Why We Need the Good News

Why We Need the Good News

Has admitted, frankly, that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals, for the most part, have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the anihilation of concrete individuals that people… And not just clumps of insensate tissue. We must acknowledge that people should be a little troubled by abortion. The procedure snuffs out a potential personality. Now, Polya has spoken on college campuses all over the United States. And she said that this stark acknowledgement makes those who do agree with her in her pro-abortion stance uncomfortable. Since the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022, of course, the abortion rhetoric has dialed up even higher. And Polya’s comments are less appreciated now than when she first said them in 2008. And they weren’t well appreciated then. Abortion is a symptom of a much deeper problem. We have turned things upside down, what we call good evil and evil good. How is that possible? Because we willingly suppress the truth. Yet in our desires to be the captain of our own ships, we have become enslaved to the very sins that we wanted the freedom to enjoy. Because God is holy and just, he We will not let our rebellion go unchecked.

We can only find our rescue in Jesus with his righteousness given to us. Paul has just finished writing before this, the great statement in Romans, I am not ashamed of the gospel. It’s a power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, the righteousness that is by faith from first to last. It’s an amazing statement. The wonder of the good news is then followed by the dark and gritty reason we need it. Without Jesus, we are completely and utterly beyond hope. And even though God’s invisible attributes can be seen in the creation that surrounds us, we willingly choose darkness and reject the light. We pursue what we love, and what we love is our sin. The Lord has to intervene. He has to break our cycle. Our cycle of sin, rinse, repeat. Sin, rinse, repeat. We are constantly bound up into this descending cycle of sin. Paul outlines for us here that very descent. Now, at times, Christians have referred to Christ’s redemption as the great exchange. Our sins, exchange for his righteousness, and very true. But before this, we have already been part of another exchange.

Humanity has exchanged God’s goodness and truth for wickedness and a lie. Verse 18, it presents God God’s charge against humanity. And then Paul goes on to give three supports for this charge. Three human exchanges, three divine responses. And the first that we see is this darkened hearts. Coming on verse 21, Their foolish hearts were darkened. Darkened hearts, verse 18, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Now, if you want to get an instant modern objection to Christianity, just mention God’s wrath. The thought of God God being upset with us for breaking his commands is silly to some and then downright offensive to others. Now, of course, we definitely want our judges to uphold the law, especially when someone has broke it against us. Send that thief to jail and give me my car back. We’re all about that. But somehow it’s okay to be upset with God because God should be okay with whatever I want to do. But But God is not okay with whatever we want to do. Says there is a wrath and an anger about that. Now, our wrath is almost always sinful.

It’s hard for us to think of a wrath that’s not. Yet God’s wrath is his holy and just judgment against sin and sinners. One commentator put it this way, said, It is a retribution that results not at the whim of an angry despot, but as a necessary consequence of self distorted existence. Self-distorted existence. There will be a final and complete reckoning when Jesus returns. It’s also true that judgment happens now in part. Most of the time, it seems that specific judgment is from the Lord and letting us live in the sin that we choose. It’s like letting a kid smoke four or five cigarettes at once for the first time. The consequences of that should drive him in a different direction. For many of us, that has been the case, where the consequences of our sin have actually driven us back to God. But not so, everyone. Paul tells us that God’s wrath is being revealed against those who, by their unrighteous, suppress the truth. He clearly pinpoints the problem. We suppress, we try to restrain God’s truth. And that’s not an easy task. Why? Verses 19 and 20. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.

His invisible attributes, namely his eternal power, divine nature, have clearly been perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse. Paul’s saying, all we have to do is just look around us and we’ll see the fingerprints of God on everything that he’s made. It’s the old Southern expression. You see a turtle on a fence post, he didn’t get there himself. And we live in a time where people are trying to tell us that the turtle on a fence post got there by himself. No, there’s no way that can be. God’s fingerprints are everywhere in his creation. We often then speak of two kinds of revelation, a general and a special one. Looking at the world around us is general revelation. Revelation. Psalm 19, the heavens declare the glory of God. We need God’s special revelations to know God personally and to know his way of salvation. But general revelation, just keenly observing the world around you, will give you enough information to condemn you for denying it. The turtle didn’t get on the fence post by himself. And only in the cartoon world can you deny gravity and be okay walking off a You see, if you try and suppress the truth all you want, God’s truth keeps asserting itself into our lives because he’s made us.

He’s made the world around us. And it is a certain way because of that. Paul goes on, verse 21, For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. See, life is not neutral. This is not how often it’s the case. You just want to go along your life and go, God, just leave me alone. I’m not going to be really wicked. I don’t want to be overly righteous. I just want to live in neutral. Just let me be. But you can’t live neutral. You’re an image bearer. You’re an image bearer of God. If you won’t reflect his image, then you will reflect the image of your spiritual environment that you’re putting yourself in. We all know the expression, you are what you eat. True enough. It is also true of our inner life. You live in the dark long enough and you start to turn into the shadows. The shadows of that spiritual environment you put yourself in, you start to look like that. And when we darken our hearts, we make an exchange.

Claiming to be wise, it became fool’s exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man birds, animals, creeping things. The result of our denial, Lord, of our suppressing the truth is we exchange God’s glory for the self-made idol of our hearts. Now, we may not be worshiping little golden idol, But our modern Idols are just as destructive. Have you ever noticed people talk about environmental concerns, political agendas, or an anything goes lifestyle? They do so using religious language. Moises Neum, a writer, he said, Lately, it seems, Mother Nature has been trying to get our attention. Its signals are increasingly loud, strident and hard to miss. Some have become lethal. Mother nature now takes on a personification as a sentient deity, getting our attention. Adolf Hitler. Once again, the songs of the Fatherland roared to the heavens along the endless marching columns. For the last time, the Lord’s grace smiled on his ungrateful children. God and the Fatherland wed together in a perverse way for a terrible end. Nate Kershaw, psychologist. Your sexuality is an innate part of your very being. Your religious beliefs are just that, a set of beliefs based on nothing rational and definitely not an innate part of your very being.

Choose not to He uses what is real over what is imaginary. That’s a religious view. The very one, he’s saying not to be involved in. That’s the nature of idol. What we worship to be free from God in the end enslaves us. And it slaves us in a form of worship to those things. And verse 24, Therefore God gave them up to the lust of their heart, to impurity, to the the dishonering of their bodies among themselves. See, part of God’s rath of his judgment is to let us reap what we sow. One commentator said, God does not simply let the boat go, he pushes it downstream. His mercy and judgment go hand in hand. Consequences should drive us back to him. Apart from Him, our hearts are darkened. But know that the descent doesn’t end there. It keeps going down. And it goes down as the area of disordered desires. Verse 25, Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. You could say distorted desires, the same idea.

Dishonorable passions. This speaks of desires gone awry. And Paul chooses a specific example from the Greek and the Roman world to describe this. He says, he goes on, For their women, exchange natural relations for those that are contrary to nature. The men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another. Men committing shameful acts with men, receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Now, to speak as homosexuality as a sin today by many, is considered hate speech. That’s how far we’ve descended. A few things to keep in mind. Paul’s example illustrates this exchange between order and disorder. Christopher Asch put it, Paul’s point is the very existence of these desires in society is an evidence, among others, of God’s handing us over to the consequences of idolatry. From Tom Wright, Paul’s argument is that the existence of a homosexual practice in the culture is a sign that that culture as a whole has been worshiping idles, and it’s God given male and female orders being fractured as a result. Fractured and dissorted desires. That’s Paul’s point regarding this particular sin. He’s not saying this is the worst possible sin that’s out there.

He’s saying that this one highlights this brokenness of God’s good order. It’s not not what men and women were made for. And what was true in his day is true in ours. A rejection of God’s standard is easily identifiable in our sexual ethic. Now, for you younger people, it’s harder for you to appreciate the slide because you’re just used to the world you live in. It’s just everywhere. In 2008, 14 years ago, California passed Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage. It later is overturned in court, but it did pass in that state. Now, think about that. The state of California, in your lifetime, banned same-sex marriage. I’ve said this before when JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books first came out, some Christians burned them because they thought they supported witchcraft. And now, recently, another group has started burning her books because she doesn’t support trans men in in sports. We live in what feels like an ever-increasing, disordered and fractured world. Our hearts are darkened and we’re disordered in our desires. And it keeps going down to a debased mind, verse 28. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

We have darkened beauty, we have distorted behavior, and we have debased the truth. We think wrongly, we call good evil an evil good. The sexual revolution of the 1960s has been an unmitigated disaster at every level. But those who advocate for it believe the solution is greater amounts of the same poison. More unrespected sexual behavior Paul goes on. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, coverageessness, malice, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. Their gossip, slanders, haters of God, insolent, haughty, both inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. See, if you change what you believe about the truth, you change what is considered acceptable behavior. And that’s what’s taking place. Pastor John mentioned earlier, our own denomination has sent an open letter to the leaders of our government asking them to condemn the horrible practice of surgical, medical, gender reassignment for children. Who would have thought that would ever have been necessary to be able to tell the leaders of your government that taking someone’s body as a child And surgically, medically making it into a different gender needs to be addressed as harmful. But here we are. We’ve descended.

And Paul concludes, though they know God’s righteous decrees that those who practice such thing deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them. You see, you can so debate your thinking that you can become convinced that foolishness is wisdom. And what Paul shows us here is that the Lord reveals his wrath through self-inflicted moral chaos in society. You want to live without him, then you get to do. Want to try a cigarette? Here’s a whole pack at once. Puff away. New Testament scholar Douglas Mu, So absolute is sin’s power over people that only God’s power available in the gospel can rescue them. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, he goes through this list of sins. He says, You know the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Don’t be deceived. And he gives this whole list of sins, neither the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulters, steeds, the greedy, drunkards, and many more will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And then he says this profound statement right after that, And Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God.

You see, Jesus came to set us free from our enslavement to sin and idol. Whoever the Son sets free is free indeed. But this freedom, it moves us toward God, to he who is true, good, and beautiful. Real freedom comes in surrender to divine freedom. That’s the only way we’re really free. You see, I don’t know who I am until I know my purpose, my mission from God. And that’s what when you look around and so many people are just clueless with their identity, and they’re trying to find it absolutely anywhere they can because they do not know the end to which God has made them. They don’t know who they are, their mission in God, his purpose for their life. That is the good news that we have. It’s the hope that is given. It’s easy to simply to get mad and throw a hammer through somebody’s window. I hate what they’re doing. I hate that we got to talk about these things. But don’t just take a hammer. Take the hope, the good news. We need set free. We need unshackled from our idolatry. And the only person who could do that is Jesus.

That’s why Paul is launching this letter. He starts with the power of the gospel, and then he’s going into a whole litany of sins, the sins of the Gentile world. He’s going to talk about the sins of the Jewish world. Everybody all have sinned Everyone is without excuse. All deserve God’s wrath. But thanks be to God. His mercy found in his son, in Jesus Christ. That’s the hope that Romans is so firmly established on, the power of the gospel, the righteousness of Christ given to us by faith. It is the game changer. We We can’t be so concerned with our petty policies and agendas that we miss the hope of Christ. Without it, those other things simply are just going to fail and fall. Elevate up to the magnificence of Jesus, to the glory of God, of who he has made you to be, that you will only truly be free. You will only be the person that God has made you to be in him. And even if now that there are parts of our life that are fractured and disordered, disoriented, one day those will be set right. And you may have to live through some of that, to be sure, in a very difficult and painful way.

But it doesn’t make the truth of it any less true. And it is in the living out in the obedience of faith that the Majesty and the glory of God is revealed in your life. Let that speak to a chaotic world that has descended in the darkness. Don’t let the shadows become your own image. Let the light and the glory and the Majesty of the gospel of Christ radiate from you as an image bear, that that’s what you were made for. Pray with me. Father, as we come before you, we first acknowledge, Lord, our own sinfulness, our own sinful and distorted desires. Father, we have all sinned and have fallen short of your glory. And we thank you that you have forgiven us to your son. And we pray that you would continue, Father, to show us those areas of our thinking, our actions, our passions that are leading us astray. And Father, in your kindness, continue to draw us back to your son. Fill us with your spirit, your spirit of wholeness, of righteousness, that he would continue to reflect in us such a glorious picture and image of our God and our savior.

Father, we ask that you would forgive us as a nation for just the myriad of sins that we have become so mired in. And Father, may it please you then to set us free. Lord, may the Majesty of Jesus be seen in the wonder of your people. We pray and ask for this all in his mighty name. Amen.

Discaimer: This sermon text was generated by an automated transcription service.