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Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter sunrise (Photo by Doris High)
I found this nice winter sunrise photo on Doris High's photo blog
. Today we are having a nice winter thaw and look forward to seeing the spring grass surface!

"A Depraved Mind"

Note: Today we resume a series (several weeks) on Romans 1:18ff. This is long by Daily Encouragement series (which rarely have lasted more than a week). This material has also been a bit more theologically technical than many of our messages and perhaps comes across harsh. We expect to have a few more messages before we move on but we will end with the Good News, the Gospel! We will go back to Romans 1:16 where Paul declares, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel..." and forward in Romans where we read, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). But before that we have a couple more messages concerning our sinful condition and our great need for a Savior.

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"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:28).

Many years ago we owned a dog whose breed we enjoy but this particular dog had some peculiar traits. For instance he would run in circles viciously attacking his own tail throughout the day. (We're not talking about "playfully" chasing his tail. He was fierce and in the "attack mode" if others approached him.)

We thought we could tame him since we had a fenced-in backyard and he could run around as opposed to being staked out but there was no sign of improvement over a several week period. The dog never responded to affection which is so untypical of this canine breed. It just seemed like the dog was crazy. One morning, following a walk, the dog attacked me as I was trying to get him to release a dead bird he picked up on the road. This necessitated a trip to the emergency room and the medical staff filed a report to the authorities. We had to
put the dog down (truth be told we were relieved and in good conscience really could not have passed him to someone else knowing of this attack).

For several months I had a secret fear. I read up about rabies (which is the Latin word "madness") and learned how it can make an animal act crazy. Though his rabies shots were documented we didn't have a copy and I considered that there might have been a mistake along the way. 
My imagination was secretly running wild during the several week waiting period after I was exposed. I only told Brooksyne about this prior to preparing today's message. I smile about it now but it sure made me nervous at that time.

In studying Romans 1 these last several weeks I consider the impact of sin upon the mind as similar to rabies. In fact I recently heard a theologian state, "sin makes one crazy".

Today's text is an insightful verse from a powerful book. Of course the entire Bible is powerful but Romans provides a particular depth in understanding the human condition, the tragedy of sin and scope of divine redemption. In seeking to understand and discern the current world situation and the immense falling away from godly standards I have been pondering this portion a lot. It describes the inherent natural tendency to sin in each person's heart since the fall of Adam. The NASV has this concise description for this section heading, "Unbelief and its Consequences".

Suppression of God's truth leads to "futile thinking" and although there is self assessment of being wise in reality it leads to foolishness. (v. 21,22) Sin causes us to exchange God's truth for the lie. (v. 25)

Let's examine today's text phrase by phrase:

"They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God." Contrast this with those who diligently seek and find it immensely worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. They study the Scriptures and seek to live by them.  They realize the supreme call of the Proverb that cautions its readers, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Retaining the knowledge of God is a lifelong pursuit, something we must be committed to.

But many, really most, do "not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God." Instead they have chosen the heavily trampled broad way which leads to destruction (see Matthew 7:13-14). Substitutes for the knowledge of God abound materially, philosophically, educationally, and even in the spiritual realm.  These substitutes are billed as "the real thing" and any other outlook may be ridiculed or viewed as "behind the times."

The consequence of this failure to retain the knowledge of God is that "God gave them over". This is the third of three occurrences of this phrase in Romans 1.  God's restraining influence that would keep people living in proper relationship with Him and with each other is removed. This phrase "God gave them over" should put the fear of the Lord into every heart and mind. The master deceiver may have us thinking we are in control, but the Bible tells us, "The one who sows to please the sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction"
(Galatians 6:8).

There is a grave consequence in failing to retain the knowledge of God. "God gave them over to a depraved mind."  The Precept Austin commentary notes that this depraved mind "speaks of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make reliable moral judgments. Here we have gone beyond deliberate iniquity to something much more frightening. At this stage people have lost the desire and the ability to think clearly. They have lost their mind and don't even know it. The result is a world that has left God far behind. It is a society with all restraints removed, a culture devoid of all sense of right and wrong, where every one is doing what is 'right in his own eyes.'"

Romans 1:28Today's text speaks of a "depraved mind" which is a result of not retaining the knowledge of God. Depraved is not a word we often hear or use frequently. We may recall the theological term "depravity of man", which describes the consequences of the fall. Other versions use the word "reprobate", "base and condemned", "degenerate", "debased", "corrupted".

John MacArthur writes, "Unregenerate people cannot think properly about spiritual truth because they have a 'depraved mind'. Only God can turn on the light in the human heart so that it can respond in saving faith to the gospel of the glory of Christ."

The verse ends with this phrase,
"to do what ought not to be done." A depraved mind leads to depraved actions.  In so many areas we see a rejecting of God's laws where people are doing what ought not to be done. Unless there is a massive return to God's ways (revival) this will only worsen.

We call out the faithful remnant to earnestly seek the Lord and be diligent in our efforts to retain the knowledge of God! May our godly knowledge be the filter through which all other information is understood, approved, or rejected.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we want to be a people whose hearts and minds are One with Yours. Through our diligent study and application of Your Living Word our thoughts and attitudes are formed. Keep us faithful to the Truth of Your knowledge. We stand in firm opposition to the world's substitutes; the acceptance, condoning, and celebration of anything You describe as sin. The world may dress it up, commercialize it, make it appealing, and cover up the disastrous results it brings on the individual, his or her family and society at large.  Help us to read, retain, and regard Your knowledge as our pattern for life. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Occurrences of "God gave them over" in Romans 1:
1) "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another" (
Romans 1:24).
2) "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" (Romans 1:26).
3) "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:28).

Two workers with contrasting ages but same work ethic

Clark at White Oak
Clark is a High School student but works part time for White Oak Display, a company that makes displays for retails stores. He is a diligent worker who tells me he really enjoys his job. We commend people with a good attitude and work ethic. Last week I spoke to another young man who recently got married and encouraged him to be a good, faithful husband and provider. He told me, "I will, because that's how the Lord wants me to be." Amen!

Jean at Vallorbs
Jean has an interesting distinction. She has worked for the same company for nearly 64 years. Jean inspects small machined parts, does so very diligently, and could probably do her work blindfolded. She's a pleasure to visit and often shares stories about her loving, extended family.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"May The Mind of Christ My Savior"  Video  Jake Armerding A nice acoustic version of an old hymn written over 100 years ago.

"From the East Unto the West"
The Odes Project

Doris High's collection of February photos. We are ready this season to move on from snow photos (as much as I do enjoy the season for a season). It's just been a long, cold winter for our parts and we have had snow cover for about fifty days continually which is very unusual. Below is a photo taken last night of the sunset from our front porch. I expect by this evening the snow will all be melted!
Winter sunset from Weber home 3/9/14

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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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