Living in Grace and Faith
Introduction – In this Session, we will explore Romans Chapter 1, verses 21-32. I want to spend some time on the introduction in this Session, because it is important that we understand the macro-view of Romans chapters 1-2 in totality. The narrative that Paul puts forth in these 2 chapters promotes the thought that all people are deficient before God, we all sin, we are all hypocritical in our attitudes and mindsets, and we all need redemption from the curse of the Fall, the error of sin and healing in our lives. Paul is building the case that Gentiles and Jews alike cannot trust in our human works of righteousness to cover our sins or redeem ourselves, but that all people will find our redemption and forgiveness for sins in Christ. Through Romans, Paul makes the case from the Law and the Prophets that Jesus is the Promised Messiah and that he fulfilled the righteousness of the Law by living a perfect life in obedience to the Father, therefore becoming the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Jesus is Eden restored, as He is the Second Adam.
Before we exegete the text in this Session, we need to frame Paul’s condemnation of the Gentile world in the context of the culture he writing to and writing in. 1 – Paul was writing to the Church in Rome, and to a Church he had not met. Rome being the capitol of the Roman Empire was the seat of Emperor worship, the Roman Pantheon of Gods, as well as the intersection point for the mystery cults that were scattered across the empire. 2 – Paul describes the abandonment of God in people groups in progressive revelations of God’s wrath. The farther people move away from the knowledge of God, judgment is manifested by His withdrawal from them and becomes apparent by the loss of their moral compass. Paul’s Roman Empire was much more morally debased than anything our culture has ever seen. He is describing what he is seeing through the revelation of the Holy Spirit as he writes the Church at Rome.
In Romans 1:21-32, we see the following movements in the text. 1 – The abandonment of the knowledge of God is a descending scale of lawlessness manifested in humanity. 2 – The abandonment of God in cultures and societies cause God to honor these decisions and withdrawal from them and is a manifestation of judgment. 3 – The inner moral compass of humanity stands as an eternal witness that unrighteousness and lawlessness deserve a consequence.
Conversely, in light of these negative consequences of judgment and the loss of goodness in cultures and societies, the Church stands as the change agent of nations. Not only do we release restoration and reconciliation between God and people by proclaiming the gospel, we occupy these gains by active discipleship, and transform culture by living our destinies out in God.
We will have another Q&A at the end of our Session.
a) Humanity possesses an internal moral compass because we are all made in the image of God. The conscience is the inner witness of our divine origin as those created by God in His image.
b) Paul seems to be peering deep into the Biblical account of the table of nations in Genesis 10 as the backdrop for these verses, when all nations knew God as they sprung out of Noah. See Genesis 9:1-7.
c) Societies degrade in the following ways. 1 – Deny God His rightful place as Creator and Sovereign. 2 – Not giving thanks to God for their lives and His goodness towards humanity.
d) The first things people groups lose when they abandon the knowledge of God is the loss of wise rational thought and the loss of revelation light. Greek – asynetos – without understanding, unintelligent, by implication morally depraved. Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
a) Since the knowledge of God, i.e. the knowledge of His nature and character, is wisdom and truth, any mental reasoning devoid of the knowledge of God is human wisdom that that is subjective and not authoritative because it is not subject something transcendent from humanity, God.
b) When humanity is subject to God or acknowledges His Person, we make lesser gods in the images of ourselves or the created order. Notice the Greek word is eikōn – an image, figure, likeness. Humanity is redisposed to believe in something transcendent to ourselves, so when we lose the knowledge of God, we make a god that reflects us, instead of communing with God in relational ways release His wisdom into our lives.
c) Notice the progressive slide of man-made religion. 1 – Idols made in the image of that which is made in the image of God. 2 – Idols that are made in the image of created things that are devoid of the image of God.
d) Many Christians are in danger of creating an image of Jesus that looks like us, acts like us, and in that image of Jesus, we are not accountable to Him as Lord.
e) See Isaiah 40:13-20.
a) In verse 24, we see the wrath of God being revealed by His withdrawal from cultures that reject Him. When God is present in a people, goodness is present.
b) The first manifestation of a godless culture is the loss of self-control regarding sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Greek – atimazō – to dishonor, insult, treat with contempt.
c) Christian sexual purity is a boundary that proves God’s care for people. 1 – We are protected from emotional soul and spirit damage because we are following original design for man and woman. 2 – We are protected from disease. 3 – By
maintaining purity we are demonstrating the power of Covenant. 4 – We are prophesying the Christian message of Covenant Marriage being the witness to the world around us for the type of relationship that Jesus Christ enjoys with His Church. See Ephesians 5:21-33.
d) Part of the Christian worldview is lie versus truth.
a) Before we proceed further, I want us to keep in mind 2 things. 1 – We are all deficient regarding righteousness and holiness. Paul is making the case for a need for the Savior. 2 – After Paul builds a case against the Gentile world, he builds a case against the religious Jews. Consider that we are in the section that exposes the Gentile sinner and the religious sinner will be exposed in Romans 2. Romans 2:1 – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Matthew 7:1-2 – Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
b) Widespread acceptance of homosexuality in a culture is the continuation of God’s judgment on a society. Notice that God honors the decisions of people. Their decisions either bring glory to Him or the loss of the knowledge of Him. Sin is sin, and all sin leads to separation from God.
c) The Christian perception of homosexuality is that it is sin, just like the other sexual sins that are manifested in humanity. The penalties are the same. Colossians 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
a) The accumulation of the expression of sin in a culture is a judgment of God by withdrawing from these cultures, honoring their collective choices as they reap what they have sown by their choices.
b) No understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy – Societies that do not maintain the knowledge of God are hard-hearted, dangerous and damaging to people.
c) The fullest manifestation of godlessness in a society and culture is the approval of all things contrary to God’s nature and character.