Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - The Wickedness Of All Mankind

Derek Prince - The Wickedness Of All Mankind

Derek Prince - The Wickedness Of All Mankind

In our previous two sessions, we have worked through, more or less, the first fifteen verses of Romans chapter 1. In those Paul has introduced himself, the Christians at Rome, and the Gospel. To complete the introduction of the gospel, we’ll turn now to verses 16 and 17. Very powerful, famous verses. Paul says: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it [that’s in the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'But the righteous man shall live by faith'

Paul sums up the gospel there and he gives one good reason why neither he nor we should ever be ashamed of it. Because it’s the power of God. If we are ever prone to be ashamed of the gospel, it’s because we have lost sight of the fact that it is the power of God. No one today is ever ashamed of power, least of all of the power of God. It’s the power of God not for destruction, but to salvation, for total deliverance for human personality: spirit, soul and body. For those who believe. The key word is: believe. And then Paul says it’s to the Jew first and also to the Greek or to the Gentile.

Historically, the gospel was presented first to the Jewish people and then to the Gentile world. And then Paul further sums it up in verse 17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: 'But the righteous man shall live by faith' In those two verses we have either the verb to believe or the noun faith four times. And bear in mind in the Greek, they are closely related. Faith is pistis; to believe is pisteuo. So, whereas we have two quite different words in English, the verb and the noun, in the Greek they are the same. So the essence of this is believing. It’s the power of God to those who believe. And it reveals God’s righteousness.

You remember I said the key word of Romans is righteousness. And here Paul emphasizes that through the gospel God has revealed a way by which man can become righteous in the sight of God. And he again quotes from the Old Testament, from the prophet Habakkuk 2:4, to prove that what he is saying is not an improvisation of his own, but something that was determined and prophesied by the prophets of God many years previously. So the key blessing of the gospel is that it brings us righteousness, a righteousness which God accepts. And we shall see as we go on, that it is only on the basis of righteousness that we can receive any of the other blessings of God.

In Romans chapter 5 we’ll see that Paul speaks about the gift of righteousness. And then in chapter 6 he speaks about the gift of eternal life. The order cannot be reversed. We would not qualify to receive the gift of eternal life unless God had reckoned us righteous. A righteous God could not bestow His gifts on unrighteous men and women. The first problem was to resolve the issue of righteousness. You remember the question of Job that I directed you to earlier: How can a mortal man be righteous before God? The answer is: Through believing the gospel. But when we use the word faith, we need to be on our guard against a misunderstanding that has arisen in the church over the centuries. Both in Hebrew and in Greek the word for faith primarily describes character and then what you believe.

So, to reduce the gospel just to a theological proposition is to rob it of its truth. The word means, initially, 'faithfulness' or 'commitment.' So, the gospel is the power of God only to those who, out of commitment to God, believe what He declares. Remove commitment and you have a kind of desiccated, theological faith that doesn’t produce the results that God has promised. You cannot be a believer, in the biblical sense, without being personally committed to God through Jesus Christ. Commitment is the basis.

Now, Paul goes on in the next half of this chapter with the opposite side of the coin. He’s talked about the revelation of God’s righteousness, now he talks about the revelation of God’s wrath. And both are contained in the gospel because when we look at what happened to Jesus on the cross, we need to bear in mind that He endured the wrath of God. Why? Because He became the sin offering. He took our sin. He took the judgment for our sin. He paid the penalty. And once He became sin, the total wrath of God was poured out upon Him on the cross. It had to be. And so, if you ever think that the gospel is simply a sloppy, sentimental, 'Father Christmas' message, you’ve got to see the other side. In it is also revealed the wrath of God against all sin.

And I’ve said this to people many times, If anybody could have commended sin to God, it would have been Jesus. But when He became sin, God disowned Him. God abandoned Him, and the wrath of God was poured out upon Him. So don’t imagine, dear brothers and sisters, there’s any way you’ll ever get God to condone your sin. He’ll deal with it, He’ll forgive it, but He’ll never tolerate it. Now let’s look at the description of God’s wrath against the whole human race. This is a very important part of this first chapter, because a lot of people somehow think: How could God punish harmless, innocent people? That’s not God’s problem, because there aren’t any harmless, innocent people! God’s problem is, How can He forgive wicked sinners? That’s the problem which is resolved in Romans.

And in these following verses God makes the sin and accountability of the whole human race abundantly clear. We’ll read on now from verse 18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. The problem was God had made the truth available to humanity, but they chose to suppress it because it didn’t suit them to face up to it. Verse 19: because that which is known about God [or may be known about God] is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His [that’s God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [that’s the human race] are without excuse.

Notice, Paul says that through creation God has made the truth about Himself available to all men everywhere. Two particular aspects of the truth: God’s eternal power and His divine nature. I would say His divine nature means that it reveals a being who is totally other than man, totally greater than man, one who is all-powerful. Now, how does this revelation come? This is a vital, crucial issue. Because of my background in philosophy, I think, perhaps I appreciate it more than most people. It’s one of the subtlest pieces of reasoning of which Paul has given us so many. He says, that which is evident of God, That which [may be] known [of] God is evident [to them or] within them; for God made it evident to them. There’s a combination of two things: What is external, and what is within. And it is the combination of those two things that constitute a revelation.

First of all, there’s the order of the universe, and particularly the heavenly bodies with their manifest beauty and order and system; and then (and this is what is unique about man of all creatures in this earth) there is within man what I call a logical, mathematical faculty that can appreciate the logic and mathematics of creation. Now I don’t believe cows have that faculty. I don’t believe lions have it. I don’t believe snakes have it. I believe there’s only one creature on the face of this earth today that has that faculty—it’s man. So man is uniquely accountable for what is revealed to him of the nature of God because there’s something in him that can appreciate it. Astronomers can calculate where every major star was 3,000 years ago! No other animal on earth can do that. We have the ability to see that the whole thing was designed by a person who has a faculty like ours but much greater.

As I’ve told you, I was a philosopher. I studied under a man whose name probably won’t be known to most of you, but he’s generally called the father of linguistic philosophy, which was the fashion in the last generation. His name was Ludwig Wittgenstein. And he said: We could not say of an illogical universe what it will look like. That’s exactly what Paul is saying. He says, the very fact that we can describe the universe and use categories and terms that imply continuity and system and design, means that’s the kind of universe we live in.

Now, people who don’t believe in God habitually talk about the laws of nature. But really that’s a contradiction in terms. Because in our human experience we do not know of any law that was not made by a lawmaker. For every law that is made, there is a lawmaker that makes it. The principle of proper explanation is to proceed from the known to the unknown. But when we talk about a law that was not made by anybody, we’re proceeding from the unknown. It’s an invalid method of explanation. So you understand, Paul is saying there are two things together which constitute a sufficient revelation of God. The order and the design and the harmony of the universe, but that’s not enough. Because that wouldn’t constitute a revelation to a cow. But it does to a being who has within himself the same kind of logical and mathematical faculty that can relate to that.

So man has a unique responsibility. He alone, as far as I understand, of all creatures on earth today, is able to appreciate from creation the nature of God. Now Paul is very emphatic about that. We know today there are millions of people that deny this. Paul very bluntly calls them fools. I personally think he said it in one word. We hear a lot about evolution, but I want to point out to you there’s another side and that is devolution. A lot of things are not evolving, they’re devolving. We shall see further examples of this in this study. It is illogical to talk about evolution as if it was the only possibility. The fact of the matter is, I think there is greater evidence for devolution than evolution in the world today, particularly in the human race.

All right. Now, going on to verse 21: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God [or literally, they did not glorify Him as God], or give [Him] thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. It’s very important to notice the first two downward steps of humanity. Very important. They were not positive, they were not things they did, they were things they didn’t do. And bear in mind, you can be just as guilty. for the things you don’t do as for the things you do. What were the first two things they didn’t do? They didn’t glorify God. They didn’t give Him thanks. And let me tell you, dear brothers and sisters, on the basis of observation of many different Christians and from my own personal experience, the moment you cease to glorify God and give Him thanks, you’ve started on a slippery, downward path. And if you’re there at this particular moment, you had better repent. Because Paul describes this path as it goes on downward and downward and downward. And the end is a horrible, slimy pit.

We’ll go on now. Verse 22 and 23. What were the first two results? Professing to be wise, they became fools. That word that’s translated professing is a word that means: to keep on saying the same thing again and again. They kept on talking about how wise they were and all the time they were getting more and more foolish. The second result: [they] 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. The first great sin is the breaking of the first commandment: You shall have no other god beside Me. And I have seen in recent years, particularly through traveling in many parts of the world where idolatry is still open and rampant, what a terrible sin idolatry is There are no words to describe the awfulness of idolatry.

Can you even begin to picture the insult offered to the great, eternal God to depict Him in the form (and notice it’s downward)—first of all it’s men; then it’s flying creatures; then it’s animals; and finally it’s reptiles. You see, it’s always downward, it’s never upward. Once you’ve taken those first two steps on the downward path, you’re going to go on downwards unless you repent. We’ll go on now to God’s judgment on the human race for these things. And three times in this passage Paul uses the phrase: God gave them up. What a terrible phrase. I pray: God, never give me up. I may not appreciate your dealings, God. I may seem to complain, but please, never give me up! There’s a phrase in the prophet Hosea about the tribe of Ephraim. It says, Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone. That’s the worst that God could ever say. Leave him alone.

And notice it was for idolatry, the same thing. All right. The first thing to which God gave them up was to lust and defilement. Verses 24 and 25 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. That's another example of Paul thinking as a Hebrew. Because every time an Orthodox Jew names the word of God, he always concludes with the phrase, baruch hu; blessed be he. And you see, Paul couldn’t write 'the Creator,' without saying: who is blessed forever. Amen.

You see, they changed God’s likeness into something vile and degrading. God had given them a form which was made in the likeness of God, but because they distorted the likeness of God and defiled it, God said: All right, I’ll let you defile your own bodies through lust and impurity. But that’s only the first. The next gave them up is in verse 26: For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. In one word, what is Paul describing? Homosexuality. It’s the next step down.

It’s interesting that these first judgments affected their bodies. We’ll see the final judgment affected their minds. It’s interesting that Paul says the women led the way in homosexuality. And as far as Greece is concerned, that is historically correct. On the island of Lesbos there was a Greek poetess named Sappho, about the 9th or 8th century before Christ, who was what we call a lesbian, that’s where the word comes from, and wrote poetry glorifying this form of relationship. In a sense very beautiful poetry, but so corrupt. And it’s rather remarkable that sometimes excellent art forms are used to glorify the most ungodly things. And it seems that the men followed the pattern of the women. And I see this as something that’s rather common. Men, in some ways, are rather spineless creatures, you know that? If women will take the lead in many places, men will let them do it. But the results are never God’s intention. It says, they received in themselves, or: in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

What one current phrase would we use to sum that up? AIDS, that’s right. But I don’t believe AIDS is the only expression of that. I believe it’s the latest and perhaps the most drastic. But Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:18: every person who practices immorality sins against his own body. And I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to take that into account. You cannot practice immorality without doing some kind of damage to your body. And I’ve come to this conclusion in ministering to the sick if we leave out this as a very common cause of sickness, we probably will not deal with the root problems of the people who come for ministry. You understand, I’m not saying it can’t be forgiven. But I am saying it has to be faced up to and acknowledged for what it is and the results of it have to be acknowledged. All right. So that’s the second gave them up. Now we go on to the third, which is just over the page there, in verses 28 through 32. These are terrible verses. I never read them without a sense of anguish, and yet I’m impelled to acknowledge their absolute accuracy. One thing about the Lord is He tells it like it is.

Going on now, verse 28: And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over Let’s pause there, for a moment. They did not want to retain God in their knowledge. Why not? I believe this is the diagnosis of a problem that’s universal in the world today. Why did they not want to retain the knowledge of God? Because they knew if they did, they were accountable to Him. They would have to give an account of themself. And I think what I see in humanism at large, the one thing they passionately oppose is the idea that they are subject to God, that they have to give an account to God of what they do. You see, as a philosopher, I had, of course, to investigate the current scientific theories not as a scientist, but in their general implications. And I have to say, I thank God, though I was not religious and didn’t believe the Bible. I never could believe the theory of evolution. To me it’s the most fantastically improbable theory that anybody could every conceive.

Why do people believe it? Because they’ll tell you frankly, the only alternative is creation. Why don’t they want that? They don’t want to be answerable to God. That’s the real basic motive. All right. Let’s go on quickly now. Just as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge: God gave them over to a depraved mind What can be more terrible than a depraved mind? The previous two cases which God gave them over was to physical problems, physical sins; but now their whole mind is warped. They became: filled with all unrighteousness Actually this list contains 21 things. We will not have time to analyze them in detail. But I suggest you read them and say, That’s the end of people who refuse to acknowledge God, God, glorify Him and be thankful to Him. all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice.

Now in this translation the word malice is used twice, which is strange, because it’s a different word. The first time I would suggest that a better word is vice. being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, [vice]; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God Brothers and sisters, let’s notice where gossips appear on the list. That’s important. Because in my opinion gossiping is the churchgoing sin. And they’re put next to the murderers and the haters of God. arrogant, insolent, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents [notice where that comes], without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful. The word that’s translated untrustworthy means people that you cannot make a covenant with. And that’s perhaps the most conspicuous feature of our age people are no longer willing to make covenants.

Nations break treaties, governments break promises, and men and women break their marriage vows to one another. The deepest problem of our society is that men and women are not willing to make covenants. And finally: 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. It astonishes me how sometimes people who are in this kind of thing approve one another. I think they feel they’d be lonely if they stood on their own. So anybody who’s as wicked as they are, they endorse them.

Now I point out to you, we don’t have probably time to go through it, that in 2 Timothy 3:1–5 you’ll find a historical parallel, where Paul says in last time men will be become and he describes nearly all of these things. Romans is the logic and 2 Timothy is the historic outworking of that. So we need to bear that in mind. It is being worked out. And let me close by this one phrase I have there: Corruption is irreversible. This is of vital importance. The result of man’s sin is corruption in every area of his being. Corruption cannot be reversed in any area of life. So God’s program is to make a new creation, to start over. But those who do not enter into the new creation must endure the inevitable progress of corruption in their lives.
Are you Human?:*