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Thursday, March 6, 2014

David and Sabra Penley
David and Sabra Penley are friends from Texas who visited us several years ago. We took them over to our Amish friends' farm and snapped this photo in the dairy barn. They're holding these new mixed beagle/bulldog pups who just couldn't get enough loving. As a professor at SWBTS David has a photo standing in front of shelves of books so this should add to his variety!

"The Deadly Peril Of Degrading Passions"

2 Timothy 4Note: Today's message is very politically incorrect, that is, it goes against the grain of what many have come to accept and approve of about sexuality and morals. One of the benefits to aging is perspective. Through all of church history until the last several years there would have been virtually no controversy regarding the meaning of today's passage; it's plain enough. Even the church and world were essentially in agreement regarding this understanding of immorality up to the last twenty-five years. Now, increasingly those of us who stand firm in our faithfulness to the Bible and traditional view are described as hateful, mean-spirited and on "the wrong side of history", a phrase that is patent generational snobbery. (See note below.) This message is written with a passion for faithfulness to Biblical truth.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error" (Romans 1:24,26,27). (Verse 25 was studied in Tuesday's and Wednesday's messages.)

In the last several years we have seen a massive abandonment of societal moral standards as people are exchanging the truth of God for the lie. Of course all through history there have been violations of sexual morality but these were not perceived as normal, nor were they condoned or approved by authority figures and certainly were not written into the law of the land. They were recognized as being destructive on the personal and societal level as well. All through history a signal marker of a society's decay is a breakdown in sexual morality. Our bodies are created to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and we are called to honor God not only with our heart, soul, and mind but also with our bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).

Romans"For this reason" (v.26)  The reason(s) is seen in the previous verses that describe the people who "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God" (v. 23) and "exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (v.25). These tragic exchanges led to a downfall of epic proportions.

"God also gave them up" (v. 24), "God gave them over" (verse 26). These are some of the most hopeless and grievous phrases in the entire Bible. The people, in their ungodly mindset, rejected light and embraced darkness. Consequently God gave them over to the power of darkness. In the same context as the well-known John 3:16 Jesus gives the verdict for those who choose darkness over light, "This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:19-21).

This "gave them over" is likely an extension of Romans 1:18 where "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven". In this case God revealed His wrath, not by sending fire from heaven, but by abandoning sinful men to their lustful ways.

Paul may have had Psalm 81:11-13 in mind, concerning the concept of God "giving over". “But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!"

This solemn phrase (Greek word paradidomi) is used three times in Romans 1. It is is a very strong Greek verb meaning "to hand someone over to the power and authority of another". It is that act of God whereby He hands over the entire human race for judgment because of their sins. The restraint of God that might have kept people living in pure relationships with Him and with one another is now removed. The Scripture frequently links idolatry as leading to immorality. Idolatrous worship of Baal in the Old Testament was inevitably accompanied by immorality. When man invents a god or gods (usually plural) of his own making, he is then free to "rewrite" the rules of human conduct or at least he is deceived into thinking he can do so and that there will be no consequences. The fate of Sodom stands as a powerful testimony that God will judge sin! (Precept study Bible)

For more comment on the graphic language used in this passage I encourage you to study an online commentary that I use (see below for link) or you can go to your own library, commentaries and study Bibles. But the text is unambiguous.

I have a Bible
(The Fire Study Bible) with notes written by Donald Stamps, a studious man who died over twenty years ago with much of his research taking place over 25 years ago. At the time he prepared the notes for this passage the massive departure from Biblical moral standards was in its infancy. I wonder if he could have even imagined at that time the extent to which our country and world would turn a deaf ear or close their eyes to this Biblical teaching! He makes this solemn point in regard to today's text, "Any nation that justifies homosexuality or lesbianism as an acceptable lifestyle is in its final stages of moral corruption."

Itching ears
At this point the politically incorrect nature of today's message is very evident and many refuse to listen. So many run after teachers and philosophers that tickle itching ears and assure people with the message, "All is well" like the false prophets in Jeremiah's time.

We must decide one way or another and I choose to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 1:3). Interestingly this familiar passage is followed by a statement that could have been written today concerning present conditions and those who claim to speak for God. (Jude 1:3-7)

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude's doxology 1:24,25)

Be encouraged today and stay faithful,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we choose to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints throughout Scripture and to all generations that follow. We love You with our heart, soul, mind and strength so we choose to live according to Your pattern established in Scripture. We choose to align our desires with Your design for our lives and refuse to "exchange the truth of God for a lie". Your truths bring light and life; Satan's lies bring darkness and death. Those who follow the lie claim to be wise, yet they become fools as they exchange glory reserved only for You, the Creator, for that which You created. So we choose to give our full allegiance to You, our Creator and Father, who is forever praised. Amen.

For further study on today's passage: Precept Austin study notes on Romans 1:26,27

"The Wrong Side Of History"

I don't know how long this phrase has been around but now it seems like you hear it all the time, applied to a variety of progressive causes.
I recently heard a leader apply the phrase to still another issue.

Assert that life begins at conception and is precious to God - you will be called "on the wrong side of history."
Assert that the traditional understanding of sexual morality as taught in the Bible and understood for thousands of years is correct and you will called "on the wrong side of history."
Assert that marriage is between a man and a woman and you will be told you're "on the wrong side of history."

This view arrogantly presumes that the current generation knows it all and has finally got it right after millenniums of generations getting it wrong. I suppose future generations (as long as the earth endures, see Genesis 8:22) will look back and state "that generation finally got it right!"

Let's look back and consider others who may very well have been told they were on the wrong side of history by their contemporaries.
  • Prior to the destruction of Sodom might the majority have informed Lot that he was on the wrong side of history?
  • Jeremiah was one of many prophets who stood for God's truth in a decadent age. Even many of the religious leaders were going along with the politically correct views of that age. I wonder if they told others, Jeremiah is on the wrong side of history?
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood faithful to God against the Nazi regime in Germany. Many clergy went along with Hitler. I wonder how many at the time reckoned that Bonhoeffer, who was martyred for his stand, was on the wrong side of history?
Ultimately what matters is being on the right side in eternity and hearing this commendation from our Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant".

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"This Little Child"
  Video  Scott Wesley Brown

"Heal Our Land"  Video
  Wayne Watson

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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