Man's Shocking Response to God (Part 1)

Romans 1:21-23

Tom Pennington  •  November 30, 2014
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I was thinking this week, as I was preparing for this morning, about the amazing gifts that God has given us in His common grace. He's allowed things to be discovered that just enrich our understanding of the world He's made. And specifically, my mind went to two of them: the telescope, which allows us to view the universe around this planet, the countless galaxies that inhabit the universe; and the microscope, which allows us to see the universe that is on this planet, the microscopic universe that surrounds us constantly.

It wasn't until the 13th century, the 1200s, that an Italian named Salvino D'Armati developed the art of grinding lenses and created the first eyeglass which allowed for magnification on one eye. And of course all of us who are sitting here this morning with an eyeglass on each eye, we are very grateful, because we can see as a result of that—those of you who are wearing contact lenses. More than 300 years later, after the development of the eyeglass, in 1590, two men, a father and son, Dutch lens grinders Hans and Zacharias Janssen, made the first microscope. They put two of those lenses in a tube. But for about a hundred years, what they had discovered remained, for the most part, just a novelty. It wasn't until year 1675 that a man named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, became the first man to make and to use a real microscope. He had found a way, developed a new way, to polish lenses. And through his simple microscope with those highly polished lenses, he was able to be the first man in human history to see and to describe bacteria, yeast, the life that's teeming in a single drop of water, and the circulation of the blood corpuscles in the capillaries. It was several hundred years later in 1938 when the next major advance came in the microscope with the electron microscope. And then in my lifetime, in 1981, two men invented a scanning electron microscope which provides three-dimensional images of objects down to the atomic level. And that invention opened up to us an entire new world: the ability to see God's creation at a level of detail that it'd never been seen before.

Take just one example, the Alaskan Krill. The Krill is a small, shrimplike crustacean that is typically only about two inches long. Scientists estimate that this is the major food source in the oceans. In fact, just one species—and there're I think some 31 different species of these Krill—just one species has a biomass of 380 million tons. That's greater than all the humans alive on the planet today. But when you start looking at these tiny little creatures, and you examine a Krill's eye under 3-D high magnification, what you discover is something of the artistry and the wisdom of its Creator. You see incredible detail and symmetry; it is truly astounding—just on one small, little creature of which there are billions and trillions in the oceans of the world. With the telescope and with the microscope we can see beyond what the naked eye can see. And now we have even more evidence, so that, as Paul says in Romans 1, man is truly without excuse.

But we didn't need microscopes and telescopes for that to be true. Just the eyes God gave us enable us to see. William Hendriksen writes:

Even without the benefit of such products of human invention as a microscope and a telescope [Think about this.], men were able to reflect on the vastness of the universe; the fixed order of the heavenly bodies in their courses; the arraignment of the leaves around the stem; the hydrological cycle; the mystery of growth from seed to plant; the thrill of the sunrise from faint, rosy flush to majestic orb; the skill of birds in building their homes without ever having taken lessons in home building; the generous manner in which all creatures are supplied with the food that they need; the adaptation of living creatures to their environment.

He gives the example of the flexible hooves of camels, specially suited to the soft desert sands. And on and on the list could go. Just with the naked eye, all of those things are clear and visible. "The evidence is overwhelming," Hendriksen says.

That is exactly Paul's point in Romans 1. Turn there again with me. Romans chapter 1. Let me read for you the paragraph we're studying. Romans 1, beginning in verse 18:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is knows about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

As we've noted, Paul introduces the theme of this letter in the previous verses, verses 16 and 17. The theme, of course, is the gospel, justification by faith alone. And that message is crucial for all men, because apart from the gospel we all stand, even now, today, under the wrath of God. So from Romans chapter 1, verse 18, all the way to chapter 3, verse 20, Paul sets out to prove man's universal need of the gospel, his universal need of the righteousness that comes from God by faith alone.

He begins his indictment with one category: the immoral pagan. And that really is what occupies him through all of the rest of chapter 1, beginning in verse 18 and running down through verse 32. This is the person who does not claim to worship the true God of the Bible. Against such a person, verse 18 says, "the wrath of God [literally] is being revealed." Right now, God's wrath is being revealed. The rest of chapter one then answers two questions about that statement. First of all, why is God's wrath revealed? That's verses 18 to 23. And then, how is God's wrath being revealed against immoral pagans? Verses 24 to 32.

So first of all then, Paul answers the question, why? Why is God's wrath revealed against immoral pagans? And he gives us two reasons. First of all, his willful rebellion against God's Law. His willful rebellion against God's Law. And man's rebellion really falls into two categories. First of all, ungodliness. Verse 18 says, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness." We took some time to define what ungodliness is. It doesn't mean you're irreligious. It means you do not properly fear the true God, you don't honor and respect Him as you ought, you don't love Him as you ought to love Him, and you don't worship Him as you ought to worship Him. That's ungodliness: a failure to fear God, to honor Him, to love Him, and to worship Him. The second manifestation of our rebellion is unrighteousness. Notice verse 18: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all….unrighteousness of men." This describes a lack of conformity to the Law of God. So God's wrath, then, is being revealed from heaven because of the pagan's willful rebellion against God's Law, manifested in these two different ways.

Now there's a second reason that God's wrath is being revealed, and that is the pagan's willful ignorance of God's person. Paul begins this section, as we noted, at the end of verse 18 with a brief summary. He describes it this way: "men…suppress the truth in unrighteousness." In other words, men are willfully ignorant about God's person that's clearly revealed to them in the creation. They hold it down, they silence its voice, they stifle it. Why? Well, verse 18 says they do it "in unrighteousness." They do it because, and we do it, we did it before Christ, because we loved our sin. Now that's a brief summary of man's willful ignorance of God's person.

He goes on, beginning in verse 19 down through the end of the paragraph we read, to give us a sort of detailed explanation of this, this willful ignorance of God's person. He's really answering the question, "How, Paul, can you say that someone without the Scripture is still suppressing God's Truth? How can you say that?" Well, it's because of the fact that God has revealed Himself. Look at verse 19: "Because that which is known about God is evident [is clear, is visible, is plain] within them; for God made it evident to them." All unbelievers have this revelation. God has revealed Himself. When? Verse 20 answers that question: "For since the creation of the world." From the very beginning of time God has been revealing Himself in this way. Now, what exactly has God revealed about Himself? Again, verse 20 continues: "His invisible attributes." There are invisible qualities of God that He's revealed. Specifically, "His eternal power." That's His eternity, the fact that He transcends time. He's not subject to decay and death like we are. As generation goes to generation we understand that. And, His eternal "power." God does whatever God wants to do. Any being that can create all of this, sustain all of this, has to be more powerful than we can imagine. And, His "divine nature," His deity, His Godness. That there is a supreme being is evident. Now, how has God revealed Himself? Well verse 20 goes on to say, those "invisible attributes… have been clearly seen, [and] understood." How? "Through what has been made." By looking at the creation, man understands that there is a God, and they understand certain things about Him. Now, what results then from God's revelation in creation? Verse 20 ends with this statement: "So that they are without excuse." There's the result. Not one human being, who's ever lived on this planet or ever will live on this planet, ever has an excuse when they appear before God. There's just way too much evidence for them to say, "I didn't know."

Now that brings us to where we left off last time. Today we come to verses 21 to 23, and in these verses Paul unfolds yet another part of this explanation of man's willful rebellion against God's person. Specifically, he explains here how man responds to God's revelation in creation. How man responds to God's revelation in creation. Paul finishes verse 20 by an assertion that the sinful pagan has no valid excuse. In verses 21 to 23, he explains why that's true. It's true because of the way that man has universally responded to God's general revelation. Look at how man responds to that amazing revelation that's in creation. Verse 21:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Now when we read that section, I think our minds immediately go to a specific kind of sinner, usually the unsophisticated animus who's living in a jungle somewhere. And clearly this paragraph refers to that sort of person, the sort of tribal person everywhere. But remember now, Paul didn't serve in jungles and barren plains. Paul's ministry was focused on the population centers of first-century Europe. He served in the great cities of the Roman Empire. He preached and taught in the cornerstone of Western Civilization, the Greco-Roman world. He lived in a culture that was marked by the great Greek philosophers, by the Romans and their historians and their engineers and their technological marvels. Understand then, Paul's words here in Romans 1 target not only the tribesmen of rural Africa, but the academics of Rome; not only the unsophisticated, but the man of the world; not only the uneducated, but the intelligent and the intellectual. So, this description is comprehensive in its scope. It describes all men and women who have ever lived, who don't claim to worship the true God of the Bible: from the nobodies, to the world's powerful and influential; from the ignorant, to the university PhDs; from the uncivilized, to the cosmopolitan.

I want you think for just a moment about the people in your world who don't claim to worship the true God of the Bible. Think about them. Maybe they're family members or friends, neighbors, co-workers, a teacher or professor. Here, according to God, is their spiritual diagnosis. It's the diagnosis of every pagan sinner. It's the diagnosis of every great civilization from ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, the Persians, Greece, Rome, and to today. In fact, it is the diagnosis of all humanity. Man's response to God is absolutely shocking.

Notice his response to God begins with hard hearts. Hard hearts. Folks, here is ground zero. Here is the foundation of human sinfulness. This is where man's rebellion begins. Look at verse 21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks." Now first of all, notice that Paul connects this verse with the one before it using the word "for." In other words, verse 21 is the reason that all pagans are "without excuse"—as he ends verse 20. "For even though they knew God." Now stop there. What does he mean by "they knew God"? Don't misunderstand Paul. He's very clear in other places that pagans don't know God in the way we normally use that expression, the way we talk about knowing God. In fact, in Galatians 4:8 he speaks to the Galatians before their conversion and says, "At that time… you did not know God, [instead] you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods." 1 Thessalonians 4:5: "The Gentiles… do not know God." Paul's not contradicting himself here in Romans 1, he's making us a different point. When he says "they knew God," he means they had seen the truth about God in His creation, and they understood certain things about God. Tragically, they responded to that knowledge with rebellion. They responded with hard hearts. They simply refused to respond appropriately to the God they had seen in His creation.

Now, how did they respond? What does this hard heart look like? Well, first of all, they did not glorify Him. Notice verse 21: "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God." Now, if you have the New American Standard, notice the marginal note with verse 21. You will see that the Greek word translated "honor" is actually the word glorify. "They did not [glorify] Him as God." Now, that's remarkable in light of the very reason man exists. I mean after all, what is the chief end of man? "What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." That is the reason you have breath. That's the reason I have breath. But before we came to Christ we simply refused to glorify the true God as God.

So, what does this mean to glorify? I mean, clearly it's the chief end of man. Clearly it's the chief sin to fail to do. So what does it mean? Well, the Greek word is doxa. The leading Greek lexicon defines it as "to influence one's opinion of another so as to enhance that person's reputation, to praise, to honor, to extol." But what does it mean specifically in reference to God? What does it mean they didn't glorify Him as God? First of all, to glorify God in this sense means to acknowledge Him as the true God. First of all, to acknowledge Him as the true God. In other words, you have to cut through the clutter of idolatry, and to really glorify God as God, you have to see that He's the one true God. Secondly, you have to own Him as your God. It's not enough to say, "Yeah, I think He's the one true God, but I don't want to have anything to do with Him," you have to own Him as your God if you're going to glorify Him. And then, you have to give Him what belongs to Him in your thoughts and in your words and in your actions.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this point of glorifying God, because—let me define it for you this way: it's really the opposite of ungodliness. You remember what we learned ungodliness is? It's the failure to fear God as we ought to fear Him; it's the failure to love God as we ought to love Him; it's the failure to worship God as we ought to worship Him. To glorify God is exactly the opposite of that. It's acknowledging that He's the only true God. It's acknowledging Him as my God. And then it is fearing Him as I ought to fear Him. It is loving Him as I ought to love Him. And it is worshiping Him, praising, thanking Him as I ought to thank Him. That's what it means to glorify God. There are a lot of other ways we can fill that out if we were to take the time to do so, but that's it in its essence.

So understand then, when Paul says they didn't honor Him as God, he doesn't mean unbelievers never say nice things about their Creator. Clearly they do. But they don't ascribe to Him what He is really due: they don't fear Him as they ought to fear Him, they don't love Him as they ought to love Him, and they don't worship Him as they ought to worship Him. With this failure man begins his journey toward paganism. It is this failure to glorify God that begins man on his road toward false religion. Meyer[s] writes, "Paganism is not the primeval religion from which man might gradually have risen to the knowledge of the true God, but is, on the contrary, the result of a falling away from the known, original revelation of the true God in His works." What does that mean? It means forget everything you learned in your comparative religions class. It means forget what your world religions professor taught you. God says the truth is exactly the opposite. Man started with a knowledge of the true God in his creation. And when he rejected that knowledge, that's when he began to create other religions, because he wanted a religion that fits him, a religion that makes him comfortable. He wanted a god of his own making rather than the God who had revealed Himself. So sinful man, then, refuses to glorify God as God. It is a hard-hearted rebellion. He knows, and he simply will not have it.

But there's a second manifestation of his hard heart: he does not thank God. Notice verse 21: "For even though they knew God, they did not [glorify] Him as God or give thanks." Now that is a truly remarkable statement. At the core of human sinfulness is not only an unwillingness to glorify God as God, but a refusal to thank God. Os Guinness writes, "Rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism, but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom 'thank you' is redundant." It's a great quote. The attack on God doesn't begin with open hostility, it begins with apathetic indifference to His gifts.

Now, I don't know if it surprises you, but it surprised me—years ago when I first noticed it, and even this week as I was studying—it's surprising that Paul adds this as in any way equal to glorifying God. We don't usually think of it that way. We don't think of gratitude as occupying quite that level. So, what is the connection, then, between glorifying God and giving thanks? Why would he put that here? James Montgomery Boice explains this very well. He writes:

Romans 1:18-20 teaches that the existence of God is abundantly disclosed in nature. This means, of course, not merely that God exists, but also that all we are, see, and have, has been brought into being by Him. He is the Creator of everything. So if we have life, it is from God. If we have health, it's from God. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the friends we share, everything good is from God. If we fail to be grateful for this, it is because we are not really acknowledging Him, or, are rejecting a proper relationship to Him.

What's Boice saying? He's saying listen, the moment you come to the realization there is a God (which you have, God's put that, made that obvious to you), then you immediately know He made all of this—including me. That means everything I have, without exception, comes to me from God. So what would lead me not to thank God? Only a hard heart of rebellion. That's what Boice is saying.

You say, "Well-well, wait a minute now, not everything in the world is good, there are bad things that happen. What about those things?" Listen to Boice: "Someone may say, 'But we sometimes experience bad things too: we suffer pain and hunger, we get sick, eventually we die.'" In other words, the point he's making is, some people argue against this sort of knowledge of God and His goodness by the bad things that happen. Boice writes, "But even here we show our ingratitude, for we deny the fact that if we got what we deserve, we would all be in hell, sinners that we are. Our very existence as sinners should cause us to praise God for His abundant mercy." What do we do? We ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" What's implied in that question? I deserve only good, because I'm a good person. Why would anything bad happen to me? Folks, that's the wrong question. The real question is, why does anything good ever happen to us who are all bad? If we got what we deserved, it would be nothing but hell. So any good is an expression of the goodness of God. But unbelievers manifest their hard hearts by looking at what they don't have rather than thanking God for what they do. They refuse to give God thanks.

Now perhaps you're sitting here thinking, "Wait a minute, Tom, this is Thanksgiving weekend. Are you really saying that unbelievers aren't grateful? I mean, after all, our entire country filled with millions of unbelievers just celebrated Thanksgiving!" It is true, of course, that almost every person in the country celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. They celebrated, as many of us did, with food and family, a little football. But how many do you think really took time to express their thanks to God? Most of those who even tried to list what they were grateful for didn't take the time then to actually get alone with God and say, "God, thank You for this and for this, and thank You for this manifestation of Your goodness, and thank You for this blessing." There's a huge difference between saying "I'm thankful for this blessing" and taking the time to actually thank God for that blessing. One is thankfulness; the other is nothing but disguised selfishness. Sinful man does not as a habit of life give thanks to God.

So what does man do? I mean, how does sinful man respond when good things come into his life? Very quickly, he responds in three ways. Number one, he attributes the things he enjoys to false gods. This is one response, and it happens the world over today. God is good; He showers people with good things; as Paul says in Acts 14, He fills their hearts with food and gladness, He brings fruitful seasons and rain—and how do they respond? They thank somebody else. In Hosea chapter 2, verse 5, Hosea's writing about Israel and her idolatry, and he says, "For [her] mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. [This is again about their idolatry, they're being unfaithful to the Lord.] For she said [Israel said], 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'" In other words, it's the idols who've given me these things. Verse 8: "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal." This is what unbelievers do all the time. They take God's good gifts and they thank somebody else.

A second thing unbelievers do is they attribute the things they enjoy to themselves. They take the credit: "Well you know, it's my marketing savvy, it's my intelligence, it's my industry, it's my hard work and sweat that accomplished this." Turn back to Deuteronomy 8.. God was concerned about the children of Israel responding this way when He brought them into the promised land. And so through Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 8, verse 10, He says this:

[When I brought you into the promised land] "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. [Skip down to verse 17.] Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it He who is giving you the power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."

Listen, this is a universal human temptation. Success comes, and instead of thanking God, we thank ourselves: "You know, I'm pretty smart, that was a great deal I pulled off." What we should realize is that there're always people who are more gifted, more intelligent, more capable, have greater skills than our own, who've never enjoyed the success we enjoy. But we don't do that. We take the credit. We give ourselves thanks.

A third way unbelievers respond, not only do they attribute what they enjoy to false gods, to themselves, but thirdly, they enjoy the gift without really acknowledging it all. They just enjoy it and pretend it didn't come from anywhere. Jesus touches on this in Luke 6:35. He's talking to us about loving our enemies, doing good, just like our Father does, and He says this about the Father: "For He Himself is kind to ungrateful… men." Think about this. How do most people respond to God's good gifts? They take it for granted: just use it and move on.

Now go back to Romans chapter 1, because I want you to see how Paul puts this. I want you to see this is not an accident. Verse 21: "Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks." This is rebellion. How do I know that? Look down at verse 28. Here's another way to put it: "They did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer." Now, we're going to get to this text, but let me translate it for you literally from the Greek text. Verse 28 reads this way: "They did not approve of God to have Him in their knowledge." They did not approve of God to have Him in their knowledge. Folks, this is not an accident, this is willful rebellion, willful rejection of God's right to rule their lives, willful rejection of the Lordship of their Creator. I want you to see verse 21 and let it sink into your soul. From the pen of the Apostle Paul, and ultimately from the mind of the Holy Spirit, these are the cardinal sins of humanity and of our hearts as well: "[Although] they knew God, they did not [glorify] Him as God" nor were they thankful. There is no greater affront to God our Creator and Sustainer than those two responses. It is shocking, and yet that's how man responds. It is a hard-hearted rebellion. They refused to glorify Him; they refused to thank Him.

You know, even between humans we understand that gratitude is imperative and ingratitude is repulsive. Right? I mean secular writers talk about this. Cisero said, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all other virtues." Shakespeare put in the mouth of his fictional King Lear those words, "How sharper than a serpents tooth it is to have a thankless child!" Think about it. We are repulsed and disgusted by a child who benefits hugely from the generosity of his parents, and he responds to his parents without any proper respect, without any gratitude. He just takes it and enjoys it on his own selfish lusts. We're repulsed by that, and yet that is exactly the shocking way that fallen man responds to God.

This week I came across a quote that just summarizes it all. It's from the French Huguenot pastor and commentator, Jean Daillé. Jean Daillé. Listen to what he writes. This is great. "Thankless men are like swine feeding on acorns, which though they fall upon their heads, never make them look up to the tree from which they come." That is the perfect indictment of humanity. Let me read it again: "Thankless men are like swine feeding on acorns, which though they fall upon their heads, never make them look up to the tree from which they come." That's sinful man's response to God's goodness.

Now, how do we deal with this? What do we do with this as believers? Let me, first of all, talk to you if you're here this morning, you're in Christ, you've repented of your sin, you've put your confidence in Christ and Him alone as your only hope of heaven. How do you respond to this indictment? If you're in Christ, you understand that Scripture assigns a high value to thanksgiving. For the true believer, gratitude is both natural and it's commanded. Let me just show you a couple of verses. Turn to Psalm 50:14. Asaph writes, "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High." What is Asaph talking about here? Well he's talking about one of the Old Testament sacrifices. One of the Old Testament sacrifices was the Peace Offering. And one particular kind of Peace Offering was the Thanksgiving Offering. What made the Thanksgiving Offering unique is that unlike the other sacrifices, the whole animal wasn't burned; instead, only the fat was burned on the altar, and then the rest of the meat was cooked, and the worshiper would sit in the temple with the priest and eat the food. And it was to symbolize that he was having a meal with God, a feast with God, expressing his thanks. I kind of take off on the idea of this, and sometimes we'll set an empty place at the end of our Thanksgiving table to remind us that any time God's people are truly expressing their thanks to God and enjoying His goodness, it's like having a meal with God. He says, offer to God a Thanksgiving Sacrifice. Look at verse 23: "He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me," glorifies Me.

Turn over to Psalm 69:30: "I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him [glorify Him] with thanksgiving." And when I do that it will please the Lord better than if I offered a sacrificial animal. This is how much this matters to God. Again and again the Psalms talk about it. I wish I had time to take you to all the ones I even have in my notes, but turn over to Psalm 100. This is a Psalm of thanksgiving, the only Psalm in the Psalter that's identified that way. Notice verse 4. The picture here is of a worshiper entering into the tabernacle or the temple, and he is entering into that picture of God's presence. "Enter His gates [come into His presence] with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name." Many of the Psalms begin, as Psalm 107 does, with these words: "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His [steadfast love] is everlasting." Folks, thanksgiving is supposed to be a regular part of our lives.

I love what the passage in Daniel chapter 6, verse 10, says. It talks about Daniel when he discovered about the decree that he needed to stop worshiping the true God. What did he do? He says, he went into his house, and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day. And what do we normally remember his doing? Praying. And it does say that. But it says, "Three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously." Listen, thanksgiving isn't a one-day-a-year affair, it's an everyday affair.

Turn to Ephesians 5:18. Paul says, don't be under the influence of a substance, like alcohol, don't be under some in influence, "For [that's] dissipation, but [instead] be [under the influence of] the Spirit." And we learned from Colossians, he's talking about being filled by the Spirit with the Word. Now when that happens, there are consequences, and verses 19, 20, and 21 give three consequences of a person who is influenced by the Spirit. Notice first of all, there will be a love for God-centered music. If you are filled by the Spirit, you will love God-centered music. Verse 19: "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord."

By the way, some of you are new to our church and you come from churches where people don't sing. Sometimes men even think it's kind of manly not to sing. Listen, Jesus, according to Hebrews 2, sings. Zephaniah says God the Father sings. So get over it – and sing! OK? The person who's controlled by the Spirit of God loves God-centered music. We'll be singing in eternity.

Notice there's a second effect, consequence, of being Spirit-filled, and that's a pattern of thanksgiving. Verse 20: "Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father." Wherever the Spirit is dominating a life with the Word, there will be a constant pattern of thanksgiving. By the way, the third one in verse 21 is there will be submission to human authority. Where the Spirit is present, there won't be a spirit of rebellion against human authority, there'll be submission to human authority. And he begins to unfold that, the various kinds of submission, in the verses that follow.

So understand then, that is part and parcel of what it means to be a Spirit-filled Christian. 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks; for this is [the will of God] for you in Christ Jesus."

But let me talk for a moment to those of you who are here who are not in Christ: You know you're not a Christian. People can come to this service for lots of different reasons. I don't know the reason you're here, but let me talk to you for a moment. Do you understand why Paul says what he says in Romans 1, why he says that all humanity doesn't glorify God as God nor is thankful? That's true of you. That's true of me. That's true of everyone. That is God's indictment, and you know it's true. You know you haven't glorified God as God, you haven't loved Him the way you ought to love Him, you haven't feared Him the way you ought to fear Him, you haven't worshiped Him the way you ought to worship Him, and you know that you haven't been thankful for all of His good gifts. You, like all the rest of us, have whined and complained about your lot in life.

Why does Paul include that in Romans 1? To remind us of our need for the gospel. That's your hope; that's my hope. God, our Creator, whose wrath is being revealed, also is a God of love who sent His Son into the world to live a perfect life, to die as a substitute in the place of sinners who would believe in Him, so that God's wrath could be satisfied, so that those who believe could be reconciled to God. If you will do that today, if you will repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you can be reconciled to God today. And His wrath will be done, because Jesus Christ will have endured it in your place. But if you refuse, you need to understand this is God's perspective of you today. He sees it as the greatest affront in the world that you refuse to glorify Him as God and that you refuse to give Him thanks, and someday His wrath will be evident and obvious. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for this magnificent passage. For those of us in Christ, Father, thank You that You saved us from this. Thank You that You have forgiven us for our failure to glorify You as God, that you have forgiven us for our lack of gratitude because You have punished Christ and we are reconciled to You through His life and through His death. But Father, help us to foster a spirit which longs to glorify You and a practice and a pattern of thanksgiving in our lives. Father, I pray for those here today who don't know You through Your Son. O God, help them to see themselves in the mirror of Your Word that has been held up to their minds today. May they see the reality of this is how You see them, and may they run to Jesus Christ and find refuge from Your wrath in Him. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.