Archive for March, 2014

Who is the Judge?

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.  But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.  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?

Romans 2:1-3

A lot of times, we like to think that we are in charge.  We like to think that it is us who pronounces the judgments on people.  It is important, before we deal with these verses, to understand what the judgment here is.  As Christians, we are told to “judge all things.”  We are supposed to judge situations and actions to make sure that they are in line with the Word of God.  But we are not the judge of people.  That job belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Usually, we want to condemn people.  We find faults, flaws and sins in the lives of others, and we want to be the first to judge them, condemn them and “throw the book at them.”  Of course, we ignore our own faults, flaws and sins while doing this, which makes us hypocrites.  When we become hypocritical Christians like the Pharisees of the Bible, we find ourselves on the wrong side of God’s judgment.

Hypocrisy is something we all need to be looking for in our lives.  It is human nature to gloss over or attempt to justify our own sins while judging and condemning others for their sins.  We need to remember these verses.  We need to remember that, in usurping God’s authority and judging others, we are actually condemning ourselves.

They Just Don’t Care

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.

Romans 1:32

This final verse of Romans chapter one shows us the final step in the descent of mankind.  This is the stage of outward, open and defiant rebellion.

We are all born sinners.  We all have our faults and failings.  None of us are perfect and none of us will live perfect lives.  But there is a difference between a person falling and committing some sin and what is found in this verse.

Normally, when a person sins (especially a Christian), there is remorse, regret and shame.  They know that they have done wrong.  They are often embarrassed about it.  At the very least, there is a deep down feeling of guilt.

The people described in this verse have none of those things.  They not only sin openly and defiantly, but they take joy in sinning openly and defiantly.  They aren’t sinning out of ignorance or even weakness.  They know that they are sinning, they know what God says about their sin, and they do it openly, shaking their fist in the face of God.  That is the bottom of a human’s descent into sin.

Earlier in this chapter, we learned that man ended up in this terrible position because he started to not give glory to God and because he stopped being thankful.  Being prideful and unthankful is a dangerous place to be and we need look no further than this verse to see where those attitudes can and will lead.

This is the ultimate of human depravity.  Let us stay far, far from it!

Little Things Among the Big

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; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful…

Romans 1:28-31

In this list of horrible things that fill the hearts and lives of those who have rejected God in their minds, we find some things that we might not expect to find in a list of depraved human activity.  We would expect to find things like fornication, murder, and hating God.  But we might not expect to see things like debating, whispering, pride, envy, and disobedience.  Those might seem to many people like “little things.”  But they are big sins in the eyes of a Holy God.

We need to be careful to not let in these “little things.”  We usually do a good job of guarding against “the big ones,” but sometimes we let the little ones slip by.

Things like gossiping, pride, and envy have destroyed many, many people (Christians included) over the centuries.  In fact, it is probably true that a “little thing” like envy has destroyed more people than a “big thing” like murder ever has.  Those little things creep in and can even become accepted by Christians as being “OK.”  You might not find many literal murderers in a church on any given Sunday, but you will likely find many people who are harboring envy in their hearts.

Those little things will kill us if allow them to take root and grow and if we choose to ignore what God says about them.  We need to make sure that we are not allowing them in our lives.  Not today.  Not ever!

Filled With Sin

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; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful…

Romans 1:28-31

When man purposely ignores and rejects God, bad things begin to happen.  When man pushes God out of his mind, he begins to fill his mind with things that are opposed to God.  These verses give us a list of things that will fill the lives of men once they have rejected God.  And what a terrible list it is!

The list starts off with unrighteousness.  All that is sin and wickedness and all that is against God and His will is covered in this most broad category of unrighteousness.  When God is gone from a mind and a life, sin quickly fills it.  It might be “little sins” and it might be “big sins.”  But they are all sins and they are all unrighteous.

After seeing the general “unrighteousness,” we start to see all of the specific sins: things like fornication, murder, pride, etc.  It is truly an awful list.  But it is a list of what fills the heart and life of the person who has ignored God.  Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…”

Which of those lists would you like to have filling your life?  We can reject God and fill our lives with the list in Romans 1 or we can accept God, love Him and be filled with the list in Galatians 5.  It’s our choice.  Which way are we going today?

Reprobate Minds

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; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful…

Romans 1:28-31

Sinful man does not like to think about God.  In fact, when a man is in sin, he loathes even the idea of thinking about God.  We see in these verses the results of such thinking.  Romans 1:29-31 gives us one of the most awful lists in the entire Bible.  It gives us a list of just about every category of sin and wickedness imaginable.  Over the next few days, we will look at some of the things on this list, but today we will concentrate on where all of the things on this list begin.  They begin with man not wanting to “retain God in their knowledge.”

All of the sin in the world starts by ignoring God.  All of the wickedness that we see around us begins simply begins with a person not wanting to think about God.  It all begins with a person ignoring and blocking God out of their mind.

After ignoring and rejecting God over and over again, God “gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”  God doesn’t force Himself on people.  If they hate Him and reject Him over and over again, He will leave them alone.  If a person wants to sin and refuses to think about God and what God wants, God is going to get out of him way and let him destroy himself.

Ignoring God to the point of His turning you over to a reprobate mind is a fearful thing.  In fact, it might be the most fearful position to be in the world.  Let us always strive to keep God first in our hearts and minds always so we never stoop to this awful fate!

The Old Time Way (Hymn)

The Old Time Way
Robert Harkness (1908)

Do you love the blessèd Savior
In the old time way?
Is your heart aglow with rapture
In the old time way?

Refrain

In the old time way,
In the old time way,
We must claim the old time blessing,
In the old time way.

Are you keeping close to Jesus
In the old time way?
Daily walking in His presence
In the old time way?

Refrain

Have you made a full surrender
In the old time way?
Given all to follow Jesus
In the old time way?

Refrain

Are you working for His kingdom
In the old time way?
Are you leading others to Him
In the old time way?

Refrain

I’m not very familiar with this hymn, as I came across it while looking for another hymn with a similar name.  But, whether I know it well or not, it is a great hymn with a great message.  There is definitely something to be said for the “old time way.”  It seems that Christians in the past were stronger and more dedicated to the Lord than they are now.  Maybe we should get back to some of those old time ways.

Saturday Psalm (2b)

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.  He that sitteth in the heaves shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Psalm 2:1-5

In thinking about the verses in this Psalm, the thing that I always come back to is the simple fact that the Lord is always in control.  We might get bothered and worried about things that are going on in the world.  We might be troubled by the things that political leaders or governments are doing.  But God is never bothered, worried, or troubled by any of these things.  He is always in complete control of everything that is going on.  No political leader nor government does anything that surprises God or catches Him off guard.  In fact, this passage tells us “the Lord shall have them in derision.”  God laughs at the attempts of the most powerful men to circumvent His laws.  He confuses them and their goals.

God is in complete control.  As Christians, we sometimes forget this.  But if we will occasionally stop and meditate on this truth, it will be a great comfort and encouragement to us.  No matter what is going on around you – don’t worry.  God has it all under control.

Worshipping the Creature

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.  Amen.

Romans 1:24-25

The final step in the descent of mankind found in this passage in the fact that sinful mankind “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…”

They “changed the truth of God into a lie.”  For most of history, man has rejected the true God.  But man has also believed in some god.  Today, man is starting to reject even the notion of a god.  Man has decided to attempt to make himself into a god.  He tells himself and others that the Bible is “full of lies, myths and fables.”  Man is doing everything he can to “change the truth of God into a lie.”

Then man “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.”  That is a perfect description of our modern society.  While it is important for us to take care of the things that God has given us, we have gone to the point of worshipping the things that God has given us.  We worship the earth, we worship the animals and the trees, we worship nature itself.  And, while nature is a wonderful and glorious thing, we forget to worship the God Who created the wonderful and glorious world in which we live.  In peoples’ effort to “save the earth,” they have lost sight of the One Who made the earth!

The last step in man’s downward fall is trying to set himself up as a god.  That, of course, will never work, but man tries anyway.  We need to turn to and worship and serve the Creator instead of worshipping and serving His creation!

Given Up

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves

Romans 1:22-24

This passage might be one of the saddest in the entire Bible.  It is the progression of man from knowing God to rejecting God to being rejected by God.  Man started out knowing God.  Then he became unthankful to God.  After that, he started to be filled with pride.  Then his pride caused his heart to be darkened and the wiser he thought he was, the more foolish he really became.  Being foolish and having a darkened heart, he started to try to change God into a mere image, made like himself or some animal or bird.  Then we get to verse 24 and one of the saddest things in the Bible: “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts.”

The Bible says that “God also gave them up…”  They had rejected God, and now God had rejected them.

When God gave them up, He didn’t force man to do anything.  He simply “gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts…”  Man wanted to sin.  Man had the lust to sin in his heart and God simply got out of the way.  He let man have his own way.

Proverbs 1:31 tells us (of the people who have rejected God and wisdom), “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”

One of the last steps in the downward descent of man is uninhibited sin.  A Christian might sin, but he is not going to feel good about it or be happy in it.  But the person who has wholly rejected God finds no such inhibition.  God has “given them up… through the lusts of their own hearts…”  That is a sad and dangerous place to be.

Changing God

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 

Romans 1:22-23

As the descent of man continues, we see the next step down.  After professing themselves to be wise and becoming fools, they changed God into “an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”  After having his heart darkened and being made a fool, man tried to turn the holy, perfect God into in image.  And their “image” of God was like a man or animal.

We can look through history and see this occurring over and over again.  We can look at the mythology of any culture and see just what this passage tells us.  The mythologies are just a collection of stories of men and animals, and, in some cases, a combination of the two.  The Greek and Roman and Norse “gods” were nothing more than glorified humans, with the same emotions and thought processes as men.  Going back further, we can see the variety of gods that the Egyptians and Babylonians and Native Americans worshipped.  Most of them were either glorified men, animals or spirits of men and animals.  They were truly “images made like to corruptible men, birds, beasts and creeping things.”

When man started to reject God in their minds, they had to replace Him with something.  All men know, deep down, that there is a God.  So, in rejecting the true God, they have to come up with a substitute.  That substitute is simply a figment of their imaginations, formed in their minds to suit their own purposes.

Once a person has rejected God, the floodgates are open.  They will worship anything from themselves to things in nature to nature itself.  The only way to escape this downward spiral is to turn to the one true God.  Let us be thankful that we have already done that!