Summary: When God hides His face from a society, that society becomes more and more degraded.
When God Leaves the Table
1. Scientists at NASA have developed a gun built specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.
The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields. British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains.
Arrangements were made. But when the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, crashed through the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.
Horrified Britons sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield, and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.
NASA's response was just one sentence, "Thaw the chicken."
2. A frozen chicken is much heavier than a thawed one, and it does more damage.
3. We are like that; when we are encumbered by sin, we cannot help but do more damage.
4. Today’s text is about sin. This is a section of Romans dealing with hamartiology. What is it? The doctrine of sin. The Greek word for sin is “hamartia.”
5. Sin is a complicated subject, and can be looked at from all sorts of angles.
6.Today’s text looks at the nature of societies abandoned to sin. We could call it collective relational sins that become societal sins. And although many sins are mentioned in the text, Paul gives special attention to the practice of homosexuality, a sensitive subject.
7. Many of us have friends who are gay or lesbian; we may even know someone who is transgender. Might be your siblings, children, or even parents.
8. The Bible is clear that the practice of homosexuality – which is different, BTW, from same-sex attraction – is outside of God’s will. You can read a few verses later.
Leviticus 19:22, “ You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Matthew 5:18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Luke 17:28, “Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
Jude 1:7, “ …just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire…”
9. Interpret the Bible objectively means asking 2 questions: what was in the mind of the author? and how would the original audience have understood it? NOT, “This is what I want to believe. I want to justify my behavior, let me find a way to interpret the Bible so that it works with what I want to believe and do.” This is the Post Modern mindset.
Main Idea: When God hides His face from a society, that society becomes more and more degraded.
I. The Signs that God’s Restraint Has Has Been LIFTED (24-25)
A. God allows problems in the HEART to materialize (24a).
Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel purposed in his heart…” [KJV] Regulating vs. uninhibited release…
B. DISHONORING their bodies (24b)
C. Justification for God’s conceding: they EXCHANGED God’s truth for a lie (25a)
1. Worshipped and served the CREATURE
2. Did not worship and serve their CREATOR
• “Who is blessed forever…” suggests their behavior in no way diminishes God’s glory.
• Part of being a disciple is to be God-like and not be deterred when insulted.
II. The Details of this ABANDONMENT (26-32)
God “gives over,” the same term used of Pontius Pilate giving over Jesus to the crowd.
Paul “handed over to Satan” Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Timothy 1:20)
A. Dishonorable PASSIONS (26-27)
• Ungoverned, unrestrained passions (desires)
1. Women exchanging NATURAL relations for the unnatural (26).
2. Men committing shameless acts with MEN (27)
Craig Keener writes, “Greek men were commonly bisexual; not only was homosexual behavior approved…but elements of the culture socialized boys in this direction. Men and women were segregated growing up, and male bonds became close. Apparently due to a deficiency in the number of women (which many attribute to female infanticide), marriages were often made between thirty-year-old men and fourteen-year-old women….Although many upper-classed Romans were affected by Greek ideals, many other Romans, especially Roman philosophers, regarded homosexual practice as disgusting. Greco-Roman moralists sometimes opposed gender reversal as ‘against nature,’ which would resemble the Jewish argument from God’s original purposes in creation…Although Jewish texts speak of Jewish adulterers and thieves, they nearly always treat homosexual behavior as a Gentile practice. Socialization clearly affected one’s sexual development.” Craig Keener, The IVP Background Commentary, New Testament, pp. 416-417.