Robert Jeffress - When God Lets Go - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress. And welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The topic of same sex marriage and so-called gay rights have certainly become hot button issues today. And while just about everyone has formed their own views and opinions on the matter, many do so without regard for God's word. Today, I'm going to show you the consequences that await those who consciously reject God's truth as laid out in scripture. My message is titled "When God Lets Go" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Last year's controversy regarding "Duck dynasty" star Phil Robertson, and his comments about homosexuality were interesting on any number of different levels. But perhaps the most interesting development in that controversy was when a well-respected news organization uncovered what they were sure was the smoking gun that proved Phil Robertson was nothing but a homophobic bigot. They discovered a video from several years ago of Phil Robertson preaching at a Pennsylvania church. And during Phil Robertson's sermon, he talked about homosexuality. And he described it as "Unnatural men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their bodies the due penalty of their error. And God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things, which were unnatural".
The writers at Huffington Post, the broadcasters at TMZ and CNN and all the other outlets, they were so biblically illiterate that they didn't realize Phil Robertson was simply quoting verbatim Romans chapter one. The passage from God's word we're going to look at today. Romans chapter one is a scathing indictment against homosexuality. But it's much more than that. Romans chapter one has a message for all of us, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. It is a sobering truth. And the truth is this. Those who abandoned God will be abandoned by God to their own self-destruction. That is the theme of Romans chapter one. I invite you to take your Bibles, whether you're here, you're listening or watching on Pathway to Victory, turn to Romans chapter one. As we discover what happens when God lets go.
Now remember, we're in that section of Romans 1:18 to chapter three verse 20, in which Paul is describing why we all need the righteousness of God, a right standing with God. And he goes through in these two and a half chapters a list of everyone who is guilty before God. And he starts with a group of people that we think would be innocent, not deserving of God's wrath. It is those who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely God will give those people a pass. They can't be held accountable for a Gospel they've never heard. They're innocent before God, we say. God says, no, they are guilty. And he explains exactly beginning of verse 20, why the unbeliever who's never heard the Gospel is still guilty before God. Friday I came across a great quote by the British preacher G. Campbell Morgan. He said, when people lose their consciousness of God, they don't lose their sense of need for God. They simply substitute the false for the true. That's what the unbeliever has done. He has received, rejected, and replaced the knowledge of the true God with a God of his own making.
So what happens to the person who does that? That's what verse 24 explains. It explains the downward path toward destruction of those who reject the knowledge of the true God. Look at chapter one verse 24. Therefore, anytime you read the Bible and you see the word, therefore, ask yourself the question, what is that therefore, therefore? It always relates back to something that was previously said. Paul says in light of these people who have received, rejected, or replaced the knowledge of the true God, God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity that their bodies might be dishonored among them.
Do you remember in verse 18, God said, "For the wrath of God is being revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who stifle, who suppress the truth". And Paul says, God's anger now being poured out. It's not that God is just going to wait and judge them at some future day. He's going to do that at the Great White Throne judgment. But the Bible says right now, God is judging those who reject the knowledge of himself. How is he doing that?
Well, verse 24 says, he's doing it by giving them over. You see that phrase over and over again. Verse 24, God gave them over. Verse 26, God gave them over. Verse 28, God gave them over. That word gave over is the Greek word paradidomi, paradidomi. It sometimes is used to describe the deliverance of one person to a specific location. For example, a person is delivered over to prison to serve out his sentence. It's used in the Bible to describe the angels who committed that sin in Genesis six and God delivered them to tartarus, the place of punishment for the fallen angels. Sometimes paradidomi means a direct dispatching of one person to another location. But a second meaning of paradidomi is simply to let go of, to abandon a person. And that's how Paul is using the word here. Because these people have rejected God, God has let go of them. He has abandoned them to follow the desires of their own heart.
Now, ironically, this is exactly what the unbeliever thinks he wants. He thinks he wants to be unshackled from the idea of a God who judges and has a list of obligations. The unbeliever says I will free myself from this God and follow the desires of my heart. But when he does that, he discovers that freedom from God is not all that it's cracked up to be. Do you remember the story of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15? The prodigal son said, I am tired of living in my father's house. I am tired of having him reel over me. So he went to his dad one day and said, give me my inheritance so I can get the heck out of here. And so the father gave him his inheritance. And off he went to the far country. For a while, he indulged himself in every dream, every desire of his heart. But soon, he fell in despair and depression and depravity. That's what happens to a person who follows the inclination of his own heart.
When you abandon God and follow the desires of your own heart, it always leads you downward. It never leads you upward. Those who abandoned God always are led downward, not upward. Let me illustrate that for you, if I can, for just a moment. I'm holding this cup here. I am holding on to it right now. But what happens if I paradidomi? If let go, if I abandon this cup. If I let go of this cup, is it going to float upward to the ceiling knockout one of those lights up there? Is that what's going to happen? What happens if I abandoned, let go of this cup? It falls to the ground. It will always go down. Why is that? It's because of a force called gravity. It is a downward pull and that is true in every one of us. There is a spiritual force at work called sin. And whenever God lets go of us to follow the inclination of our heart, the path is always downward. And that's what we see in this passage.
I want you to notice where freedom from God leads. When a person says, I want to be unshackled from God. I want him to let go of me. I want to follow my own inclinations. Notice what happens, God gives such a person over. This downward path manifest itself in three ways. First of all, God abandons unbelievers to immorality. Look at verses 24 and 25. Therefore God gave them over in the lust 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. Amen. This word impurity is a general term for sexual immorality. I think it is significant that this passage that describes the person who abandons God and is abandoned by God, places such an emphasis on sexual immorality.
People say, well, isn't all sin, sin? What's the big deal about sexual immorality? I mean lying is wrong. Covetousness is wrong. Why is there such an emphasis on sexual immorality in the Bible? Because sexual immorality is a special kind of sin, in that it is a special kind of rebellion against God. And it represents a certain destruction of our own. Let me explain what I mean. How is sexual sin rebellious? God's the one who created sex. Do you remember that? Man didn't think it up. God thought it up. God thought up the idea of sex. He created it to be a gift to us. But along with that gift, there were some stipulations to the gift. He said, sex is a gift from me that operates best between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship that's forever. Those are the instructions that came on the box, so to speak. You can unwrap this gift. You can use it. But here are the directions of how to use it. But whatever we pervert God's gift of sex, we twist it through premarital sex or adultery or homosexuality. It is a rebellion. It's like saying, God we don't like your gift. We're going to twist it and use it the way we want to. It is rebellious. But it is secondly, very, very destructive unlike other sins.
In 1st Corinthians 6:18, Paul says, flee immorality for every other sin a man commits is outside the body. But the immoral man sins against his own body. When you sin sexually, you're not only sinning against God, you're sinning against your own body. How is that? You know, if you take your hand and you put it near a fire, you're going to recoil. You're going to sense the heat and pull your hand back. Why? Because God has placed nerve endings in your hand that make it sensitive to heat. Did you know the problem with people with leprosy or Hansen's disease is they have no feeling in their hands. They have no feeling in their feet. Their nerve endings have been destroyed.
So the real destructive part of leprosy is what it allows people to do to themselves. People without any feeling in their feet, they can walk on a nail and not feel it. And it destroys their feet. Or they touch something that is hot, they destroy their hands. They're not aware of it. In the same way, the Bible says, when you disobey God, especially in the sexual arena, there's this little voice that tells you it's called a conscience, that what you're doing is wrong. But when you engage in that over and over again, you can so harden your conscience that you develop spiritual leprosy. You can't feel anything any longer. And the great harm that you're doing to yourself. That's why in 1st Timothy 4:2, Paul talks about those who have had their consciences seared as though with a branding iron.
Imagine taking a branding iron and placing it on your hand and pressing in on it until your nerve endings were destroyed. When you disobey God, especially in the sexual arena over and over again, it hardens your conscience so that she can't feel anything any longer. And you engage in behaviors that will ultimately destroy you.
I remember seeing on PBS years ago a very disturbing documentary. It was called "The Lost Children of Rockdale County". It was about an affluent suburb outside the city of Atlanta that was experiencing an outbreak of syphilis. And it was coming through teenagers who out of boredom and affluence decided to engage in sex parties after school. And I cannot describe for you in a mixed audience what they did. But it was not just normal one-on-one heterosexual kind of sex. They engaged in group sex activities. In fact, some girls composed a rap song to describe the kind of perversion they were involved in. But you know, in that hour documentary, I never saw one of the teenagers say, this is great. We have never felt better than we feel right now. Instead, one of the young ladies who was interviewed said, when I would return home from one of those parties, I would feel so dirty and so ashamed I didn't even want to face my parents. But that is what Paul is saying here. When people abandoned God, God abandons them to follow the desires of their heart.
And the first stop on that downward path is immorality. But it doesn't stop there. Secondly, God abandons unbelievers to abnormality. Look at verses 26 and 27. 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 toward one another men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Now, obviously, Paul is talking about homosexuality here. Have you ever heard people say, well, it's just the Old Testament that condemns homosexuality not the New Testament? Have you heard that before? Well, here's one of many instances in the New Testament where God says, homosexuality is a sin. Or have you heard people say, well, homosexuality is okay as long as the homosexuals are monogamous and faithful to one another? There was no allowance for that in here either.
Well you notice that the Word of God says, the homosexual act is both the cause of God's judgment and it is the result of God's judgment. Isn't that interesting? Engaging in homosexual activity not only is the cause of God's judgment, it is the result of God's judgment. The person who engages in this kind of perversion is somebody who is under the judgment of God. The homosexual does what he does because he has abandoned the knowledge of the true God. He has rejected it and he has replaced it with a God of his own making. Now some people will say, and I'm sure I'll hear from them this week, oh pastor, now that's just not right. I know many homosexuals who are Christians. I know homosexuals who worship God just like you and I do.
I've debated through the years, homosexual pastors, there's one I used to debate here in Dallas, a lesbian pastor over and over again. And she would say to me all the time, now Dr. Jeffress, we worship the same God you do. Oh no, you don't. The God that homosexual say they worship is not the God of the Bible. It is the God of their own making. They have created God in their own image. They have imagined God to be a sovereign who approves of everything and condemns nothing. But that is not the God of the Bible who says, be ye holy for I am holy. A. W. Tozer says, the idolaters simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true. And that's what the homosexual Christian does. He imagines God to be a God who approves everything and judges nothing and acts accordingly. No, the Bible says homosexuality is both the cause of and the result of God's judgment.
And I want you to notice the three statements here the Bible makes about homosexual behavior. First of all, homosexuality is degenerative. By that I mean, it is unnatural. That word unnatural verse 26 means it is against nature. Now don't misunderstand, adultery, premium marital sex are just as much of a sin as homosexuality is. But even though adultery and premarital sex are sin, they are natural sins. By that I mean the desire we have for members of the opposite sex is a natural desire, but adultery and premarital sex represent those desires going to muck. Those desires trying to be fulfilled in an ungodly way. But homosexuality is unnatural. It goes against nature itself. I want you to listen to what one writer says about homosexuality. In fact, I want you to read it on the screen as I read it. Even in purely non-religious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty, and in the words of one educator of human construction it is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality. A pitiful flight from life. As such, it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding, and when possible treatment. But it, homosexuality, deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, and no fake status as a minority martyrdom.
Who do you suppose wrote those words? James Dobson? No. Robert Jeffress? The late Jerry Falwell? Nope. Those words appeared in Time Magazine in an article June 21st, 1966. You say, I can't believe that. Time Magazine would say such a thing. Boy, that was back in the dark ages, 1966. Look how far we have ascended. Look how far we have come today. No, look how far downward our nation has gone since then. That is what the world says. That's what the world says. But God says it is a downward path. The Bible says homosexuality is degenerative. But secondly, notice what he says. Homosexuality is degrading. Again in verse 26, he says it is a degrading passion.
Now what do I mean by that? What does Paul mean by that? Because we have a mixed audience here today, because we have some children present today, I'm not going to go into detail about what it means. But let me just say this. If you think all homosexuals do is hold hands and kiss, or even try to simulate heterosexual acts, you are sadly mistaken. Some of the perverseness in their practices and what they do to quote, express their love for one another in quotations cannot be mentioned in public. But what they do does explain why the homosexual population has so many more STDs and hepatitis and other kinds of disease than the heterosexual population. It's because what they do is degrading. It is unnatural. It goes against nature.