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Romans 1:6-17

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"

Verse 6, "And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." We don't know how the Roman Christian Church was started. Paul reminds us in verse 6 that first, we didn't find God, God found us. We should say, "When did the Lord find you?" The parables of Jesus Christ all point to the Lord finding us. John 6:44 states that it is God who calls us to Himself. He prefaces it in verse 36 by saying, 'You've seen Me, but you still do not believe!' A lot of people saw Jesus feeding 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes--a miracle--and yet they still didn't believe. John 6:1-13. "Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, 'Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!' Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'

Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten."

A lot of people say, "If I could only see Jesus." Unbelief is not a matter of a lack of evidence or even seeing him in person. They all saw Jesus and in the end they all rejected him. Jesus says the Father has to bring you to him in verse 44 of this very same chapter. The Bible teaches you that the Father has to draw you to Jesus Christ. If you feel the slightest prompting or drawing to Christ I would run to him. John 6:36-37,44. "But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." So we see that it is God the Father who draws us to Jesus. It is He who finds us, not the other way around.

Verse 8, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world." Paul was thankful to God for this church. Here was a church he wasn't worried about as far as a bad lifestyle or falling into immorality, like the Corinthian church, or falling prey to a false gospel like some of the other churches under him (or like the Church of God at Galatia or Ephesus).

Verses 9-10,13, "God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you…I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles." In verses 9-10 we get a sneak peek into Paul's prayer life. Paul reveals: 1) He prays unceasingly. Paul was a man who prayed all the time. He made it a habit to pray for whatever (or whoever) the Lord brought before him, wherever he was--talking to God wherever he was. He had a heart to pray to his best friend (God, Jesus). He prayed as God put things in his mind, as God put people in his mind. God often does this with us. A few months ago I really felt down, in the depths of this depression. I tried to call a friend. No answer. I just couldn't shake this feeling of depression. Then at 11 p.m. here was this gal we led to Christ over 11 years ago. "The Lord put you on my heart to pray for you and call you," she said over the phone. After an hour of encouraging conversation (where I could hardly get a word in edgewise) the depression was lifted! God puts people on your hearts for you to pray about. It isn't just coincidence!

2) We see his prayers are requests, not demands. You can't demand and command God. This new craze among certain Christian groups of name it and claim it is totally unscriptural when you make a careful and complete study of the great men and servants of God and their respective prayer lives. 3) Paul prays according to the will of God. For years I thought prayer was to get my will done, but now I see prayer is to get God's will done. God's will was outlined by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name [the lead in for prayer should have praise for God and his holy name], your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven [this is a direct reference to prayer for God's coming kingdom upon the return of Jesus Christ, as well as for his kingdom to come into the lives of those he calls, converts and saves in this age of man before his 2nd coming]. Give us this day our daily bread [yes, you can pray for your physical needs]. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors [as we pray for forgiveness for our sins, we must also forgive others who have sinned against us, or else God will not forgive us]. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one [we are to pray for protection from the effects of Satan's evil world as well as from Satan and his demon world.] This is an outline of God's will for us in our prayer life, what we should pray for that is part of his will. Jesus couldn't have made it any clearer. Demanding something of God which is not part of what is covered in this prayer outline by Jesus will decidedly get you nowhere with God--even if demanding anything from God could get you something. You can make requests for yourselves. Paul prayed, "Please can I go to Rome, please, please???" God said no, not now. You see, God wanted Paul to commit to writing one of the clearest descriptions and presentations of the gospel of Christ ever written down--not just for the Roman brethren of God's church, but for you and me in this 20th century! So God had to say no to a servant's request. In essence, God was saying to Paul, "No not right now, Paul. You will eventually get to Rome. It will be your last stop, but you will get there."

Many times we're not submitting to the will of God. When things get tough many times we're not submitting to the will of God in our prayers. You get mad and bitter--but you can't win, resisting the will of God in your life. Understand God loves you incredibly and has your life in his hands. Understand that God is in control of your life. Everything that happens to you is filtered through God.

Verses 11-12, "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." Paul started out by saying he wanted to impart a spiritual blessing to them, but then said, 'Hey wait a minute! It is I who am going to get the spiritual blessing by coming to you and serving you!' Paul was in essence saying, 'I want to come and be with you because I will get a blessing from you. Fellowshipping with other brethren gives you a blessing. Paul knew that when you serve other people you get the bigger blessing. You need to get involved in serving others for God. You miss out on blessing when you don't serve others.

In verses 14-17 Paul shares his testimony. He says three things: 1) I am under obligation. 2) I am eager to preach the gospel, and 3) I am not ashamed of the gospel.

"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" 1 & 2)Paul felt both obligated and eager to preach the gospel and Jesus Christ., he couldn't keep quiet about this. Paul, like the leper Jesus healed, couldn't keep quiet about Jesus and the gospel. In the Old Testament there is this story about when Samaria was under a long siege and the people of the city were starving so badly that they were now eating donkey heads. A group of lepers said to themselves, "Enough is enough! We're going out to the enemy. If we get run through it's better than living like this." They carefully approached the enemy camp. All was quiet and unnaturally still. To their amazement they found the camp deserted. The Lord had routed the enemy somehow, but not before they had prepared tables loaded with cooked food of all kinds. The lepers began stuffing themselves. Then one of them said, "This is not right. We must tell the others in the city that we have food--lots of food." They couldn't keep quiet about what they had found! And isn't it like that with us? We've found the Bread of Life, Jesus! Paul had found this Bread of Life also, and he was saying he felt like he was under obligation--like the lepers--to tell the world that he had found the Bread of Life! He felt both eager and obligated.

  • And then in verse 16 he said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel." Many people are creeping into the seminaries who are ashamed of the gospel. A good friend of mine, a young pastor, was looking for a church to pastor and applied for a job at this small congregation of some mainstream Christian denomination somewhere in the midwest. He went to this woman head of the church with some cassette tapes of his sermons and when she heard them she said, "You will never preach in any of my congregations! All you preach about is all this blood [of Christ] and sin. I don't want my people hearing about any of that!" I tell you, Jesus Christ is ashamed of her. Not long ago they found this graffiti on a wall in Rome. It was an image of a donkey crucified on a cross, with the inscription something like "This is so & so's god!". The Romans were mocking Christians and their use of the cross, a bloody tool of execution as a symbol for eternal salvation. But the gospel is the power of God. It doesn't need us. These Romans wanted all this power but we have the real power. We don't need to be super-evangelists. We just need our own personal testimony of what the Lord has done for us and a knowledge of the gospel of Christ. The gospel is the power to transform lives, the power to transform stony unconverted minds. The greatest demonstration of God's power wasn't when he created the heavens filled with huge powerful stars blazing away--huge balls of thermonuclear fire--some as big as our whole solar system! The greatest demonstration of God's power is when the gospel is preached and a human heart is transformed--when you take a person who is dead in their sins and transform them. Salvation is how God has saved us from our past sins, from the power of sin right now, and when the Lord comes and removes sin from the world at his 2nd coming. "I am not ashamed of the gospel" Paul said. It's for the Jews and for the Greeks--it's a worldwide gospel. Jesus said "Go to all the world and preach the gospel everywhere." The gospel is the power of God to save people from their sins, the power to set people free from sin that is controlling their lives in harmful ways, sin that destroys lives.

Why this power in the gospel? What is this power? Verse 17 says, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." The Christian message doesn't just declare a righteous God, but it declares how you can be right with God. Jesus was executed so we could be right with God by faith in his sacrifice. God added up all our sins and the sins of everyone who ever lived, lives and who will live and placed them on his Son. The execution that he suffered paid the penalty. And if you'll reach out in faith and accept that sacrifice, you'll be made right with God--you'll be set free from your guilt and God's power will step in and transform your life and save you from the power of sin. It is the power of God to change and transform our lives. This power in recent times has transformed drug addicts into non-users, healed people of killer diseases such as cancer, helped people walk away from any and every chemical or alcohol addiction they may have which is destroying their lives. And all of this is the transforming power of God working in us by his Holy Spirit. The Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. This opens the door for the power of God to come into your life and transform you from what you are now into his righteous children.

[This expository study was composed using notes taken from a sermon given by pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church of Phoenix, Arizona.]

Romans 1:18-21

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may have be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

Why do we need the righteousness that is by faith? Our problem in the presentation of the gospel is that we don't make people see that they are needy before we present the gospel. The gospel need the preparation of the fact that we are lost and need Jesus Christ. Many people--most of the world today--doesn't even know that they're lost! The gospel is You're in trouble, sick in sin, and you need Jesus Christ. The Bible tells you the truth about yourself and the truth isn't always pretty. The Law of God in the Bible is a spiritual mirror. James, Jesus half-brother said so in his letter. James 1:22-25. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does." So we see James, Jesus' brother, defining the Law of God as a spiritual mirror. Just as a mirror can't cleanse us, neither can the Law all by itself. The Law doesn't cleanse us of the dirt, it only shows us we're sinners, in need of Jesus Christ and His righteousness, His transforming power and healing. Sin is like the Aids virus. You can have it a long time and not know you're sick. The Law, when used properly shows us where the sin is in our lives. Then we're supposed to go to Jesus and get his help to overcome the sin. We can't do it by ourselves in our own power. Our righteousness is by faith, through the power of God working in us. Our law-keeping is in the power of Jesus dwelling in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. John Newton was a slave trader--a rotten person who did rotten things. He wrote "Amazing Grace" after he was saved, but not before he realized what a wretch he had been. He wrote, "Amazing grace, how sweet that sound that saved a wretch like me." John saw what he was. John saw what the Bible says about all of us--that we're sinners. Satan tells people the lie that we're not sinners. It goes right back to Eden.

Paul in Romans 1 goes on here to show the world is lost in sin. Verse 18, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness..." Paul puts sin into two categories: 1) ungodliness, and 2) unrighteousness.

  1. Ungodliness is "living like there is no God."
  2. Unrighteousness is "living against the will of God. Even without the Bible we have a sense or conscience, of what is right and wrong.

The Great Awakening which swept across the United States and back into Europe began with Jonathan Edwards reading in a monotone a sermon titled "Sinners in the hands of an angry God." The people were frightened by this knowledge. God's aim is to get rid of all evil. He is outraged at the evil, the sin, which is wrecking and taking peoples lives. The Flood in Noah's time was universal. It was God's wrath manifested against ungodliness and unrighteousness. Look also at Sodom and Gomorrah. John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only [begotten] Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 1 Corinthians 16:22. "If anyone does not love the Lord--a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!" Ephesians 2:1-3. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature [or our flesh] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

You don't break God's laws, in reality, they break you. You're broken by them. Look at what God's planning for sinner's. God is a righteous God. If we do not repent, here is what he's planning. Psalm 7:11-17. "God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day. If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head. I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." As you can see, nobody gets away with anything. It says in Romans 12 that we should be good to those who treat us with evil, so that we make room for the wrath of God if they don't repent. Don't be caught in the cycle of evil, but destroy evil with good. God will repay evil for evil if repentance isn't forthcoming. God's wrath will eventually come upon this world. It is going to come upon this world. The Bible says the wrath of God will come when people at a time when people are calling for the very rocks to fall on them to hide them from the Seven Last Plagues. [To see what this wrath entails, go to http://thesource.khouse.org and order the cassette series titled "Iron Mixed With Clay" and go to http://calvarychapel.org and order the cassette series titled "END TIMES, World Events & The Return of Jesus Christ." The Biblical "tribulation" is none other than the coming World War III, the deadliest war mankind will ever go through. Some Bible prophecies indicate that only 1/10th of the world's population will live through this deadly world war. If you are not presently a Christian, born-again, it would behoove you to investigate this, and take a serious look at where this present world and its' societies are headed.]

How do we escape the wrath of God? Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, "...for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." Paul's talking to this brand-new baby church. Jesus who delivers us from the wrath of God--let's continue the thought. 1 Thessalonians 5:9. "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." God has provided a way for us to escape his wrath--a relationship with Jesus Christ. How do you escape the wrath of God?--you go where the fire's already burned. Jesus took the wrath of God, took the heat, had it burned out on him. He took our place. If we are in Jesus, under grace, we are where the wrath of God has already been. The fire of that wrath has already gone out and we are safe. Our ultimate salvation is secure in Jesus. We will be in that beautiful resurrection to immortality Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 15:49-54.

Romans 1:19, "...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them." The wrath of God is for those who think they're getting away with something. Now you may say, 'How can God get down on someone who hasn't even seen a Bible? Well, God has put within the consciousness of every man and woman the fact that He exists. We instinctively know that there is someone out there who is not of us, not human, but beyond human. Secondly, the Bible says that 'it is the fool who says there's no God. Someone else has said that there are no atheists in a foxhole. Eddie Rickenbaucher said "There are no atheists on a life-raft." God has given us his creation to prove his existence. Verse 20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." One of the biggest proofs of God's existence is the creation. A close examination of God's creation, the physical world we live in and the universe around us disproves evolutionary theory. [Be sure to order Dr. Mark Eastman's book "Creation by Design". You can order online at: http://www.thewordfortoday.org/product_nav.html . CLICK ON "Other Material", and then on "Calvary Basics." You will find Dr. Eastman's book listed here.]

Psalm 19:1-4 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out to the ends of the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun..." Today even more than in the past we have no excuse, what with the Hubble Orbital Telescope taking billions of spectacular photographs of the heavens, to the very end of the known universe. The Hubble Space Telescope has even seen to the edge of our known universe, some astronomers believe to the very observable point of the Big Bang, the Beginning of time and space as we know it. There is incredibly complex order out there--a universe of laws. Pagans even knew of God's existence. 100 years before the birth of Christ this pagan Roman, who didn't believe in the God of the Bible, wrote: "When we lift our eyes to the heavens and consider the celestial bodies, what can be more manifest, more obvious, than that there must be a supreme intelligence by whom they are governed. For the life of me I cannot understand why a man who doubts this should also not find it natural to question the sun exists. The evidence is not more convincing for the sun's existence than for God's. If mankind were not deeply and unalterably convinced that God is, our conception of him could not have endured, steadfast, unwavering and ever growing in power as the centuries roll on and the generations of man come and go. All other ideas founded in the shifting sands time bears away before our eyes." Now that's a pagan Roman! He's saying "Look at the sky!" "The vast majority of mankind, though they never knew of Moses, nonetheless [to them] nature is the teacher, the soul is the pupil" said another.

The reformer John Calvin commented on this verse: "Man was created to be a spectator on this formed world. And eyes were given him that he might, by looking on so beautiful a picture, be led to the author Himself." No wonder one of the devil's great masterpiece's is the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution goes against everything you can see and observe about nature. The Hubble Space Telescope shows there was a beginning. Decay of radio-active elements shows there was a beginning of space and time as we know it. Space, time and matter had a beginning. Hebrews 1:10 states, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands." Look at Acts 14:17, which says, "Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." The entire ecosystem as we know it did not exist 65,000,000 years ago. It was totally different and unsuitable for mankind. Then, as a famous geologist-paleontologist pointed out (Sprague de Camp),"It was as if a curtain was wrung down on the old and all of a sudden, the new appeared..." referring to the flora and fauna that is suitable for mankind. This evolutionary paleontologist-geologist was amazed at the total lack of connective evolutionary evidence between the two types of ecosystems and the geologic suddenness of the demise of one and arise of the other (understand that suddenness for a geologist and paleontologist is measured in millions of years! But for any kind of evolution to work, if that is even within the realm of possibility, it would require multiple billions of years, not millions.). He didn't want to admit it, be the evidence pointed to the two ecosystems having arisen through an act of creation!

We have been taught in the past that man's concepts about God has evolved to where it is now, in belief about one God. The idea was that man evolved into monotheism. But do you know, something happened in 1930 that just blew that theory apart! Independently working archeologists, socialiologists, and anthropologists discovered in cultures all over the world that the actual truth was, there societies all began with a belief in one God. And instead of evolving into monotheism, they de-volved into polytheism and idolatry, just like the Bible says. This is proven very thoroughly in a book titled: "Eternity In Their Hearts" by Don Richardson. He documented all these cultures and how they worshipped the "Good Sky God." [This can be ordered online from http://www.amazon.com for under $10.00]

[This expository study was written based on sermon notes taken from a sermon given by pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, AZ.]

Romans 1:21-23

Romans 1:21-23, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

The problem with humans beings isn't that we have to know God, the problem is that we need to know God. The problem isn't about God revealing himself, but about people rejecting God. Even though people knew God, Paul was saying, they rejected God. What did God tell Jeremiah about the human heart absent from the guidance of God's Holy Spirit? Jeremiah 17:9. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

These things happen when you don't worship God. If you reject the truth of God, don't expect to see any more in the future. The Bible teaches that man's religious beliefs have de-volved into polytheism. Man now worships himself and his self-image. The Egyptians and Romans worshipped eagles and birds of prey, and four-footed creatures. The problems with India are religious, not food. Cows and mice eat up their grain stores while people starve, worshipping those same creatures, not daring to kill one of them. To have a cow come marching into ones living room in India and relieve herself, is considered to be an honor. The Egyptians worshipped the scarab beetle. This is the beetle that eats cow manure. God says something about images in Exodus 20:4-6. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; I am the Lord your God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing mercy to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." People want to worship something, so they worship bleeding statues, weeping statues... Isaiah 44:12-20, "The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. The carpenter measures with a line and make an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of a man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. In is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, 'Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.' From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, 'Save me; you are my god.' They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, 'Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what if left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?' He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 'Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?'"

People never thought of Who gave the rain that watered the tree they cut down to make their idols, much less of Who created trees in the first place. Let's look at Deuteronomy 7:25-26. "The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction." 1 Corinthians 10:19-22, "Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" Strong advice from the apostle Paul. Unbeknownst to the owners, demons often accompany the possession of these things, yes, totally unknown to the owner. Don't open yourself up to demons by possessing idols, even thought you may view them as precious artifacts or art. I'm not kidding, demons, unknown to the owner, have come into households because they "belong" to the owned artifact or idol. They feel they have a right to accompany the idol that represents them. God was telling them that, when they went into the Promised Land, they would find a lot of idols. Why did God says this? He tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:19-22, which we just read. Because demons inspired the making and use of these idols. When you worship these things, or bring these things into your home, you bring demons in. The Navajo cachinas are idols fashioned after demonic manifestations the Navajo's have really seen. Unicorns have demonic origins. Demons can actually accompany the possession of these things, unknown to us. Don't open yourself up to demons by possessing idols, even though you may view them as "art".

We pay a price to follow Christ. He paid the ultimate price, and he asks us to forsake what's bad for us. Is that so high a price to pay?

Another form of idolatry is putting something ahead of God. Satan can also stuff God out of our lives by all the activities that tend to get crowded into our daily existence. How much time do we give to God, and also Godly fellowship with God's people? As it gets close to the end, Satan is going to try to crowd God out of our lives more and more. We have to put Him back into our lives more and more to offset this. You could say Deuteronomy 7 is old covenant stuff, but you can turn to the book of Acts and see where they gathered up all this pagan stuff they had, books of magic and had a huge bonfire with all this stuff. They burned it all. It's New Testament also. Don't become fanatical, but listen to God's Spirit. Satan the devil is not bothering you or me, I assure you. We're not that important. He's a created being. He can only be in one place at a time. As the saying goes, he's got bigger fish to fry. But if you've got this junk in your house--if your worshipping images or venerating images--you've got Saint Jude buried in the backyard, so you'll sell your house--give me a break! Is anything more idolatrous than that? Guys, if you think this advice is crazy, then maybe your foolish heart has been darkened.

"Professing to be wise, they became fools and worshipped idols." Let's not do that. Let's clean house. Just one more word, if you're husband isn't a Christian, and the cachina collection is his, don't you dare go home and burn it! Use wisdom. Some of you may be in the position where you can't do anything about the stuff there. When we go to a Chinese restaurant and there are Chinese gods all around, we can't burn them or destroy this artwork. Reading your fortune is fortune telling--eat the cookie, yes, but don't read the fortune. Following Jesus is 100 percent or nothing. Jesus says "If you're not with me, you're against me."

[This expository study was based on sermon notes taken from a sermon given by pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, AZ.]

Romans 1:24-32.

Romans 1:24-32, "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Sexual immorality is nothing new. Homosexuality is nothing new. Homosexuality was rampant in the Roman Empire. It was written that Julius Caesar was every woman's man, and every man's woman. The dean of a 1.1 million person Christian denomination said that he doesn't believe that homosexuality is a sin. This is a dean of a seminary! He just lost the nomination for president of that 1.1 million member denomination. He says "Homosexuality is by no stretch of the imagination a Biblical theme. Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality" he said. "Paul criticized immorality, not homosexuals" said this theologian. An Episcopal Bishop has written a book in which he says the apostle Paul was a self-hating repressed homosexual. In his book "Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism" Don Shelby Sponge, Bishop of the Newark, New Jersey Diocese contends that, "the apostle Paul was a self-loathing and repressed gay male." According to this AP article (in a newspaper being quoted by pastor Martin) Sponge also argued that the Biblical accounts of miracles such as the virgin birth and the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ never took place, they're not to be taken literally. Even more recently in USA Today there was an article titled "Out Of The Church Closet", talking homosexuality in the Christian Church, with such headings as "Gay Clergy Fight For Their Rights To Minister Their Faith." A lesbian Presbertyrian minister, who is a practicing lesbian pastor of a Rochester, New York Presbertyrian Church is fighting the church courts and says she will go to the civil courts to keep her position at the church because she feels she has a right to minister even though she is a practicing lesbian in a lesbian relationship right now. Bishop Sponge is also quoted in this same newspaper spread. He says, "We should open our heart." He says he has ten openly gay priests serving in parishes serving in his diocese and he also believes and says "That as long as the church refuses to allow gays to come honestly into the church then I don't think the church has the right to say anything to the gay community about sexual ethics." "I think we should open our hearts to accept the gay community" he says, "and only then can the dialogue begin." He continues, "The only thing I think the church should require of gays and lesbians is that they live their life with integrity. That they be in life giving and faithful relationships with their partners." Recently in Pasadena, California, All Saints Church, an Episcopal congregation of 3,000 performed a blessing ceremony for two men in a homosexual relationship. It was basically a homosexual wedding service. I quote from the Moody Monthly, "Such ceremonies have occurred previously in the United Church of Christ, the Pro-Homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches and a few other liberal congregations. But All Saints Church, the largest Episcopal congregation west of the Mississippi is the most prominent church to sponsor one."

What does God think about homosexuality? Genesis 19:1-13. "The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 'My lords,' he said, 'please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.' 'No,' they answered. 'we will spend the night in the square.' But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast [this could have been during the Days of Unleavened Bread], and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom--both young and old--surrounded the house. They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.' Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, 'No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.'

'Get out of the way,' they replied. And they said, 'This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them.' They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

The two men said to Lot, 'Do you have anyone else here--sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.'"

In Lot's opening statement to the two men he was basically saying "stay with me till morning and then get out of town quick!" In the Middle East, when you ate with someone, you were obliged to be a friend with that person for life and you were his protector as long as he was under your roof. He would protect you with his life. He would spare nothing to spare your life. These two men who were really angels were his guests. The ethics of the day said, "You do anything within your power to spare your guest harm." This is reflected in Jesus' statement in Revelation when he says "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and will open the door, I will come in and I will eat with him and he with me." He's saying, "I'll be your friend forever--I'll defend you with my life." He's already done that with the danger of our sin.

They said about Lot, "He's an alien, and now he's acting like a judge?!?" This is the homosexual community's constant accusation. There's this society that wants to abuse children [Namibia or something like that], and they're fighting for their rights to abuse children! And if you raise a stand against them, they say, "Oh, so you're our judge?!? You're so much better than us?" This complaint they have is nothing new. They were so bent on sinning that when God smote them with blindness they still didn't stop trying to find the door to Lot's house. They wore themselves out trying to find the door. This is how inflamed they were, how perverted they were. God judged them, Jude said, because these men went after strange flesh. God made them an example of eternal fire [an eternal fire being a fire that isn't quenched, but burns itself out when the fuel is used up.]. They were punished for their sin. God lays down his laws for his society in Leviticus 18:22-29. "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable [Hebrew: audacious depravity]. Do not have sexual relations with an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. Everyone who does any of these detestable things--such persons must be cut off from their people."

This takes care of the argument that when God talks about homosexuality, he is talking about promiscuous homosexuality. God says, "I don't care if you are promiscuous about it or not." He says in verse 22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female, it is an audacious depravity." God goes on to say that the people who do that should be cut off. In ancient Israel under God's authority there was a death penalty for that.

Let's look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." In Ephesians 5 the apostles Paul tells us "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them, for it is disgraceful to even speak of the things which are done by them in secret." 1 Timothy 1:9-10. "We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers--and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." If you have a problem with this you have a problem with God, not me. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin problem not a genetic problem.

The top named sex researchers are saying the same thing. Masters and Johnson said in 1979, "We're born man, woman and sexual beings. We learn our sexual preferences and orientations." Masters and Johnson are the famous sex researchers that everyone quotes when referring to sex problems--they're quoted all the time. Then in 1984 William Masters said, "The genetic theory of homosexuality has been generally discarded today, despite the interest in hormone mechanisms in the origin of homosexuality. No serious scientist today suggests that a simple cause-effect relationship applies."

I'm not gay bashing, because I believe with all my heart that God loves homosexuals. I believe he hates the sin of homosexuality. And I believe that Jesus Christ can set you free if you're struggling with homosexuality or lesbianism or any perversion. God can set you free. It's a learned behavior, and through the power of Christ you can unlearn that, and you can be given new desires, and the power to say "No" to those old desires by the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe that can happen. And it has happened. Dr. Alfred Kinsey stated "I have myself come to the conclusion that homosexuality is largely a matter of conditioning." Dr. R. Kronimeyer, in the New York Tribune said, "With rare exceptions, homosexuality is neither genetic nor the result of some glandular disturbance. Homosexuals are made not born that way. From my 25 years experience as a clinical psychologist I firmly believe that homosexuality is a learned response to early painful experiences and that it can be unlearned." Kinsey was convinced that "The psychologists were making matters worse by starting with the assumption that homosexuality was an inherited abnormality which could not be cured simply because it was inherent. Kinsey was confident that there was absolutely no evidence of inheritance." Of course the Bible has said this for 2,000 years. The Bible isn't right because Masters and Johnson agree with it. The Bible isn't right because Alfred Kinsey has discovered the Bible is right. The Bible is right, and these guys, for once, happen to hit it right on the mark.

What this means is that there is tremendous potential for men and women to be set free from the sexual perversions and bondage's, because it isn't genetic. If it's genetic, how can you change it, right? But it's not, and if you're having these struggles right now, and maybe you've never done anything yet, I want you to listen to me, God didn't make you gay. God didn't make anyone a homosexual or a lesbian or a pervert of any kind. God has not made you that way. A lot of people get their introduction into homosexual lifestyles by being molested, by someone who was molested who was molested. It's a cycle, this pattern that goes on and on. And if you've been hurt that way, Jesus Christ can heal you, and you need to be healed, and he has great compassion for you. So don't get this idea, even if you're involved in it, the Lord loves you, and wants to save you and set you free.

We're not bashing anybody, that's not the spirit of the Word, but the Word is saying, now if you're going to get militant about it, and demand your rights, we have to say, 'Well look, the Bible says, "It's a sin." And it shouldn't be a "right." It will destroy society. Why is it, those of you who know history will attest to this, why is it that every civilization, just before it fell, it's like the thing that pushed it over the edge was a rampant acceptance of homosexuality? The Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the French just before the revolution occurred, there was this rampant acceptance of homosexuality. When the family gets attacked like that, and the basic building block of the society is the family, the family structure rots and the society is given over to these perversions, then the land itself spews out the inhabitants just like God's Word says [it did in ancient Canaan]. This last month somebody gave me a video of a Gay Rights, Gay Pride Week parade, one held in Portland. I have never in my entire life seen anything as sick and perverted and obscene as what was done in public in this parade. This is what we want to pass tomorrow night. The city [of Phoenix, Arizona] wants to pass Gay Rights legislation. Everyone should see the video I saw, but no one should see it, if you know what I mean. It is absolutely gross. And this is in broad daylight, stuff that like the Bible says, is too gross to even talk about. And yet it needs to be exposed. It's scary. [If you have a gay or lesbian friend, how would you share Jesus with them? This question is answered in David T. Moore's cassette "What Do I Say To My Gay Friend?" which can be ordered online at: http://www.mooreonlife.com . Be sure and order a copy of this tape. True Christians, like Jesus, aren't out to destroy and kill like the Pharisees wanted Jesus to do with that woman caught in adultery. True Christians want to spare, forgive and see Jesus save those who are in bondage to sin, and the gays are no exception. If you've been gay bashing, look closely at your motives, because they're not Christ inspired.]

Well, it's sure easy to point the finger at homosexual immorality, but what about heterosexual immorality?

Some people reason, "One's better than the other, I'll sin straight." Let's look at 1 Corinthians 6:9 again and see who God picks on first. Who's the first group mentioned?--Fornicators. What is fornication? It's just the Bible's word for any kind of pre-marital sex. You've been living together for three years? No you've been fornicating for three years. You love the girl? Well if you love her that much why don't you marry her? Adultery is when you have sex with someone who is not your married partner. Homosexuality is the last thing Paul talks about. The first thing he talks about are promiscuous heterosexuals. The book "The Day America Told The Truth" revealed that one in five Americans loses his or her virginity before the age of 13. At least one third of married men and women are having or have had an affair lasting, on the average, one year. And saddest of all, the survey showed that religion plays no part in shaping more than half of all Americans opinions on sexuality. His survey, funny thing, showed that most Americans believe in God, and they believe in the Bible. But when it comes to what they do with their sexuality, the Bible is thrown out the door--who cares what God says? And we're paying the price. A year ago U.S. News & World Report stated that teenage sexuality is way up from what it had been, and American college students are the most sexually promiscuous group in the country. Well, who's to blame for all this? I think, first of all, parents are to blame. Many teens are simply taking their cue from Mom and Dad. The All-American now has seven sex partners in his or her life. Kids know what you're doing. It doesn't work anymore to be saying, "Don't do as I do, do as I say." That never really worked, and it's not going to work today. Parents can't continue to do that and have their kids unaffected--do you understand? Parents are to blame. Our media is to blame--sexually explicit movies, television, programs, sitcoms, late-night movies and very sexually oriented commercials are to blame. Garbage in, garbage out. Lot got real comfortable [living] in Sodom. The angels had to drag him out of the city before it was destroyed. He was so numbed by what was going on.

Even our public schools are to blame for what's going on. If you're a public school teacher, hats off to you. I am not talking about you, but I am talking about sex education text books that are used in most American classrooms today, that are going far beyond a simple biology lesson explaining the physiological matters of reproduction and birth. Instead they try to teach sex and sex education without any corresponding moral responsibility. And the results have been disastrous. Since they started sex education in school teen pregnancies have soured--it just follows. Look at when it started. When they started giving kids contraceptives, what has happened? In a corresponding relation, teen sex and pregnancy have also increased. Sex education textbooks encourage pre-marital sex as valuable and good. I'm not making this up. I'm going to read, and I've had to edit like crazy to be able to read this to you. One text designed for elementary and High School students says, "Sex is like learning to play a game," and then it goes on, I didn't write it, "encourage the kids to practice so that they can become very good at the game." These textbooks also encourage sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility. Listen to what one textbook says, "Not so long ago, boys believed that they were somehow obligated to marry a girl if they had intercourse with her. That idea isn't nearly so prevalent now. One relationship may end with intercourse and then the boy goes onto a different kind or the same kind of a relationship with another girl. This is all part of the process of growing up, of maturing." Sick! One very popular textbook gives the advice to homosexual teens on how to pick up older homosexual men. I couldn't even read it to you. Now, your kids are in public school, Mom and Dad. When's the last time you checked out what they're being taught??? When's the last time you went to a P.T.O. meeting or a P.T.A. meeting? When's the last time you took their textbook and said, "Let me read this" and you looked up the sections that you need to see? You have a responsibility to do that. "Well, I'm paying them to do that." No, you're paying godless, amoral people who write those textbooks to teach your children what you don't believe in! That's what you're paying for. That's what your tax dollars are giving you. Praise God, we've got some Christian teachers in there, but I tell you, they're fighting a battle that is a losing battle, and they know it. Thank God for those missionaries in the public schools. But they can't stem the tide.

Our heroes are to blame as well. Magic Johnson's dear friend, 1984 Olympic Woman's Basketball team member Pamela McGee shared the following in a Los Angeles Times article, "I guess it didn't surprise me that Magic had the disease, knowing his flamboyant lifestyle. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Magic's closest friends always knew him as a major player and womanizer. He had one-night stands with what he'd call "freaks" all across America. The reason he probably made it public is to warn the thousands of women he has slept with. So it didn't surprise me that he had the insidious disease we call H.I.V." In Sports Illustrated Magazine, Magic stated, "That from the time he first arrived in Los Angeles he accommodated as many women sexually as he could." Oh, he's our hero. And now he's the great A.I.D.S. spokesperson. A guy who by his own admission went out with every freak that would come his direction. What kind of heroes do we have? Wilt Chamberlain, recently made the startling claim that he had sex with nearly twenty thousand women. Why not 500 thousand, Wilt? I don't know if he's telling the truth or not.

Infamous Dallas Cowboy linebacker Hollywood Henderson admitted in his book "Out of Control, Confessions of an NFL Casualty", he admitted that with the five years he was with the Cowboys he had "affairs with over a thousand women, from one night stands to three day romances, to four or five women a night at orgies." What kind of heroes do we have? Pete Rose turns out to be a major league gambler, and Sugar Ray Leonard was discovered to be punching his petite little wife. What kind of heroes do we have? Men running for the highest office of the land talk about their adulterous affairs, like the deceit and immorality that has to accompany an affair will not have any effect on how they operate in public office--and we should not let their affairs effect what we think of them and their credibility. [For more on this subject CLICK ON: http://www.ChristianBooks.com/khouse and order the cassette series "The Most Dangerous Gospel"] I have a problem with that. I think that those who are in public places and public offices and public leadership have a higher standard [to maintain] than anyone else in our land. Oh but Christians are different, aren't they? I wish.

A number of years ago a survey of recently divorced Christians of a large church appeared in Christianity Today. They weren't all recently divorced, some of them were divorced for a long time. And its research showed among other things, that Christians are involved in sexual immorality in numbers that you never even thought of. Get this. Now before I share with you these statistics, I want you to grab this. In the very beginning of the survey all of the people were asked, "Are you Christians?" "Yes." Well, we know there's a difference between Christians and born-again Christians, right? So the next question was: "Are you a born-again Christian?" And all of them responding to this survey said "Yes." "We are born-again Christians and we know what that means." So when they were asked, "Is celibacy realistic for a formerly married Christian?" Only 47 percent of the divorced men, and 24 percent of the women reported that celibacy is realistic. Now I thought that it would be the guy who would say, "Now forget this, man." It's the women. 29 percent of the men and 28 percent of the women reported that they weren't sure that it was wrong. Oh wait a minute. I don't know where they're going to Church, do you? Only 9 percent, listen, only 9 percent of the men and only 27 percent of the women had been celibates since end of their marriages. That means that celibacy means you don't have sexual relations with anybody. Only 9 percent of these born-again Christian men and only 27 percent of the born-again Christian women had been celibate since the end of their marriage. The rest of the group of born-again Christians were sexually active, some having relations more than 50 times since their divorces. One fourth of the men said that celibacy was unrealistic. Almost half of the women said they could not practice celibacy. The survey asked them an obvious question: "Well, don't you care about what the Bible says and with what you're doing?" And you know what, they almost all of them said? 67 percent of the men, 58 percent of the women said, "Yeah, we've got a conflict going on." One person replied, "Sometimes I feel so despondent after I've been out and engaging in immorality that I feel like I want to die, rather than live in this torn apart feeling." Maybe some of you know how this person feels. Another person said, "I have tremendous guilt when I am sexually immoral. My guilt prevents my spiritual growth." And maybe some of us can relate to our spiritual growth being stifled because of sexual immorality that we're engaging in. But I think one of the most interesting results of this survey is to see how the Christians who are sleeping around justify their sexual immorality. One person who'd slept around 10 to 20 times said, "I've prayed about my sexual needs and God has answered them and given me someone to relate with. I couldn't have planned it that way." Give me a break. Don't any of you come to me, and tell me that God wants you to have this married man--that God's brought him into your life. Don't tell me that. Because God would never do anything to contradict his Word. And God never makes exceptions for us. You're being deceived. That's sin. Another person who had slept around 20 to 50 times simply stated, "I don't feel condemned by God." Well, you know why? Because probably about the 20th time the Holy Spirit stopped bugging you about it anymore. You know you can sin and sin and sin and finally God says, "I'll give you what you want, you can have it, but what you sow you're going to what?--REAP. And you'll stop being convicted of sin. And if you're in an immoral relationship right now and you don't feel guilty about it, YIKES!!! You had better hit the panic button! Hit it! Because you're in danger! You might not even be a Christian if you don't feel condemned by sexual immorality. What makes you feel you are a Christian? Someone who had 10 to 20 episodes said, "My personal faith affirms God's law for the whole man, not unreal antiquated rules." MAN! The One who made us made this Book! You buy a new car and the manual comes with it. You buy a VCR, state of the art, a manual comes with it. You buy a T.V., a manual come with it. And you don't throw it out and call it antiquated rules! I mean, that's how to program things for success. And God's written the rulebook, and He knows how life should be lived, and if you don't live this way you're gonna get yourself in a lot of trouble.

And finally, a person involved in 50 plus episodes sleeping around stated, "Christ wants us to live abundant lives. To me that includes sex." Whoa! Well I'm not anti-sex and I don't believe God's anti-sex. Sex is great, in marriage. God meant for sex to be placed in the protection of a marriage where you're with one partner for the rest of your life. Not to see how many conquests you could make. You know, any dog could do that. I mean, any dog can run around and make conquests. But I like the definition of a good lover. It says, "A man who can satisfy one woman all her life, and a woman who can satisfy one man all her life." That's the definition of a good lover. There's all this pressure to prove you're macho, you know. Macho, smacho, you're just a dog in heat, you know, that's all you are. Well this has been a very interesting message, very uplifting. I feel like apologizing and yet, I mean, it's God's Word.

Now what if the shoe has fit, what if the Holy Spirit has knocked you along side of the head today? I just want to warn you. Listen. We are not talking about something now that is not dangerous. We are now talking about a life and death issue when we're talking about sexuality. We are not being told the whole truth about A.I.D.S. The information I get from sources other than the Center For Disease Control--it's telling me things that you're not hearing. In fact, a little tiny piece in USA Today, about this tall, that nobody probably read, was clipped and given to me. And it's an announcement from the C.D.C. stating, "That we now know, and believe, that there are two to three times as many A.I.D.S. cases as we have reported." So you take the current number, what, 200,000 and multiply that times two or three. And then you multiply that probably times 10 [six million, and this sermon was given around 1995--the data is five years old already. The infected figure could be as high as 20 to 30 million infected A.I.D.S. cases!--one eighth of our population in the United States!!] Because you can have the disease and be passing it along and not have the symptoms yet. A.I.D.S. will kill you. And the sad thing is, A.I.D.S. won't just kill you, it'll kill your family too. I mean, there are families now where the father messed around, his wife got A.I.D.S. from him, the baby got A.I.D.S. because she had it, and the entire family has been killed by this awful disease. You see, it doesn't select the guilty party. It's gone beyond that now, O.K.? You're endangering not only you but the ones you love. You're a fool to be fooling around. God said, "I'm not going to be mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." And I'm warning you, if ever--you better be serious about what God says about morality, about sexuality and purity, you'd better be serious today, because we're not living in the 70's, we're not living in the 60's, we're living in the 90's and people are going to die, and this congregation if affected already. And it will be more and more. And it's tragic. And it could have all been avoided had we lived what we know. Dear precious flock, I love you, I don't want to see you hurt. Listen to the Lord.

Now next week what I want to do is I want us to get together, and I want us to talk about some of the pressures that you experience as a single, maybe a divorced single, maybe a single single, a married person with strong sexual temptations. We're going to talk about what the pressure is. I mean, in the dating scene today, if you say no, you may never get a date again, right? So, what do you do? Let's talk about that next week. Let's see what God's Word says, and let's see what God's Word has given us, to stand victorious in purity, O.K.?

Now if you have sinned sexually, I don't want you to think it's the end of the world, either. I want you to know that you are forgiven, if you will repent of your sins, Jesus will forgive you. If you'll turn from it, if you'll leave that lifestyle Jesus will forgive you. He's already done it at the cross, you've been forgiven. You need to claim the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. And it says, "And such were some of you, but you are washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (I Cor. 6:11-12). You are forgiven in Christ. He doesn't hate you. But you can reap awful consequences from your sin. God's forgiveness doesn't mean you won't get A.I.D.S. or syphilis, which is now in epidemic stages [to say nothing of incurable herpes which will destroy your ability to have a loving sexual relationship in marriage for the rest of your life!]. What you sow you will reap. We can pray for a crop failure, though. [Jesus in John 8 said to the woman caught in adultery, "Now go and sin no more." He forgave her and set her free."]

[This has been a transcript of a sermon given by pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, Arizona.]

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