Sermon: Disordered Affections Graphically Brought to Light Romans 1:24-31

Disordered Affections Graphically Brought to Light

Romans 1:24-31

Truth Taught- When man turns away from God with disordered affections, God will turn away from man and give him up to them

Introduction

Last time we saw that God’s righteousness is currently being revealed in the Gospel. He is right now saving sinners from the very wrath that they have earned due to their sin against God.

We also discovered that God’s wrath is currently being poured out on mankind due to man’s sin. One writer calls God’s wrath, His hot, settled, just, personal fury against sinners…God is very angry with everyone except those who bow the knee to Jesus.[1]

We further learned that mankind knows God and God’s requirements and yet suppresses the truth they know in order to sin without consequences. Paul went on to prove that all people suppress the truth. He proved first that all people know the truth. You can’t suppress what you don’t know. What all people know is that there is a Creator who made everything. God’s universe that He created displays much of who God is, namely His invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature. He tells us that all people know these things about God and yet they do not honor Him as God. Instead of worshipping and honoring God, sinful man worships God’s creation instead. Here’s how odd this really is: creation points to the Creator that should be obvious and yet mankind is so sinful he simply worships creation and not God. When man worships creation rather than the Creator his affections and desires are extremely disordered.

If we could summarize what Paul taught us last time, we might say that our worship and affections are disordered. Mankind should worship the Creator and exercise stewardship over creation…that’s proper order. What mankind does, however, is pretends there is no God and worships creation instead. Our affections and worship are disordered.

Because mankind has disordered worship or we might even say, idolatrous worship, God begins to act in judgment toward us.

In today’s message we’ll see the downward spiral of disordered affections and disordered worship.

Romans 1:24–32 (ESV)

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This downward spiral into more and more sin could be compared to a garden that’s left unattended. Because of the curse weeds and thorns grow by themselves. We do not have to plant weeds they just happen on their own when allowed to grow. That’s a picture of mankind who turns its back on God. We will never by ourselves do what we should. We cannot by ourselves restrain the sin in our lives. When we think we can be righteous without God we immediately fall under His just and righteous wrath. When man goes at it without God the weeds of sin take over and become thicker and thicker choking out all true goodness that God brings.

Those who ignore God’s provision for dealing with sin and seek to improve themselves by their own power invariably commit the most heinous sin of all, which is self-righteousness and pride. Only God can graciously remove sin or produce righteousness, and the person who tries to eliminate his own guilt or achieve his own righteousness merely drives himself deeper into sin and further from God.[2]

The practice of God giving man up or giving him over to certain sin is not new. In fact He did the same thing with Israel in the Old Testament…

Psalm 81:10–12 (ESV)

10    I am the Lord your God,

who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11    “But my people did not listen to my voice;

Israel would not submit to me.

12    So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,

to follow their own counsels.

The Israelites did not listen or submit to God. The leaders of Israel did not listen to God. Leaders are you listening to God? Because the leaders did not listen to God He gave them over to their stubborn hearts.

In the downward spiral of sin God gave them up.

Hosea 4:16–17 (ESV)

16    Like a stubborn heifer,

Israel is stubborn;

       can the Lord now feed them

like a lamb in a broad pasture?

17    Ephraim is joined to idols;

leave him alone.

When mankind turns away from God he always turns to something else to worship. Here, Israel was joined to idols rather than God so God turned away from them and left them alone.

  1. Disordered Affections Worship Creation Rather Than the Creator   

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Therefore refers back to the fact that mankind knows there is a God and has rejected Him in exchange for idols. The things we are going to look at are not the cause but the effects of exchanging the truth of God for lies and worshiping the creature rather than the Creator…

Paradidomi is the Greek word that our English Bibles translate as gave them up. What is impressive is the intensity of this verb. Paradidomi is used when Paul writes…

1 Corinthians 13:3 (ESV)

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Ephesians 5:2 (ESV)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

In all cases this word means to give up oneself unto death. When we read it in the context of Romans 1, Paul is explaining that mankind’s actions of preferring idols over the true and living God has automatic death associated with it. All who worship the creation over the Creator will suffer death. In this case, it’s eternal death. So, when we read, God gave them up, what Paul means is God turned them loose to eternal destruction, eternal death.

The first step in this eternal judgment is that God removes His restraining hand from sinful mankind to allow them to go where their sin takes them. It always goes from bad to worse. Never will mankind, on his own, get better but will always go from bad to worse. For example, with every discovery and invention comes with it more opportunities to sin. Man’s sin is the great destroyer of every fabric of civilization. It destroys everything it touches. Sin never stops but always goes downward to more and more evil. It’s like an addiction; the dosage must be increased for the same effect each time, that’s how sin is.

Mankind, going its own way, has no constraint but is driven by its lusts and passions.

the lusts of their hearts.

In many ways it is mindless without restraints simply acting more and more like what they worship and less and less like who they were created to be. These lusts are typically for the very things God has forbidden. This is another proof that they really do believe the there is a God and that He is to be worshipped. Why does mankind seemingly choose the things God forbids, because they hate God and want to prove Him to be a fabrication and meaningless.

God tells us to honor our bodies because they are temples of the Holy Spirit however, mankind dishonors their bodies and does so saying, see there are no consequences to my sin! The reality is, just because some consequences are not visible immediately does not mean they don’t exist.

dishonoring of their bodies among themselves means that they engage in dishonorable sexual acts. It is in this way specifically Paul writes that mankind dishonors their bodies.

As the apostle goes on to explain in that passage, sexual immorality not only is sin against the Lord but is sin against one’s own body. That is his point of the present passage. The body that indulges in sexual impurity is itself dishonored; it is debased, disgraced, and degraded.[3]

So, specifically the apostle has in mind the world of free sex, sex without any consequences or so the world would want us to believe. The consequences are many.

Sexually transmitted diseases- this is how the world thinks…concentrates efforts on medical cures and medicine to alleviate the suffering. They want to engage in sexual sin with no consequences. You know the best way to not get an STD? Don’t have sex until you’re married, like God says. That is too outrageous a method for a world claiming to be wise but are really fools. Why is abortion so prevalent? People want to have sex with no consequences. If she gets pregnant go get an abortion.

So the downward spiral begins…God lets us go and the only real thing driving us is our sinful lusts. Our disordered passions are in control. Look where the next stop is on the downward spiral…

  1. Disordered Affections Will Exchange Natural Relations for Those Contrary to Nature

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Why does Paul here seemingly single out people who practice homosexuality? Is he just picking those people out? No, he shows what disordered affections lead to next.

God made the world a specific way. Men with women not men with men or women with women. However, left to itself following sinful lusts and hating God this is the next stop for humanity.

Homosexuality graphically shows what disorder in the created world looks like. The clearest example of disordered affections is same-sex desire.

One thing we must understand is that not every lost person has homosexual desires. However, what Paul is getting at is that the very existence of these desires in society is proof that God has turned us, as a society, over to our sin and has given us up.

Now we should be aware of some modern arguments. Some say that what Paul is really teaching is that it’s sinful or wrong for a heterosexual to go against his/her nature and practice homosexuality but for those of that persuasion it’s not going against their nature. However, if we look at the text we can see that it’s not saying that at all…

V26- Dishonorable Passions– these are across the board. If you are male it is dishonorable to have passion for another male, in every case. The same for women.

contrary to nature- Here we see that disordered affections go against the natural or we would say created order. In other words, God made men and women the way He did to function a certain way. He created us male and female.

What’s interesting is that Paul uses a common Greek slogan contrary to nature which is what even the ancient pagan Greek culture saw when they heard of homosexual behavior, they called homosexual practice, contrary to nature.

V27- natural relations here very clearly and again across the board in every case homosexual practice goes against the natural relations God intends for all people.

We must not let culture affect the truth. People are not born gay or homosexual. They are not gay. People sin by engaging in homosexuality, which is graphic disordered affections.

It would be very easy right now to begin to think that since perhaps you don’t struggle with the sin of homosexuality that you’re somehow more righteous than the person who engages in that practice. You may even think that you’re less evil because you don’t struggle with that sin. We must show mercy and kindness to those who are in that lifestyle. We must be sensitive to the pain and despair those may experience who are around them and love them. We must see past the sin to the sinner and to the sinner’s family whose hearts are broken. We must not be Pharisees here with a condemning spirit especially when it comes to the sin of others.

I’d like to make it known to all who might listen to this message that Grace Community Church welcomes all sinners. We welcome all who come to hear the truth. If someone comes who is a practicing homosexual or lesbian we will welcome you, love you and care for you. I pray we will speak the truth in love. We must speak the truth. Sin is sin and we will expound God’s Word to you.

When we start to think we’re less evil than others, Paul shoots us right between the eyes with these next verses which are every bit as much sin as homosexuality.

  1. Disordered Affections Cannot Think Properly

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

As we begin this section we must be reminded of the dynamic at work here. God’s judgment of giving someone or a culture up does not happen overnight. God is patient and merciful. Before He gives them up they actually in a very real sense give themselves up first. Much like Pharaoh who first hardened his heart then God hardened it even further.

Ephesians 4:17–20 (ESV)

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—

In our text for today we read the final blow to sinful humanity and that is God has given them over to a debased mind. Here what Paul intends is that because of sin the final step in this current judgment God is exercising on humanity is that they will not be able to think, reason, or discern properly. The word used for “mind” in the original language really has in mind the organ of moral discernment. So the result is that while mankind can invent new technologies etc, things that take brilliance in some areas, mankind is morally incompetent. The things of God have become foreign to our world.

After Paul’s list that depicts humanity he tells us that in their going their own way into sin, they not only know God’s Law and that disobedience means certain eventual death they still go headlong into sin and even encourage others to do the same thing.

32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This is the sad state of humanity…ALL people left to themselves end up practicing the things God forbids knowing their eternal death will be just and inviting others to come and die with them.

People are not good; we are not naturally kind and loving. Everyone left to themselves will die eternally and it is just and right for God to assign everyone to the darkest deepest Hell.

It’s vital, at this point, to see just how impossible it would be for man to save himself. Our efforts will always end up falling infinitely short of God’s requirements and our efforts, as we’ve seen here, end up digging our grave deeper.

Conclusion

If we could, I’d like to take us from eternal hopelessness and despair to the most amazing miracle God has ever accomplished.

Hosea 1:10 (ESV)

10  Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

How is it that hopeless, eternally dead sinners can become Children of the Living God?

Luke 18:26–28 (ESV)

26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.”

This amazing miracle is found in the Book of 1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 (ESV)

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Do you see what happened? God worked and the impossible was made to come to pass. They were idolaters like everyone else but God set His love upon them and chose them to be His. When that happened their slavery to idols and their misplaced affections was broken. They were brought to life eternally. God did this!! When Paul came with the Gospel of God and they heard it God woke them and lifted His judgment and they received mercy and grace.

They were no longer…

Worship Creation Rather Than the Creator    

Exchange Natural Relations for Those Contrary to Nature

Thought Improperly

They were saved from God’s wrath right then and there. They were saved from immediate judgment of going their own way into deeper and deeper sin and they were saved from eternal judgment. God gets all the glory and all the credit.

 

[1] Christopher Ash, Teaching Romans Vol 1, 76-77

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 98). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 103). Chicago: Moody Press.

%d bloggers like this: