A Frightening Prognosis: Unrighteousness

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Today’s slice of the bread of life, the Word of God, is Romans 1:18:

…but God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead, and instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people, or birds and animals and snakes. So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the creator Himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.

That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved. When they refused to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Before I even begin this message I want to reiterate the last sentence of what I’ve just read: And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. Is this not what is happening in our schools, government and even in churches today. Paul, in the slice of bread, is not describing just a segment of the human race. His task here is much more frightening than commenting on just a particular group of people living in a particular time. Paul’s role in speaking to the Romans was sort of that of a physician’s assistant, if you will. He enters the exam room with divine X-ray and tells it like it is. God’s flawless diagnosis of the human race is not pretty, in fact, it is intimidating. Oh, sure, we would like to hear words like: good, honorable, compassionate, wise, etc. Instead, we wince at the words used to describe our present condition, ungodliness, unrighteousness, futile thinking, foolish hearts.

There is no dodging the divine analysis of the human heart; it is diseased. We are plagued by an eternally terminable illness. We may work hard, play hard, get married, make love, eat voraciously, laugh loudly, and dance the night away. But God knows that underneath the veneer of carefree lives, we are decomposing. What is true of the human body proves to be true of the human spirit as well.

Paul says that this disease never reaches a peak from where it mercifully descends. Unlike a cancer patient, this disease does not end at death. UH-OH! We want doctors to give us good news, and if they cannot do that, we at least want them to sugar-coat the bad news. But no amount of “wordsmithing” can change the facts.

The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer and the command to repent goes unregarded…

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