Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put this song in my mind this morning:

Give Thanks / Don Moen / Henry Smith

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son…

Then, as I sat down to type up what he taught me through his word today, he put the song “Above All” in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1:18-32 (NIV):

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may 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 people 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. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

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 about God for a lie, and worshiped and served 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 sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they 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 have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 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.

God has made it plain

The Bible teaches us that all people have been given, by God, the knowledge of God. He has made himself plain to us through all his created works, which include ourselves as his creations. It also teaches us in John 1 that Jesus Christ is our creator, and that he is God and was with God from the beginning. So, although all people throughout the world may not know the name “Jesus,” though God has revealed him to many people through dreams, I am told, they have God-given knowledge of him through his created works. So, all people are without excuse.

The problem is not that people, including those who claim to know him, don’t know that God exists, or that they are unfamiliar with his divine attributes, but rather that they don’t acknowledge, honor, value, respect, revere, adhere to, and/or show allegiance, loyalty, commitment, faithfulness and fidelity to God. And, it isn’t as if they don’t know the truth about God, either, because God has made it plain to them, but rather that they choose to suppress what knowledge (truth) they do have by their wickedness. By their choice to suppress what truth they do know and understand from creation, in order to follow after their own sinful desires, they show their ingratitude, as well, for all that God has done for them, and for all he has provided for them - most importantly the provision of their salvation.

Seared Consciences

The Lord Jesus gave me a pictorial illustration of this concept this morning. He gave me a vision of the globe spinning around and stopping at a place that looked as though it had been burned. On this side of the globe were two ears, one above the other, and both were burned. I pictured in my mind that these two ears represented the U.S. government in D.C. and the U.N. in New York, yet they could represent any governments throughout the world or any peoples throughout the world, including those who claim to know Christ/God, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron (See 1 Tm. 4:1-2), and whose ears refuse to hear and whose eyes refuse to see what God is saying, and what he requires of his followers (see Is. 42:19-20; Mt. 13:15; Ac. 7:51; 2 Tm. 4:4; et al).

These with seared consciences and with deaf ears, who have ears to hear but who refuse to listen to God, could be well-versed in the scriptures, full of knowledge of God and his word, and of the teachings of Christ. They may even boast of their knowledge, as did the Pharisees of old, and they may even believe they possess great wisdom from above, and yet turn away from pure devotion to God/Christ in order to follow after the idols of mankind.

This situation exists even today, and even among church people and church leaders and those who claim to know Christ, in which people exchange (trade) the truth of God and of his word for a lie, and they end up worshiping and serving created things (even other humans) rather than the creator. In fact, this is a HUGE problem in today’s church and among God’s people, or among those who profess to be God’s people. The church in America, in particular, has traded the truth of God, of Jesus Christ and of his gospel of salvation, for lies of men, false teaching (half-truths), and man-made religion designed to appeal to the flesh of mankind in order to attract the world to the worldly church (institution of man). So, there is little distinction, if any, between the church and the world anymore. Instead of the church going out to the world in preaching the true gospel of salvation, they are attracting the world into the church via worldly methods. Instead of bringing the sinner to the cross, they are entertaining him so he will want to come back and have more fun.

God gives them over

The wrath of God, thus, is actively and progressively being revealed against such wickedness and godlessness of the people of this earth. His wrath (judgment) comes in many forms. One of the forms of God’s judgments against mankind (humans) is to just hand them over to what their evil hearts desire, and to no longer convict them of sin or to try to persuade them to change. At least this is my understanding of God giving people over to their own sinful desires. And, I believe this includes handing his own children over, as well, allowing their hearts to be hardened, just like he has done before in history, removing his hand of protection and just letting them suffer the natural consequences of their own devices, I believe in hopes that they will soon return to the Lord of their own accord, so that God might heal them, restore them and renew their faith in him.

In this teaching here on this handing over of humans, who refuse to honor and obey their creator, to what these humans’ hearts and minds desire, there is a long list provided for us as to what all things God hands people over to. The list includes homosexual relations, adultery, fornication, no fidelity (unfaithfulness) and immoral and corrupt minds (it all begins in the mind anyway), yet the list does not end there. The list also includes greed, envy, hatred (murder), deceit (lies), malice, gossip, slander, and arrogance (pride), etc.

Also Approve

“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.”

This, to me, is where the “rubber meets the road,” i.e. this is the moment of truth, I believe. Not one of us is perfect, and not one of us will live a perfect sinless life as long as we walk the face of this earth, and as long as we live in these flesh bodies. Yet, that is never an excuse for willful continued sin. God knows the difference, even though we may try to fool ourselves or others. The Bible teaches us (see 1 John, for one) that if we say we have fellowship with God, or we claim to know God, and yet we continue in a lifestyle of willful and unrepentant sin, then we are liars and we do not live by the truth. Or, if we claim to know and to love God, and yet we hate our fellow humans and we refuse to obey God’s commands, or we think we don’t have to obey, then we are also liars and we do not live by the truth. The truth of the gospel is that we must leave our lives of sin behind us, be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we must follow Jesus Christ in obedience, and put on our new lives in him, “created to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness.” (See Lu. 9:23-25; Ep. 4:17-24; Rm. 6; Gl. 2:20; and Ac. 26:16-18).

The other half of this sin issue presented here is just as bad as the first half, I believe. Instead of weeping and grieving over our own sins and the sins of the world, we are entertained by them and we applaud (clap), laugh out loud, and enjoy partaking in the sins of others via TV shows, the news, movies, video games, books, magazines, and/or pornography (light and heavy), et al. God has a holy disgust against what stands in opposition to his word, to his divine nature, and to his revealed will for our lives.

He hates sin because of what sin does to people. That is why Jesus Christ left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, was tempted and suffered as we are tempted and suffer, and then went to the cross to die a painful death for our sins so we could go free, not only from eternity in hell, but also from slavery (bondage) to sin day-to-day. His desire for us is that we leave our lives of sin behind us, and that we live lives holy and pleasing to him, because that is what is best for us and for our relationship with him.

Above All /Artist: Michael W. Smith

Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a Rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all