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Romans 1-3 continued...

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 and order the cassette series titled "Iron Mixed With Clay" and go to 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: . 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 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.]


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