Rebellion Against God

Title: Rebellion Against God

Text: Romans 1:18-32

Time: August 6th, 2006

One of the most offensive and most widely rejected teachings of Christianity today is the wrath of God. The idea that God will one day pour out His righteous wrath on a person for all eternity is one of, if not the most, offensive of all Christian teachings. But there is another teaching about God’s wrath that is equally offensive today, although it is less widely known nor understood: God’s present day wrath poured out on sinners. While most people believe Christianity teaches God’s wrath on the future day of judgment and in hell, they reject the teaching because it is offensive. But what most people don’t believe is that Christianity teaches God’s wrath is presently being poured out in our world today. Most Christians don’t even believe this, but it is clearly taught in the Bible for everyone to see. Romans 1:17 says plainly, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men.” When the terrorists struck the World Trade Center on 9/11, afterwards in the months that followed, a few evangelical Christian preachers suggested that these tragedies might have been the result of God’s judgment upon a sinful America. Almost immediately people across the country reacted angrily against any such idea that God might be punishing us for sin. The preachers were forced to retract their speculations in order to regain any public trust. Now why was the idea that God might punish a sinful nation for its sins by means of a foreign invader so strange? Is there not biblical precedent for such a thing? Yes there is. Is the idea of God punishing sin so unbelievable? No, there are plenty of examples in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, where God does exactly this kind of thing. Could not God do the same thing today? Yes, there is no reason to think He couldn’t. Then why the public outcry at the mere thought that God might be punishing America for her sins? Because the idea is offensive to most Americans. Because Americans can’t imagine such a thing. Because people today don’t want to think or believe such a thing. It isn’t because the idea is so far fetched in theory (What is strange about God punishing sin? Wouldn’t that be his department? Isn’t that one of the things a God is supposed to do?), it’s because Americans don’t want to believe that they will be held accountable for their sins, by God or church or anybody. The idea is repugnant because people don’t want to believe it, people don’t want to be accountable for sins, certainly not by a power as great as God. So the whole notion of God’s present wrath is offensive. But it is exactly what the Bible teaches, whether people like it or not. Now the question could be asked, “Why would God not wait for the future day of judgment to deal with sin? Why pour out his wrath and anger on people today?” The answer is that people are in sin and rebellion today and unless they are stopped from time to time of their natural downward course, the world would become a virtual living hell. So graciously God intervenes, sometimes dramatically, but usually naturally, in punishing and stopping sin from getting out of hand. Let’s look at what God sees when he looks at sinful humanity in the world today, based on the description the Apostle Paul gives in Romans 1:17-32 (read). Four forms of human rebellion are seen in this brief biblical description: one, rebellion of the soul; two, rebellion of the mind; three, rebellion of the body; and four, social rebellion.

First, there’s rebellion of the soul (spiritual rebellion). Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” In their hearts they knew there was a God, they knew something about God, but in their hearts they refused to spiritually respond to Him except in rebellion. The proper response to God is worship and thanksgiving, but people chose to do opposite of that, they chose to rebel against God, refused to give him glory or thanks. That’s spiritual rebellion. That’s soul rebellion. And we see it all around today. Romans 1:24 says, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.” Verse 25 says they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worship and served created things rather than the Creator, who is forever praised.” It all starts in the heart, in the soul, in the very innermost being of each individual. Every person has to make a choice, whether to respond favorably to God or rebel against Him in life. Most people today choose to rebel, and we see that in society today. The soul of our nation, the collective faith of our citizens, is growing dark. At one point early in the history of America, a group of strong Christians came over from Europe to live in this land. They were called Puritans because their style of Christianity was pure Reformation faith, even more reformed than the original Reformation Christians. They were Bible-believing Christians who took their faith and practice very seriously. Loving the Lord with heart, soul, mind, body and strength was a priority to these people. But that’s not where we are now in this country, far from it. Today, real heart and soul faith is hard to find, even in the church today. Instead, for the most part, people who call themselves Christians today practice a selective kind of faith where they pick and choose those parts of Christianity that appeals to them and reject those parts that offend them. People practice self-styled religion today, grabbing bits and pieces from other religions and philosophies to suit their own felt needs. People practice today any kind of behavior that makes them feel good, regardless of what the Bible, church or Christianity teaches. So why wouldn’t God pour forth His wrath on present day America? There is no reason why He wouldn’t, and there is every reason to believe that He would. America needs a spiritual revival as priority number one. Americans need to confess and repent of their sins, and turn to the Lord once again, not only to save their own souls to heaven, but in order to save their nation from God’s judgment. Only a large-scale spiritual reawakening can change our relationship with God.

Second, there’s rebellion of the mind. Romans 1: 28, “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind.” Now this verse has particular force to us as Americans, heirs of the great Western Civilization that has developed over the last 2000 years, and which includes all of Europe, Australia, and North and South America. We of all cultures have had a Christian upbringing, but now that heritage has been largely squandered. Citizens of the historical western nations have not thought it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, as evidenced by the widespread rejection of Christian truth and morality, especially among cultural leaders, but now including all levels of society. And so it also follows that God is expressing His righteous wrath on the peoples of the western world by giving them over to a depraved mind, just as Paul describes in Romans. Why hasn’t there been a great western world revival in over 100 years? Why hasn’t the United States experienced a spiritual revival, like the revivals that came earlier to this nation in the 18th and 19th centuries? Why didn’t the 20th century see a national revival of Christianity? Why haven’t we seen it come yet in the 21st century? Because God is pouring forth His righteous wrath upon rebellious people — and giving them over to their own demise is His form of wrath at this point. When people lose their faith in God, when people choose to turn away from God in their heart and soul, when people refuse to turn from sin and disobedience, they not only lose their salvation, they lose their minds as well. That’s what we are seeing in society today, people losing their minds. The Apostle Paul says elsewhere, “Professing themselves wise, they become as fools.” When we reject the knowledge of God we lose the basis for all knowledge, knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of other things. That’s what is happening in the minds of people today. Heart rebellion has caused mind rebellion, and rebellion of the mind against God and God’s truth brings about foolishness. Without God we can’t solve our life problems — and the solutions we propose are foolish. Take for instance one area, marriage. Why is it that the most educated people on the planet can’t keep their marriage relationships together? Because having abandoned all significant faith in God, they lose the ability to even work out the simplest of life’s problems with their own thinking. Rebellion against God in the heart, leads to rebellion against God in the mind, which leads to rebellion against reality. Only by centering our lives on God in our hearts, can we illuminate our minds with wisdom. Without God, our minds our darkened and our thinking is confused and useless.

Third, there’s rebellion of body (or behavior). Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” Again, God’s wrath is being poured out today upon people in the form of giving them over to their depraved hearts and minds and bodies. God’s judgment, then, is not rescuing people from the results of their sinful rebellion against Him. One of God’s main activities since the beginnings of the human race has been rescue. He rescued Adam and Eve, our first parents, out of their sinful rebellion, and gave them hope for salvation in the future through a coming Savior. He continually rescued His chosen people from their sins throughout history. Ultimately, he sent Jesus Christ as Savior to rescue us all from our sins, but if we turn away from Him and refuse His help, there is nothing left for Him to do but turn away from us. That is what God is doing presently to everyone who refuses to listen. Today, people are in rebellion against God with their lives in every form imaginable. Some people reject God and go after false gods in false religions or cults. Other people reject God by deny Him completely in atheism. Still others, while not denying God outright live as if He didn’t matter at all. These people commit every form of immorality, break any laws they can get away with, and feel no remorse or guilt because they have so deadened their consciences and so darkened their minds, that no light from God is permitted into them. God’s wrath against these people, and there are many of this kind, millions, is that He doesn’t break in and save them or even illuminate their minds, but rather lets them go from bad to worse, as they wish. That is the main form of God’s wrath today upon sinful people; He just lets them have it their own way without helping them. But someone may ask, “How is that bad? That is what I wanted all along, for God to leave me alone?” It’s bad because of the natural and normal consequences of sin, disobedience, and rebellion. The way it works is that the world was originally created by God to operate in a certain correct way. When sin entered the world, it upset the natural created order of the world; but still, the world operates according to certain rules established by God from the beginning. Sin is a violation of the natural order of creation, and so, at some point, sin will self-destruct. For example, if I use an automobile in a way that it was not designed, it will quickly fall apart. And so too, if people believe, think and behave in ways they were not designed, they will fall apart too. That’s what we seeing happening with AIDS today. People who disregard God’s will find themselves dying of an incurable disease. Why? Their unnatural behaviors are producing unnatural diseases and destroying lives. Rebelling against God leads to death and destruction.

Forth, there is rebellion of society. Romans 1:32, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” Not only do people rebel against God individually with heart, mind, and body, but they also set up institutions in society to encourage large-scale rebellion against God. The best example of this was the old former communist Soviet Union. Here was an attempt to fashion all of society around rebellion against God, atheism. Spiritual rebellion was institutionalized in government, then rebellion of the mind or intellectual rebellion against God was promoted through schools, colleges, universities, libraries, publications, etc., and then finally, behavioral rebellion was pushed through eliminating all Christian activities and promoting godlessness. Abortions were performed by government hospitals for free. Now the Soviet Union collapsed because of God’s secret, hidden, passive wrath upon it, but just because this form of institutional rebellion is now gone doesn’t mean social rebellion is gone. Our own nation, and the other nations of the Western World, is rebelling in other ways. The United States for example is headed toward destruction because of its foolish rebellion against God at the nation’s highest level. The Supreme Court still upholds abortion, the killing of unborn babies, as a national right, thus storing up for us God’s wrath and judgment. State governments are provoking God’s wrath by legalizing gay marriages, an insult to God and His laws if ever there was. It isn’t enough that sinful men and women rebel against God in their own private lives, but they push to establish national and societal rebellion in the form of laws in government. Educational institutions have also become strongholds for godless rebellion. College campuses are among the most immoral places in society. Young minds enter classes unsure of God and leave with a knowledge and an experience of rebellion in soul, mind and body. But not just at the college level, local high school and grade schools teach rebellious attitudes against God and all authority. It’s not enough for thinkers and activists to rebel against God personally, now they seek to promote the rebellion to children in school, and government has permitted it. Yes, we live in perhaps the most rebellious time ever in the history of all humanity. God has every reason to pour forth His wrath of direct judgment on us, but perhaps He’ll allow His passive judgment to ruin us by stepping back and just letting things run down all by themselves. Our only hope for people and society is for God to bring a revival of true Christianity to our society, and soon, because if something doesn’t change soon, there probably won’t be anything left to rescue. “God, please send your salvation now. Amen.”

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