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“God Gave Them Up” (Part 2 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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February 23, 2024 3:00 am

“God Gave Them Up” (Part 2 of 6)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 23, 2024 3:00 am

Psalm 119 reminds us that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Find out how applying the Bible correctly and consistently can keep us from becoming comfortable with the surrounding darkness. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Psalm 119 reminds us that God's Word is a lamp to our feet.

It's a light to our path. Today on Truth for Life, we'll see how the Bible, applied correctly and consistently, can keep us from becoming blind or indifferent to the darkness around us. Alistair Begg is teaching from Romans chapter 1. Verse 18. For the wrath of God is revealed. Now, how is the wrath of God revealed? Verse 24 begins to tell us. Here is how God's wrath is being revealed in the present tense. God gave them up.

This is the first of three, gave them ups. Verse 24, verse 26, verse 28. Now, there's something that's very, very important to notice here. Because there is no question that there is a cause and effect in the implications of responding to temptation and sinning and so on, when desire then meets with action and so on. I'm thinking of the book of James.

So somehow or another, when this happens, this inevitably happens. And so, when you read that, therefore God gave them up in the lust of their heart to uncleanness, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. This is not just non-interference on the part of God.

The phrase, he gave them up, gave them up, is not simply, he left them to themselves. The phrase actually means being handed over to—here—a more intensified and aggravated cultivation of the lusts of their hearts. This is so vitally important, we realize, that sin in the religious realm is here punished in the moral realm. The unrighteousness emerges from the ungodliness. The progression that runs throughout the whole section is impiety, idolatry, immorality. Now, if you think about this, just take any cultural period that you have lived through and view the unfolding of things.

Take the 1960s, for example. God is dead. God is dead.

So what goes in his place? Whatever we want. And what happens is that we create idols of our own making, and suddenly we live through one of the most immoral sexual revolutions that has taken place in the span of human history. And we now live as a result of what took place there. I don't care what's right or wrong.

You know, I don't care about anything. Help me make it through the night! And there the night, and to another night, and another night, and the darkness of the human soul, the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. What he's describing there is, if you like, a kind of communal immorality. A communal immorality. The degeneration of a culture, of a society, as it turns its back on God, puts God's substitute, God's in its place, God's that cannot provide the things that the people long for in them—for we were made by God, for God, to trust God, to love God, to obey God.

We were conceived within the context of God's creative power in order that we might enjoy all that he has provided. Here you've got a whole garden. He says, Take it and enjoy it. I have made it for you in all of its fullness. But just prove to me that you trust me. And do this!

Or, actually, don't do this, for one reason only. I am God. I am God. Leave it alone. No. Even one comes and says, You don't want to believe that stuff.

No, no, you can see what he's doing. It's the exact same thing I remember at school, when in the sixties, at school, at the height of, you know, the unfolding of all kinds of sexual activities. Now, the word on the street was, you know, if you can get out of that cage that you're in, Begg, you can really have some fun. Why would you ever want to pay attention to that? Hmm. Now, can I quote Melanie just one more time without you being annoyed? She doesn't attribute the decline in sexual behavior to the judgment of God, no surprise, because she doesn't pay attention to Genesis 3. But this is her observation.

This is the observation of an observant, clever, Oxford graduate columnist. Sexual behavior has now been hauled out of the private realm and turned into enforceable public rights. And because of the absolute taboo against hurting people's feelings, the very idea of normative behavior had to be abolished so that no one would feel abnormal. So behavior with harmful consequences for others or for society in general, such as sexual promiscuity or having children without fathers, was treated as normal. Correspondingly, those who advocated mainstream normative values, such as fidelity, chastity, or duty, were accused of bigotry because they made those who did not uphold their values feel bad about themselves—the ultimate sin. Alternative lifestyles became mainstream. The counterculture became the culture. God gave them up.

You see, we ought to be devastated by this. You see, when people focus on the idea… Let me put it in as graphic a way as I can. If you've got the impression that Jesus came to save you from your sins, that's good, and that's true. But let me tell you what Jesus came to do. He came to save you from God. He came to save you from the wrath of God. That you are by nature, I am by nature, a rebel without cause before Almighty God who made me for himself.

That's my problem. The issues, the expressions, the manifestations are simply evidences of the core predicament—that we are in the wrong and God is angry. The reason why people are able to dismiss the gospel with such ease is because it is presented in such a casual way, as if somehow or another it's on your time and in your own way that you can silently file in and join up or whatever it might be. No idea—no idea—of the fact that when you put your head on the pillow at night, you may never waken up in time again, but in eternity, and you will enter into eternity under the wrath of God. That's why he says, Do not eat this, for in the day you eat of it you will surely die. In other words, there is judgment, and the serpent comes in the voice of the evil and says, You don't need to believe that stuff about judgment. You don't need to believe that stuff about death.

As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive. But when you factor this notion of the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, and I look at what is happening in my homeland in Scotland, in the realm of gender and sexuality, the same is true in large measure here but somewhat behind. Conversion therapy, whereby somebody would want to talk with someone about the nature of their dysphoria, would want to talk to somebody about the reason that God has made them—any notion of doing that, any notion of doing that, is described as being a harmful, emotional, physical therapy that is used against the LGBTQ. That's all that that is. It's entirely negative.

All right? Anytime you read it in the press, whatever you do, we must never be involved in those kinds of things. This is not a comment on conversion therapy. I'm just making a point. The flip side of it is that the drastic treatments offered to young boys and girls—puberty-blocking drugs, hormone treatments, sex-change surgeries—is presented as perfectly reasonable, sensible, and advances the cause of a rational culture.

Who makes these decisions? A man cannot become a woman. And a woman cannot become a man. It is the responsibility of the Christian to speak the truth in love, to speak it with compassion, but to speak it with conviction. Loved ones, we cannot start from the place of verse 18.

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and then when it comes to the actual points of application, fall back into a kind of stupefied dumbness. God gave them up. God gave them up. And I want to say one other thing as well, and it's this. This is the world in which we live.

We live in this world now. Jesus was very clear in his high priestly prayer that his followers should not be taken out of the world, but they should be kept from the evil one. I pray that you will sanctify them in the truth.

Your Word is truth. They need to understand what you have said, God the Father, and make sure that they lay hold of it. And so we recognize that here we are living in this culture, and our boat—the boat of our Christian faith, if you like—is in the water, or the church is in the water, but the water mustn't be in the boat. What we mustn't miss in this is the recurring emphasis in Scripture by the same apostle Paul writing to the church about these very matters. In other words, Romans 1 does not exist on its own as a statement about the dramatic devastation that is represented in a world that has turned its back on God. He's also writing to those who have professed themselves to be followers of the living God. And what does he say to them?

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus, for this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles, who do not know God, and make sure that no one transgresses and wrongs his brother in this matter. That's 1 Thessalonians 4. You read him in Ephesians. When we studied Ephesians, we saw this.

Now, this I say in Testifying the Lord. You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds. Remember that they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. You'd better not be walking in the futility of your minds. They're darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. They've become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.

That is not the way you learned Christ. You see what he's saying? In one sense, what he's saying is, Don't get up on your high horse on this stuff. You recognize this. And I think if we are honest, we need to recognize this too—that in many ways we have become calloused.

The impact of the frog and the kettle thing? I could never have imagined, as a boy, sixty years ago, hearing the amount of profanity that is heard, the extent of brutality that is in contemporary movies, the depth of immorality. This is our world. We live in this world. And if we're not careful, because it's only been heating up gradually, we find that we have actually found it funny to laugh at these things.

We found it titillating to consider these things. We tolerated ourselves to a lifestyle that God never intended. Be imitators of God as beloved children walk in love, but sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not be named among you as is proper among saints.

Let no filthiness, foolish talk, crude jokes which are out of place, but let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous—that is, an idolater—has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ in God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them, for at one time you were darkness, but now you're light in the Lord. Walk, live as children of light." In other words, the Christian in this contemporary chaos is supposed to shine as a light in the dark place. The Christian is not somebody who has a particular political bent. The Christian is not somebody who is on the side of this or on the side of that. The Christian is a follower of Jesus, the one who stands in the synagogue in Nazareth and said, The Spirit of God is now upon me.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor, to bring light into the darkness of the caves of people's own rebellion, and so on. How is this manifested in our world? Well, it's manifested in a world that has gone completely nuts by Christians who are prepared to do this.

Now, we need to stop. But notice, 25, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. In other words, it's Genesis.

Notice something carefully. All the uncleanness is not the cause of God's wrath. It is the evidence of his wrath. He gave them up to that which they had already determined was their idol, was their success, was their significance. His judgment lies in being given over to the destructive power of idolatry and of evil. That's where the judgment of God lies. That's why it's revealed. You look at the culture, and the world says, I haven't a clue what's going on here.

It's a long time since the Beatles sang, You've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time. Nobody believes that. They haven't believed that. They didn't believe it then.

They don't believe it now. That's for sure. The behavior—and this is going to be important when we get to the closing verses—the behavior is not the root problem.

The behavior is not the root problem. It is the ugly fruit of the exchange—the exchanged, the truth for a lie. And the manifestations of that decision are the evidence of God's judgment upon humanity.

He has revealed the righteousness which is through faith for all who believe in the context of the unrighteousness and the ungodliness which men and women, choosing to suppress the truth, have embraced. God hands us over to disordered desires that end eventually in tragedy and in death. Every funeral that I've done for addicts, if you had spoken to them before they took that final dose, they would tell you, I'm actually now held in a grip that I cannot liberate myself from. This has been my longing. This has been my craving.

This has been my everything. You see, the lie is that God is a cosmic killjoy. The lie is that the things we choose to serve will set us free. The lie is that, for example, we were never made for monogamy.

Just yesterday in the Times I read an article, a pathetic article, by an Oxford graduate entitled Half the Fun of Married Life is the Infidelity. Hmm? Don't get smart now. Some of you watched The Bridges of Madison County. Some of you read the book. No. We find ourselves in between time and eternity, entrusted with a message that is wonderful in its fullness, set against the backdrop of God's judgment.

And it is an irony that we need to continually point out that the things that offer freedom actually enslave us. Let me finish in this way. Three Ps.

Three Ps. The response of the life that becomes aware of God's amazing grace is, first of all, the response of penitence. Penitence. It was in the eighties or nineties that the people that started selling those things to hang around your neck—once you get to our age, my age, you're supposed to have it in the bathroom in case you fall down and a bell goes off.

And I don't have one yet, but I'm open to offers. But the line that became part of common parlance was, I've fallen, and I can't get up. I've fallen, and I can't get up. That's response number one.

That's Genesis 3. We have fallen, and we can't get up, unless you come and pick us up. That is salvation. That's response number one. Penitence. Response number two. Praise.

Look at how he finishes with a little mini doxology. Bless God. The Lord is blessed forever and ever. He says, you know, no matter how much people dishonor things, they cannot ultimately rob God of his honor and of his glory. So, penitence on the part of the one who comes to Christ, praise on the part of those who are in Christ, and postponement on the part of every one of you that wants to roll the dice and walk out, believing that you're in neither department one nor in department two.

In other words, you want to do what some did after Paul preached in Athens. They said, we will hear you again on this matter. Maybe you will.

Maybe you won't. Now is the accepted time. Behold, today is the day of salvation. There's not a person in this room that does not need the gospel. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with the message he's titled, God Gave Them Up.

I wonder if, like the apostle Paul, you are devastated by the four words, God gave them up. Maybe as you listen to this description from the book of Romans of those who reject God, you find your heart aching for people you know who don't love or trust God. Let me encourage you to request a copy of the book, Death in the City, available from Truth for Life today. This is a book that speaks to the post-Christian climate that we are navigating. It addresses how challenging and yet crucial it is for us to speak up to proclaim the truth to those who are essentially dying. Death in the City will help you push past your fear of rejection. It'll motivate you to share the gospel with love and humility, but also to clearly articulate to others the reality that those who reject God will perish. Death in the City draws from the Old Testament books of Lamentations and Jeremiah the prophet, from the apostle Paul's New Testament letter to the Romans. As you read this book, you will be inspired by the deep compassion that Jeremiah and Paul had for those around them, people who were without God and without hope in a chaotic and confusing world. Ask for your copy of Death in the City when you give a donation to support Truth for Life using the mobile app or online at slash donate or you can call us at 888-588-7884. I'm Bob Lapine. If you think our society's moral collapse and the celebration of particular sins is a sign of the times, join us Monday to learn how the Apostle Paul addressed these same concerns in the early church. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-23 06:39:56 / 2024-02-23 06:47:48 / 8

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