many many people… is broken.
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SLIDE SEVEN
Romans 1:28–29 ESV
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
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Because mankind chose to do things their own way… they literally broke their own minds…
-Their thinking process lost value… -No longer did the minds of men naturally process information in an appropriate or fitting manner.
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And… I’m going to make a shift from ‘they’ to ‘we’ here…
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It’s easy to point at other people and say that they are wrong and we are right… because.. it’s easy to be prideful… so we are good at finger-pointing..
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But these are not ‘they’ issues alone… they are ‘we’ issues. This explains why we struggle so much in this flesh.
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Because mankind as a whole chose to do things their own way… with equipment that they didn’t design… not following God’s instructions..
…this is what happened.
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We ended up with broken minds, intent on doing things that ought not be done.
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We wrestle with unrighteous thoughts and actions..
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We are tempted to do evil… and have probably done our fair share of it at some point.
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We struggle with greed… with the need to have more and more and more...
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Our minds are continually trying to bring depraved and base things to the surface.
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We envy… we hate.. some justify murder.. we deceive.. our character leads us to hurt others w/o remorse…
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We find joy in gossiping.. in slandering…
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THIS IS A LONG LIST… and it just keeps on going.
SLIDE 8
Romans 1:30–31 ESV
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Romans 1:
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Later in chapter 7… Paul will address his own struggle with all of these things. He says in vs. 15… “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
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PAUL… THE GREAT APOSTLE, THEOLOGIAN AND SCHOLAR… was a broken man. He bore the weaknesses of his sin and struggled against them continually.
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Romans 7:
SLIDE 9
Romans 7:18–20 ESV
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
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Paul recognized by faith, that his true self… his spiritual self… was righteous. But, in spite of who he was in Christ… he still struggled with the sin that dwelled in his flesh.
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I’ll bet, as Paul wrote out this list at the end of chapter one… he regarded many of these things as being personal realities.
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THE OUTCOME OF GOD’S WRATH… which has been set in motion in different degrees… pretty much since the fall of man..
… is the recognition… that humanity has done it’s own thing, it’s own way… and as a result… -we humans struggle with these consequences… these outcomes… that dwell in our own flesh.
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But now what? WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS RECOGNITION?
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I THINK THE ANSWER FOR THE UNBELIEVER AND THE BELIEVER IS THE SAME.
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May our recognition of our broken condition… turn us back continually to the grace of God.
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BELIEVER… You can’t fix yourself. You’re only hope is in trusting Jesus. The thorns in your flesh might be delivered… but then again.. they might not. Paul had to keep his thorn… even though he begged of the Lord three time..
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SLIDE 10
2 Corinthians 12:9–10 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
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CHRISTIAN… You will have victories… some of this stuff will fade away into the background. Some of it will disappear through healing. Some of it will become a quieter, less influential power in your life.. -You’ll have victories… -But as long as you are in the flesh… YOU HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE GOD’S POWER MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.
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When you struggle with this stuff… the answer is not guilt. The answer is not, to beat yourself up. The answer is not seclusion and surrender. The answer… is to openly bring it to Jesus, embrace the reality of your forgiveness, and ask continually for His help.
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I’ll bet there are many here today.... who came to a place of crisis in your life… and the Holy Spirit was bringing conviction… and you were pressed from w/in by the grace of God… to find hope in Jesus.
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And why did you need to find hope in Jesus? Because you recognized how broken you were. You recognized that bad things were dwelling in you. You wanted a change. You wanted to overcome. You wanted something better.
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And so… when you looked upon your deeds… your thoughts… your actions… your addictions… your struggles… -you recognized the lack of perfection that the Bible calls sin.
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YOU SEE… SOME PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR JESUS TO FIX THEM… AND IF JESUS CAN’T FIX THEM, THEN THEY AREN’T INTERESTED.. - But some people are looking for something for significant than a fix.
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Some people… are looking for forgiveness. Some people… recognize that there is so much wrong with them… that they just want something right..
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And as we have already looked at back in vs. 17… in the Gospel… that rightness… that ‘righteousness’ is revealed.
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SLIDE 11
Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
IN THE GOSPEL… OUR NEED TO CONFESS AND REPENT IS REVEALED…
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… AND STILL.. maybe you ask:
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Why did you make me this way? God’s answer might be this: “I allowed you to be the way you are… because I allowed your parents… your great grand parents… your leaders… and your ancestors to live lives that deny me. I let them have their way, because that’s what they wanted.
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We were born broken… and maybe bad things happened in this world that broke us even further..
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The self righteous person shakes their fist at God for their affliction.
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The person to whom the Gospel is revealed… doesn’t blame God for their affliction.. instead, their affliction leads them to God.
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Christian… may your struggles reveal again, to you… your ongoing need for Jesus.
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IF YOU HAVE NEVER GIVEN YOUR LIFE TO JESUS.. And you know today is the day… you know it in your heart and in your mind… -then don’t let it pass.
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SLIDE 12
Romans 10:9 ESV
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
SLIDE 13
Acts 3:19 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
END.
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