In Romans chapter 1, the Apostle encouraged the Church to continue placing all its trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel has the power to save whosoever will. The Gospel gives the one who believes in it purpose of being.
The Gospel effects the heart of the recipient,
which in turn guides the hand of the recipient.
If the Gospel believed does not change the outward works of the one who receives it, then the Gospel was never received in the first place. We saw how following an idol or empty god leads to idle or vain behavior. The Apostle said of those who reject the Gospel that …
Romans 1:28 … And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Word Study: The words “not convenient” is the Greek mē kathēkō, meaning “things not becoming or fit, actions that are improper”. The same word was used by the Pharisees for the Apostle Paul in Acts 22:22. Paul told them that Jesus called him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. At hearing this word the Pharisees cried out:
Acts 22:22 (ASV) Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
They were going to kill Paul (though they didn’t get away with it). To them, what Paul said was mē kathēkō, not fit nor right. When people reject the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ then their outward works become mē kathēkō, not fit nor right. The point is this:
You Can Open Your Life To Jesus, And He Will Fill Your Cup, or
You Can Refuse The Gospel, And The World Will Fill Your Cup
What do people fill their lives with if they reject Jesus? We come to a section of Scripture most people skip over, but what is very important for us to understand. We will look at these godless traits found in the world today in detail. The Apostle says that the rejector of the Gospel is “Being filled”. Every day that the Gospel and the Word of God is rejected, the devil and the world actively fill the souls of the lost with darkness. The devil never takes a day off.
Illustrate: I read a devotional this morning where the author (I forget his name) said that foolish people consider the Church of Christ to be a cruise ship. On the cruise ship, every day is a party, and the ship exists to satisfy the desires and wants of the passengers. The author noted that the Church is NOT a cruise ship, but a battleship. We are at war with a powerful foe who is serious about defeating our Commander in Chief Jesus Christ. We are not passengers. We are members of the crew, with important duties we must do.
Without the Gospel people are “Being filled with” the works of darkness. We read:
Romans 1:29 … Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Word Study: “unrighteousness” (Greek adikia) means “that which God has said is not right or according to His standard”. Starting this list with “unrighteousness”, the Apostle now gets very specific. He addresses
Word Study: “fornication” (Greek porneia) is where we get our word “pornography”. It is a blanket term for sin outside of the Biblical wedding bed. The word “wickedness” (Greek ponēria) is “depravity, iniquity, malicious acts, purposes or desires”. When the Pharisees plotted to trap Jesus with His own words (Matthew 22:15) Jesus “perceived their ponēria/ wickedness”. It is evil plotting that seeks to ensnare, characteristic of Satan and his forces (see Ephesians 6:12). “covetousness” (Greek pleonexia) is a “greedy desire for more than God has given”. Jesus warned us:
Luke 12:15 … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth
If you value your life based only upon the things that you possess, then you will be apt to commit suicide if you lose your stuff. To elevate STUFF above the SOUL is foolish. When Job lost all his stuff he said, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD”.
It is not what you POSSESS, but
WHO POSSESSES YOU that matters!
Word Study: “maliciousness” (Greek kakia) is “evil or wicked actions that the doer perceives without shame”. When the Sorcerer Simon sought to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles, Peter told him
Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee
There is no evidence Simon ever repented – though he asked the Apostles to pray for him.
Word Study: “full of envy” (Greek mestos phthonos) means “to desire what another has”. The Pharisees delivered Jesus to Pilate for judgment because they envied His following (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). It is interesting that phthonos or envy of another precedes MURDER (Galatians 5:21), FIGHTING (1 Timothy 6:4), HATE CRIMES (Titus 3:3) and BACK BITING or SLANDER (1 Peter 2:1). We are not called to envy or desire what another person has. We as Christians are called to love and uplift others to the love of Christ.
Word Study: “murder” (Greek phónos) is the taking of innocent life. “debate” (Greek éris) is to “quarrel, to verbally strive over, to bring contention or division by word into the relationship”. Christians are not to be argumentative, but to be …
Ephesians 4:15 speaking the truth IN LOVE ….
Illustrate: I heard motivational speaker Neal Foard tell a story of a young man who invited a girlfriend home to meet his parents at Thanksgiving. It was his intention to ask this young lady to marry him. During the meal, the man’s mother and his girlfriend got in an argument about gluten. It got very heated, and the young lady got up from the table. The man’s father got the young girl to the side and counseled her, saying – and I love this:
“Conversation is not a battle to win. It’s an investment
that grows in value over time.”
God gave us tongues not to rip one another apart with. He gave us tongues so we can pray, worship Him, and lovingly share His Word with others. Sun Tzu, a very successful Chinese Military General (544-496 BC) wrote, “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle”. Those are good words!
Word Study: “deceit” (Greek dolos) means “to sneak about, to be tricky or sly like a weasel or a fox”. The Pharisees plotted together to “take Jesus by subtlety (dolos)” (Matthew 26:4). God despises hypocrisy, people who say one thing then – sneaking about – do the exact opposite. When Jesus met Nathaniel our Lord said, “Behold a TRUE Israelite in whom there is no GUILE (dolos)”. Jesus never had dolos. He always spoke plainly (see 1 Peter 2:22). God promises long life to those who avoid verbal hypocrisy (1 Peter 3:10).
Word Study: “malignity” (Greek kakoētheia) is “malicious craftiness”. “whisperers” (Greek psithyristēs) is “behind the back slandering”. Again, a form of hypocrisy.
Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Word Study: “Backbiters” (Greek katalalos) means “one who speaks evil of another”. Jesus said:
Matthew 5:22 … whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Word Study: The word “Raca” (Greek rhaka) means “you have an empty head, you are senseless or brainless, you don’t have the sense God gave gave a billy goat!”. To say to a brother in the faith that he is senseless could be cause for that speaker to be brought before the Council or the Jewish Sanhedrin for judgment. The Sanhedrin did not examine minor infractions – these were judged by the priests. But to call someone empty headed was a serious charge of slander. However to call someone a “fool” (Greek mōros) is to say that they are “godless”. The mōros person is one who has turned against the clearly presented Word of God. Jesus said that …
Matthew 7:26 every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish (mōros) man, which built his house upon the sand:
Jesus often chastised the Pharisees – the religious right of His day – of being mōros (Matthew 23:17-19) because they heard God’s Word but did not follow it.
Word Study: “haters of God” is self explanatory. Our world is filled with haters of God, the God of the Scripture. “despiteful” (Greek hybristēs) means “those who are insolent, insulters, those who wrongly speak so as to wound another’s life”. The categories “proud” (Greek hyperēphanos), “boasters” (Greek alazōn), and “inventors of evil things” is again self explanatory. Those who are “proud” are following the same self destructive path that Lucifer, the fallen Archangel, is taking. The Bible says:
James 4:6 … God resisteth the proud (hyperēphanos), but giveth grace unto the humble.
And again in 1 Peter 5:5 … God resisteth the proud (hyperēphanos), and giveth grace to the humble.
It is interesting that both Peter and James uses the exact same statement on pride. God cannot work with the prideful, but only with the humble.
Evil Is Always Very Creative
Word Study: “inventors of evil things”. When righteousness is forsaken, and the Gospel is rejected, then sin evolves into ever greater darkness. Adrian Rogers said:
“We’re told, “God is a God of love, so He can’t be a God of wrath.” He is a God of infinite, measureless, fathomless love. But that’s only part of the truth. If you take part-truth and say it’s all of the truth, that part-truth becomes an untruth. God is also righteous and holy, a God of judgment and wrath. (see Romans 1:18)”
The Church is called to stand up and stand against sin, while directing the lost to Jesus. If a sinner is said to be normal, and sin is seen as excused, then why would anyone want to go to Jesus? George Washington wrote in his farewell address:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness”.
In 2019 the President of the Southern Baptist Convention J.D. Greear said:
“The Bible appears more to whisper on sexual sin compared to its
shouts about materialism and religious pride.”
That’s not true.
– It was sexual sin that led to the Worldwide Noahic Flood (Genesis 6:2).
– It was sexual sin that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20; 19:4-5; Ezekiel 16:49-50).
– It was sexual sin that stained King David’s ministry (2 Samuel 11:2)
– It was sexual sin the early Church specifically avoided (Acts 15:19)
– It is sexual sin that God rebukes in the last days Church (Revelation 2:20)
– It is sexual sin that the Apostle Paul particularly pointed out as unfitting for the Christian. We read:
1 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
Like a car running downhill without engine or brakes, if sin is not addressed and the brakes of repentance applied, then sin will bring self destruction. We are not to justify sin!
Word Study: Now we read “disobedient to parents”. Children learn respect for authority – both civil and Divine – from their parents. Children will disobey. This is part of the sin nature in all of us. But when parents not only allow disobedience without addressing it, the child will grow up believing the world owes it a living. Children are commanded in Scripture:
Colossians 3:20 (ESV) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (ESV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land”.
The Apostle Paul quoted the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) that the Lord gave to Israel as being applicable to the Church. The Bible says:
Proverbs 13:24 (ESV) Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Children must be taught right from wrong, and that child is given in stewardship to the parent, NOT to the state. God expects the parents (father and mother) to lovingly correct the children. God told His people:
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Illustrate: Several years ago Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book called “It Takes A Village”, taken from the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. This is socialism dressed up in apparent concern. One thing I did agree with in her book, was when she said:
“Home is the child’s first and most important classroom” (HRC)
God wants His people to teach their children about Him, and to exhibit a sold out love for God not just in the Church, but in the privacy of the home. If parents do not train their children in the way of Christ, the world will school your children in the way of Lucifer! When Jesus rode into Jerusalem just before He was crucified the children came out and praise God in His Name. When the Pharisees complained about this, Jesus told them:
Matthew 21:16 (ESV) … have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
quoting Psalm 8:2. The fact that these children praised God for Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey shows us that their parents took their responsibilities as parents seriously. The reason we have so many godless people in the world today is because parents (and usually just a single parent) allowed their children to find their own way to God. They inadvertently created unbelievers.
Those Who Justify Rather Than Repent Of Sin
Make Horrible Citizens
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Word Study: Those raised without an understanding of God are “Without understanding” (asynetos, senseless), “covenant breakers” (asynthetos, faithless), “without natural affection” (astorgos, without family love, loveless), “implacable” (áspondos, truceless), and “unmerciful” (aneleēmōn, merciless). These people are “right” in their minds, and will not admit to being wrong. Yet the Scripture says:
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
They know that they are at odds with God, for all people have a conscience. Yet their first deny, then harden their conscience so that they can continue down their own self appointed path. What do the fallen do? This brings us to chapter 2. In the original text there were no chapter and verse divisions. These were added to the 1560 Geneva Bible, and imported into the Bibles that followed. So when we come to:
Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Whenever you see a “Therefore” then ask yourself, “What is it there for?”. Those who fall away from God’s Grace and into sin begin to make judgments so as to cover their sins. God alone is the Judge. What does His Word say?
I was reading an article by Kelly Williams, a contributor for the Christian Post. In her article she noted she was asked by a woman, “What do you think of my lesbianism?” She told her “I didn’t create you, I didn’t die for you, and I won’t be your judge”. The lady then asked her, “What does God think of my lesbianism?”. Kelly replied, “Let me get you a Bible and you can read it for yourself”. She shared Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 with her – which led to the young lady repenting and giving her life to Jesus.
God does not call us to be judges, but sharers of His Word. There are scriptures which forbid homosexuality, transgenderism and all sexual expression outside of the Biblical wedding bed (see Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9 & 1 Timothy 1:10). Transgenderism is rebuked in …
Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
Let the Scripture define the sin – and then present the Gospel as God’s solution to what ails us. As we address others, we first need to make sure that we are where we should be with God. The Apostle says:
Romans 2:2-6 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds …
God judges our deeds, what we do each day. The New Covenant believer loves God with all their heart, and treats others with the love that they expect to be treated with. Belief in the Gospel brings about a change in the inner man, which is evidenced by the behavior of the outer man. We need to daily remind ourselves that we alone shall stand before God and be judged for how we lived OUR lives in Him. If we do not live for Jesus, but reject His Gospel and His Presence – then we need not expect to be with Jesus in the next life. May God the Holy Spirit keep us mindful that New Covenant believers follow Jesus, act like Jesus, and are being shaped by God the Holy Spirit to ultimately be like Jesus. May God open your eyes to this great truth! Amen and Amen!