Dr. Ed Young - The Danger Zone
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I have here a sword. It's the real thing. This sword was made out of steel. It is a man-made sword. Man made this, and with this sword, you can go to war. If anyone doubts that, just step right up. It's a sword. Man-made, made to go to war, offense or defense; it would be good to have a sword like this in your possession. In my hand is a sword. It is not man-made; it is God-constructed and God-inspired. You can go to war with it. You read in Hebrews, Chapter Number-look at it, if you would.
If you have your Bibles, Chapter Number 4, Verse 12. We read: "For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division-listen-of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart". This sword is first of all, a divider-a divider. Sometimes when we're listening to voices, people say, "God told me..." Heard that? How do you know that's not Edwin Young talking, my spirit? How can I tell what I think, I'm hearing, I'm saying for myself and what God is saying. How do you divide that? The Word of God, this Bible. I, I see couples all the time, and they say, "You know, we're living together. We're not married, but God told us it's all right..." You see, God doesn't cut any separate deals, ladies and gentlemen. He just doesn't do it. And so when we hear a voice, we don't know it's God's voice, alien voice, my voice, my desire, your desire. We don't know; but we read the Bible.
There are principles that are there, and we know God does not contradict His Word as He speaks to us. So as He speaks to us, we know, "Hey-that's a valid word, or that's an invalid word". Also, this sword right here that is man-made, it also gives us discernment. God says, "Do this; don't do this. Go there, don't go there..." If He tells us to do something, we have to discern. That means we have to decide how we're going to do it. Who do we take with us? What steps we are to follow. That is discernment. The most important part of leadership, given integrity, is discernment. The right person, right place, right time. This Bible gives us discernment. It not only divides between my spirit and the Holy Spirit and Your Spirit and the Holy Spirit; it gives us discernment when we know that is what God would have us to do.
Also, the Bible is a disclosure. It discloses-it-did you hear the Scripture? It opens us up, and it serves as a mirror. When I'm reading the Scripture, I'm not reading, "Well, let me see what I'm gonna tell those people! That, boy, I'm rea..." That is a two-edged sword, and it comes right back at me. The hardest thing about teaching, or preaching, or studying the Bible is, we say, "Boy, that really would be good for ole' Bill to hear that..." No. It cuts right back at us. It opens us up to the truth, and the light, the cleansing, and the revelation of God Almighty, and that's what we're doing now as we study the Book of Romans. I'm going to ask you to stand up! Uh-oh... Made half everybody mad. Said, "I was just about to, you know, get in my blank stare..." Heh, heh, heh! But, we, we've learned this, we've learned this Verse in sign for those who are hearing impaired. And our pivotal little phrase is a tragic phrase. It says that "God gave them over".
We can go so far away from God, He just surrenders us to our own passions and the own desires of our hearts, and He says, "Just go ahead. I give you over..." and we have that phrase mentioned three times in our study today, because we're gonna deal with the, not the righteousness of God, but the wrath of God. Whooooo..... and that's the part we don't really like to hear about, do we? And it says, "God gave..." we know God, right? God... gave is easy. Gave, gave them; them is interesting. Them is-that's you. "Them, them..." Over is this-over... over, right? Let's try. Let's say it: "God..." Everybody! "...gave them-heh, heh, heh-over, over..." That's perfect. Let's pray.
Father, strong words from You. How we need them, many of us in our own lives. Certainly in the culture of America; certainly in the pain and the suffering that we see around the civilized world. Lord, You speak. Let me get out of the way, is our prayer in Jesus' Name, Amen.
You may be seated. I don't know many more chilling words in all the Bible than this phrase that we've learned in sign, "God gave them over... God gave them over..." and, and we're seeing around our world, and in our culture especially a great sucking sound that's leading all of us into a dark place, and, and I thought about the black hole. Most of us know. We will know when I remind you. A black hole is a star that has burned out. It has imploded, and when a star burns out, it leaves a black hole, and that black hole has tremendous force that sucks everything into that hole. it sucks it all in there, and the mouth of the hole is called by astronomers "event horizon-event horizon".
And that tells us that anything that goes into that hole, it sucks particles, and some of the black holes are so big, the earth in comparison to size would be the size of a marble. How about that? The size of a marble... And so, so many in our culture are being sucked into a black hole, and it is an event horizon because anything that goes in it-by the way, black holes even suck in all the light that is around. Can you imagine that? And in that black hole, it's almost like, to understand it, it is the hem of infinity, and, and time, and place, and space, and distance seemingly lose their meaning and cannot be measured as the total destruction of anything, or anybody, or any dust particles, any debris is sucked into these black holes that are in outer space. We see this in our phrase.
"God gave them over..." Imagine four teenagers in a boat, and they're exploring the Niagara River. They are up river from Niagara Falls, and in the river, a rope is tied to the boat, and God is holding onto the rope. Makes you feel pretty secure, doesn't it? And so they're out in the river, and they're going down, and the river is picking up speed, and, and they say, "God, give us a little more slack..." God said, "Oh no, it's dangerous". He said, "Oh, just a little more slack..." and they, they pull a little slack out of the hands of God. And they go down, and others are going down the river, and their boats are just turning and spinning, and some of 'em jump out and swim, and they get back in the boat, and the rapids are picking up.
They say, "God, let us go! Let-look, look where everybody's going. Let us go. That's the way. We want to go fast! We're young, you know? We're not an antique like You, God. Just give us more slack here..." and God gives a little more slack, and finally, they get down to the end of the rope, and God says, "Far enough! It's too dangerous. The falls are there. I can't let you go..." and they say, "Oh yeah! We're ready! We, we want to have-get all the gusto out of life that we can"! And they jerked the rope out of the hand of God, and God let them go. He lets them go over. That's this tragic phrase. The righteousness of God is revealed. The just shall live by faith. The righteous shall live by faith.
We come to faith in Jesus Christ. He gives us His righteousness, and then we live by faith in Jesus Christ. We walk in that righteousness. Boy, that is Good News! And Romans is a study of the Gospel of God, and it's all Good News, but in Good News, you have to have the bad news, and the bad news is, in the Verse we looked at, the wrath of God is revealed. The righteousness of God is revealed; now the wrath of God is revealed. Now we're dealing with two kinds of people in the church at Rome, and two kinds of people of those of us who are here today. We're dealing with people, first of all, who did not have the Book, the Bible. That's the Gentiles. That's the Greeks and the Romans. They didn't have a Bible. And then you had the Jews in the church; they had the Book. They had the Torah. They had the Bible. They had the sacrificial system. They had all the Jewish celebrations.
So Paul is trying to let the Jews and the Gentiles-remember, a Gentile-anybody who wasn't a Jew-understand though you were brought up with the Book; though you were brought up without the Book, you're all responsible. And he says, "You who were brought up without the Book, you are responsible. You have taken the truth and you have pressed the truth down; you have, you have pressed away from you. You have covered over the truth of God". And they'd say, "Well, we didn't have the Book". And God says in this Word, "Oh, you had natural revelation". What is that? That's the voice of conscience within. You see, right and wrong is built in this created order. The Ten Commandments are written in the Bible, but they are also written in life. Have you noticed that? So he's saying, "You have that voice of conscience within". And also, he said, "Let me tell you something else: You have the created order without. Look at this world. You can see the power of God in it. You can see the omnipotence of God. You can see the magnificence of God. You can see the beauty of God".
And so, Paul is saying to those who are brought up without the church, without the Book, without a background of any kind of religion in the sense of revealed religion, he is saying, "You have natural revelation among the created order. This didn't just happen"! And he says, "Therefore, you're without excuse". So he says, "You have hidden the truth" and now he says, "You jerked the rope out of my hand". He said, "God gave them over..." and three times this phrase is mentioned, and look what God did as they, with free moral agents, making their own choices and their own decisions-look at it in Verse 24: "Therefore, God gave them over to the lust of their hearts, to impurity, and to their bodies so their bodies would be dishonored among them; for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed by God forever".
What is this saying? He said God gave them over to the lust of their flesh. They believed a lie about God because they became idolaters, and therefore, the first sin that we walk into usually, most people in life, is in the sexual area. Have you noticed that? Sure you have! Teenagers, puberty, all the way up? That seems to be the first challenge that we have in life-how to handle these tremendous drives when all of our gland come into full power, and then how to handle it for the rest of our lives... And so that's the beginning point. I think Paul primarily talking to us here and to the church at Rome here about adultery and fornication; sex outside of marriage and illicit sex within marriage. That's what he's dealing with. And the problem we've got today is most of us do not understand sex.
Let me tell you what the sex drive is: It's not just a drive for the flesh; it's a drive to worship. Boy! What are you talking about? Sex drive in all of us is a drive to worship. And when the sex drive is satisfied and enjoyed in marriage when a husband and wife come together in intimate love, that is an act of worship. They are celebrating the covenant that God established with Christ, with them in marriage. Two become one flesh. It's an act of worship pointing to God, who brought them together physically-is a symbol of the relationship, who is Jesus. He is-we are the bride of Jesus. He is the bridegroom. This is all the metaphors and the symbolism used in our spiritual walk with the Lord. It is symbolical in our physical selves.
So therefore, when someone engages in sex outside of marriage-illicit sex-it is a desire for true worship, and they move in another direction. What is worship? Worship-listen. I'm saying it simply: Worship primarily is a desire to possess, so we worship, we want to possess God, and God in turn wants to possess us. Isn't that worship? "I, oh, God-I want all of You in my life-oh, oh, and I want all of me to be in Your life". You read about that in the Bible. John Chapter 15, Jesus says, "Abide in Me, and I will abide in you". Christ in you, Christ in me. Look at the next step of what God gave them over. Look at it. You find it in Verse Number 26: "For this reason, God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural. 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".
Now, this passage, as I understand it from scholars far, far beyond me; this is not so much spec talking about the homosexual or the gay relationships. Now to be sure, homosexuality is a sin in the Bible. Make no mistake about that; but this is primarily what that is talking about. It's talking about a kind of sin that is way beyond mere homosexuality, or the gay lifestyle. You have to understand that culture that is there. Out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors, fourteen of them were homosexuals. Did you know that? Socrates was a homosexual. Many of the scholars of Athens commended the homosexual life, the gay life as a superior life in which to live. Paul is here dealing with a situation that in Rome of that day when those of wealth, those of affluence, they had children, boys and girls they would use as toys in their own perverted way of living.
Incest was a big thing in this culture, and they had many temples to fertility gods, and goddesses, and prostitutes were considered to be priests, and on and on we go, all over Rome of that day. It was an honored kind of lifestyle, and Gibbon, writing about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, pointed to the pervasive practice of immorality in the homosexual area as one of the reasons for the fall of the that great empire. So Paul is addressing this. He is saying, "You've become so decadent, so perverted, so, so sinful-you've moved so far away from purity and what I'm about..." He just says, "I give up on you. I give up on you..." and he just lets go of the rope. So he starts off and said, "God gave them over..." and then God gave them over to further perversion.
First of all promiscuity and then perversion, and look at the downward slide. In this next section, it's so hard to even deal with. It's like Paul says, "I want to lift this lid, and I want you to take a glimpse into Hell, that black hole of nothingness where God is absent. This is the lifestyle. This is what you expect..." I want you to take a look into Hell, and I call this Paul's 21-gun salute to Hell. Swoooh! That black hole. Verse 28: "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer..." in other words, they'd pushed God totally out of the way. They didn't acknowledge Him in any way. "God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper, which are deadly..." and then he lists 21 results of a depraved...
What is a depraved mind? A depraved mind is somebody who says, "That's not right! That's wrong..." or "That's not wrong! That's right! That's not up! Oh, that's down..." It's a mind that has been reversed; a mind that can no longer discern really between what is good, what is evil. They can't even tell when they're in the darkness or when they're in the light. And God gave them over to this kind of mind. And here we have these 21 characteristics. The first characteristic says, Verse 29, "Being filled..." and the word "filled" here is a picture of something that comes right up to the brim.
"Being filled..." and now we see the character of someone whom God has given up. They're being filled with-look at it-all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil. That's character, isn't it? Unrighteousness, wickedness, greed and evil? That's the character that we see. And then we move to the next, we see their conduct comes from their character. And we see this. "Being filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil". And then look at the word "full" there in the middle of the 29th Verse. This means overflowing. The first word for "fill" means just to the brim.
Now it's overflowing in their lifestyle. This is their conduct. "Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice". You see the results? Slippery slope, all the way. Wrong God being worshipped, sexual sin, sexual perversion, and now it gets more serious. This, these sins are more serious than the others... We see their conduct. And then look at their conversation. They're gossips and slanderers; haters of God, insolate, arrogant, boastful, invention of evil. Disobedient to parents. I want to stop with the word "slander".
You know what slander is? Slander is not lying about somebody; slander is telling the truth about somebody in order to hurt them. I've seen slander take place in prayer meetings. "O' Lord, I'm gonna pray for Bob! He's in bankruptcy. Now nobody knows that, but we're gonna pray for him here..." How godless! Slander! Gossip! Oh the-haters of God! They can't be semblance of God. God abandons these people because now, here's their character, here's their conduct, here's their conversation. Look at the final steps here. We see their conscience is gone... Without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful. That's it, isn't it? No understanding? They don't get it. No mercy? Ah.... Unloving... Their conscience has been literally-it's like an operation has taken place, and conscience has been cut out of the body.
They have no sensitivity to evil, no understanding of God. They're in open rebellion against all of His revelation whether they came up with the Book, or they came up without the Book. And now we see the tragic result at the end. "And although they knew the ordinance of God, whether it's natural or special revelation, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, whether you've been in the church all your life, or you've been out of the church all your life, they know that those who practice such things are worthy of death. The wages of sin is death".
We're gonna run into that just a couple of chapters from now. "And they not only do the same, but they give hearty approval to those who practice them". Hearty approval. God gave them up to the rapids, to the black holes that suck us away from worship, and for Him, it happens to those of us who've been brought up in the church with the Book, with the sword, and those of us who've been brought up outside the church, basically, without the Book; we are without excuse, and how so many wonderful people get caught up in the vortex of the suction of this world that moves us faster and faster away from God Almighty, until finally, we pull the rope out of His hands.