Summary: When man chooses to live life apart from (God) Immanuel – man first rejects God’s self-revelation.
Life without Immanuel: Living in Spiritual Darkness
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:19-21
Introduction: Christmas is a wonderful time of year for the believer to celebrate the incredible truth of God becoming man. It is the time of year when we especially think of Immanuel (God with us). Christmas is a time of lights – and rightfully so, because our God is known as a God of light.
• 1 John 1:5 “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”
• James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
We might say that when God is with us, we can walk in the light. But what happens when a man doesn’t choose to accept God’s gift? Not everyone does, you know. What happens when men choose to live without God?
Last week we considered the wrath of God in Romans 1:18. I said at the time that God’s wrath is the really bad news of the gospel which makes the good news of the gospel, really good news. God’s wrath is what happens when:
• Holiness meets sin.
• Purity meets moral corruption.
• Faithful covenant keeping meets spiritual rebellion.
• Men choose to live in wrong relationship with God (ungodliness) and men (unrighteousness).
• Men die and enter eternity without Christ.
The remainder of this chapter, Romans 1:19-32 is written to justify the wrath of God in 1:18 (that is, it explains why God’s wrath is right). I want you to notice that God’s wrath and man’s living apart from Immanuel are tied in together. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the results of living without Immanuel are the very sane reasons that justify God’s wrath. This morning we will be looking at the first result in choosing to live apart from Immanuel—which is also the first reason that justifies God’s wrath: When Man Chooses to Live Life Apart from (God) Immanuel – Man First Rejects God’s Self Revelation.
I. God’s Self Revelation (1:19-20) – Given to all men everywhere. This is not just given to the educated and just those from a Judeo-Christian background. This is revelation that God gives to all men and women everywhere.
A. Internal Revelation: – (19) “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath shewed it unto them.”
1. Those people who have never once read the words from Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created” have still heard the voice of conscience whispering in their ears “There is a God”
2. Those people who have never heard the name of God know intuitively there is a God.
3. Those people who have never heard of the Ten Commandments still have a conscience and they know intuitively that some things are right/wrong (different cultures may differ in guidelines…but absolute values are still in play—ie. stealing/lying/murder)
4. Illustration: As a little girl, Helen Keller could not see or hear. She could not speak. It was through the persistent efforts of Anne Sullivan that finally broke through the communication barrier with touch (and eventually even taught Helen to speak). When Anne Sullivan first tried to tell Helen about God, this deaf and blind girl response was to let Anne Sullivan know that Helen already was aware of God’s existence; she just didn’t know His name (Helen Keller, The Story of My Life [New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1905], pp. 368–74). How did Helen Keller know that? God Himself revealed it to her…and to every other person.
B. External Revelation: – (20) “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”
1. Testimony of the Psalmist (19:1-3): “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” We are not talking about scriptures—the stars speak of God’s existence. The constellations communicate the simple message, “There is a God.”
2. Testimony of the Patriarch Job (12:7-9) “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?”