|New International Version|
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
|New International Version|
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Read at Bible Gateway
Read all of Jeremiah 29
New International Version
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read all of Romans 8
NOVEMBER 8, 1998
The Perils of Disapproving God
Paul’s teaching about why a society degenerates into unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you would read today. One of the reasons for this is that when a society is sinking into moral decay, one of the traits of that decay is the inability to see what is happening. The social mind becomes so defective in the moral decadence that it doesn’t have the categories or the framework to recognize evil for what it really is.
We do live in such a day. The inability to render sound moral judgments is evident almost wherever you look. Which makes this passage of Scripture one of the most relevant and needed texts in all the Bible for our day — precisely because it seems so foreign. Today, if something doesn’t seem spiritually or morally foreign, it is probably part of the blind and decadent atmosphere we breathe, and therefore of no real use to us, no matter how good it makes us feel.
What we need is a word from outside our defective world and our depraved thinking. We need a word from God. And we may certainly expect such a word to be very strange, because we have become strangers to the reality of God in a very self-absorbed age.
What we have in today’s text is a list of twenty-one ways of sinning or twenty-one kinds of evil. And what I think we should do is notice, first, why Paul gives us this list and where such evil comes from. Then we should look at the list itself and ask why it’s here. Then we should ask what the solution is to these kinds of things.
So, first, where do the evils listed in verses Romans 1:29–31 come from? It all started back in verse 18 where Paul gave the reason for why the gospel of the gift of God’s righteousness is so desperately needed. You recall that he said in verse 16 that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Why? Verse 17: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous shall live by faith.’” In other words: The gospel is the power of God to save believers because in it God gives us what we need and could never produce on our own, namely, his own righteousness. The righteousness that he demands from us he freely gives to us, if we will trust him. This is the great biblical truth of justification by faith.
Then in verse 18, he tells us why this gospel of the gift of God’s righteousness is so desperately needed: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” We need the righteousness of God because it is the only thing that can protect us from the wrath of God. And we need to be protected from the wrath of God because we are unrighteous by nature and suppress the truth of God. By nature we don’t like God and we don’t want him in our lives. I tremble just to say it.
So what Paul does in the following verses is describe for us the effects of suppressing the truth of God. He wants us to see all the evil of the world as a river that flows from this spring. Reject God, suppress God, distort God, recreate God in your own image to your own liking, and the effect is worse than we expect. And the thing that is worse than we expect is that God joins our crusade against God, as it were, and delivers us into the debasing effects of our own rebellion against him.
We’ve seen it three times. In verse 23, we exchange the glory of God for images, and verse 24 says, “Therefore God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts.” In verse 25, we exchange the truth about God for a lie, and verse 26 says, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions.” And today in verse 28 we see it again: “They did not see fit to acknowledge God (or literally: they did not approve to have God in their knowledge), [therefore] God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
This is what Paul means by the wrath of God being revealed (verse 18): God’s wrath is being revealed against the world, as human beings all over the world set their affections on other things more than on God. God’s response to this worldwide disloyalty and treason against our Creator is not, first, to send us to hell, but to see that we sink into the swamp we have chosen.
This is what I was referring to at the beginning when I said that Paul’s teaching about why societies often degenerate into unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you would read today. Today you might hear someone say: “Okay, America, you have built your bed of secular, God-belittling relativism and amorality, so now sleep in it.” But that is not what Paul says here.
He says something far more horrifying about God’s wrath. He gives us his analysis of our situation in four steps. Just take verse 28 from today’s text to see all four. First, he says that the root problem is that we don’t like having God in our knowledge. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.” That is the fundamental problem in the world. That is the essence of the human condition. We don’t want God. We want self-determination and self-exaltation. That was the first sin in the garden. And that is the root of all evil today. We do not want to know God or have him in our lives.
The second step of God’s analysis is that God, in an act of judgment (recall the revealing of “wrath” in verse 18), withdraws his common restraints on our rebellion and gives us over to sink in the swamp we have chosen. This is what you will not hear in any social analysis today. Who today has the God-centered realism to say: The depth of our sin does not just deserve divine judgment, it is divine judgment? That is what Paul says. You can’t really understand America (or any other country) today without this revealed truth. Even if we tried to boast over God that at least we have our self-determination in rebelling against God, God would answer, “You think so? Think again.”
The third step in Paul’s analysis (in verse 28) is that the effect of God’s giving us over and removing his common restraints (see Genesis 20:6) is that we are imprisoned by a “depraved mind.” “God gave them over to a depraved mind.” Our minds become more and more defective in sin. Not only do we use them to sin, but we can’t even think clearly about sin. We can’t recognize it. It’s as if we turned away from God and fell in love with the African black fly that carries the roundworm that causes river blindness, and then God gave us over to the fly and the worm — and the blindness — so that all we can do now is fondle the fly (of sin!) and keep trying to convince ourselves that it’s a precious tuft of velvet.
The fourth step of the analysis (in verse 28) is that our defective mind produces all kinds of evils. Paul goes on to list twenty-one of them as samples. So now we have our answer to the first question, namely, where does such evil come from? It comes from: (1) our desire not to have God in our knowledge; and (2) from God’s judgment on mankind to give us over to sink in the swamp we love; and (3) from the depraved or defective mind that we sink into.
So now we can ask the question: What is this list of evils? What are we to make of this long list and why is it here? Let’s read it again. Verse Romans 1:28–31:
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.
Of course, a person could raise an objection against Paul here: This is not the way all unbelievers are. Some are very conscientious, law-abiding, philanthropic, courteous, decent people. Yes, that’s true, and Paul knew it was true. He was quite aware, for example, of the Stoics of his own day — people like Seneca and later, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, who prided themselves in not being like this list of evils, and yet, who were not Christians.
No, the point of this list is not to say that every society that refuses to love the true God will look just like this. We know this because, in verses 26–27, Paul says that homosexual desire is also a result of not loving God above other things, and being handed over by God, and yet Paul clearly does not think that every unbeliever has homosexual desires.
Similarly, here in verse 28–31, when he says that all these sins are the result of refusing to acknowledge God, and he doesn’t mean that every unbeliever, or group of unbelievers, has all these sins or in the same measure. Instead, these are samples. They are the sort of thing that comes from rejecting God, and the more God gives a people up to their own unrestrained depravity, the more their society will have these sins in greater and greater measure.
So what’s the point of listing all these sins? The point, I think, is to give us enough examples to show that virtually every form of evil has to do with God and comes from failing to know him and approve him and love him above all things. In other words, he gives us a sweeping array of evils to awaken us to the fact that the ruin of any area of life is owing to the abandonment of God. Verse 28: they did not want God in their knowledge, therefore . . . and then he gives his list of evils.
In other words, the point of the list is to connect God with every sin in the world. And we’ve seen that the connection is twofold: every sin is rooted in our preferring something else to God; and every sin gets worse as God takes away his restraints and gives us up to sink in the swamp we have chosen.
If America has the highest murder rate in the western world, it has to do with God. If our executives are greedy, it has to do with God. If our politicians are deceitful, it has to do with God. If we gossip about each other behind the back, it has to do with God. If our talk show hosts are insolent and boastful, it has to do with God. If our children are disobedient to parents, it has to do with God. If we are untrustworthy and don’t keep our marriage vows, it has to do with God. If we are blind to obvious wrongs and are unloving and unmerciful, it has to do with God.
That’s the point of this list. Wherever we are sinking in sin, it is because we have jumped off the rock of the glory of God.
Which brings us finally to the third and last question: What is the solution? How shall we battle back against these destructive evils in our own lives and in our culture? The answer is what the whole book of Romans is about. But let’s close by looking at three great reversals.
- We need the reversal of God’s wrath against our unrighteousness.
- We need the reversal of God’s handing us over to a depraved mind.
- We need the reversal of our mind’s moral decay so that it can be renewed for right and proper use in God’s service.
The good news is that God has provided every one of those reversals. You do not have to sink any further if you will embrace God and his provision. The key verse for the reversal of God’s wrath against us is Romans 1:17: In the gospel of Christ, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
In other words, the righteousness that God demands from us, he freely gives to us, if we will turn back to him and trust him to be our greatest Good. And if you have the righteousness of God, you are not under the wrath of God anymore — a very happy reversal!
The key verse for the reversal of God’s handing us over to a depraved mind is Romans 6:17: “Thanks be to God that, though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were handed over [same word as Romans 1:28].”
This is the exact reversal of the handover in Romans 1:28. Here it is to a form of teaching that is true and holy, not false and dirty. And notice that it is God who does it. “Thanks be to God,” Paul says, that you became obedient to this teaching. God gives us over to truth and righteousness as much as he once gave us over to sin.
Finally, the key verse for reversing the defectiveness of our minds is Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
When God has given us his righteousness by faith in Jesus, and when he has handed us over to a new teaching of truth and begun to make us obedient to it, then, little by little, we are transformed in the renewing of our minds and the long list of sins in Romans 1:29–31 becomes shorter and weaker to the glory of God.
This is the key to life. This is the message that we take to the neighborhood and to the nations. I call you and urge you to receive these three reversals from the hand of God by faith: (1) the reversal of God’s wrath through the gift of God’s righteousness; (2) the reversal of being handed over to depravity through being handed over to truth; and (3) the reversal of a depraved mind through the transformation of a renewed mind.John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Think about the Christian you want to be. What qualities do you want to have: more compassion…more conviction…more courage? What attitudes do you want to discontinue: greed…guilt…endless negativity? With God’s help you can! You can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. Indeed, the person God made you to be. You can live “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
To inherit your inheritance is God’s vision for your life! Imagine the thought. You as you were intended. It’s a life that is yours for the taking. You can expect to be challenged. The enemy won’t go down without a fight. But God’s promises outweigh personal problems. Victory becomes, dare we imagine, a way of life. Isn’t it time for you to change your mailing address from the wilderness to the promised land? Are you ready to march?
~ Max Lucado
|by Max Lucado|
|riday June 27|
I have always loved this passage in Psalm 34. Read the whole chapter (which I have copied from biblegateway.com and included it after the following message from The Life Application Study Bible). Let it bathe over you with comfort.
God pays attention to those who call on Him. Whether God offers escape from trouble or help in times of trouble, we can be certain that He always hears and acts on behalf of those who love Him.
God promises great blessings to His people, but many of these blessings require active participation. He will deliver us from:
- fear (34:4),
- save us out of our troubles (34:6),
- guard and deliver us (34:7),
- show us goodness (34:8),
- supply our needs (34:9),
- listen when we talk to Him (34:15)
- and redeem us (34:22),
but we must do our part.
We can appropriate His blessings when:
- we seek Him (34:4, 10),
- cry out to Him (34:6, 17),
- trust Him (34:8),
- fear Him (34:7,9),
- refrain from lying (34:13),
- turn from evil,
- do good and seek peace (34:14),
- are humble (34:18,
- and serve Him (34:22).
34:8 “Taste and see” does not mean “Check out God’s credentials.” Instead it is a warm invitation. “Try this; I know you’ll like it.” When we take that first step of obedience in following God, we will discover that Je is good and kind. When we begin the Christian life, our knowledge of God is partial and incomplete. As we trust Him daily, we experience how good He is.
34:9 You say you belong to the Lord, but do you fear Him? To fear the Lord means to show deep respect and honor to Him. We demonstrate true reverence by our humble attitude and genuine worship. Reverence was shown by Abraham (Genesis 17:2-4), Moses (Exodus 3:5, 6), and the Israelites (Exodus 19:16-24) showed this kind of fear of the Lord.
34:9, 10 At first we may question David’s statement, because we seem to lack many good things. This is not a blanket promise that all Christians will have everything they want. Instead, this is David’s praise for God’s goodness–all those who call upon God in their need will be answered, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Remember, God knows what we need, and our deepest needs are spiritual. Even though many Christians face unbearable poverty and hardship, they still have enough spiritual nourishment to live for God. David was saying that to have God is to have all you really need. God is enough.
If you feel you don’t have everything you need, ask:
- Is this really a need?
- Is this really good for me?
- Is this the best time for me to have what I desire?
Even if you answer yes to all three questions, God may allow you to go without to help you grow more dependent on Him. He may want you to learn that you need Him more than having to achieve your immediate desires.
34:11-14 The Bible often connects the fear of the Lord (love and reverence for Him) with obedience. “Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13); “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:23).
David said that a person who fears the Lord
- doesn’t lie,
- turns from evil,
- does good,
- and promotes peace.
Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church. It includes obeying God in the way we speak and the way we treat others.
34:14 Some may think that peace should come with no effort. But David explained that we are to seek and pursue peace. Paul echoed this thought in Romans 12:18. A person who wants peace cannot be argumentative and contentious. Because peaceful relationships come from our efforts at peacemaking, work hard at living in peace with others each day.
34:18, 19 We often wish we could escape troubles–
- the pain of grief,
- and failure;
or even the small daily frustrations that constantly wear us down.
God promises to be “close to the brokenhearted,” to be our source of
- and wisdom,
helping us through our problems.
Sometimes He chooses to deliver us from those problems. When trouble strikes, don’t get frustrated with God. Instead, admit that you need God’s help and thank Him for being by your side.
34:20 This is a prophecy about Christ when He was crucified. Although it was the Roman custom to break the legs of the victim to speed death, not one of Jesus’ bones was broken (John 19:32-37). In addition to the prophetic meaning, David was pleading for God’s protection in times of crisis.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to Him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
9 Fear the Lord, you His saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and His ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems His servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him.
To read this passage in the King James Version, please click on this link:
|“Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. The Bible can touch hearts, order minds and refresh souls.” Ronald Reagan|
|“…God’s Word impacts human hearts…” Chuck Swindoll|
|“The Bible is endorsed by the ages. Our civilization is built upon its words. In no other Book is there such a collection of inspired wisdom, reality and hope.” Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|“…the Bible is the best Book in the world…” John Adams in letter to Thomas Jefferson|
|“The Bible is for the Goverrnment of the People, by the People, and for the People.” John Wycliffe|
|“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” George Washington|
|“WHEREAS the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;…WHEREAS many of our great national leaders – among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson – paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as in the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the Rock on which our Republic rests”; WHEREAS the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies; WHEREAS this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and WHEREAS that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;”
US Congress, in resolution passed to establish year of the Bible.
|“The Spirit gives life. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63|
|“whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” John 5:24|
|“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalms 119:130|
|“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” James 1:18|
|“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31|
|“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17|
|“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12|
Just had to share this with our readers.
“Don’t take anyone else’s word for God.
Find Him for yourself, and then you too will know by the wonderful,
warm tug on your heartstring,
that He is there, for sure.”
~ Billy Graham
“Don’t take anyone else’s word for what’s in the Bible.
Read it yourself.
including even some well-meaning pastors,
take scripture out of context
and use it for their own opinions to try to get a point across. ~ Sharon)
I’ve been a great admirer of Max Lucado for years. To me he’s one of the most gifted writers and is a true inspiration.
I think you’ll enjoy this little movie about Joseph!
…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17b
Scripture is God’s Word to us. Get to know it. It is the source of truth, assurance and comfort. Learn its lessons. Let God use it to speak to your heart. Look to it to cut through the enemy’s lies and spiritual deception, and to reveal the truth. Use it to persuade others about God’s love and forgiveness.
When God’s Spirit impresses us with a verse or a passage of Scripture to use in our battle against the enemy in a particular conflict, we are able to defeat our enemy. The Bible calls this taking the sword of the Spirit.
Jesus defeated Satan the three times he was tempted in the wilderness by using the sword of the Spirit. (see Matthew 4).
Ruth’s world changed when she chanced to find a Bible. She was fifteen when she was rummaging through her Muslim family’s library. She found it hidden behind the other books. She says, “I quickly read a few pages and the message immediately touched my heart, even though I understood practically nothing of it. Secretly I began to read the Bible regularly in my room. I knew that I had to do more with this. I wanted to get to know Jesus better.”
She adds, “I don’t remember how it happened, but my family realized that I was showing too much interest in Christianity. My whole family was against me, especially my mother.”
“You’re a Muslim,” she said. “Why are you throwing your life away? Why aren’t you like other girls? You’ll soon be going to university and then you’re going to marry a respected Muslim!”
Ruth’s voice falters and for a moment, she doesn’t say anything. “I suffered a lot,” she continues. “But still I kept reading the Bible in secret. The Lord Jesus keeps drawing me closer to Him.”
RESPONSE: Today I take the sword of the Spirit so I can expose the tempting words of Satan.
PRAYER: Lord may the two-edged sword of Your Word be ready in my hands today and in the hands of those reading it for the first time.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks
© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
A great message!