A friend recently asked “What is wrong with people today?”
The simple and sad answer is that we live in a society that has chosen to be without God. People have abandoned faith in a one true God for personal gain. Or like a line from a Charlie Daniel song “You know what’s wrong with the world today? People done gone put their bibles away, their living by the law of the jungle not the law of the land”. (Simple Man)
- It has been said the Bible is an outdated system no longer applicable to today’s social system.
- Science and social evolution have moved us from ignorance to enlightenment.
- We simply know more now and do not need a religious guide.
- There are no absolutes.
What both breaks my heart and makes me mad at the same time is these are statements I have heard from people who claim to be Christian as well as those who claim to be agnostic.
Social rules of the day are unclearly defined as;
- Any person that views your choices as destructive or immoral is narrow-minded and intolerant.
- If one person decides their choices only affect themselves then the other person is wrong for having an opinion.
Richard Dresselhaus makes this observation;
Moderns for the most part embrace an ideology that is set against God:
- That reality is limited to what is verifiable
- That morality is defined by personal opinion
- That pleasure is linked to gratification
- That truth is a synonym for idea.
This is the prevailing philosophical system of moderns-and it leaves no room for God.
There is an interesting parallel to what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago and today. In Paul’s day the great thinkers pushed their views on all who would listen. Some religious leaders pushed their own personal agenda for political and financial gain. The government corruption was well known, with the citizens powerless to change anything.
Romans 1:18-32 speaks of Gods wrath revealed, inexcusable ignorance, downward spiral of unbelief, and the result of unbelief.
Here Paul is speaking to the heathen world, those who have not heard the gospel message and those who have heard but refused to listen.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
I want to dissect this verse for a moment.
- Wrath means anger; rage or vengeance.
- This wrath is not directed at people but rather it is directed at sin.
- Revealed from heaven indicates this is of divine origin.
- Suppress means to force into inaction or kept from being known or apparent.
- Truth here is speaking of Gods truth.
Wrath is not the same as discipline. God’s wrath is punishment for wickedness and unrighteousness. Discipline is setting boundaries or correcting an action. There is not a sin God does not hate. There is not a sinner God does not love.
Scripture is centered on grace and the redeeming plan of salvation, although if you look in a concordance you will find quite a few verses speaking of wrath. The revelation of wrath comes from the facts of human experience: ‘the history of the world is the judgment of the world’ (Schiller).
The mind cannot comprehend how terrifying it is to live under God’s wrath. So much so that most people choose to think it does not exist. There are millions of people trying in vain desperation to ignore their own reality. The reality is that we will face a judgment for choices made in this life. For many people their choices will result in an eternal punishment.
Some have asked “how can an all loving God punish people?” The real question is “how can an all loving God not punish evil?” Those who choose to ignore truth in order to live a life of their own design will face God’s wrath.
There is no usable excuse for being ignorant of a creator God! Romans 1:19-20 Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
In Paul’s time the Greco-Roman world had a wide belief in polytheism, which is the belief of many gods. Many of these gods were constantly at war with each other. The idea of one true God was not readily accepted as it went against common teaching. Note that the Apostle Paul did not spend time refuting common false beliefs of the day instead he simply stated man is without excuse. By contemplating the natural world it is possible to understand enough of His attributes so as to not make the mistake of replacing the creator with the created. Furthermore it is not credible to believe there is design but not a designer.
At the time ‘Romans’ was written the Holy Bible was not complete. Only the Jews had the written law of God. Yet even without the written word all of nature reveals the glory of God. Nobody will be excused for not recognizing a creator God. Every person is born with a sense of wonder. From the moment of birth we learn from our surroundings. At some point we come to the realization that all things were created. It is at this point we decide to either worship or reject the creator.
To believe that we are created requires us to believe that we are created for a purpose. Being created for a purpose would logically lead us to do the will of the creator. Doing the will of the creator logically leads us to glorify the creator and be grateful. However, doing the will of the creator goes against selfish desires. When we choose to follow selfish desires instead of Gods will, we step into the downward spiral of unbelief.
Romans 1:21-23 Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
When you were a kid did you ever watch the bath tub drain? I remember being fascinated by the vortex caused by the water going down the drain. I would put things like little pieces of paper in the water and watch as they moved slowly toward the tiny whirlpool and then as they got closer they would pick up speed. Sometimes the swirling water would momentarily propel the debris away from the drain but eventually it would be caught up in the current and be pulled into the sewer. That is the way it is with sin. Eventually it will suck you into a moral cesspool.
Like the pieces of paper in the tub, there is a course that is followed that leads to a downward spiral of unbelief. To say “I believe there is a God” is not the same as believing in God. Even the demons believe there is a God and they shudder at His name (James 2:19). But the demons neither glorify God nor thank Him!
The first stage of unbelief is to reject the glory of God.
The very first sin was due to man abusing free will given to created beings equipped with a will. See Genesis 3:1-6. By focusing on earthly desires and not being thankful for Gods provision man dethrones God and places himself in the glory seat. The act of rejecting the glory of God then leads to the second stage of unbelief.
The second stage of unbelief is foolish thinking.
Man has a long history of inventing ways to try to justify personal behavior. Once a person has reduced God to mere human standards it becomes increasingly easier to believe in self created ideas. Truth becomes more obscure to a mind filled with personal agenda instead of Godly focus. Still, in the heart of every person is a desire to worship. Without a focus on the creator, man will desire to worship the created. The third stage of unbelief is easily slipped into.
The third stage of unbelief is idolatry.
To illustrate the foolish thinking imagine people living in a great forest. Everyday they see the amazing balance of life. They watch in awe as day after day, season after season life happens. It is realized there is structure and purpose in everything created. As an observation squirrels are seen burying seeds from trees. Some of those seeds grow to become trees that produce food and shelter. A connection is made between the squirrel and the abundance of provision from trees. In response someone carves a stick to look like a squirrel and give it praise. That is essentially what people have done and are doing.
Throughout mans history idol worship has always been common. Today our idols look like cell phones, cars, houses, even personal looks. There is no real difference between the rocks and sticks people worshipped 2,000 years ago and the rocks and sticks people worship today.
Romans 1:24-32 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, and the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Three times in chapter 1 we read these very sobering words: “God gave them up to…”
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness” Romans 1:24 Paul is addressing impurity which is sexual degradation of their bodies with each other. God designed sex to be between one man and one woman in the bonds of marriage. It is a perversion to believe sex is a social function. Yet today that is what our society has reduced it to.
- I was at the grocery store and became keenly aware of many references to sexual impurity, and that was in the greeting card aisle! I was looking at Christmas cards.
- You may want to cover your children’s eyes when you walk through the health and beauty section.
- Common magazine covers use to be considered pornographic.
- People that choose to remain pure are treated as freaks of nature.
“God gave them up to vile passions” Romans 1:26 At this point the degradation described becomes more graphic. Women exchanged the natural use for what is unnatural; men became inflamed with lust for other men. This is a description of a society that has stepped down into sexual immorality described in Scripture as the societies of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It does not take an educated man to see what is wrong with the idea of same gender sex. America as a nation is embracing same sex families at an alarming rate. Abortion, gay rights, sexually transmitted diseases would not be heard of if people embraced instead of rejected truth.
Ever hear the expression “It’s my nature, I can’t help it”. That is usually said of a sinful behavior. Well it’s true on two points. 1) Man is born with a sinful nature. 2) Without the atoning blood of Christ we can’t do anything about it.
I have erroneously stated in the past that the cultural acceptance of homosexuality has historically marked the end of a civilization. That statement was made without proper understanding of historical and biblical facts. There is one more level a society lowers itself to;
“God gave them over to a debased mind” Romans 1:28 Here is the bottom step. A mind set on the pursuit of evil. Thoughts and motives that come from the depths of perversion. This is the final step into a moral hell.
“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;…” Romans 1:29
The list that follows is: envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness…
- It has been said if you want to see how evil the next generation will be just looked at the behavior of the most immoral people today.
- The disturbing news stories of today give us a clear picture of the potential society of tomorrow.
A common argument today is you cannot use the Bible to dictate moral behavior. Then what in this world can you use?
In just seven or eight years after Paul wrote the letters to the Romans the Emperor Nero had a bonfire that ruined the Roman economy and then he blamed the Christians for his actions. Many Christians were covered in tar and lit on fire to serve as street lights.
Here is the sad final observation;
Not only do they practice such things they approve of others doing the same.
This is the reality of a society that has rejected the glory of God.The rejection of God is where the moral decline is rooted, neither giving God the proper glory nor being thankful for His provision.
Today we live in a society that is in a moral decline described by the Apostle Paul. A decline that began with inexcusable ignorance that leads to downward spiral of unbelief. Unbelief has consequences in the life we live now as well as eternity.
God’s wrath is a reality that we must not ignore!
As a response to what Paul reveals to us in this letter this is my resolve;
- To maintain a deep devotion to God
- To allow the Holy Spirit to guide me away from the constant pull of this worlds value system
- To reach as many with the gospel message as possible that they may escape the wrath that is here and to come
- To pray for true revival in America that we would turn our focus to God
What is your resolve?
It is every Christian’s responsibility to intercede for a lost world. Not standing in judgment but to earnestly pray the Holy Spirit brings people to a point of conviction so that they may receive the great joy of eternity with God.
Most people who claim to be Christians are far from being properly narrow minded and intolerant. The tendency is to accept whatever is being taught in the moment. I am working on being narrow-minded. That is I want to narrow my focus to Gods will in my life. I am working on being intolerant. That is I want to be intolerant of the sin in my life. Will you join me in choosing to be narrow-minded and intolerant?
Even if you find yourself in a moral septic tank Jesus can lift you out and make you clean. Just reach out to Him in repentance.
Rev. Burt Schwab