Introduction: Marketers watch for trends. It’s how they make their money. You see it when you click on a screen or do a search. The next time you check your email or browse the web, you’re inundated with the item you were looking for. Do a search for a specific type of shoe and the next time you get on facebook or check your email, there is an ad of some company trying to sell you the shoe you were looking for… with a great price. It can be plane tickets. It can be a recipe for a cookie. It can be running a triathlon. Whatever it is, Marketers follow it. Because, that is where the money is.
Marketing and Advertising is exactly what Donald Trump took advantage of to win the presidency. According to a CBS 60 Minutes report this last week the presidency was won due in part to one marketing tool: Facebook. That’s right. Facebook was what gave Donald Trump the edge over Hillary Clinton. When Facebook offered their services to Hillary Clinton, to help her in the same manner as they were helping Donald Trump, she refused their help. She said she didn’t need it.
Donald Trump on the other hand had a secret weapon. His name is Brad Parscale. Brad knew how to access social media and promote Donald Trump’s agenda through just about every social network: Facebook, Google Search, Twitter, etc. But, he did it mostly through Facebook. He said he was able to target 15 people in the Panhandle, or whoever, wherever, with very specific ads that spoke to them.
How did he do it? He had a clear understanding of Metrics. Metrics are used to interpret our culture’s activities and behaviors. It is what allows Marketers and Advertisers to forecast and predict cultural activity. What is important to Americans? And more specifically, what is important to you? Where is your focus? What are your priorities? Where do you spend your money? That is why those ads pop up like they do. Instead of a commercial on TV to a general demographic, advertisement can be tailored to fit even the smallest of demographics.
Every click you make is monitored. All of the data is collected and analyzed. Then, based on your behaviors and responses, ads are sent your way to get you to spend money in their area of the market, or vote for their candidate or… you fill in the blank.
This morning I want to talk to you this morning about variables and equations observed as behaviors and actions. I’m not talking about the math so much, but about the variables, the behaviors and actions of life that measure who we are. Romans 1.18-32 offers us an explanation humans behave the way we do:
We’ve read the text, now let me paraphrase this text as best I understand it:
Paul begins with a statement that he would like to preach the Gospel in Rome (15). He then offers some reasons why in the following verses. A transition occurs in verses 17 and 18 demonstrating the logical relationship between God’s righteousness and His Wrath, which comes out in the Gospel. God’s wrath is being righteously revealed against all people, for all are sinners. Hence, the Gospel is needed.
God’s wrath is continually being revealed against all humanity. His wrath is revealed because they suppress the truth. How can I say this? I say this because we know they really do suppress the truth because they know God. They know him because he has made himself known to them through his creation. So, they really have no excuse (18-20).
So far, in this passage, there is emphasis on the Creator and His Creation. Keep those two in mind.
They are without excuse because although they knew him, they did not honor and thank him. Instead, their thinking became foolish and darkened. Claiming to be wise, they demonstrated themselves to be fools by exchanging the Glory of God to worship images of created things (21-23).
Therefore, God gave them over to their impurity, all because they rejected God to worship idols. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and so God gave them over to dishonorable passions. They exchanged natural relations for unnatural acts. So, God gave them over to homosexuality, an unnatural act (24-27).
Now, their state of mind is filled with all manner of unrighteousness and their lives with all manner of evil. Added to this predicament, they teach and approve of others who live in the same ungodly manner (28-32).
My outline is quite simple, even though the material is quite complicated:
- A Thesis Statement: I desire to preach the gospel (1.15).
- An explanation: God’s righteousness and God’s wrath are revealed in the gospel (1.16-18).
- The Reason for God’s Wrath: Mankind has rejected God (1.19-23).
- The Result of their Rejection of God: He has given them over to their passions (1.24-32).
- God gives them over to a debased mind.
- Their unrighteous and ungodly thoughts and actions.
- Therefore, judgment awaits mankind. 2.1-11
Transition: So, let’s begin with point #3 listed above there and continued from whence we left off last week: The Reason for God’s Wrath.
I. The Reason (18-23)
exp.: rd v 19-23; the reason is quite simple enough: they’ve rejected God; You see the word ‘for’ in v19, the 1st word in the sentence? I told you last week that it is different than the other words translated ‘for’ in 16-18. This word is a contraction of three words, διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι; lit.: through this that; It’s like getting from here to there…from point a to point b.
ill.: In the movie about Abraham Lincoln played by Daniel Day Lewis, President Lincoln greets some folks who’ve come to see him – just common, everyday folks – Why is this thus? And what is the reason for this thusness? And he giggles. I love that scene. Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?
It’s like Abraham Lincoln has asked Paul about God’s wrath:
Paul: God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.
President Lincoln: Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?
Paul: Simply put, they’ve rejected God; they exchanged the glory of God for images of created things.
app.: This is thus because they’ve rejected God. The reason for God’s wrath is because they’ve rejected him. And their rejection of him by suppressing the truth is validated by the fact that he has revealed himself through creation. And we know that they really do suppress the truth because they know God.
t.s.: As Paul clarifies this even further, we move to the 4th point: The Result of their Rejection
II. The Result (24-27)
exp.: rd 24a; Therefore, God gave them over; the ESV says: Therefore, God gave them up; I like ‘over’ better, but the idea is the same. (Prepositions often are interchangeable: i.e., stack this on that wall, stack this against that wall, stack this by that wall.) You see it repeated in v 26 and again in v 28; You might think that these three uses would make them three different sections, but it really is more of a progressive expression.
- In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts…
- In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions…
- In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind…
You can see the result of what is in their thinking moves to what happens in their actions. And these actions are progressively worse.
- In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts, to the dishonoring of their bodies.
- In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions, to the extent of participating in unnatural relations. You can see that as ‘perversion’. You see God created a natural way for husbands and wives to be intimate with each other. The world has perverted it into something unnatural.
- In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do what ought not to be done.
This progression is seen when you add the ‘exchange’ phrase. Read w/ me.
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
app.: We have two pictures in front of us with this passage: spiritual and physical. (Review 23-28 going back and forth between the spiritual and physical parts.) They rejected the spiritual aspects of God (His glory, His Truth, His Power over Creation, what is natural) and worshipped the physical things (idols, images, impurity, bodies, perversion, what is unnatural). This is what I see here: God created. The 1st word is where our thoughts and our focus should be. But the 2nd word is the one we’ve chosen to pursue.
t.s.: And so, with God giving mankind over to our passions, we see a litany of unrighteous thoughts and behaviors listed in v29-32.
III. Mankind’s Ungodly Thoughts and Unrighteous Actions (28-32)
exp.: v 28 gives us a thesis or outline of the next few verses; rd v 28; God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. The mind has to do with their thinking and their actions follow their thoughts. You see them listed in like manner:
v 29: evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. This is what is inside of them.
v29b-31: gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. These are their actions or how they behave.
V32 comes back to the topic of the knowledge of God, but takes it one step further: rd v 32; Not only do they know God, they know the penalty for their behavior.
t.s.: These are the metrics. These are the behaviors and actions being observed by God. Maybe some are only measurable to God, but the external actions are most definitely measurable to us. I can’t know your heart, but I can see what you do.
Conclusion: An interesting article was published this week on AdAge.com, a research and marketing website. This article tells us that the American culture has gained a new metric for measuring facts and trends. This one metric is incredibly reliable for measuring the movements of Americans. It is so reliable, according to the author of the article, Daniel Carter, that it just might be the most accurate data metric for gauging cultural attention. Marketers know something big is happening when these numbers drop or rise. “What’s that metric,” you ask? Pornography.
Daniel Carter gives examples in his article to demonstrate just how powerful a metric pornography has become:
NBA Championship: After the Golden State Warriors beat The Cleveland Cavilers this past year, the people in the Bay area were so busy celebrating their championship that pornography viewing dropped dramatically. Marketing observers knew something big had happened in Oakland and in California because people stopped viewing pornography. In Ohio, on the other hand, where the Cleveland Caviler fans live, the Internet traffic to view porn increase a whopping 28%.
Game of Thrones: When Season 7 premiered this past year, pornography traffic dropped across the United States. Marketers knew something was going on in our culture because porn traffic dropped dramatically. Why? Americans were tuning into the Game of Thrones Premier.
Unpredictable Cultural Events: When testimony by Jeff Sessions and former FBI director James Comey gave testimony into the involvement of Russia and our election – porn traffic dropped.
Carter tells us in his article that 64 million Americans view porn daily on just one porn site and he mentions it in his article. 64 Million. There are about 325 million Americans… men, women, boys, girls, and babies. To give you some perspective – YouTube has about 30 million viewers everyday. 64 Million on just one porn site. There are thousands of porn sites.
Ladies and Gentlemen, when pornography becomes, not just a metric, but one of the most accurate, data metric for gauging cultural attention in America, America is in big trouble.
It appears that God has given America over to her passions. The problem isn’t just pornography. Homosexuality, as mentioned in v26-27 has become a way of life. Over the last 30 years, homosexuality has become something that was against the law to a cultural norm. Our nation now sanctions gay marriage. Our nation celebrates the very thing that God condemns. And what’s sad is that our churches are doing much the same thing. America has decided by it’s actions that they don’t want to worship God, but rather the created things.
Isaiah 5, beginning in v 20 reads:
20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
and the mountains quaked;
and their corpses were as refuse
in the midst of the streets.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
What can save us from ourselves? And Who can save us from ourselves?
Paul will take his time getting there, but down in chapter 3.23 he says that we’re all sinners: every last one of us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He’s trying to communicate to us that our sin separates us from God. If we choose sin, then we’ll fall further away. He will give us over to the very things we seek. Therefore, our only hope is that we must repent and turn to God.
Ill.: The Record Book of Sin illustration.
- Men, it’s time to rise to the challenge before us and be the men God has called us to be.
- 1 Corinthians 16.13 says: 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
- Young men, listen to me: the decisions you make today will affect the rest of your life. If you’re dabbling in the mess. Stop. Repent. Turn to God or he’ll turn you over to your passions. And your passions will be the end of you.
- Women, you must protect your husbands and your sons. Ladies, do you hear me? It’s your house – run it like it is yours. Don’t let anything come into your house that will destroy your men.
Ill.: Article: My husband chose pornography over me. A NY Times article. I googled it to find it for my message today and there were countless articles on that subject!
a. You need to know every single website and move and TV show that comes across the screens in your home.
b. Don’t let your household become a variable in the equations of our culture like Daniel Carter mentions.
- For many, it feels too late. They’re too far gone. God has delivered them over to their passions and Lusts. But the truth is, as long as you’re alive, it isn’t too late. If you’re listening to me right now and your heart is pricked and your conscience is burning as if hot coals were on your head, repent today and be saved. Confess your sins and find forgiveness.