Summary: Part 3 of this series continue with Romans chapter one focusing on God's response when mankind refused to acknowledge Him.
The Person In The Mirror Part 3
This message is part 3 in my series “The Person In The Mirror.” In part one and two I shared with you what was recorded in James chapter one. He said “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness, and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” (James 1:21-24)
The key take away from these verses is that when we refuse to be doers of the Word we delude ourselves as if we looked at ourselves in the mirror and walked away forgetting what we looked like. Then we read what Paul wrote in Romans chapter one, verses eighteen through twenty-three. Paul made it clear that we all have a deep seeded knowledge about the existence of God because it was implanted within us from the beginning. He stated that since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen. If something is clearly seen then it takes an active conscience decision to deny its existence. He stated that which is known about God was evident within them. “That which is known” implies that there is a great deal which may not be known. They were therefore without an excuse, in that they did know God, and from what they knew might easily infer that it was their duty to worship him, and him only. Though some have greater light and means of knowledge than others, yet all have enough to leave them inexcusable.
The being of God may be apprehended (perceived), but cannot be comprehended (mentally understood completely). We cannot by searching find Him out as was recorded in Job 11:7-9 which says, "Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” Our finite understandings cannot perfectly know an infinite being; but, blessed be God, there is that which we may know which is enough to lead us to our chief end, the glorifying and enjoying of Him. This was the point that Paul was making, we have enough information to know God so anyone denying Him would have to do so with a conscious intention to ignore the facts surrounding them. We also read that mankind professed to be wise and exchanged the incorruptible glory of God for an image in the form of corruptible man and other animals. Man decided that he was better at determining who God was and the image that should represent Him. This is where we ended last week.
This morning we will begin with verse twenty-two and read the rest of the chapter. These verses describe the decision that God made when mankind decided to ignore/suppress the truth about His existence and righteousness with their continued works of ungodliness and unrighteousness. Before we go into the Word, let me share just a little about the daily life of those living in ancient Rome during Jesus’ times. Based on Roman art, literature and inscriptions, “unlimited sexual license” was characteristic of ancient Rome. Prostitution was legal, public and widespread. It was considered natural and unremarkable for men to be sexually attracted to teenaged youth of both sexes. Men were free to have sex with women and other men of inferior status. This mentality and commonality had to be addressed as those living in Rome began to accept Christ. They had to change how they thought even though it went directly against what was acceptable at the time.
As we read these verses, please pay close attention to the fact that there are several things besides the sexual immorality that are listed as unrighteous acts that suppress the truth about God’s righteousness and we must understand that we cannot pick and choose which act is “okay” and which ones we “really” need to pay attention to. Let’s begin with verse twenty-two. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:22-32