129. Summary of Romans 1:17-32. Human Rebellion against God

What has got into some of the world leaders in recent months? Some have taken gigantic strides in directions that were not expected. Some seem intent on changing the world as we know it, into an image they have created in their own minds. Now they want to see this vision reproduced in their own countries and even in other nations. Are we looking at world-changing visionaries in our midst? Or are we seeing the results of human wisdom gone mad? Humans out of control?

Once again chapter 1 of St Paul’s letter to the Romans has some answers for us. Recently I wrote some material on this chapter where I showed that three of the major factors in today’s world can be explained from its message. It is a description of human rebellion against God in three main facets of life.

1).  In Rom 1:17-23, we saw that human rebellion against God leads to idolatry in which God is replaced by aspects of His creation. It means that Jesus, His agent in creation, is also not accorded His God-given position as Creator and Lord of His universe.  One of the factors I noted in the articles was this. If folk reject God, they also reject His declaration that humans are made in His image. If people are merely different bits of this world structure then they (particularly the foetus or near-born or newly-born) can be disposed of at will because they are expendable “bits” with little present significance. There are many national leaders actively supporting almost unlimited abortion on demand. But some of them are not content with that. Now they want to have that particular concept of abortion on demand extended to other countries as well. There is talk that some of these leaders might want to make the acceptance of wide-spread abortion a qualification for receiving aid from the “richer” country! To stop “populution”? Or to extend their longed-for “power”?

God (YHWH) doesn’t see this “option” as wise management of human resources. He has a name for abortion done purely for the convenience of the person or the family or the nation. It’s called “murder”. Jesus once warned about putting stumbling blocks in the way of the young, Luke 17:1 “He said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” If causing the young to stumble brings such condemnation, then what does the supporting of the extinguishing of the young, merit?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are destroying fellow humans who are made in the image of God. He says they are! As such they are to be protected and valued! Not destroyed!

 2). In Rom 1:23-25 we read that this rebellion takes on a sinister turn. Humans created by God reject their Creator AND begin to worship and serve “something created”. This is what false religion is all about, when humans begin to take their eyes off God as the pre-eminent One in the universe and begin to exchange the truth about Him for a lie. The lie is this; that something or someone can take His place. Such people put their focus onto something or someone else, a part of God’s creation.  Instead of following God’s commandments and His revelation of His will in the Scriptures, they place their allegiance in things or people.

We noted in a previous article that Jesus as the Creator-Redeemer of humans was called “the truth” and that His teaching is to be followed and not rejected nor added to. He was called also the “wisdom of God” for His words were the Father’s words.  His wisdom was obvious to all who heard Him. We read in Mat 13:54, He went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? Paul called Him the “wisdom of God” in 1Cor 1:23-24,   but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Similarly in 1Cor 1:30  And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption

True religion is based on the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of the world.  One way of assessing all the present day religious movements is to look at how they operate and what are the ideologies and the motivations behind their actions. The wisdom of God (YHWH) in James 3:17 is described like this, … the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favouritism and hypocrisy. What a wonderful peaceful world it would be if we lived by the wisdom of God! As we examine all the current religious movements are they marked by these qualities? If they are, then they appear to be elements of true religion operating with God’s wisdom especially when they exhibit true love knowing “God is love” (1John 4:16  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.)

If the religious bodies today are not characterised by these qualities, they may not be of God. Religions or ideologies operating from a human source of wisdom rather than a divine source have these features seen in James 3:14-16, bitter envy, selfish ambition, bragging, defying the truth. James writes here that this “wisdom” it is not from above, from God. It has to do only with the dimension of the human senses. It may be demonic, influenced by the powers of darkness. The outward expression of worldly wisdom is disorder and every kind of evil. A quick glance at our daily papers sees the evidence throughout the world of disorder, murder, the absence of love and utter evil in some of the religious movements. It would seem that false religion is alive and expanding on planet earth. It is false religion that brooks no rivals. True religion looks to God for wisdom on how to behave and to live in the peace of God that passes human understanding.

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are worshipping and serving the lie that you can replace Him with something or someone! He brooks no rivals. However He offers all people a relationship of peace with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

3).  In Romans 1:26-27. We saw in the previous article that this passage speaks quite openly about homosexual practice and God’s attitude to it.  In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 He declared His repugnance. “Abomination” and “detestable” are never pretty words. How much more when they come from the mind of God Himself! If He used such words to describe these activities, it is sad that His people today are being labelled as homophobic for simply expressing what He said. But people in rebellion against God will reject His words especially when they come through fellow humans.

Recently we have seen that some national leaders are not only in favour of homosexual practice, but are pushing for same-sex marriage. One leader even wants to send expert teams out to other countries to help facilitate the acceptance and legalisation of same-sex marriage in those countries. Foreign aid with a twist! Again is it a case of such leaders being world-leading-visionaries who are taking the world into whole new expressions of freedom and liberty? Or something quite different!

But what  if? What if there is a God who has revealed Himself in the Bible and through Jesus, and whose revelation we have in the Holy Bible, the Scriptures?  What if He told us almost 2000 years ago that He had dealt with people in rebellion against Him and delivered them over to “do their own thing”. What if people presume He doesn’t exist or isn’t concerned when they do things He had forbidden and are not struck down dead as a result? What if the words of 2Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” What if His apparent failure to deal with human sin is not a sign of His pathetic weakness, but of His incredible patience and amazing grace and astonishing love in giving them time to turn from their rebellion against Him, to seek His forgiveness and to find true peace with Him as the true God?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are encouraging practices that God has strongly condemned in unmistakeable terms! He isn’t going to change His mind! He isn’t going to adapt to cultural changes! He isn’t going to water down His word to gain more acceptance or to elicit a greater following! He has spoken! Clearly! Definitively!

A realistic appraisal of the whole human situation. Romans 1:29-32

God’s appraisal! We have seen in a previous article that these verses apply to every human ever born who has been rebellious against God. That’s all of us except for Jesus. We may look at these verses and pat ourselves on the back that we are pretty good in comparison with some notorious sinners in this world. But when we come to words such as greed, envy, disputes, deceit, gossips arrogant, proud, boastful, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful, we realise that we ourselves have failed to get a perfect score in those areas of life.  It means that we are sinners just like the ones we have judged as being guilty of sin.

Only one way for all of us

There is only one way out of our predicament for all of us because we are all sinners in the sight of God. And that is by accepting His offer of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. It is a free gift to us in Him. It is an offer coming from His grace and love. But it is not cheap grace! It meant that Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah, had to die for the sins of all the peoples of the world throughout the ages. His death brought the possibility of forgiveness and new life for every person who would receive them in Christ. But “receive them” is the operative phrase. What is happening in today’s world is that people are making their choice. To seek truth in the God of truth, or to turn their backs on Him and to continue on in their rebellion.

Perhaps when St Paul wrote Romans chapter 1 at the inspiration of the Spirit of God he did not envisage a world as rebellious as it is now. But God did!  In His love He has warned us through St Paul in this chapter that human rebellion would always take the form of idolatry, false religion and sexual inappropriateness. In His love He has warned those rebelling against Him in this way. However He also warns each and every one of us in the latter verses of the same chapter that we can’t criticise others, for we too are guilty before Him. The fact that we seem to be free to do whatever we wish without punishment may be an indication that the words of 2 Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord … is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Repentance from all of us! No exceptions!

 A Prayer for someone to pray who feels they are not right with God

Dear Lord. You have shown us so clearly in Your word that none of us can stand before You, trusting in who we are or in what we have done. We have all rebelled against You in many and various ways. I confess that I am guilty before You and I need Your forgiveness and love.

I have learned that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross so that I might have forgiveness. I have learned too that He rose from the dead and is alive today.

I invite You Lord Jesus to be my Saviour from sin and to be the Lord and Master of my life. Come into my life to make me a new creature and to guide and strengthen me to live as I should, from this day forward.

I thank You by faith for the victories I shall experience in life with Your help. Please accept my thanks in Your precious name of Jesus. AMEN

Blog No.129.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 3rd September 2013

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Forgiveness, Sexuality, TOPICS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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