Romans 1:18-32 “Rebellion Against God’s Law”


Note from last week – in Romans 1:16 we saw that salvation is a consequence of believing. In fact, there is no Scripture that supports salvation preceding belief. But the Calvinist has to teach that salvation precedes (comes before) belief, that according to their view of God’s sovereignty, no-one can believe unless God firstly regenerates his/her heart. (Or else teach that you have to be born again before you can be saved!)


MacArthur knows this is a problem for his doctrine and says, “Some people wonder how much time there is between God's calling and our justification. I don't know. That would be like asking how much time it takes for a bullet to go through two sheets of paper. The distinction between calling and justification is theological; there isn't necessarily a time lapse. You are called to be justified. The calling is when God moves to change your heart, and justification is the result.” (

And The Spirit opens your heart so that you’ll believe.  The Spirit turns you in order to understand the message of the gospel.” (


And Piper says, Man is dead in trespasses and sins. He cannot make himself new, or create new life in himself. He must be born of God. Then, with the new nature of God, he immediately receives Christ. The two acts (regeneration and faith) are so closely connected that in experience we cannot distinguish them.” (What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, March 1998 revision – John Piper)


So why try to make out that the process is so fast you cannot actually tell the order, so to speak? It’s because calvinist doctrine is an embarrassment to them here! It must deny on the basis of God’s sovereignty that belief cannot precede salvation, unless you can be born again before you believe and be saved! Yet Loraine Boettner in “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination”, Page 75) says A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved.

Thus calvinism is a doctrine designed to support man’s desire for his own wisdom to be acknowledged.


And so we get to today’s message, which deals with men’s efforts to create a doctrine that suits their human natures, while denying God where He ‘interferes’ with their worldly desires.


Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;


God is holy and desires that we as His children be holy as He is holy. His anger is a natural reaction of a holy God who cannot have sin in His presence.

1 Timothy 6:16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom {be} honour and power everlasting.

Light is holiness; darkness is sin. Therefore God is so light that He is unapproachable.


hold – to hold back; detain; retain; hinder; keep secure; take possession of.

hold the truth – That is, hold back the truth. There are many today who teach lies and call them God’s truth, and in doing so hold back the truth.

Matthew 15:9But in vain they (pharisees) do worship me, teaching {for} doctrines the commandments of men.


Such are literally suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Many, in fact, choose to live lives opposed to God because they desire to oppose God! The reason for such is that if God has said it is sin, then it must be good. This is where this passage is leading us, people whose incentive to behave as such is because God has declared it sinful. The reason, therefore, is to oppose God Himself! They hinder, hold back, suppress the truth in unrighteousness simply because they don’t want God to tell them how they should live! Many today call themselves atheists (meaning no God in their lives), but really should be called anti-theists (meaning ‘against God’). Too many are going through life singing the song, “I did it my way”. In fact, hell will be full of people singing that very song! Instead, God desires that people do it His way.


Romans 1:19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed {it} unto them.


Because what is possible to be known concerning God is manifest (made known, revealed) in them. God has revealed His wisdom to mankind. This is stated as a scriptural truth. Some may ask how some nations could know of God without any teaching about Him. However…..


Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, {even} his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:


For all time, for all peoples, of all nations, the things of God can be observed, not as physical objects, but as invisible attributes. What are God’s attributes?

Tozer says in The Knowledge of the Holy that What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its

religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. (Page 4)


Attributes include wisdom, infinite, sovereignty, holy, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, faithfulness, etc. The fruit of the Spirit lists attributes that show our spiritual standing.

Galatians 5:22-23a22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance:


Even in non-Christian societies, those which rest upon Godly attributes are more stable and pleasant than those which deny such attributes. We were created in God’s image and this also includes those attributes which relate to His image. We were created for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.), and these attributes relate to this too. We can deny our heritage as of the image of God, but we can never dispose of it completely. Man was created to worship God, and even when we don’t worship God, we still have this inbuilt desire to worship something. Man exists to worship something greater than ourselves. And when we fail to worship the One who created us for His pleasure, we are without excuse!


Romans 1:21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified {him} not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.


The Bible states this truth again – that they knew God. In fact, it was because they knew God that they turned against Him. Their reason for rebellion is that the rebellion itself opposed God! They didn’t give glory to the One who gave them their existence, and they refused to give God the glory that was His alone. It sounds like satan who tried once to take God’s glory for himself and failed. Now satan wants others to join him in his downfall after his rebellion against God his creator.

Isaiah 14:14-1514I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

They did not praise God for His goodness toward them, and their imaginations (their thinking) became vain (mataioo – vain; foolish), filled with pride in their own abilities to run their own lives. (“I did it my way!”) And like satan their foolish (unintelligent; without understanding; stupid) hearts were darkened (skotizo – literally to be covered with darkness; metaphorically to be deprived of understanding; deprived of light mentally).


Romans 1:22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,


And deprived of that understanding (that is, darkened mentally), they became fools (without understanding) indeed. There are none so blind as those who will not see the truth!

Psalm 14:1aThe fool hath said in his heart, {There is} no God.

Titus 3:3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, {and} hating one another.


Romans 1:23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.


They turned from the worship of the one true God and worshipped other gods, idols, and demons. They made images which became their gods, of men and women for whom they set up temples of worship, such as Diana, Jupiter, Apollo, Ashtoreth, and images of Molech, Baal, Dagon and so on, gods in the shape of birds and animals and other creeping things which would include reptiles and fish etc.


It was the worship of such that caused God to condemn the Canaanites, ordering the Hebrews to destroy every one of them when they entered the promised land.

Deuteronomy 7:1-61When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, {and} utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. 6For thou {art} an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that {are} upon the face of the earth.


Romans 1:24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:


gave them up – delivered them into the hands of another; betrayed them. Thus God abandoned them, ceased to restrain them, or even rejected them (see Vs 28). God gave them up to carry out their unclean acts. God gives them up to or hands them over to the evil one who leads their worship of things other than God. They serve the lusting of their hearts, seeking pleasure above all else.


to dishonour their bodies between themselves – this can mean the polluting of their bodies with one another in general, such as sleeping around. I heard recently that it is now considered unusual for a mid-twenties person to not have already had at least four or five sexual relationships. However, more specifically this verse appears to refer to homosexuality – see Vs 26 & 27 – the improper use of their God-given sexuality.


Romans 1:25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.


This goes back to Vs 18 – those “who hold (back) the truth in unrighteousness”. Such people reject God’s truth because it offends them, and instead seek a lie, any lie that can oppose the truth of God. They worship the creature, that is, their own lusts and desires, and pay service to their hedonistic requirements, anything rather than worship and serve the Creator who is blessed forever in spite of all their lies. Or else they worship created objects such as the sun, the moon, the host of heaven, spiritual beings (demons) etc in the place of God. No amount of lies can ever dethrone God’s truth. God reigns forever and those who dare oppose Him do so in futile rebellion.


God will always have the last laugh!

Psalm 2:1-41Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, {saying}, 3Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us 4He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.


Romans 1:26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:


As in Vs 24, God gives them up, delivers them over to vile or filthy passions or lusts. Christians are commanded to keep their bodies pure, clean and holy, as befitting the dwelling place of God through His Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthian 6:18-2018Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost {which is} in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's..


Women exchanging the natural for the unnatural is talking about homosexual relationships. (See following verse.) Matthew Poole calls it “a filthy practice not to be named”, and Barnes says, “Evidence of the shameful and disgraceful fact here charged on the women is abundant in the Greek and Roman writers. Proof may be seen, which it would not be proper to specify. In other words, he is saying that it is so shameful it shouldn’t even be named.

Ephesians 5:3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Pulpit Commentary says, The practice of such sins was out of the question; but even speaking of them, as matters of ordinary conversation, was unsuitable for saints; the very conversation of Christians must be pure.”


Romans 1:27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.


In the same manner as the women in Vs 26, men lusted for other men sexually. God had decreed that a man and a woman should be one (Genesis 2:24) but these men refused God’s proper creation of a man with a woman. Of course, logic says clearly that the main reason for sex is still the procreation of new life, and that unless man and woman combine to form such new life, then the species will die out. Homosexuality, by its very unfruitfulness, causes a society to degenerate and ultimately to die out unless they yet acknowledge that man and woman have to combine to form the next generation. Even today homosexual women who want children must have some involvement with a man to have a child of their own, even if they don’t go near a man. The natural requirement of sex can only produce the next generation if God’s law is obeyed.


As with the women, this act of men is shameful, and carries a penalty as an abomination to God and His holiness.

Leviticus 20:13If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood {shall be} upon them.


Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in {their} knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;


Here we see God’s answer to their rebellion. They have already turned God out of their lives (see earlier verses), thus they refused to have any thoughts about God. If God desires to condemn them for their sin, then rather than turning away from their sin, they turn away from God. They are not atheists (people who don’t care about a God); rather they are vehemently opposed to God and all that His holiness requires.

They are anti-theists, anti-God people. Their lives are filled with hatred for a God who will not let them do what they want to do. They deny the existence of a God who can and will require a complete accounting for their lives in the judgement. If God doesn’t exist, then He cannot set rules, or use the law to threaten you in eternity. If God doesn’t exist, then you can make your own moral laws, you can live your life the way you want to live – like those who go to hell singing, “I did it my way”. They may not be able to prove that God doesn’t exist, but they can numb their God-given consciences with such thoughts. And like people in drug-induced euphoria, they conveniently ignore all the warning signs of destruction in and all around them.


God’s answer is to give them up, or over – see “gave them up” in Vs 24 & 26 (the same wording is used here) – to a debased (adokimos – reprobate; rejected; disqualified; castaway) mind. They have now been rejected by God, ensuring that they continue to do those things which they have determined that they want to do. This has the idea of mankind choosing to go a certain direction, and God finally telling them that He will no longer try to guide them back to the right pathway again. If they are so determined to go that way, then He will no longer do anything to persuade them otherwise. It is the same picture as of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh had chosen to oppose God for too long, and finally God determined that Pharaoh would no longer be able to choose God’s way; he was now hardened, or set into a mould, as the Hebrew signifies. God has now rejected these rebellious people and left them to their own desires, desires that will eventually destroy them.


Romans 1:29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,


Romans 1:30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,


Romans 1:31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:


God has now locked these people into these character traits seemingly without any hope of being redeemed in the future. These are the attributes of those who deny the existence of a holy God who has the right to demand obedience to His law. They have chosen to be like this; now God has said they can have what they have chosen. As the saying goes: they have made their bed; now they must lie in it.


Romans 1:32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


Such people know the righteous judgement of God; they know deep down that it is against the holiness of God, and that it means trouble if and when they get caught. But they live in self-denial, a euphoria built upon their pleasures that helps like drugs to persuade them that perhaps there isn’t a God who will demand a reckoning one day. But deep down they know that their lives are all a lie, that God does indeed exist, and that one day their responsibilities will catch up with them. When they face God in judgement, they will know that He is God and has every right to condemn them. Their tongues will be stilled, their lies will cease, they will know the truth has caught up with them. Yet they now live as if there is no tomorrow, not only continuing to do that which deep down they know is wrong, but continue to lead others into their rebellion against a holy God who cannot be opposed without an accounting.

Romans 3:4 says yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;

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