Abandoned by God - Romans 1:24-27

All right, Romans 1. These verses that we are going to be looking at today beginning at verse 24 through verse 27 are very serious verses. These are very sobering verses. I want to begin by reading, starting in verse 24.

 

“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.”

 

Verse 26. “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.”

 

The Bible is such a straightforward tell-it-like-it-is book. If you and I had been writing this on our own, we would have been tempted to do one of two things. We would have either left this out altogether or we would have put it at the end of the book, and tucked it away because a lot of people start reading a book, few people finish reading a book. We would have hid it behind a bush at the end of this book.

 

But what captures my attention is that Paul puts this on the front doorstep of this book. You cannot even get into this book without Paul addressing the judgment of God upon people. To put a title on this lesson, it would be “Abandoned by God.” There is nothing more terrifying than to be abandoned by God because you cannot get away from that place when you are turned over by God.

           

I want to walk through this passage with you this morning. I have some application at the end. I am an outline teacher-preacher, so I have a little thin outline I want to give you to help us walk through this passage. I want to begin with the connection, and we see that immediately in verse 24.

 

I.               THE CONNECTION

           

Here is the connection, it is the word "therefore." You have heard it said whenever you see a “therefore,” see what it is there for. Therefore is one of the most important words in the entire Bible. It would be easy to pass over this therefore.

 

Therefore is like a bridge that connects two islands of thought and brings them together. The therefore points back to what was just said, and it brings us forward. Therefore, on the basis of what Paul has just said, therefore.

 

It points back to verses 18 through 23, and it points back to the intentional, deliberate, continual rejection of the knowledge of God. Rejecting the truth about God. The most dangerous sin that anyone can ever commit is the rejection of the knowledge of God. There is nothing that is a greater sin than to reject the knowledge of God.

           

In verses 18 through 23, which we looked at last time, we saw that God has revealed Himself to every single person on planet earth who has ever lived through what we call general revelation. It is the knowledge of God in creation.

 

A blind man could see that there is a Creator. To think that this all just happened with the perfection and the complexity and the intricacy of the creation of the world and the human body, the fool has said in his heart "there is no God."

 

To reject the knowledge of God, and then exchange it, this is the ultimate buy high, sell low – to exchange it for the worship of idols which is in verse 23. To exchange the knowledge of God for the knowledge of errors and lies.

 

When we come to verse 24, we now see this "therefore." And this is huge. This is a connection. What we are going to look at now is the result of rejecting the knowledge of God, and so this speaks to how important it is. When you reject the knowledge of God, you are now going in a direction away from God. You are departing from God. You are like a boat that is tied up at the dock. The river current is flowing downstream and it is a powerful river current. You have loosened the rope and you now are disconnected from the dock. You now are adrift mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and in every way when you reject the knowledge of God.

 

II.             THE CONDEMNATION

 

This now leads second to the condemnation in verse 24, here is the condemnation: God gave them over. “God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity.” This is a divine judgment. There are some Bible commentators who say this is simply God letting man go his own way. No, it is far more than that.

 

God is the actor. God is aggressive. God is the initiator. It is not just God letting go of the rope and letting the current take the boat away. This is now, after the rope has been untied, this is God now shoving the boat downstream. It is God saying, in essence, "All right, you want to go away from Me? Then I am going to give you a shove in that direction. I am going to send you away from me."

 

God is the initiator, and God is very active. This is an active role of God. This is not a passive permitting of the nations to go their own way. Acts 14:16. This is amped up even stronger. This is God.

 

There comes a point and there comes a time when a person has been running stop signs for so long with God – whether it is an individual, whether it is a nation, whether it is a denomination, whether it is a church, whether it is a seminary – when you reject the knowledge of God, God says "Fine, then I am going to give you a shove towards lies, and I am going to give you a shove towards error, and I am going to turn you over in judgment."

 

Now, this verb right here, "gave them over," God gave them over. I want to show you where else it is used in the book of Romans, over in chapter 4 and verse 25 referring to Christ. In Romans 4:25, it says, "He who was delivered over because of our transgressions." That is the very same verb there that Jesus was delivered over to stand in the judgment on our behalf.

 

Jesus was delivered over by whom? Not by Pilot or Herod. Ultimately, it was God Himself. It was God who delivered over His Son unto the cross. We see it again in Romans 8:32. It says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over." God sent His Son.

 

It was foreordained from before the foundation of the world that God the Father would deliver over His Son unto the most extraordinary judgment. That He would bear our sins upon the cross, and then come under the full force of the fury and the wrath of God, as Jesus bore our sins upon the cross.

 

This is the exact same verb here. “Therefore, God gave them over to judgment.” Why? Because they rejected the knowledge of God. It is a dangerous thing to be the recipient of the knowledge of God, because we are held accountable by God for the knowledge of Himself that He reveals to us. Every one of us is either moving closer to or further away from God.

           

This is the condemnation. You say, "Well, does God really do this?" He does it so much so that he repeats it three times here. Look at verse 26, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,” verse 27, men to men, verse 28, “just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over.” Three times: verse 24, verse 26, verse 28. It is impossible to miss this.

 

Now, this is not an isolated occurrence, and I wish I had time to walk us through the whole Bible on this, but I am going to take us to one key passage. Come to 2 Thessalonians 2, a verse that if this was not in the Bible, I do not know that I could believe this, but it is in the Bible, so I do believe it.

 

This is strong medicine. Whatever our thoughts are about God, this has to be incorporated. 2 Thessalonians 2:11, “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” That is big-boy football right there. Who is doing this? Is this Satan? Are these demons? This is God, capital G. God sending a deluding influence. In other words, what little knowledge of God you have is now so deluded down that you have no knowledge of God. A deceiving influence, so that they will believe what is false.

 

Now verse 12 explains, “in order that they may be judged.” This is the judgment of God, that God sends this deluding influence so that they will believe a false gospel, so that they will believing a damning lie, so that they will believe what is untrue. This is God.

 

Now, at the end of verse 12, why? "Who did not believe the truth." When they had the truth, they rejected the truth, and because you reject the truth, God says, "All right, I am going to give you a shove in the direction you are already going. I am going to send you a deluding influence so that you will now believe a lie."

 

At the end of verse 12, they “did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” That is what happens when you do not believe the truth. You know take pleasure in wickedness. Reject the truth and embrace the darkness. There is no neutral spot. There is no middle ground. You reject the truth, you are in the darkness, and there comes a point where God will then push you further, deeper into the darkness. Proverbs 1 says wisdom calls out and you reject it, and so when you call out later on wisdom, wisdom says, "I cannot hear you and I will not hear you because you have rejected the truth."

 

All right, come back to Romans 1. “Therefore, God gave them over in the lust of their heart.” This word "lust" is a very strong word. It talks about strong cravings for that which is forbidden. It means vile passions which are pent up and bound up in the heart. “God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity.”

 

This is going from bad to worse. This is what we call the “slippery slope.” You take a step out on the slippery slope, you reject the knowledge of God, you now are going down this slippery slope into pursuing the lusts of your heart. God then gives you over, and in essence puts weights on your back to force you to go down the slippery slope even further, faster, deeper. You are now plunging down into a lower realm of sin, which Paul calls “impurity,” and this impurity is the result of rejecting God.

 

This word "impurity" is a general word that speaks of all kinds of foul immorality. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 is another place where this word is used. Paul says, "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity" – Do you see it there? Very same word – "but for sanctification."

 

Now, in this context, look up at verse 3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Then verse 5 talks about lustful passions. Down in verse 7 when Paul speaks of this impurity, it is in the larger context here of sexual deviancy. That is down towards the bottom of the barrel.

 

Come over to Galatians 5 for a moment. I want to show you another place where this word “impurity” is found. Galatians 5:19, you will see the word impurity. “Now, the deeds of the flesh are evident,” meaning crystal clear, “which are: immorality…” That is a general word for every category of sexual deviation that there is. Every sexual act outside of the husband-wife relationship. It takes in everything from pornography to bestiality, just the whole smelly lump. That is the deeds of the flesh. Then the next word, here is our word, “impurity,” and then the next word, “sensuality.” It is coupled in here right in the midst of wanton fleshly, sinful desires.

 

Now come back to Romans 1. This is not like being turned over where you go to the mall and see a workout sweat suit and you are really tempted to go buy this thing. This is so much further down the pecking order of sin. Not all sin is the same by the way.

 

Every once in a while, I hear people in Dallas talking about how all sin is the same. That is stupid. I will give you one simple reason why it is not. In the Old Testament, under the Mosaic Law, some sin demanded the death penalty. Other sin simply was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. You just get that thing fixed that you broke.

 

It is not an eye for a tooth or a tooth for an eye. You break someone's tooth, replace the tooth. You break someone's eye, replace the eye. The punishment needs to fit the crime. It is unjust to give the death penalty to someone who parks in a no-parking zone. It is equally unjust if someone kills someone else to put them in jail for a year and then let them go. That is total injustice.

 

So not all sin is the same. As this slippery slope is cascading down, when you reject the knowledge of God, you now are set on a course downward. This also shows us that the Bible teaches the very opposite of evolution. It shows society is devolving, not evolving. It is going down the toilet, not up.

           

Now the exchange, verse 24, “God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity,” unclean, immoral filth. Whenever a nation rejects the knowledge of God, it becomes a filthy cesspool of sexual immorality. That is what it becomes.

 

Whenever a society, whenever a culture, whenever a denomination goes liberal and decides "Hey, this is okay, that is okay," it is like a dump truck going down the hill without any brakes. It is picking up speed as it goes down the hill. So look at verse 24. At the end of verse 24 is a further clarification of impurity. It says “so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.”

 

1 Corinthians 6 talks about how sexual sin is an unusual sin. It is in a category almost by itself. As Proverbs 6 says, can a man take a fire into his bosom and be not burned? I mean, it leaves a lasting scar. That is why you are playing with fire. “So that their bodies would be dishonored.” This word dishonored means shameful activity.

 

III.           THE CLARIFICATION

 

Now, verse 25. In verse 25 I am going to call “The Clarification.” It is the third heading. We have gone from the connection to the condemnation, now the clarification. Verse 25 says, “for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” Paul is clarifying here how it is that they have ended up with God against them.

 

This is so far away from, "Smile, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." It could not be any further away. “For they exchanged the truth of God.” You had the truth of God, and you decided to throw it aside. You utterly rejected it. The opposite of the truth is a lie, and anything that is not of the truth is a lie.

 

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” this is so bizarre, but this is where it takes you, “and worshipped and served the creature.” I mean, sin will make you stupid. We all worship something, and when you reject the knowledge of God, then you are going to start worshipping something else.

 

Verse 23 says they “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.” You say, "How could anyone ever end up in a degrading place like that?" The answer is, you reject the knowledge of God. Turn out the lights, the party is over. You are in darkness now and you are grabbing for anything to worship. Included in that is not only what is in verse 23, but it is worshipping your own body, worshipping something in this world.

 

An idol is anything you love more than God, fear more than God, or serve more than God. You are going to end up worshipping that. It can be a job, it can be a girlfriend, it can be a wife, it can be a hobby, it can be a bank account. It is whatever you are preoccupied with more than God. That is an idol.

 

Whatever you worship is what you serve. That is what you are committed to and that is what you are committed to helping advance the cause thereof or therein. Worship and service always go together. They are packaged together, and in this order. You tell me what you worship, and I will tell you where you are investing your time. I will tell you where you are investing your treasure. I will tell you where you are investing your talent. That is where you are going to be serving, and you will serve the creature rather than the Creator. This clarification makes this abundantly clear.

 

IV.          THE CELEBRATION

 

Now verse 25 ends in an unusual way, and I want to call this “the celebration.” This is an odd place to have a celebration, but Revelation 19 is an odd place to have the “Hallelujah Chorus” because it is the smoke of the whore of Babylon ascending upward out of the pit of hell, and there is the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

 

We have lost any sense of masculinity in the church, that it is just the feminization of the church that even strong thoughts about God are almost like, "Wow, that almost hurts my feelings." Well, here is the celebration at the end of verse 25. Paul cannot mention God without bursting into this moment of praise. Even in the midst of this strong condemning passage, the mere mention of the Creator and Paul has to burst forth and praise God. And Paul does it immediately. He cannot even wait.

 

Now, he is going to have this at the end of chapter 11, “To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). But it is like Paul cannot even postpone this praise for God to the place where he would normally have the adoration and doxology for God. In the midst of this dark section on being abandoned by God, Paul immediately bursts into praise.

 

Therefore, there is no time when praise is inappropriate. There is no time when it is wrong to sing our praises to God. This is exactly what Paul does at the end of verse 25, “who is blessed forever. Amen.” Now, this word "blessed," comes from a Greek word that we derive the English word "eulogy" which means to say a good word. It is synonymous here with praise. God is praised forever.

 

The word "forever" here is an interesting word. It literally means throughout the ages to come, like there will never be any end to the praise that we have for God. That would have been enough, but then he punctuates it and says, "Amen." The word "amen" just simply means, "yes, it is so. Yes, it is true." It is a strong affirmation of what has just been said.

 

Paul is not backing off of what he has just said, and the amen comes at the end of verses 24 and 25, this whole section. Paul is not apologetic for this strong truth. Paul is not whispering. Paul is not mumbling at this point. Paul is saying amen to this because he loves righteousness, and he loves God, and he loves all that God stands for and all that God is.

 

V.            THE CONTINUATION

 

Now, it does not stop here. I want to give you the next heading. Number four, “the continuation.” This is like a snowball effect. This is like a snowball rolling down the side of a ski slope. It is just picking up speed, and it is becoming larger and larger the further it is away from the knowledge of God.

 

In verse 26 it says, “for this reason.” This is continuation now of the explanation of what he has been saying, “God gave them over.” It is almost as if it is a double judgment. “God gave them over to degrading passions,” and when he says “degrading passions,” the word "degrading" means disgraceful, dishonoring, shameful, vial, depraved. This is a loathsome word.

 

“God gave them over to degrading passions.” And what are these degrading passions? What do they produce? “For their women exchanged the natural function.” The natural function would be for them to marry a man. The natural function would be for them to have an intimate sexual relationship with their own husband and produce children. That is the natural function. It is the way God designed it.

 

“For their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.” It is bizarre, a woman now having degrading passions for another woman. Does this lead to the judgment of God? No, it is the judgment of God. Let those words sink in. It is all because you rejected the knowledge of God. You committed the greatest sin.

 

Because you have continually, deliberately, and intentionally rejected the knowledge of God, and have exchanged the truth for a lie, God gives over to judgment certain women who will now have another exchange. Because you have violated the greatest exchange, God will now see to it that you commit the lesser exchange. Because you have exchanged the truth for a lie, God will now see to it that you exchange the natural function for the unnatural function. When you reject the knowledge of God, it leads to the grossest sexual sins. It is because you have rejected God, you are now in the darkness.

 

VI.          THE CORRUPTION

 

But it doesn't stop there. This is the fifth heading which is “the corruption.” This really began in the middle of verse 26, “their women exchange the natural function for that which is unnatural.” Verse 27, “and in the same way also, the men exchanged the natural function of the woman,” meaning for a man to marry a woman and to have a sexual intimate relationship with her is natural and normal. But the men abandoned the natural function.

 

Now, there was an abandonment that has already taken place before this, and that was God abandoning the sinner. That leads to, then, the sinner abandoning the natural function of the woman. “And burned in their desire for one another.” This judgment of God, it is as though there are more logs being tossed onto the fire now. There is more gas being poured onto the fire. It is intensifying in its burning desire for one another. It becomes a rage. It becomes a strong desire. “Men with men committing indecent acts.” Indecent acts. The word "indecent" means shameless. “And receiving in their own person the due penalty of their error.” The due penalty of their error is eternal damnation. It is to burn in the fires of hell.

 

In 1 Corinthians 6 it says no homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven, along with a list of other sins. But it is a unique sin, it is singled out in the Bible as a very unique sin. What verses 26 and 27 are saying, and especially verse 27, there is then the burning of desire in this world that will lead to the burning of the soul and the body in hell in the world to come.

 

There is no other politically correct spin to put on this. It is what it is. So what is the application of this? Well, I want to give you several thoughts, and then we are going to open it up for discussion.

 

Number one, every one of us around this table needs to be very careful what we do with the truth, that we actually respond in obedience to the truth and that we do not just have a head full of knowledge. That is not going to get you anywhere. In fact, that may actually increase your condemnation if you do not live it. It would be better for you not to even know the truth. For you to know the truth and reject the truth, it is just far worse. There are degrees of punishment in hell. Hell is not the same for everyone.

 

The more truth you know and reject, the greater your accountability and responsibility to God. Now, for us as believers, we will never go to hell. We are eternally secure in Christ. But there is a principle here that God holds us very responsible for the truth.

 

That is why James 3:1 says “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren. Knowing as such we shall incur” – listen to these next words – “a stricter judgment.” There is a stricter judgment for believers who know more truth than believers who know less truth. So if you are not going to live the truth, it would be better for you to go to a liberal church that does not even preach the truth than for you to go to a Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching church and not live the truth. For the lost person, if you are going to go to hell, go to hell from Africa. Do not go to hell from Dallas, Texas because it is going to be so much hotter.

 

The first point of application here is “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is critically important that every one of us respond to the truth. I am sitting here saying this begins with me.  James 3:1 begins with me. I am the one teaching this. I am the one who got up at 2:30 this morning to go through this. That much more accountability for me, as well as for you.

 

Second, sexual perversions are the result of rejecting the knowledge of God. Do not think that this just appears out of thin air. Do not think, "Well, I just got some bad DNA." It is crystal clear from this text that sexual perversions are the result of the rejection of the knowledge of God.

                       

Third – well, before I move on, men, for those of us around this table, we have got to guard our minds and our hearts and remain pure. We cannot flirt with pornography or watching a bad this or looking at a bad that, or whatever. I mean, we are nuts, we are just fools. We might as well be playing with 20 rattlesnakes in our den than to swing open a door and allow this kind of an influence to come into our life.

 

Let's not kid ourself, it starts with apathy towards the truth. Sometimes it is not necessarily the rejection. We are believers, but it is lukewarmness towards the truth, apathy towards the truth, a coldness spiritually. That is going to take you somewhere, and it is going to take you somewhere you don't want to go. It would be like when I went to sleep last night, the last thing I did was lock the front door, double lock, put the security code on, the whole thing.

 

It would be like I just left the front door wide open, and you live out the country, and who knows what you are going to wake up with in the morning. I mean, who knows what all animals are going to be in your den. Well, that is what happens. When you reject the truth, you are opening your mind up to whatever the world is going to pump in.

 

All right, third. Any conversion to Christ is a miracle of sovereign grace. Do you see what an extraordinary thing it is for someone to be saved out of this? This is like a brand plucked from the fire. It is only by sovereign grace that any of us are converted. No sinner is in a neutral state. Every sinner is on the slippery slope somewhere.

 

You may not have been given the push yet and been given over like this, but you are on the slippery slope. You are going down. You are going away from God. It is extraordinary divine intervention when God reaches in and converts someone. This text is almost like, “Well, can anyone be saved?” It is only by sovereign grace. It is a big deal that you are saved, even if you grew up in the church.

 

Number four, there must be a sense of urgency in our evangelism. We cannot just sit back because people's hearts are being hardened, and hardened, and hardened more. They are drifting, and drifting, and drifting further. They are plunging down deeper and deeper. We have got to reach people now with the gospel. We cannot be passive. We cannot sit back because they are picking up speed in their downward descent away from God.

 

However God can use you, wherever God can use you to reach others for Christ, this is like an intervention we have seen on television where some family member comes into a den and all of the sudden there are 20 family members now in the room. They say, "Dad, we have got to say something to you," and the whole family is having this intervention.

 

We need some interventions in people's lives, that say, "Dad, you are going to hell." My friend, my business partner, "You are gambling your soul into hell." It is just getting worse and worse the more they are rejecting God. There comes a point, as you can see, where it is no longer, you are just drifting with the current. God gives a shove in that direction.

 

Number five, we must worship God whenever we think of God. We cannot wait until Sunday morning. We cannot wait until Sunday night. Paul cannot even wait here to express his praise for God. Even in the midst of this passage on total depravity, radical corruption, and the sinfulness of man, even in the midst of this, Paul immediately bursts into praise.

 

If you are riding in the car going down 75 heading to your next business appointment and you are thinking of God, you need to praise God. If you are sitting at your desk, and for whatever reason, you are taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, you need to praise God throughout the day, right then, right there, immediately. That is what we see Paul doing here.

 

The other time he does this, it is kind of interesting. In Romans 9 at the end of verse 5, after he has just said in verse 2, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.” Verse 3, “I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my kinsman.”

 

In other words, he is saying, "I am willing to go to hell if that would mean they go to heaven."  I ought to tell you, I have not gotten to that point yet. I am happy to go to heaven.

 

Yeah, if you want to come, fine. If not, that is your deal. I am going to heaven. Paul is so burdened for his fellow Jews that Paul says, "I could wish myself accursed," and that means damned.

 

Then at the end of verse 5, in the midst of this intense, dramatic section, as he is heading into “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated,” and the potter and his right over the clay, to make vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and vessels of mercy prepared for glory, in the midst of this towering chapter, at the end of verse 5, he does it again. “Christ…who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” Even in the midst of this, he praises God. How much more so should you and I throughout the day be praising God?

 

Then the last thing that I would say is, number six, as I read these verses, this is the only explanation for what is going on in our world around us. We are living in the midst of Romans 1, right smack dab in the center of Romans 1, right here in Dallas, Texas. You do not have to go to New York or San Francisco for this; we are in the midst of it. There is a relevancy to this passage that is more up-to-date than tomorrow's newspaper. This should sober us, and this should awaken us to the reality of what we are seeing take place all around us.

 

The next time when we meet, we will pick it up at verse 28. There is one more “God gave them over,” and there is a bad laundry list, and that is right where we are as a country. That is right where we are as a people. And this, what I have just been talking about, this is where a lot of denominations are. This is where a lot of churches are.

 

You know, how can you ordain whatever, whatever? Well, you rejected the Bible long ago. You rejected the virgin birth long ago. You rejected the bodily resurrection long ago. You rejected the exclusivity of salvation in Christ long ago. You rejected the deity of Christ long ago. That was the greater sin. This is where it ends up. Now it ends up, you ordain lesbians and homosexuals, and it is God giving a people over in judgment to their own sin.

 

So who is going to comment? Feedback or thoughts on this? This is a big deal. Yeah, it is like who is going to speak up after this? Who is going to say pray for me?

 

Audience:        Raising kids from 2 to 11, raising kids in this world where you are seeing this happen, is challenging, one. But two, what a responsibility that I need to be living this. Living as Paul is and blessing the Lord, and sharing that love of Jesus with them day in and day out. Whether they are watching the puberty video this week in fifth grade to whatever else, it is coming. It is just different and challenging.

 

Dr. Lawson:   Yeah. Let us not lose sight of the fact of how degrading it is and how unnatural it is because we are being desensitized.

 

Audience:        You know, something that has to come to our minds and our hearts is a sense of thankfulness. Because the difference between these people and us is, as you were saying, that God chose us and rejected others. So we should have eternally grateful hearts because we are no different than them.

 

Dr. Lawson:   Yeah. Allen, that is a great point, and that needed to be said. I am glad you said it. This should really humble us that we are not a part of this. We are not one of these dead fish floating down the stream. That God has had mercy on us, that God did an intervention with us.

 

Audience:        How do we look upon these evangelistically, how do we look at those that are actually sitting in judgment? Their lives are actually a result of judgment?

 

Dr. Lawson:   There should be a sense of urgency that we reach them with the gospel because they are under judgment, but they have not yet entered into the far greater judgment. While there is time, and while there is opportunity, we must plead with them to be saved.

 

There must be love in our hearts, genuine, authentic, God-given, Christ-centered, Spirit-produced love. Not adding to condemnation – vengeance belongs to God – we are to reach out in love. The most loving thing that we can possibly do is share the gospel with people who are entangled in this.

 

This is so hard. The wind blows where it wills. Because God is long-suffering, and God is so patient, and we do not know where this line in the sand is with God – when God gives over, after God has been pleading, and inviting, and calling, and summoning. Even within the larger contexts, this falls heavy on some, but not on all across the spectrum. God's hand comes down stronger on some than others. Though in the end, as the end of verse 27 says, there will be a just penalty for the error of their way.

 

Audience:        Steve, I think, you kind of alluded to it, but in 1 Corinthians 6, there is a good comfort for that in verse 11, “and such were some of you…” Though we may not be able to identify personally with some of this, if you get down to Romans 1:29, every single person in this room can identify with something in that list. 

 

“And such were some of us.” That is the slogan of everybody that has been redeemed. It gives me great hope knowing that when you see somebody in the midst of a far-off lifestyle, it is who God is plucking out – “such were some of you” – but they have to hear the gospel. It goes back to what you said. We have to be fervent with the gospel, and bold with the gospel, and consistently give them the gospel.

 

Dr. Lawson:   And we have to be bridge building. Which our national tendency might not be that. But by the grace of God, we have to be bridge building. Reaching out in the name of Christ, to show love, to show even patience. Thank you, Britton, for saying that. It is so true. “And such were some of you.” This list at the end of the chapter which we looked at last time – okay, gossip. We are all experts in gossip. We are professionals in gossip. Anyone else? We are at the point of closing.

 

Audience:        About that illustration of God delivering them over – what you are saying in the translation of that word is not only letting them flow with the current, but pushing them off. As you encounter people that are living a lifestyle like that, it gives us a little foundation to say, "Look, you are really not choosing that. The Lord is pushing. The Lord is letting you do that. He is even paving the way for you to do it because you have rejected Him."

 

Dr. Lawson:   Yeah, He is pushing you. It is a visitation of divine judgment. It is a chilling thought. It is a humbling, sobering thought. But there it is, and it is in chapter 1.

 

Well, I know I need to wrap this up. I am just so thankful for you men, that you would get up, and I know some of you, like Chris here, have driven a long ways to be here. Thank you for all the effort that you have made to be here.

 

I am just loving this study and what it is doing in my own heart. It has been forever since I have gone through Romans to teach it, and this is so powerful. My own heart greatly needs these truths. I am getting ready to go to Portugal in a month and teach over there, and they said, "What do you want to teach?" and I said, "Romans 1."

 

I cannot get this out of my head and out of my heart, so I am going to teach verses 1 through 17 in Portugal working through a Portuguese translator. These truths are being deeply embedded in my heart and soul, and I pray that they are being deeply embedded in your heart and soul. That you will be more Christ-like and more godly as a result of this. Thank you so much for all your feedback and the way you support this. Let's pray.

 

Father in heaven, thank You for this time this morning. There is a sense of reverence and awe in our hearts as we have looked at these verses. There is no glee in our hearts and there is no apathy. We are moved by what we see here, and we are humbled and affected by what we see here.

 

We praise You that You have chosen us for Yourself. That You have pulled us out of the cesspool of this world, that we would be pursuing holiness this day. It is so counterintuitive to what we see here, and we know it is only a work of Your grace that You have done within us. So we come this day asking that You give us further instruction, even as we meditate on these verses throughout the day and the week. Thank you for these men. In Christ's name, amen. 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.