Summary: A sermon on Romans 1:18-32 and how this relates to our society today (Material adapted from Harold Vaughan "The Three Fold Sin of Society" from Herald of His Coming [http://www.heraldofhiscoming.com/] September 2003 issue)
God is a Being of Moral Perfection and His Character is the law of the universe. How unlike the gods of Greek mythology who lived on Mt. Olympus. The Greek gods were even more immoral than the people. Xenophanes, a 6th century BC Greek philosopher, complained about the immorality of the gods, stating that Homer attributed to the gods "all that is shameful and disgraceful among men; they steal, commit adultery, and deceive one another." It is no wonder that Paul found some Gentile converts to Judaism everywhere he went. They saw that the God of the Jews was superior in every way to their old gods.
The book of Romans sheds great light on current conditions. The end of the first chapter is most relevant in comprehending present day realities.
Read Romans 1:18-32
Last time we looked at these verses in regard to the heathen, those who don’t have Bible or gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the three fold sin of our society.
In the beginning God made man in His image, and ever since the Fall, sinful man has tried to remake God into his image rather than being conformed to the image of Christ.
This is the main problem in Romans 1:18-32. When they “knew God” they refused to “glorify God as God”- vs. 21.
Their depravity accelerated as “they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image made like corruptible man”- vs. 23. We don’t do that today. Oh, we don’t. Here is the black and white of it- mankind wants to bring God down to his level. When we look at mythology we see that the gods are made in man’s image, instead of man being made in the image of God. This is the sin of humanizing God.
Behind all of this is the “god of this world” who attempted to dethrone God. Satan tried to displace God as the center of the universe. He failed in that attempt. However, this is what he does in our world today. Satan’s attempts to dethrone God have not ceased. Because man followed Satan in the Fall, mankind is in a joint effort with Satan to get God off the throne.
The major strategy in these attempts is to create lies to replace the truth. Examples:
Evolution. This is nothing more than a way to get rid of God, or at least get Him down to where we can handle Him! Pure evolution removes God from the picture totally, while theistic evolution removes Him from being a major player. Both are an attempt to dethrone God. Vs. 20 says that mankind believes that God made all of creation. This should be plain to them according to vs. 19. The only way to get this out of people’s minds is to make their thinking futile and their hearts darkened. Vs. 22 basically says that those who do not believe this are fools and are out of their minds.
Get rid of God’s unappealing attributes. Today’s preaching many times avoids the aspects of God’s perfect character which bring guilt to imperfect people. The whole notion of God as a judge who casts lost people into eternal darkness is seldom heard. In fact, popular preaching is more therapeutic than prophetic. If the word God were brought before people today, I wonder what pictures would come to their mind? For some, it would be the picture of a feeble great Grandfather who gives the great grandchildren anything they want and who doesn’t want to correct the great grandchildren because it might cause the great grandchildren not to want to visit him. Vs. 18 talks about God’s wrath coming down upon the wickedness of mankind.
Eliminating the fear of God. Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. When Paul preached to Felix, he did not open with, “God has a wonderful plan for your life!” This is true, but that is not where Paul started with Felix. Acts 24:25: As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid. When we eliminate the fear of God and mask the sterner aspects of the truth, conviction of sin becomes rare.
Humanizing God naturally paves the way toward deifying man. After exchanging the glory of God for the image of man, the object of worship is no longer God, but man himself. Vs. 25
Fallen man seeks to bring God down to the human level and exalt man to God’s level.
Self exaltation is not new. It is as old as the devil. What was the temptation that Satan first used against man, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God”- Genesis 3:5.