December 21, 2022

December 21, 2022

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
December 21, 2022

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have, have clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 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.

Romans 1:16-25

I think the first course I took on the book of Romans was from Pastor Sam Waldren, he taught me in the academy and he opened up Romans chapter 1. I got a very clear understanding and don’t think I’ve ever seen Romans 1 until he opened it up to me. But it had a transforming impact on the way I thought and the way I began to evangelize. But if you were to ask most people this question: Are you religious or are you spiritual? I think you will find that most people will answer that question yes. Even if you were to ask the majority of atheists do they consider themselves to be spiritual many of them would say yes but at the same time deny the existence of God. You can understand why men live with that kind of contradiction. On the one hand denying the true God but claiming to be spiritual or religious. It is because men have a sense of God inwardly by conscious but also outwardly by creation. He has God’s moral law written on his heart, Romans 2 and he also sees and he hears God by general revelation. That’s why they call it general revelation as opposed to special revelation because all men are exposed to general revelation. They know God by the things that God has made. Creation clearly testifies that there is a God. But men by nature as we have just read are truth suppressors, Romans 1:18. So, what they do instead is run and hide from God. What do they do? Well they also claim to be wise, verse 22. But they are fools. I don’t think in the history of mankind, maybe way back in the days of the Greek philosophers, but so many people today call themselves experts and are always telling us how we should live and the prevailing philosophy of our day is live any way you want to live as long as it pleases you and makes you happy. So you could call them intelligent fools claiming to be wise but fools. But look what they do. That’s who they are but look what they do. You could say in Romans 1 Paul’s going to describe here the strategy of the so called wise as they want to suppress the knowledge of God. What do they do? Verse 23 of Romans 1 says “They exchanged the glory of God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Notice the truth suppressor doesn’t stop worshiping. He’s still a worshiper. You see man cannot not totally eradicate or eliminate his sense of God. He can’t stop becoming a worshiper. That’s why a lot of people across the board love to travel, they love to visit the jungles, they love to go deep sea diving, they love to climb mountains, they love to smell flowers, they love to gaze at stars, and they love to go to zoos because behind those starving eyes and empty hearts, are people who are searching for something bigger than themselves. But they don’t want someone as big as God. They don’t want the true God. They have to suppress the truth about God. They don’t want the big God of the bible. They want a small God, a God they can control. They don’t want the God who has revealed himself. So, what they do is go on an endless search to try to find something that will kind of satisfy their conscious or fill up their emptiness.

I quoted this man before—it’s one of those quotes worth quoting by Augustine. He said “Every man has a Christ shaped vacuum and only Christ can fill that void.” But there is also warning to us as Christians. We can get our eyes off the main things. We can get our eyes off Christ Jesus. I just thought about it this past week. I thought about all the places in the bible where we are warned, even ourselves—Christians are warned about fleeing from idols. An idol can be anything that you make more important than God. I would say that the most important idol in the world is ourselves. We have a tendency to worship ourselves. We heard last Sunday morning by Pastor Von Doloski the danger of pride and selfishness. That’s pretty well where it takes us, to its extreme. It makes us worshipers of self. The great reason why God gave us the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Supper is to make us come back to him again, and again, and again, to remember that he is the most important person in our lives. Not you, not me, not your children, not your husband, not your wife, not your job, but the Lord Jesus Christ.

When you read your bible like I said there is frequent exhortations and warnings that we as Christians maintain the simplicity as well as the priority of our devotion to Christ. Think of the letter to the churches in the book of Revelation. The church at Ephesus is warned about losing their first love. Think of the churches of Galatia, there were more than one and Paul starts off saying I am shocked, I am astounded, or astonished that you so quickly desert him. You desert Christ. That’s what he’s saying—you are deserting Christ and turning to another gospel and then he says to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11 I’m afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness or cunning your thoughts will lead you astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Remember the Hebrew Christians—they’re in danger of going back to their old covenant of Judaism, the ceremonies, and the rituals. What does he say to them? You’re running away from Jesus. Get your eyes back looking at Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. So, it doesn’t matter brethren what time of the year, there’s always a million plus things that can pull us from Christ. Christmas time can always be a dangerous time. Don’t forget the greatest joy you have, the greatest treasure you have, the greatest gift is Jesus Christ. Around Christmas we should pursue intimacy with our family, yes that’s a great thing to do. But don’t forget the greatest passion and the desire in our hearts should always be Christ. Going back to the world in which we live it loves to think that it is spiritual but authentic spirituality is about Jesus Christ—knowing him, loving him, and obeying him.