What Once Was Depravity

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
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. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

  • Romans 1:18-32

“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

  • Daniel 9:7-11

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

  • Hebrews 13:4-8

“Paul’s expose of depravity in Romans 1:18-32 is a chilling account of human wickedness, a vivid pen-portrait of unleashed unrighteousness, unashamed godlessness, and unnatural lust. Paul pulls no punches as he writes of darkened hearts, degrading passions, indecent acts, and reprobate minds. Reaching the final argument of his prosecution, the teacher from Tarsus twists the accusing knife with cruel eloquence; ‘and, although they know the ordinance of God that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who do them’ (Rom. 1:32).
“It’s bad enough that there are those who participate in such a depraved lifestyle … but what about those who applaud them for doing so? Rather than being shocked and offended, screaming ‘No!’ there are invariably those who smile and approve, nodding ‘Go!’ When depravity is on display, there is always an audience willing to buy a ticket and applaud the performance.
“This came home to me anew when I read about a scam that took place in New York City when some con men decided to make some extra cash by feeding on the depravity of humanity. Naturally, they

made a killing.
“[They] got a pile of cardboard boxes, newspapers, stickers that read ‘Factory Sealed,’ a roll of bubble plastic, and a stack of stolen shopping bags from Macy’s. They stuffed each box with bricks and newspapers until it weighed enough, then wrapped everything in bubble stuff and affixed the stickers.
“As the evening rush-hour traffic backed up at the Holland Tunnel, the con artists started wandering the curb, carrying the bogus boxes inside the Macy’s shopping bags. When they spotted a potential buyer stranded in traffic, they walked up to the car window and started fast-talking a cash deal.
“’Hey, man, l got a Sony Handicam here … just got if off a Fed Ex truck.’
“He lifts the box out of the bag, saying, ‘Macy’s sells ‘em for $999.’
“Then, jerking his head around nervously, he says, ‘l’ll take ninety bucks, cash.’
“The cars start to edge forward and the other drivers start yelling.
“The thief delivers his final pitch: ‘Okay, man, I’ll let you have it for forty-five. Take it or leave it.’
“And the driver takes it, knowing its hot merchandise.
“When asked about how it feels to rip people off, selling them empty boxes, one of the men said, ‘Hey, man, I’m not beating an honest man. No one buys hot unless they’ve got larceny in their heart.’
“I must admit … the guy’s got a point! To paraphrase Paul’s wrap-up in Romans 1; the fella who grabbed the box and sped off into the night was just as guilty as the thief on the street, and, along with that, his money gave ‘hearty approval’ to the one who ripped him off.
“Happens all the time. The details change, the wrong may bear another name, the consequences will differ, but it’s still depravity on display, whether it’s the sinner or the sinnee. Furthermore, no one is immune. In fact, the possibilities of appealing to our old nature are endless.
“A Finishing Touch: What kind of deals do you make when no one is looking? Are you, right now, aware of wrong and giving hearty approval to another’s sin?”

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch (Devotion for Week 27, Wednesday)

I quoted the entire devotion this time instead of a few paragraphs.  The confidence game was a change of pace from the sexual sin mentioned in Romans 1.

Yet, I wonder what Rev. Swindoll, who is in his upper 80s would use as the example today, about 25 years after he published the book of devotions.  When it comes to sexual sin and depravity, we have reached the apex where everything in Romans 1 that is listed as depravity is celebrated, not just in the sinful streets of the land and then the “polite folk” shake their heads, but in government, the media, and the mainstream.  In fact, calling it ‘depraved’ gets you cancelled.

I included the paragraphs leading up to the often-quoted Hebrews 13:8, that Jesus, and God the Father for that matter, are the same yesterday, today and forever.  It is the same sexual depravity that Paul mentions in Romans 1, and Paul did not write Hebrews.  Five hundred years ago, it was thought that he might have.  Read Matthew Henry’s Commentary and he suggests it, but recent scholarship shows that Paul would have to change a lot in style, etc. for that to be his writing.  My point is, two different Biblical writers said the same thing, and it is no coincidence that the writer of Hebrews followed those statements with the concept that God never changes.

Because Satan, the Master of Lies, uses the idea that God did not mean “that” to get us to believe just about anything.

And I am not limiting myself to sexual depravity.  Rev. Swindoll went toward greed, and Rev. Tim Keller said in an interview that Jesus spoke a lot more about greed than He did about sex.  Christianity is not “hung up” about sex, but others keep bringing it up.

Regardless of whether you are trying to find a loophole in Commandment 1 or Commandment 10 or any of those in between, God never changes, but the world will change to trick you into believing it is okay to step outside the line – just a little bit, and then much further, and then “does anyone ever remember a line?”  And like the guy who buys what he thinks is a “Sony Handicam,” he knew it was wrong when he handed the guy the money.

So that leaves us where Daniel found himself in Daniel 9, pleading with God a confession for an entire nation, pleading for God to rescue them, not for himself, but for others.

We need a national repentance, but it should start with each of us individually.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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