Abandoned to Sexual Sin

Romans 1:24-25

Tom Pennington  •  January 25, 2015
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Unless you live under a rock somewhere, you understand that our culture has become completely obsessed in it's pursuit of sexual sin. It's really remarkable, the difference that has happened in a period of time just over my lifespan. You don't have to look very far to see that change. You can look in entertainment. If you go back to the 40s and 50s and you look at the television sitcoms, you will see that there were supposedly married couples acting in those sitcoms and when they appeared in their bedroom in the sitcom they were required to stay in different beds on air, and the reason for that had to do with the sensibilities of the viewers. They knew that that man and woman most likely were not husband and wife, and it would have scandalized the nation for them to appear together in the same bed when they were not husband and wife.

Needless to say, what is acceptable in entertainment today has changed significantly since that time and there's a reason for that. It's because we live in the aftermath of the sexual revolution. In one sense, the first sexual revolution in America occurred during the Roaring Twenties after World War I, fueled and promoted by writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, but it was really the period from 1960 to 1980 that most sociologists would identify as the true sexual revolution in America. During that time huge changes in America's beliefs and practices regarding sexuality occurred, and those seismic shifts weren't isolated merely to academic institutions and professors; rather, those seismic shifts reached mainstream, American, middle class people. They reached main street U.S.A.

Now, there were markers along the way, marking the path of change that was happening. It's impossible to, sort of, outline what that radical change was like and all of the markers along the way. Let me just call out a few of them. It was in 1953 that Chicago resident Hugh Hefner founded Playboy magazine, intentionally targeting young men between the ages of 21 and 45, and suddenly American culture found that what once had been hidden in the back room of some dark building is now put out on the display stands and reaches some level of mainstream.

That was quickly followed by what we all understand as the sexual revolution of the 1960s, a period of time, which sociologists would argue, normalized what we would call and the Bible calls sexual sin. It normalized it for an entire generation of people. Just to show you how marked the change was as a result of that seismic shift, by 1971 more than 75% of Americans thought premarital sex was acceptable. That was a 300% increase from the 1950s.

Another marker along the way in our decline on this radical slide into sexual sin happened in 1969. The gay rights movement was born out of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. As a result of that, as soon as the late 70s, there was the first open portrayal on network television of a regular gay character in the sitcom Soap. In the 1980s and 90s, the proliferation of cable television provided a market for more and more provocative programming. Programming, frankly, that prior to the advent of cable would have been rated X, and suddenly it became commonplace in American middle class homes. Things that most of those people would never have gone someplace to see, is now streamed readily available in their homes, and that has only continued to decline.

During the 1990s, the Internet, for which we can thank Al Gore, gained — thank you, thanks for laughing, I appreciate that — the internet gained widespread acceptance and with the internet, and it's a great tool, but with it came pornography, and all things sexual became pervasive, so the things that once were a subject of shame became objects of joke on late night fare. In the last 20 years the greatest changes in Americans' sexual thought has been regarding homosexuality, and if you've been alive the last 20 years, you've seen it. It's been remarkable. The homosexual lobby has ensured that homosexual marriage, I think they have ensured it, that it will be universally accepted and legal, and all who oppose it will be marginalized as Neanderthal bigots.

In today's America, everything sexual is acceptable. There are constant references and depictions of every kind of deviant sexual sin, from the sexual deviation of sadomasochism in the New York Times runaway best seller, to a play on Broadway that celebrates and normalizes bestiality. The only remaining taboo today is incest, and I can promise you, that taboo will eventually weaken as well. In fact, I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I believe in my lifetime no sexual sin will truly be off limits in movies and entertainment and acceptance in mainstream America. Folks, I hope you understand that our culture has abandoned itself to the pursuit of sexual sin.

Now if you're a Christian, the question that should come into your mind is why? Why has this happened? And if I were to bring each of you up here on the platform and give you a chance to explain, we might get a roomful of reasons, but Paul has one reason. The reason that our culture has abandoned itself to the pursuit of sexual sin is because God has abandoned us. He is abandoning individuals within our culture and He is abandoning our nation as a whole. Why is God abandoning us? He is abandoning us, according to Romans 1, because of our growing paganism, our rejection of the one true God. That's the clear message of Romans 1.

Now, just to remind you of the context, Paul begins the body of this letter by showing why every person needs the gospel, why you need the gospel, why I need the gospel. His first indictment comes in chapter 1, verses 18 to 32, and it's leveled against all unbelieving pagans. Three times in these two paragraphs he refers to those who are engaged in idolatry. So this section, then, indicts all who have rejected and refused to worship the true God of the Bible. Paul says of all unbelieving pagans, notice verse 18, that "the wrath of God," literally, "is being revealed from heaven."

Now, the rest of this chapter really answers two questions about that wrath of God being revealed. The first question that he answers here, beginning in the middle of verse 18 and running down through verse 23, is why? Why is God's wrath being revealed? And we discovered two answers: because of man's willful rebellion against God's law and because of man's willful ignorance of God's person. He sees the revelation in creation about the one true God and he rejects it. He is willfully ignorant.

Now, beginning in verse 24, in the section we read a few moments ago, running down through verse 32, Paul answers a second question about that wrath that's being revealed, and the question is how? How is God's wrath being revealed? Now, last time we examined this passage, we looked at the large theological issue that stands at its heart, Paul introduces back in verse 18, that is, the wrath of God, and we spent our time really trying to understand God's wrath generally. I'm not going to review all of that. We covered a lot of different aspects of it, but let me review one key part.

We came up with, in our study two weeks ago, a three-part working definition of what Scripture means when it says, "the wrath of God." We built it off of a definition from Alan Cairns, which I gave you and I hope you have in your notes. Here are the, sort of, three components of God's wrath when we speak of that. Number one, God is always firmly opposed to evil in all its kinds and its degrees. God simply, in His person, cannot tolerate evil. He is opposed to it wherever He finds it, whatever kind it is, and however bad it may be, or however, according to our perspective, not so bad it may be. Secondly, when we speak of the wrath of God, we also mean that God is always personally displeased with sinners. It's personal. When we violate God's Law we are violating His character and He is always angry with sin, and sinners. Thirdly, we discovered that that must translate — His opposition, His displeasure — must translate into action. God is always compelled to punish sinners on account of their sins. He can never sit back and tolerate. He's infinitely patient, but eventually He has to punish sin. His holiness, His justice, His wrath, demand it.

Now, we ended last time by considering the various manifestations of God's wrath and we discovered that the kind of wrath that Paul has in mind in Romans 1 is a bit unusual. It is the wrath of divine abandonment. Now today, we're going to consider that in more detail because we'll begin to study the paragraph itself. So having, last time, gotten a general understanding of God's wrath, we need to come today to an understanding, specifically, of God's wrath of abandonment, because this is how the wrath of God is being revealed, as verse 18 describes it.

Now, the structure of chapter 1, verses 24 to 32, is easy to follow, because three times in this paragraph Paul says, "God gave them over." In other words, Paul identifies three specific ways that God's wrath of abandonment is being revealed against unbelieving pagans. Did you notice them as we read it? The first one comes in verses 24 and 25, "Therefore God gave them over to impurity." God gives them over to sexual sin. The second way that God's wrath of abandonment expresses itself comes in verses 26 and 27, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions," speaking of homosexuality. Lord willing, we'll deal with that next week. The third expression of God's wrath of abandonment comes in verse 28 through the end of the chapter. Notice verse 28, "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind." You say, what is a depraved mind? A depraved mind is not just a mind that commits sin. A depraved mind is a mind that commits sin and says it's good, approves it. God gives them over to a depraved mind.

So, this morning we want to look at the first way that God evidences His wrath of abandonment and it is by giving the sinner over so that he is abandoned to sexual sin. We see this in verses 24 and 25. Look at verse 24 with me, "Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them." Notice the connector word that begins verse 24, "Therefore," with this logical word Paul ties the wrath of divine abandonment in verse 24 back to the reason in verses 21 to 23.

Specifically, notice verse 21, here's the reason, because the pagan knew about the true God through general revelation, through the creation, but he refused, verse 21 says, to glorify Him as God or to give Him thanks; instead, verse 23, he turned away from that knowledge that he had of the true God and turned to idolatry, to false gods. "Therefore," verse 24, because of that abandonment of God, God abandons them. Notice it says, "Therefore God gave them over." Now, what does Paul mean by that expression, "He gave them over"? I think we need to understand, first of all, what Paul does not mean. Paul does not mean that God gave up permanently on all idolaters.

I grew up reading the King James, and it's a great translation, but now it's very old, its language is outdated, and as a result of that some of the expressions can be misleading. The King James translates it this way, "God gave them up." Well, when you read that you might come to the conclusion that this abandonment is permanent, but the wrath of abandonment described here in Romans 1 is not necessarily permanent. Obviously, it'll be permanent for those who refuse to believe the gospel, but it is not permanent for those who hear the gospel and respond in belief and trust, to the gospel.

There are examples throughout the New Testament of this, right? I mean, the Corinthians, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, he mentions idolatry, and he says, "Such were some of you." Some of you were idolaters, but God saved you out of it, it wasn't a permanent abandonment. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul writes of the Thessalonian believers, they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." Listen, I know people in my own experience who were engaged in classic idolatry who are now in Christ. So Paul doesn't mean that God permanently gives up on all idolaters.

Secondly, God does not mean that God somehow causes or produces evil in the hearts of these people. Just at first glance you might mistakenly come to that conclusion, but that is contrary to the nature of God. James 1:13, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." So God doesn't actively produce evil in the hearts of these pagans.

So, what does Paul mean when he says, "God gave them over"? Well, we can get some understanding by looking at how this Greek word is used in other places. For example, this same Greek word translated "to give over" is used in the New Testament of handing someone over to the custody of the police or the courts. Specifically, it's used of Judas handing Jesus over to the authorities. The same word is used of an army surrendering to another army. So Paul means that God has handed pagans over into the custody of, or perhaps better yet, into the prison of their own sexual sin. He surrendered them to their desires. He abandoned them to the sexual sin they craved. God permits them to pursue what they desire.

Let me give you a more, sort of, theologically parsed definition: God withdraws His restraining grace and allows a man to have what he wants, along with the consequences he does not want. For example, Psalm 81:12, God says, "So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices." Paul says, in Acts 14:16, of the nations, "In the generations gone by God permitted all the nations to go their own ways." Douglas Moo writes, "Like a judge who hands a prisoner over to the punishment his crime has earned, God hands the sinner over to the terrible cycle of ever increasing sin."

Notice specifically, verse 24, what God gave them over to, He gave them over "to impurity." The word is literally uncleanness. When it's used literally it means something that's dirty, something that's filthy. It's only used that way one time in the New Testament. The rest of the occurrences in the New Testament are figurative, a state of moral corruption, what is morally filthy, morally dirty, and it is used almost exclusively of sexual sin. We'll see some of the references here in just a moment.

Now, let me just be very careful here because, tragically, throughout Church history some Christians have terribly misunderstood what Paul says here and in other places. Scripture does not teach that the sexual relationship within marriage is dirty or filthy. In fact, it teaches exactly the opposite. The writer of Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is to be held in honor above all," it's honorable, "and the marriage bed," speaking figuratively, obviously, "is to be undefiled." In other words, it's to be kept pure. In God's sight it is pure and it is to be kept pure. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, "for fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

Song of Solomon is another example of God's perspective of this area of life. It's a celebration of married love and much of its focus is on the beauty of the sexual relationship in marriage. That's God's perspective. The honorable, respectful relationship of physical intimacy in marriage is honorable and pure in the sight of God, but before marriage, or outside of marriage, or insisting upon things in marriage that God forbids, is a violation of God's Law, and it is morally dirty.

So Paul says that God abandons the unbelieving pagan to what is sexually dirty. Now what does that include? Well, I don't want to be unnecessarily graphic, but I want to be as direct as the Scripture is, so turn with me to Ephesians 5 because here Paul identifies several categories of sexual sin. He's writing to forbid these things among Christians, but he gives us a scope of what is included in sexual sin.

First of all, there are sexual sins of action. Look at chapter 5, verse 3. The first two words describe sexual sins of action: "But immorality or any impurity." "Immorality" is the Greek word pornea. It describes all illicit sexual intercourse with another entity. All illicit sexual intercourse with another entity. The second word is "impurity." This is sort of a catch-all word. This word in this context is used to describe every misuse of the gift of sexuality that is not included in the word pornea. It includes all kinds of sexual aberrations, whether they're fetishes or sadomasochism or whatever. With these two words, Paul forbids any sexual acts except the honorable, respectful enjoyment of a sexual relationship within marriage.

He comes with another category in verse 3 and that's sexual sins of thought. The third word there, "greed," here, in this context, this is, the word is covetousness, literally, and in this context the word covetousness is not used generally of coveting things. In the context of sexual sin this is the sexual desire to have someone other than your spouse. It is sexual covetousness. That is a sin against God as well as that person.

So, there are sexual sins of action, there are sexual sins of thought, there are also sexual sins of speech. In verse 4 he uses three different Greek expressions. First of all, "filthiness." This is to speak in a way that intentionally evokes illicit, sexual images. We are not to have a sexually dirty mouth, Paul says. The second kind of sexual sin of speech in verse 4 is translated "silly talk." Now that may be misleading. That may lead you to think that all kinds of silly talk. In reality this refers to crude, sexual humor, dirty jokes, humor that betrays a crass, vulgar mind, and then the final sexual sin of speech in verse 4 is translated "coarse jesting." Again, that can be a little misleading. This is not the guy who tells dirty jokes. This is the person who is smooth and intelligent and witty, who enjoys repartee about sexual things but always without being obvious. This is the person who uses sophisticated sexual innuendo and double entendre. Paul says, notice verse 3, these things, all these expressions of sexual sin, "must not be named among you, as is proper among saints." But these are the sexual sins to which God abandons the sinner.

Now go back to Romans chapter 1. God gave them over to sexual sin in all of those expressions. Now, notice I skipped a phrase in verse 24 and it's a phrase that's very important, because Paul wants to make sure that we don't misunderstand. He wants to make it clear to us that God did not tempt pagans to sexual sin. Instead, He simply abandoned them to pursue their own desires. Notice how he puts it in verse 24, God gave them over to impurity "in the lusts of their hearts." The word "lusts" speaks of "strong desire, craving." In fact, in the Septuagint this word is used to translate the tenth commandment, "You shall not covet." God simply gave the pagan over to what he coveted.

In fact, turn to Ephesians 4. Paul expresses this directly here. Ephesians 4:17, he's admonishing us not to walk like pagans walk. Notice, "This I say, to you and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles walk," as the pagans live, don't live like that, and then he goes on to describe how they live. Look at verse 19, "and they," that is, pagans, "having become callous," now watch the difference in wording, "have given themselves over." Romans 1, God gave them over to sexual sin, here, they "have given themselves over to sensuality." The word "sensuality" refers to unrestrained, shameless pursuit of sin, indulgence in sexual sin. They gave themselves over to it.

So understand this, while it's true that God abandoned sinners to sexual sin, it is only because they have abandoned themselves to it. This is what they want. He gives them over to the lusts of their own hearts. As one theologian put it, and this is profound, "Sin is the punishment for sin." In other words, the punishment for sin from God is an ever-increasing frequency of sin in life.

Now, go back to Romans 1. What is the result of God's abandoning the pagan to sexual sin? Look at verse 24 again. So "God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that." Now, it's hard to know whether this phrase speaks of God's purpose, He did this in order that. That's a possibility, or it could be translated, "with the results that." I tend to lean toward the second, but we can't be absolutely sure. "So that their bodies would be dishonored among them." To dishonor is to deprive someone of respect, to shame them. This is an amazing statement. I want you to let this settle into your soul, because this is contrary to the culture, but this is God's perspective. God says, to engage in a sexual relationship either before or outside of marriage is to dishonor your own body, a body made in the image of God. It is to dishonor your body.

Now in verse 25 Paul restates the reason that God abandons pagans to their sexual sin. Notice how verse 25 begins, "For." God gave them over, "For," because, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen." Now if that sounds familiar, it should, because Paul begins verse 24 with the word "Therefore," linking God's abandonment to sexual sin back to idolatry in verse 23. But to make sure that we don't miss it, he repeats the very same reason here in verse 25. Notice how he puts it, "they exchanged the truth of God for a lie."

Paul's point is that they exchanged what they knew about the true God, or we could even shorten that and say, "they exchanged the true God," literally, the Greek text says, "for the lie." "They exchanged the true God for the lie." The lie of idolatry. The lie of false gods. And by the way, Paul once again contradicts the typical comparative religions professor here in our wonderful state of Texas because he denies that all other religions than the worship of the true God have some truth in them. He simply labels them all "the lie." They're part of the lie, a massive cover-up to cover the truth. Leon Morris writes, "Paul does not see heathen religion as partial truth. It is the lie that leads people away from the truth of God."

He goes on in verse 25 to say, "And they worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." The two words that are translated worship and serve are often synonyms, but when they appear together, as they do here, together they describe both the internal reverence of the heart for an object as the object of worship and the external activities of religious service. So do you see what Paul is saying? Pagans, rather than reverence the Creator, rather than fear Him and honor Him, and rather than serve Him with their religious activities, they choose instead to reverence and to serve that which God created instead.

Now, I want you to look at verse 25 again, because it is monumental. This verse describes every person on the planet and every person in this room this morning. You are either worshiping and serving the Creator, the one true God through His Son, or you are of necessity worshiping and serving something He made. Those are the only two options.

So idolatry is the reason God abandons the pagan to sexual sin. Now folks, do you see how amazingly helpful this is to understand what's going on in our culture? The headlong slide of our culture into sexual sin is not an accident. It is the result of divine abandonment. God has abandoned us as our culture has abandoned Him and has headed into the darkness of paganism. And let me tell you this, the more pagan our culture becomes, the more it slides away from its knowledge of and respect for the true God, the more it will give itself to sexual abandon. In other words, it's going to get worse. And if you doubt it can get worse, just read a little history. Go back and read the history of Rome, the history of Greece. It can get a lot worse. And I can promise you this, it will. That's what's coming.

Now, this is all bad news, but I'm caught with Paul's refreshing response to all of this. Notice that when Paul simply mentions the true God in verse 25, he just mentions Him in passing, he can't help himself, he just breaks out in doxology and benediction. He says "the Creator," and he has to stop, "who is blessed forever. Amen." We get the word eulogy from the Greek word translated blessed here. It literally means "a good word." When you give a eulogy you're giving a good word about the person who died. Paul says, God deserves a good word from us, and He's getting a good word from us. He is blessed, literally, "into the ages. Amen." Paul says, let it be, let God be praised.

Folks, this should be our response as well. Yes, the news is bad, it's bad news about our culture, but our response should be praise to God, praise to God for His holiness, for His righteousness, yes, even for His wrath, and for the good news that out of all of that He is snatching a people for Himself through the gospel of His Son. Those who know God just can't help themselves. Like Paul, they just bless God spontaneously in their thoughts and in their words and in their songs. It's unthinkable to Paul that there are people who refuse to honor and bless their Creator, and so he can't help himself, he has to stop and do it.

Now, there's another important question we need to answer about Romans 1:24-25 and that's why? Why would God choose this punishment for idolatry? What is the connection between idolatry and God giving people over to sexual sin? There are two verses that make the connection very clear. You can look them up if you want. Let me give them to you. First of all, Colossians 3:5, Paul is dealing with sexual sin. He says this, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire," all those words have to do with sexual sin, and then he says, "and greed." He's not just throwing in a separate idea. There he means sexual greed, sexual covetousness, he's talking about lust, and then he says this, "which amounts to idolatry." He says the same thing, by the way, in Ephesians 5:5. Again, talking about sexual sin, he says, "this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or sexually covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."

Now, those two verses give us profound insight because Paul is saying, at the root of sexual sin is sexual covetousness, and sexual covetousness is idolatry. If you are engaged in an unbroken, unrepentant pattern of sexual sin or sexual covetousness, you are an idolater. It's no different than falling down in front of an image of wood or stone. You might as well fall down in front of your computer screen and worship, because you are worshiping either another person or persons, or you are worshiping yourself, and either way, a creature has taken the rightful place of the Creator in your life.

Peter O'Brien writes, "Sexual lust is an idolatrous obsession. It places self-gratification or another person at the center of one's existence, and thus, is the worship of the creature rather than the Creator." Do you see why? Do you see the connection now? Why, when people give themselves to idolatry, God gives them to sexual sin, because sexual sin is idolatry.

Now, what do we do with this as believers? Let me give you some application points. These aren't going to be on the screen, so you can just jot them down if you'd like. Number one, if you're in Christ, number one, sexual sin is morally wrong and a violation of God's clear commands. Make that clear in your mind. Lust and sexual sin is wrong. God calls it dirty, filthy. Number two, sexual sin degrades and dishonors you and your body. It degrades and dishonors you and your body, made in the image of God. Number three, you must not tolerate any sexual lust or sexual sin.

Listen, we're all tempted in this way. But we cannot, we cannot allow it in our lives. We must never be content until it is cut completely out of our lives. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 5:3. After talking about these sexual sins of speech and action and thought, he says, they "must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints." I think the NIV captures Paul's meaning when it translates it, "But among you there must not even be a hint of," these things. That's God standard of sexual purity. It's not okay to have a little, but not be like the person who's completely given in.

In fact, turn to 1 Thessalonian 4. Here's Christ's standard. 1 Thessalonians 4:1, "Finally then brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus." So he's saying, with the authority of Christ, I'm requesting you and exhorting you,

that as you have received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

He couldn't emphasize this any more strongly. This is Jesus speaking. And now he tells us what he's getting to, verse 3,

For this is the will of God, your sanctification, [specifically,] that you abstain from sexual sin; that each of you know how to posses his own vessel, [that's probably a reference to your own body,] that each of you know how to posses your own body in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the pagans who don't know God.

Listen, there was plenty of time for you to do that stuff before you came to Christ. Don't live like a pagan now. In fact, verse 6, make sure "that no man transgress and defraud his brother in this matter." In other words, when you sin with another believer in sexual ways, you are transgressing God's Law, and you're defrauding that person, and, oh by the way, you're going to answer to Christ, "because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you." You better take sexual sin seriously, Jesus does.

Verse 7, "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity." Listen, God didn't call you to Himself through the gospel in that effectual call so that you could sin sexually. No, He called you in sanctification. He wants you to be like His Son. And then he ends with this, verse 8, "So, he who rejects what I've just told you is not rejecting man." Paul says, listen, you don't have a beef with me, you're not rejecting me, "but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you." You want to turn your back on these commands? You better take it up with Jesus. You better take it up with God. They both take it very seriously.

A fourth application point for believers: praise God for the gospel. Praise God for the gospel through which He has removed the guilt of your sexual lust and sexual sin and forgiven you in Christ. Christ paid the debt. Don't you love that Paul begins Romans reminding us, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God" unto rescue! He rescued me from the guilt and the power of sin, including sexual sin. Thank God for the gospel.

Now let me speak to those of you who are here this morning who aren't in Christ, and I know that's true every week. There are some of you who know you are unbelievers. I pray for you often. Every week, in fact, I pray for you. There are others of you who may think you're in Christ who aren't. Let me just say this, every time you have given in to sexual craving, every time you have coddled it, every time you have given in and acted on that sexual craving, you have broken God's Law, and you have accumulated more personal, legal guilt before the throne of God, and payday is coming.

Paul says this about sexual sin in Ephesians 5:6, "Let no one deceive you with empty words," don't let anybody kid you, "for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience." Don't you think for a moment that because God didn't strike you down for your sexual sin and lust that He is somehow indifferent. In fact, Paul tells us exactly the opposite. He says that if your sexual lust or your sexual sin is growing, if it's growing in frequency, if it's growing in intensity, if it's growing in kind, if it's growing in seriousness, that is, in and of itself, evidence of God's anger against your sin. You are experiencing the divine wrath of abandonment.

But the good news is, it doesn't have to be permanent. If you will turn from your sin to God, if you will turn to Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as your only hope, as your Lord and Savior, then God will forgive your sin. In fact, I've got to show you one more text, turn to Romans 8. I love this, Romans 8:32. The reason God can forgive you is because of what Jesus did on the cross. Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son," God didn't spare His own Son, "but God delivered Him over for us all." The word "delivered Him over"? It's the same Greek word, three times in Romans 1, God gave them over, God gave them over, God gave them over.

Listen, at the cross, God the Father gave His Son over. He gave Him over to be sin for those who would believe. He gave Him over to suffer God's wrath against your sexual lust and sin. He gave Him over to death so that He wouldn't have to give you over permanently and forever to your sin. If you will believe in Him, you will experience what Jesus accomplished at the cross.

Let's pray together. Father, we bless You for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for this passage. Lord, help us who are in Christ. Help us to live pure lives. Father, help us to understand our culture as well, and to take the gospel to others whom You have abandoned because of their idolatry to sexual sin. Lord, don't let them be the enemy of us, but rather the mission field. Lord, thank You that You haven't abandoned them permanently. There is still hope, as long as they breathe, if they'll respond to the gospel. Father, I also pray for those here who are not in Christ. Open their eyes, O God, to the reality of their own condition and to the amazing grace You offer in Jesus Your Son, and may they run to Him today. We pray it in His name, amen.