Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE VILE AFFECTIONS OF MAN”

Romans 1.25-27

 

This evening we are going to examine one of the most unpleasant passages found anywhere in the Bible. It is a portion of God’s Word in which the Apostle Paul pronounces God’s judgment upon lifestyle choices made by individuals that are accounted by more and more people these days as either innocent or none of my business, so I don’t care. However, as I explained in my message last Sunday night, there is a desensitizing process taking place in our culture in which profoundly sinful and destructive behavior and astonishingly corrosive lifestyle choices are portrayed as acceptable, as no one else’s business, and as matters of you leave me alone and I will leave you alone. However, that isn’t how it works out.

I came to Southern California right out of engineering school as an unsaved young fellow who grew up in a non-Christian home and possessing very fluid values. That said, I noticed something about Southern California’s culture even as an unsaved guy. I labeled it the Southern California Covenant for want of a better tag. It was a social agreement that seemed to be unconsciously embraced by almost everyone I knew. I will let you say, do, and be anything you want without comment or judgment to you so long as you let me say, do, and be anything I want without comment or judgment from you. That is the Southern California Covenant. I had not consciously observed this phenomenon anywhere else in the country where I had previously lived. I had not observed it in Oregon, either in agricultural Central Oregon or more cosmopolitan Portland, Oregon or even while attending Oregon State University in Western Oregon. Not to deny that people with different values and practices lived in each other’s midst in Oregon, but they did so without receiving or demanding approval from those who disagreed with them (in those days), and not being terribly surprised when other people expressed disapproval to them. The same was true insofar as I could tell in Florida, Texas, and in the Midwest. But not so in California, or at least in Southern California. In Southern California, my observations were that one never expressed disapproval of anyone’s appearance, of anyone’s behavior, or of anyone’s expressed beliefs, no matter how outrageous one’s appearance, behavior, or beliefs might happen to be. However, it wasn’t a one-sided agreement. It was a two-way street. I express no judgment about you no matter what so long as you pass no judgment about me no matter what. That was the deal.

In retrospect, I suspect that what I called the Southern California Covenant was not confined to Southern California at all. I am quite sure upon reflection such a culture of so-called toleration and acceptance existed elsewhere, particularly in such cities as New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, and Miami. To be sure, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Athens, Bangkok, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, and other huge metropolitan regions exhibited the same “acceptance” of alternate lifestyles and choices. It’s simply the thing to do, and it will cost you a great deal of money in lost income opportunity if you don’t go along to get along in such places. After all, Satan is shown in Isaiah 14.17 to be the destroyer of cities.

The problem, of course, is that what was initially sold to us as tolerance of others who live and believe differently than we do prove itself to be most intolerant of our beliefs and practices. And this is because sin in the ascendancy is extremely militant when threatened by the light of truth, and capable of terrible brutality. A brilliant study of organized sin working intelligently and wickedly to undermine our American culture is David Kupelian’s book The Marketing Of Evil that I recommend as required reading to every Christian under the sound of my voice, especially for parents of young children or grandparents.

We turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans, taking up where we left off with the prosecuting attorney’s presentation of the case against unsaved mankind, who knew enough about God to be responsible for their actions, yet they refused to glorify Him as God and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image of created things to worship, including even creeping things.

In response to such great and terrible sins committed against God, Paul writes in Romans 1.24 that God responded by giving lost mankind up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves. We dealt with that verse and also verse 25 last week. This week we will overlap our text with what we spent some time on last week by considering Romans 1.25-27. When you arrive there I invite you to stand and read along with me while I read aloud:

 

25    Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27    And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

 

May I say at this point that I am not a hater? I do not hate any individual. I despise false religions, but that is because they are the tools of the Devil, and they damn souls to Hell. I despise corrupting and addicting practices because of their evil strength to harm innocents while enslaving the souls of men, again damning their souls to Hell. However, I hate no person, despise no person, and bear no ill will toward any human being. As the pastor of this Church for more than thirty years, I will plead guilty to charges of occasional stupidity, chronic blindness about some things, and even ignorance. But I promise to protest vigorously against any accusation that I am a hater.

These things stated, I will do my best to clearly present to you the portion of Paul’s argument against mankind’s sinfulness presented in these three verses:

 

First, PAUL INTRODUCES MAN’S DECISION, WHICH IS REBELLION TOWARD GOD

 

Romans 1.25:

 

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

 

Consider this verse in two ways:

First, we consider the objective sin. Without regard for sentiment or emotions or vested interest of any kind, and based on the Spirit’s inspiration of God’s Word, ask yourself what happened according to this verse? We want to disregard consciously at this point the lifestyle choices and beliefs you have embraced, your mother has embraced, your father has embraced, any of your siblings have embraced, or any of your children have embraced. At this point, we do not want anything to color our thinking beside the fact that is presented here by the apostle of Jesus Christ named Paul. The first phrase tells it all:

 

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie.”

 

To refresh your memory from last week, this word changed translates a Greek word that means to change with or to exchange.[1] So, what happened? The truth of God was exchanged for a lie about God. The reality that He alone is worthy of praise, adoration, and glory because He is terrible in majesty was traded in for the insane notion that created things could be worshiped instead of the Creator, things like men, or beasts, or even creeping things. That, objectively, is the sin mankind is accused of by the Apostle Paul.

Next, we consider the symptoms of that sin. Continuing in verse 25, we now see what the results are of committing that terrible sin of changing the truth of God into a lie. Perhaps we can more clearly grasp the symptoms that develop from that sin by examining how the symptoms relate, first, to God, and, second, to that which was made by God: Focus with me on the consequence of that terrible sin of changing the truth of God into a lie relative to the Creator. We read

 

“and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

 

Look at that word more. Fritz Rienecker explains by writing about the word “‘more than.’ Used to express the comparative and here means virtually ‘instead of.’”[2] The consequence of glorifying Him not as God, of being unthankful, and of changing the truth of God into a lie was to stop immediately worshiping and serving Him, even though He is blessed forever. Astonishing and tragic. Now focus on the consequence of that terrible sin of changing the truth of God into a lie about God’s creatures. There are two consequences that bear upon God’s creatures: First, God’s creatures are worshiped instead of God the Creator being worshiped. This means that reverence is no longer shown toward God. And is this not obvious when you consider the jokes that are made about God and the casual manner displayed by most people toward God? Second, God’s creatures are served instead of God being served. Some serve idols, though many instead of serving God actually serve themselves.

 

Next, PAUL INTRODUCES GOD’S DELIVERANCE, WHICH IS RETRIBUTION TOWARD MAN’S REBELLION

 

26    For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27    And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

 

At this point I would like for us to reflect on the abstract and the concrete, what God did that is described for us but which we cannot see, and then mankind’s reaction to what God did in response to the terrible sins committed against Him that we very much can see:

First, then, the abstract, God’s response to the human race’s sinfulness and disrespect toward Him. God judged the entire human race for what the entire human race collaborated in doing to dishonor Him:

 

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.”

 

For what cause? For the cause mentioned leading up to this verse God (the human race already in a fallen condition since the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden) gave them up unto vile affections. Again, going over ground we covered last week, what are vile affections? Vile affections, translating two Greek words, literally refers to “passions of disgrace.”[3] Thus, it is clear that Paul’s inspired comment about God’s response to the sins committed against Him shows an intensity and seriousness that most people who think they understand sins and God’s responses to sins are completely ignorant of. God is simply not going to take it from people.

Next, the conduct from God’s response. Here the Apostle Paul moves from the abstract to the concrete, from providing for us a description of God’s response to sin, that we might have difficulty grasping, to actual descriptions of what people do as a result of being judged by God for sinning against Him:

 

26    . . . for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27    And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

 

Take note of something in this passage that most people overlook. The Apostle Paul divides the human race into two groups, women, and men, without actually using the Greek words for women and men but using the Greek words for female and male so as to draw attention only to sex.[4] Thus, while men and women are the same species, the two combining to comprise the human race, the distinction between men and women is not only biological, as evidenced by the Greek word for female and the Greek word for male, but also spiritual. Women are in this passage distinguished from men, showing that the distinction between men and women is not only biological, which feminists and the LGBQT community try to deny, but it is also spiritual. Thus, regardless of what anyone says, thinks, or does, Bruce Jenner is Bruce Jenner and will throughout eternity be Bruce Jenner. How he identifies and what his legal name is changed to have no bearing on God’s recognition of his soul’s identity. His DNA established that he is a man. Turning to females, Paul writes,

 

“for even their women.”

 

Literally, for even their females did change the natural use into that which is against nature. Females did not glorify God as God. Therefore, God gave them up. How did females respond to God’s judgment of them? They changed the natural use into that which is against nature. They began engaging in unnatural conduct. With “males” it is likewise. Certainly not every male, just as not every female, but an increasing number of males left the natural use of the woman, began to experience passionate lust for other men that they then acted on, and got what they deserved as a direct consequence. Male conduct was unnatural, passionate, and obscene.[5] If you read this and you, conclude that Paul is here referring to the sexual activity you would be correct. If you read this and you, conclude that Paul is as well referring to sexual perversion you would also be correct. However, if you think Paul is only referring to unwanted sexual advances from a sexual predator that has no application to two consenting adults or that his comments applied only to the cultural context in which he was writing you are way off base.

 

Remember that the Apostle Paul was a Church planting missionary who was anticipating the relocation of his ministry activities from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Western Mediterranean, specifically Spain. He is writing to the Christians in Rome to solicit prayer and financial support for his anticipated move. This letter to Christians who for the most part had heard of him but did not know him sets forth his core doctrinal beliefs to establish that Paul and the Christians in Rome held common positions regarding sin, salvation, the Christian life, God’s plan for the Jewish people, and other crucial matters. Therefore, while Paul’s letter to the Romans certainly clarifies matters in a way those Romans had never seen before, Paul is certainly not at this point in his letter addressing anything that was not commonly understood by all Christians to be true. In other words, this letter is the Apostle Paul’s handshake with the Christians in Rome that will open a vital line of communication. Thus, what Paul has just written is not new stuff. The Romans already believe these things. Christians everywhere already believe this stuff, even if they have never before seen it written down with such clarity. What Paul writes honors God, exalts Christ, clearly shows sin for what it is and shows unsaved mankind to be guilty in the sight of God. It is not a message of hate or discrimination, but a message of unvarnished truth.

Thus, sinful sexual activity should not be seen as something wrong for which God will punish you, which is, of course, true. However, more importantly, sinful sexual activity is evidence that God has already begun to punish you for failing to glorify God as God. Will God punish sinful sexual activity in all its forms, natural as well as unnatural, heterosexual as well as homosexual? Yes, He will. However, the key truth of the passage before us is the fact that sinful sexual activity is evidence that God has already begun to punish sinners. Sinful sex is what people engage in who are already being punished by God. How important is it, therefore, to flee to Jesus Christ and be saved from your sins before it is too late.

__________

[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 350.

[2] Ibid.

[3] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, General Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), page 443.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Rienecker, page 350.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org