Jack Graham - Good News, Bad News - Part 2
So just to review very quickly, "man knows God", verses 18 to 20, at least in a general sense can know God, "but he fails to glorify God", that’s verses 21, 22 and 23. "He exchanges truth for a lie", verses 24 and 25, and then idolatry and the repression and suppression of truth moves into the destructive progression of sin which is immorality. And when we read that passage a moment ago, it’s adult content, isn’t it? I've got pre-teen weekend here at Prestonwood. say The fact is pre-teens are being exposed to all of this in this generation. And they're not hearing the truth in this culture. They're not hearing truth in the world.
So where do they hear truth if they don't hear it from God's people The pagan world made sex a deity. In fact, many of the pagan temples were filled with prostitutes, both male and female. Sex was worshiped as god. God gave sex as a gift but not as a god. It is to be received from God as His gift with His guidelines, but not worshiped as a god. But promiscuity and pain from abuse and all the rest, comes as a result of men and women rejecting God's plan for purity. And as a result of rejecting and repressing truth, exchanging it for lies! We live in a highly secularized and sexualized society. It was like Rome, it is like Rome. Rome was filled with immorality of all kinds.
If you've ever read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, you know that one of the reasons listed for the fall of the Roman Empire was the immorality and the homosexuality, the paganism that we exploding across the western world. And now, this some Roman paganism of the ancient world, that of the Corinthians and all the rest, it is no longer. We are no longer slouching to Sodom and Gomorrah as Robert Bork wrote, but we are speeding to Sodom and Gomorrah! I know you as well as I, we are concerned about what's happening in America today! And it won't be long that we will be the late, once great United States if we don't turn to God in repentance and faith! Did you know the average length of a civilization in history is around 200 years? That's all history. We're there and beyond.
Again, let’s take a break and reflect on the fact that God is love, that God’s grace is abundant and amazing and available to everyone. He is just, He is kind, He is merciful, He is compassionate. He loves you. But His love is a holy love. His judgment is a righteous judgment. Verses 26 to 32 shows us how the wrath of God is revealed; how it is expressed. So I want you to note 3 verses. Circle them in your Bible. Maybe just the phrase here, the 3 times the same repetitive words appear. In verse 24, verse 26, and verse 28. And the phrase is this: "And God gave them up", "and God gave them over", "and God abandoned them". The word that the apostle Paul uses here, "God gave them up" or "gave them over" is a word-picture of a judge handing a prisoner over for either execution or imprisonment. To hand over to judgment. So God gave them up, God abandoned them.
Can you think of anything more terrible, more terrifying than the words abandoned by God? But the Bible says that God gave them up, three times. So God gives us our way. The word means, listen to this, His permissive judgment, that's part of it. Permissive in the sense that God just allows people to self-destruct. That there is sin, there is judgment within the sin itself. The Scripture talks about immorality in particular as being a sin against one’s own body. It’s a sin against the soul, against the psyche. When God says to a person bound and determined to go deeper and deeper into sin, God says, "Have your own way"! And He permits people to live without Him. In other words, this is a judgment of commission. God withdraws His hand. It’s His permissive judgment.
People ask "Is God going to judge America"? The fact is God may be already judging America. All God has to do to judge any nation is just to withdraw His presence and His power. So people can do the same. It's a picture of a boat going down a falls, a Niagara, a river, just the boat going down, down, down, down, and swept away! The permissive judgment of God. It is the judgment of abandonment. But then it goes a step further. When you really study this Word, when God hands people over, when God hands people over, it’s also punitive. It’s the fact that at some point God not only hands them over but gives them a shove. God pushes them on. That’s the punitive side of this. When people refuse to repent and to seek God, suppress the truth, they bring this judgment of God upon them.
Someone said, "Whenever man loses God, they lose themselves". And that’s what happened. And in these three repetitions "God gave them up, God gave thee over, God gave them up" we see the devolution and the downward progression and the self-destruction of sin. Three steps. One is impurity, sexual impurity. Look again at verse 24: "Therefore, God gave them up to the lust of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves," It's a rampant, repugnant sexual sin, hedonism, immorality. We see it in individuals; we see it in nations. The porno plague, the self-indulgence, sexual self-indulgence of people all around us is sexual immorality. And that's a step downward. Again, remember, we're talking here you reject God, you suppress the truth, you start exchanging truth for lies, God withdraws His hand, He abandons and so you plunge headlong into sexual sin and impurity.
And then step two in this self-destructive, this destructive progression of sin and judgment, guilt and judgment is homosexual behavior. Verses 26 and 27. Just let the Scripture speak for itself. "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion (burning with passion) for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error".
Not a lot of need for explanation here. What is this churches position on homosexuality? What is the Christian’s position? It is the position of the Bible, the teaching of the Bible. This behavior is dishonorable and degrading, what the Scripture called shameful, what the Scripture calls here unnatural. All virtue is lost and values are dismissed. And not only this, but tolerated, and now in our culture, celebrated and accepted as normal. "Exchanging truth for a lie". And according to the Scripture all the way back to the Old Testament and through the New Testament, this abomination before God is a sign of judgment. It is. It is biblically wrong because it enslaves people and destroys lives. It is the supreme loss of human dignity and the soul.
Our message is not a message of tolerance; our message, the message of the Gospel is a message of deliverance. That you can be changed, that Christ can change your heart and your life and your personality and your proclivities and your passions! You can be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for your sins on the cross. He rose again so that your life can be transformed. If I didn't believe that I would shut my Bible and never preach again! Don't believe the lie that you were born into a state or condition that you can never escape. That's from the pit of hell! The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change any and every person! Any one and everyone! In fact, in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 a list is given of those who will not enter into heaven into eternal life, and it includes homosexuality and yet it says at the bottom to the Corinthians, many who were steeped in this sin in Corinth, "It says of them and such were some of you"!
No one is too far gone, too far lost, but for the grace of God, the love of Jesus can reach them. God loves homosexuals. The problem is we have a hard time figuring out, don't we, the line between hating the sin and loving the sinner. And because we have a hard time loving people, even homosexuals our witness is often damaged. So we need the power of prayer and we need the love of Jesus in our hearts. We need the power of the Gospel to exchange the lie for the truth, that Jesus can change lives. Christians, we should love people, too, no matter their sin. But we also have the right to speak up in our culture and in our society and in our laws, never to discriminate against anyone, but to speak truth to lies, and to be open about what we believe, what the Bible teaches, and to protect our children and teach our children truth from error. We have every right to do that.
Step number three, openly and encouraging and approving of evil. And with that comes the deadly penalty of sin. Look again at verses, well, let's just look at verse 32. It says: "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die," And, well, we need to take the time to read again, or just take a look at all of sins then that are mentioned, the dishonorable passions that he talks about, that follows up. When he talks about "God gave them up", again in verse 28, "to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done". And then he mentions all these things: "unrighteousness and covetousness and malice and envy and murder and deceit", I'm just skipping now, "gossips. Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless", verse 31.
But then it says, "not only practice in these things, but approval", endorsing in these things in this terrible catalog of sin. It's the final steps downward. The deadly penalty of sin. Homosexuality and immorality, though at the top of the list here, is not the only sin that will send you to hell! Any and every sin unrepented of, unforgiven is enough to send any of us to judgment and guilt and hell. This is death. In fact, you might even say this passage of Scripture is a preview of hell! Except hell will be far worse and the judgment of God. People living in a prison in bondage to sin forever and ever and ever.
I have to tell you as I thought long and hard about this message, how to say it, I think in our culture even in the church today, we become desensitized to all this. We’re no longer shocked or shamed by any of this. So many times we view it, we approve of it, we applaud it. We laugh. "Fools make a mock at sin". We can slowly give up our values. We can slowly compromise God’s Word! But God is calling us to courage! God is calling us to confidence! What we teach our children in our schools, in our homes, in our families, because ultimately if you think about it, what you read here is an attack upon the future of a nation and the future of a family! Satan desires to destroy lives and he does it so often by destroying families, their children.
So wake up! Yes, God is judging America! But He's making a way for redemption and salvation and providing a pathway to eternal life to all who will believe. And that way is the way of the cross. Because what happened at the cross was the wrath of God, the judgment of God. All of this was poured on Jesus. All hell broke loose on Christ at the cross. He bore our sins! Not only did He die for our sins, I say it so often, He died as our sin! He became sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God. And Jesus died. We’re on our way to Easter, we’re just a few weeks away from celebrating Holy week and the cross and the resurrection.
So think deeply about this Gospel of Jesus Christ, pray intently and with thanksgiving and witness with all your heart to bring people to Jesus. This message of redemption and salvation and eternal life! There is a judgment! There is a hell! There is a wrath to come! But you can escape the coming wrath and judgment by giving your life to follow Jesus Christ who died and rose again. It’s the Gospel; it’s the good news. Remember, I said at the front it's the bad news, the terrible news that makes the good news so good. We're so thankful for Jesus! You say, "Well, I'm not in that world; I'm not in that pagan world; I'm not in that pit". Well, just wait because God, Paul's going to talk to all the religious people the next time who think they're too good to be saved. Two kinds of people: those who think they're too bad to be saved; those who think they're too good to be saved. But everyone needs to be saved; saved and delivered from the power of sin and death and hell.