Worship the Creator

Read: Romans 1:28-32

Last Sunday Pastor Ken spurred us on from Romans 1:24-27 to live compassionate lives without compromise toward our lost friends, family, and even strangers, for God can save anyone! This Sunday he will preach further on the bitter end of idolatry and the power of God’s grace from Romans 1:28-32. Also, we will celebrate the ordinance of Baptism together! As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Timothy Keller encourage you and help you apply this week’s passage to your life.

Heart Preparation

How should God’s people respond to [Romans 1:28-32], and the dark view of humanity they give us? First, we will recognize that here is a picture which maps onto the reality of the world. All systems of thought must account both for the awesomeness of the cosmos, and the goodness of which humanity is capable; and for the brokenness of the world, our societies, and our lives and relationships. Why is there so much beauty; why is it so flawed? Paul’s answer is simple: God. There is a God who made it all, and made us in his image, to know and reflect his character. And that same God has, in wrath, given us what we have chosen: life without him, worshiping things which cannot satisfy. In the beauty of the world, we are to see God’s existence. In the brokenness of the world, we are to see God’s justice. As we do, we run back to the place where we see God’s mercy: the cross.

Second, we will not shake our heads and roll our eyes self-righteously at what “they” are like. Paul has referred to “they” throughout these verses. He is talking about Gentile society; and he knows that a self-righteous, religious Jew will hear his words and say: You’re absolutely right, Paul. These irreligious people are deserving of God’s anger. And I’m glad you picked on homosexuality— as a Jew, that’s a sin that I consider particularly reprehensible. I’m so glad I’m not like them. The function of these verses is to draw out any self-righteous pride in us; any feeling of satisfaction that: They are wicked; and I am not like them. As we will see, Paul will next turn to confront that religious, moral man: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself” (2:1). Self-righteousness is always self-condemnatory. And self-righteousness is the preserve of the moralist.

Rather, and third, we are to read these verses in light of 1: 16-17, knowing that we do not need to fear God’s wrath because we have received his righteousness. This
gives us both the humility and the freedom to ask: What idols could be, or are already, jostling for position with my Creator in my heart and life? This passage prompts us to look for places where we are envious, slanderous, disloyal, lusting, and so on. These things are the indication that we are worshiping an idol; that something other than God has become our functional master. And so we need to ask: What would it look like to depend on my Creator in this area? How would I love and feel and live differently if I praised my Creator at that point, rather than serving a created thing? That is the way to turn our epithumia, our over-desires, into simple enjoyment; not serving as slaves what God has made, but appreciating them in praise of God in his world.

Excerpt from Romans 1-7 for You, by Timothy Keller

Song List for Sunday

  1. At the Cross, by Daniel Renstrom
  2. Forever Reign, by Hillsong Live
  3. Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone), by Chris Tomlin
  4. All to Us, by Chris Tomlin

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