Summary: From one of the most difficult passages of all the Bible.
Romans – God’s Glorious Gospel
* When Grace Hawthorne and Buryl Red wrote a song entitled “Would You” over 30 years ago, the purpose was help us realize that the because of the difficulties we appreciate the good which comes our way. Life is filled with good and bad.
* Years ago when the telegrams were delivered by Western Union in person, a young man applied to be a messenger. However, on his application he said there was one thing he could not or would not do, and that was “deliver bad news.” He didn’t get the job. It is true there is no good news like “the” good news of God.
* The Apostle Paul loved giving the “good news” but above all was always honest! When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome, he knew they needed this good news but they also required honestly. Like a master writer, Paul interweaves both the good & the honest into this letter. Paul has written what we know to be 17 verses of good news to this group of believer and now in verse 18, he reminds them of the “bad news” or the difficult news. Turn to Romans 1:18-25 & follow.
* When I read those first seven words of verse 18 it leaves a knot in my stomach. Now, understand I am fully aware of Romans 8:1 which says, “Therefore, no condemnation exists for those who are in Christ.” So the knot in my stomach is not for me. Thanks be to God I am in Christ Jesus. However, my concern is for anyone and everyone who is outside of His grace and mercy and thus, not saved through His blood.
* Here is our warning; this text is quite likely, one of the most pointed, penetrating and painful passages in all scripture. This text will cause us look honestly at;
1. The Reality of the Heart – It was less than 2 months ago that I offered truth to you about the heart. The Bible tells us we can know what is in someone’s heart. Scriptures teach us, “As a person thinks in their heart, so are they,” & “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Paul writes, “The wrath of God is revealed-from Heaven.”
a. It’s Impure – To be impure is the opposite of being pure. Being pure would mean to be ‘righteous’ and ‘godly’ as opposed to unrighteous and ungodly. In this passage Paul identifies unrighteousness in many ways. In Verse 24 he speaks of degrading their bodies by giving into the desires of their heart. Verse 26 speaks clearly to the sin of homosexuality & calls these acts “shameful.” He event goes one more step in verses 29 & following by giving a virtual laundry list of qualities of the impure and unrighteous heart. By definition righteousness is doing what is right all the time & the opposite is true for un-righteousness. The Bible says, the heart is “deceitful” above all things.
b. It’s Impractical – Why does the text teach this? The last 3 words of verse 18 says it “suppresses the truth.” The old KJV uses the word “hold” but in the Greek this is a compound word which means “hold down.” How logical or practical is it to obscure truth? Yet in this dark culture of the USA this is exactly what is being done.
* Do you remember the ruckus raised by Pastor Joe Wright in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1996? Scott Dawson said this week, “with the present state of our political climate, it will not be long before we have to find new ways to communicate the gospel.” On every hand truth is held down and lies are held up. We can give a long list of actions which the Bible calls sin and (if we are honest) we know this culture is doing its best to say, “It’s okay, get with it.” Which sins would you like to name? Co-habitation, fornication, homosexuality, or slanderers, disobedient, greedy, all are sins in God’s eyes.
* What kind of person wants to build a life based on untruth? Yet, to suppress truth is to support lies. How practical is this? Yet, it begins in our heart.
c. It’s Irresponsible – Look at verse 21. Like Paul I must be honest. There are many words that I wanted to use here, but I have no desire to put down, I desire to clear up. Studying this text, I first thought the heart is ignorant, but that’s not really the case.
* So my next word was “insane” which more closely expressed the meaning of this verse which has a cause and effect clause. But listen, “they knew God, but they rejected Him”. This is the heart which has not been transformed. When they rejected Him, His love, His forgiveness, and His peace, it literally warped their thinking. This heart becomes nonsensical, senseless, and “darkened.” May I give you the simple explanation? This person just does not think “right.” And because of this, “he’s irresponsible.”