Summary: This sermon looks at the DEEPENING DEPRAVITY found in the human heart and in the world, and asks do we have any excuse? How will God react?
“Rom 18 – 32. “The heart of the problem”
Nothing keeps a person away from Christ more than the unwillingness to see their need and to admit to it: As Jesus put it, “Its not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” By this statement he didn’t mean that some people were righteous, so they do not need salvation, but that some people think they are in a condition of self righteousness and will never admit their need.
Paul here like any doctor will tell you that before a patient can begin to deal with a medical problem they have to be personally aware there is a problem themselves and act upon it by going to the doctor for help: Paul today will show us the heart of the problem in our world is actually the problem of the human heart.
Pastor and writer John Ortberg tells the story of how he and his wife once traded in their old Volkswagen Super Beetle for their first piece of new furniture: a mauve sofa. The man at the furniture store warned them not to get it when he found out they had small children. "You don’t want a mauve sofa" he advised. "Get something the color of dirt." But with the naive optimism of young parenthood they said "We know how to handle our children. Give us the mauve sofa."
From that moment on everyone knew the number one rule in the house. Don’t sit on the mauve sofa. Don’t touch the mauve sofa. Don’t play around the mauve sofa. Don’t eat on, breathe on, look at, or think about the mauve sofa. It was like the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.
"On every other chair in the house you may freely sit, but upon this sofa, the mauve sofa, you may not sit, for in the day you sit thereupon, you shall surely die." Then came the Fall. One day there appeared on the mauve sofa a stain. A red stain. A red jelly stain!.
So John’s wife, who had chosen the mauve sofa and adored it, lined up their three children in front of it: Laura, age four, Mallory, two and a half, and Johnny, six months. "Do you see that, children?" she asked. "That’s a stain. A red stain. A red jelly stain. The man at the sofa store says it is not coming out. Not forever. Do you know how long forever is children? That’s how long we’re going to stand here until one of you tells me who put the stain on the mauve sofa."
Mallory was the first to break. With trembling lips and tear-filled eyes she said "Laura did it." Laura passionately denied it. Then there was silence, for the longest time. No one said a word. John knew they wouldn’t, for they had never seen their mother so upset. He knew they wouldn’t because they knew that if they did they would spend eternity in the time-out chair. He knew they wouldn’t because he was the one who put the red jelly stain on the sofa, and he wasn’t saying anything! Source: John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
The truth is, of course, that we have all stained the sofa. That’s what this passage in Romans Rom 1: 18 -32 is all about the depravity of humanity, like John Ortberg the world is saying ‘nothing’ in regard to their own sin (ostrich with its head in the sand).
I’m not sure what went on the Ortberg household after that incident, whether John did confess his misdemeanor, but I do know that in our world as a result of “not saying or doing anything” the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven and as a result there is a Deeping depravity in this world of ours. Paul will press home this devastating fact.
1. The revelation of God v 19 - 20 – 21 - 23.
The first thing that Paul reveals to us is that people have a knowledge of God – v19 -20 Yet we must understand that this knowledge that all people have is not a saving knowledge in Christ because Paul tells us the natural man does not know God Gal 4:8 – 2Thes 1:8 He cannot know God as they are dead in their trespasses and sins Eph 2:1 . The knowledge Paul is addressing here is that of general revelation which is given to all l v 19 -20.
He asserts this point that humanity has a knowledge of him three times: v21 they knew God, v25 they knew the truth about God and v28 they had knowledge about God .
Friends isn’t what Paul is saying true that everybody upon the planet has a knowledge of God. I imagine most of us from a young age could say “ I always have known there was a God” That’s because general revelation about God kicks in straight away - the revelation of Himself he has indelible imprinted upon the whole of creation upon one another and upon even upon our own consciences v32. So from a child to the greatest minds the world have known have received this general revelation: