Friday, December 9, 2016, 5:54 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1 (Select vv. ESV).
The Gospel of Christ (vv. 16-17)
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 the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
So, what is the gospel of which Paul was not ashamed? It is first of all that we are born into sin, when we come into this world. We are separate from God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in hell, apart from God’s grace and mercy. All this is because of the sin of one man, Adam (See: Ro. 3:23; 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49).
So, God in his mercy devised a plan for us to be saved, which he had planned all along. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to take on human flesh, to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He sent him to be the sacrificial Lamb given for our sins so we could be set free from sin and reconciled to God. “For our sake he” – God – “made him” – Jesus – “to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21).
So, Jesus died for our sins, but on the third day he was resurrected from the dead, having triumphed over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. Through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, be delivered from slavery to sin, and be given the hope of eternal life with God. Through faith in Christ, we are now set on a course of life in which we now walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful nature, i.e. we now live by faith.
In other words, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we genuinely believe in him, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Because he died and was resurrected back to life, we, too can now live in holiness and in purity. Amen! Because he died, the righteous requirement of the law will be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In addition to all that, God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Tit. 2:11-14). So, we now live by faith.
The Suppression of Truth (vv. 18-23)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
But, not everyone has faith. Although what can be known about God was made plain to all humans by God, in that God’s divine attributes can be clearly seen in the things he has made, many people throughout the world have chosen to suppress the truth they do know, and have chosen to follow the way of their sinful flesh, instead. So, they are without excuse.
How much more then are they without excuse who have been taught the scriptures, who have studied the Word of God, who have professed to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, and yet have chosen a path (lifestyle) of ungodliness and immorality. And, many of these, I imagine, have professed Christ much of their lives, and yet have continued in the way of ungodliness and unrighteousness. Some of them, most certainly, have developed excuses, too, for continuing in the path of sin, and maybe they even claim ignorance. But they, especially, are without excuse, for they truly know the way of righteousness and yet have chosen to walk in willful disobedience to God, even covering up their sin with lies, and with religious practices, and with a persona of being godly in order to deceive others.
God Gave Them Up (vv. 24-32)
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
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 for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
God doesn’t force his will on us humans. We are not puppets on a string. He created us with the ability to make choices. He gave Adam and Eve the choice to choose to obey him, or not, by giving them the command not to eat of one tree in the garden. But, they chose to sin against God.
Because he does not force his will on us, if we choose to go our own way and to ignore him and the truth we know of him, he lets us go. I am not certain, though, at what point this takes place. What I mean by this is that I know that God reveals himself to people, and he calls people to himself, and he convicts of sin. I know he is very loving and patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps. 145:8). And, I have seen how he has sent messenger after messenger to the people of the world, confronting them with their sin, calling them to repentance, warning of divine judgment, and yet promising hope and healing for the repentant. He hasn’t entirely given up on the human race, in other words.
So, I have a sense that when he finally gives people over to the lusts of their own flesh, to have at it, it is because they have resisted him over and over again, and they have suppressed the truth more than once, and maybe many, many times. They make it the practice of their lives (their lifestyle) to suppress the truth they know, to ignore it, to ignore God, and to do what they want to do despite God, and despite anyone else who might try to stand in their way.
They became futile in their thinking. This sounds like it was a process. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. Again, this sounds like a process of denying the Lord, suppressing the truth, ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit, covering their ears to the spoken Word and to godly counsel, and continuing to give way to the flesh and to what is unthinkable, in many cases. So, at some point, God responds by handing them over to their immorality and impurity, and he lets them go their own way, and to suffer the consequences of their own wrong choices.
Sometimes, I think, though, that God allows us to follow after our own devices, so that when we hit rock bottom, we will look up, and we will see that he alone is God, and that he alone is our satisfaction, our hope, our healing, our purpose, and our direction and meaning to life. Some people will never look up (to God) until they have literally gotten as low as they can get. It is there that they realize the futility of their life choices. There they truly repent of their sins, and they turn to faith in Jesus Christ, and they choose to obey their Lord and to walk in his ways the rest of their days. These people have been snatched from the fires of hell, and God has saved them, forgiven them, healed and renewed them, and given them hope.
Yet many people, who would never think of practicing some of these things mentioned here themselves, will allow themselves to be regularly entertained by those who act out the lives of those who do practice them, and thus they share in their guilt. For, by their permitting themselves to be amused by the sins of others, they not only approve of those who practice these sins, but they sin in these ways in their own minds by inviting these sins into their minds. So, we must guard against taking into our minds what is unholy, unrighteous, and which glorifies these types of sins. And, instead, we must seek after the Lord and his righteousness. And, live by faith.
Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”