In part one we explored the concept of sowing and reaping. We also looked at some foundational truths that we all need to keep in mind as we live. We ended with the truth that while we live in a corrupt and broken system, God set forth a plan to redeem us and it. In this post, we’ll look at what happens when we reject that notion.
What happens when we buy into the world’s belief system? Well that brings us to the second set of scripture that explains it. This is all out of Romans chapter 1.
For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them.
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.
Basically what this is describing is that God has revealed himself to man through his conscience as well as nature and when man rejects that revelation and denies God’s existence or fails to follow him, it causes God’s anger to be put upon them.
For even though they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.
This begins the description of the slide toward godlessness and immorality in a person. Note that at first they recognized God as the creator but the slide starts when they did not honor him as such. The result? Their hearts were darkened. But because man is created with a spiritual void that must be filled, they exchanged worshiping the true God for an imitation.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The next step in the slide was that God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts. And the cycle we’ve seen and/or experienced over and over continues, namely we reject God and he allows us to make our own choices and when we do that apart from God, it never ends well.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading and vile passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural [a function contrary to nature], and in the same way also the men turned away from the natural function of the woman and were consumed with their desire toward one another, men with men committing shameful acts and in return receiving in their own bodies the inevitable and appropriate penalty for their wrongdoing.
Once God let’s a person run with the lusts of their hearts, it doesn’t take long before their lusts send them further down the hole. We see here that the next step is that God gave them over to degrading and vile passions. Now the world completely rejects this notion and will say that the above is neither degrading nor vile, but just a natural thing. This should be a major red flag for everyone who claims Jesus as savior because anytime you see things in the world stand in stark contrast to the things of God, you have to remember that the world (meaning the forces controlling it, i.e., the spirit of this age) hates God and all he stands for.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness.
They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.
The final step in the decline is that God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that the end result is that sin gets its full sway and impact.
So let’s look at the slide in a single list to see how it plays out:
- A person rejects God and does not acknowledge him
- Their heart becomes darkened
- God says ok, you can follow the lusts of your heart
- The person goes deeper into the sin and it leads them to degrading and vile passions. God let’s them go.
- Finally they end up with a depraved mind and God let’s them.
Often we hear or perhaps even think in these terms ourselves, that it’s very vindictive of God to act that way. After all, if we are inclined to sin and born into it, why are we held accountable for it? Remember this. God is not responsible for our actions. We are. He made himself known to us in our hearts and in creation but we are the ones that choose (or have chosen) to look to other things to satisfy.
What is our response?
So how do we combat this onslaught? We are bombarded with messages, enticements and all manner of things all designed to pull us away. Remember what the last part of the verse in Romans 1 says regarding those that choose not to follow God. It declares that, “ they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.”
We don’t have to look much further than chapter 12 of the same book for the answer.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
These verses tell us to:
- Dedicate our entire selves to God as a living sacrifice, i.e., be image bearers of God
- Do not conform to the pattern of this world
- Be conformed to the image and likeness of God by renewing our minds
Practically speaking this means spending more time pursuing God than the trinkets the world has to offer. I can almost see the nods in agreement. But you likely don’t think what you do daily is off-base or harmful. After all, you’re not like the person in Romans 1. You love God, you do acknowledge him and you follow him as best you can.
But you’ll do well to remember. You are no match for the craftiness and cunning of the spiritual forces lurking unseen. Your only defense is God. Your only hope to mitigate their influence is by having the Spirit of God, who is called the Helper for a reason, rule in your flesh.
And the way to do that is to put down the seemingly trivial things that pull you away from God and pursue righteousness. God will not twist your arm. But he will be right there with you as you do. Your move.