We Live in a Fallen World, Part 2: the Whole World is Fallen (Romans 1; 8:19-23 and selected Scriptures; Acts 17)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 28, 2020
When I was a senior in high school I was talking with a friend of mine about my Christian faith and how important Christianity is to me. Her name was Amanda. I don’t really remember the whole conversation, but I will never forget what she said. You know how you can envision the surroundings of an environment when you think of past memories? That is the case from this conversation. I remember, vividly, it was towards the end of the school year. We both had math class right after lunch. We were walking out of math class as she said, “I make up my own religion!” I don’t think I argued with her, but I still must wonder, “Where do people get these ideas?”
Just over a year before that conversation I had another conversation with a girl named Laura. I was working at Jack’s Aquarium and Pets. At this time, I was working at the Jack’s in Englewood, OH, which is just north of Dayton. Like the conversation with Amanda that was to happen a year later, I can remember what I was doing vividly. It seemed to be a wintry day. Our pet shop had not opened yet. I was cleaning the pet’s cages and giving water and food to them, and I was walking back to the stock room. At this time Laura said, “Everybody’s a Christian Steve.”
More recently, I heard of some people from a past church I served, who don’t believe in hell and demons. The Scripture talks about them.
How do people get the idea that they can make up their view of God?
How do people get the idea that they can believe whatever they want to believe?
How do people get the idea they can cut from the Bible what they don’t like and paste into the Bible things they wish it would say?
Who do we think we are to do this? Are we equal to God?
The answer is the culture we live in. Our culture is what is called a postmodern culture. But the major answer is that we have a problem. Our problem is that we don’t want to submit to God’s Word and God’s authority.
We are in a sermon series about worldview. Everyone has a worldview. We started with the idea that everything was created by God and created good. Last week we talked about how creation fell. Creation is depraved. Today, we are going to take that a step further. Today, I want to look at a passage in Romans that shows how depraved humanity is.
My theme today is:
Creation is totally depraved, Romans 1:18-32 shows the possible extent of our depravity.
We need Divine intervention.
First, allow me to welcome you to post-modernity:
I asked how people get the idea that they can create their own authority. That is called post-modernity.
Modernity was all about facts and figures and optimism. Modernity began in the renaissance period and ended some time in the twentieth century, when post-modernity took over. Scholars debate when modernity ended and post-modernity began. This is likely true because it is not like it ended all at once.
Some think the first World War is when modernity ended. Others think 1968. Either way, modernity was all about positive developments. The world was getting better. They called the twentieth century the Christian century. But then as we entered the twentieth century. We saw great destruction. We had the first world war with trench warfare and mustard gas. Then we had the holocaust and then the cold war. So, probably gradually, post-modernity took over. This is a way of thinking as well as art and décor.
Here are some quick characteristics of post modernism:
A distrust of authority, somewhat a rebellion
A distrust of truth. There is no truth. They think up their own truth.
We see this with the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone is an authority.
In general, think about it, we go to the doctor and if we do not like their opinion, we do our own research.
There is no one view of the world but a multitude of worldviews.
A pessimistic view that existence is useless (nihilism).
There is a distrust of knowledge. Modernity was all about knowledge.
We think like a Global village.
Everything is a sound-bite. Books are old fashioned.
These are commonalities. None of these are true of everyone.
- Dr. Tennent the President of Asbury Theological Seminary shares about this:
Miroslav Volf is a Croatian theologian who now serves as professor of theology at Yale University and formerly, where I first met him, of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. Volf’s award-winning book Exclusion and Embrace captures the violence of three cities. (1) Sarajevo in the grip of the Bosnian war and the birth of modern-day ethnic cleaning; (2) the Los Angeles race riots in the wake of the beating of Rodney King; and (3) the rise of modern-day neo-Nazis on the streets of Berlin. Those particular conflicts are not in the headlines today, but you could easily substitute them for the conflicts of our day. He argues that today’s cultural conflicts cannot be understood unless we first understand the impact of post-modernity on modern thought. He points out that post-modernity embraces an autonomous self, which turns away from the values and identities that connect us and, instead, focuses on social arrangements rather than people as social agents. Identity politics becomes a new form of tribalism, spawning endless conflicts and power struggles. Volf argues that we tend to shift moral responsibility away from ourselves as moral agents and, instead, shift blame onto socially constructed and managed agencies that allows us to escape from our own moral responsibilities.
So, that is the dominant thinking of our world.
Why is it this way?
First of all, post-modernity is not all wrong. There are good things. However, our world is fallen. Sin has permeated us and our culture.
The media is fallen.
The news is fallen.
The leaders are fallen.
Even we, in the church, are fallen, though redeemed.
So, let’s look at a passage that shows our potential fallenness, or depravity.
First, a few thoughts. Realize that Paul is pointing people to Jesus.
Paul, and the other inspired writers of the Bible, were not afraid to offend people, and this is because we must be aware of our sin so that we realize that we need a Savior.
Preach the Gospel
I read somewhere: Nobody in hell says, “I’m glad my feelings were never offended.” Preach the gospel.”
Spurgeon said: “I will not believe that you have tasted of the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all by yourself.”
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and 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.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 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.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 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.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
- I recently read someone had said “the difference between God and us is that God never thinks He is us.”
- This passage is about pride, pride puts us in the place of God and makes us think we can do whatever we want.
- Understand that God has set up a way in which we should live, and we have all broken it. We all have dealt with pride in these ways. But this is no excuse to keep living in them.
- This passage is showing our potential in sin.
- Once you commit to Christ, live for HIM!
- Live for HIM.
- This list of sins is not complete.
- Additionally, though these lists are pointing us to Jesus this also means that Christ followers must work diligently to let the Holy Spirit reign with us and not live in them.
- We have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).
- This passage is about the holiness of God and the wrath of God on sin. These are things that we do not understand, though we must. We must take these seriously.
- It seems as though there are many sins in this list which we have tried to excuse and in so doing we are also excusing our need for a Savior. I will repeat that:
- It seems as though there are many sins in this list which we have tried to excuse and in so doing we are also excusing our need for a Savior.
- This passage talks about how people shut God out and then God gave them over.
- Verse 24 says God gave them over…
- Verse 26 says, God gave them over…
- Verse 28: Gave gave them over…
- Notice in verse 18: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against “all…” God’s wrath is revealed against all sin.
- Verses 19-20 are all about general revelation. What is known about God is evident. God made it evident. The passage says that we are without excuse. Isn’t that wonderful! God made Himself known to us! That is powerful.
- But then verses 21-23 goes back to how depraved we are: They knew God, but did not honor Him. They did not give thanks. Professing to be wise, they became fools. Wow! This is idolatry at its finest.
- That is in our world today. But before we are too critical of the world, that is in us as well. We all have a sin nature and we must lean on Christ.
- Verse 23 continues about idolatry.
- Verse 24: God gave them over…God gave humanity over to these sins. As we push God out, He eventually says, “Okay, have it your way.”
- Look at verse 25: 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.
- God is to be praised, don’t exchange His Truth for the world’s lie.
- Verses 26-27: the passage says that God gave them over again. Why do people want to do things with the human body that are not natural or right? People are depraved and God gave them over. God let them go. I would argue that this is even part of God’s judgment.
- Women with women, men with men, these things are not natural. This is not the way creation was meant to be. I am also not saying that some do not have misplaced feelings. What I am saying is that feelings are not always right because we are fallen. We are depraved. We need Divine intervention.
- Verses 28-32: Wow, God gave them over to a depraved mind.
- This is the extent of fallenness. This is the extent of depravity.
- Is this passage talking about everyone?
- Now, some could look at this and think “this is not me.”
- Yes and no. This passage is showing that we all need Christ. We all need Divine intervention.
- This passage also shows our potential in sin.
- This passage shows that apart from Christ we cannot trust our thinking. Our mind is depraved. Our nature is depraved. We need born again.
- However, in Christ, we are born again and our thinking is renewed.
- In Christ we have all the potential that Christ offers.
- Our world is fallen, we need Divine intervention.
- Let’s apply this:
- Recognize that all of the world is fallen. All of the world is depraved.
- What makes people shoot police officers and then block the ambulance from getting into the hospital? The world is depraved.
- What makes people riot taking a city captive for over 100 days? They are fallen and in fallenness they think they have a better idea at a utopian society. In the meantime, in fallenness they want disorder. They are depraved.
- Why does the world want to justify and approve sin? They are fallen. They are depraved. Verse 28 says that God gave them over to a depraved mind.
- Without Christ every mind is depraved.
- What makes me do the sins I have committed? I was fallen, but I serve a risen Savior today.
- Trust in Jesus and point others toward Him as well.
- Who are you trusting in for Salvation?
- Are you recognizing that you need Jesus?
- Do you recognize that others need Jesus?
- Point others to Jesus?
There was an episode of the hit show The West Wing in which a lobbyist comes in to see the President and she is against something on Biblical grounds. The President responds using Old Testament Scriptures for example:
“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
The problem with this is that then the West Wing is teaching Theology and Bible. But it is not only the West Wing. It is all of the world.
The writers of The West Wing are not Biblicist. They are not Theologians. They apparently don’t understand hermeneutics which is the science of interpretation. In the Old Testament They had civil and ceremonial laws. God was setting up a Jewish Nation state so when something is in the Bible one time in the Old Testament and not repeated it could, just maybe, be something for Israel. The Jewish dietary laws were settled in the New Testament in Acts 15 as was the rite of circumcision.
These things in the world cause us to question and step away from God’s way, but we must understand where they are coming from. That is the world and the world is the opposite of God’s ways.
God’s ways are right, the world’s ways are not.
Several years ago I was coming outside at night getting ready to leave for work. It was the middle of the night and we were living in the country. I saw lights in the sky. The lights were slow in coming and that gave me time to think of what the problem could be.
I thought I was going to have a Divine encounter, then a car came up the road. The road had a hill which made the headlights go in the sky.
A few months before that Meagan was on her way home to our house in the country. She saw lights in the sky and got really scared. She called her step dad who told her about a blimp in the area.
We cannot rely on our own wisdom. We must rely on God’s Wisdom and help, which may not help immediately in situations as the ones I just mentioned; however, we can still seek out answers and wisdom and know that God’s Word is ultimate Truth.
God has a standard.
We need Jesus.
Don’t miss that.
Point people to Jesus.