Romans 2:1

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Everyone in the world is without excuse for not following God.  He is evident in creation, in the design of the universe.  He is evident in our conscience, every person, every culture everywhere, has a moral code that came from a moral God.  All have sinned against God.

But people who judge others’ behavior while practicing the same thing are in need of special condemnation.  Seeing the sin in others should cause a serious heart examination of ourselves.  What we see in others is within us. As a result, we should then cry to God for his mercy for us.

In Matthew 7:1ff Jesus said it this way (a paraphrase): “Before you judge others, before trying to remove the speck of sin in another, first remove the log of sin in your own eye."

It’s the right and healthiest way to live!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:31,32

"…foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

Paul ends the list of all those who practice idolatry: “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  Have you watched an “R” rated movie recently?  Have you noted the violence, heartless, ruthless action?  Have you noticed how all this is increasing in our culture?

Most everyone who performs these unrighteous acts know, instinctively, deep inside, they are wrong and deserves condemnation.  They know “God’s righteous decrees.” 

But here’s the problem.  Not only do they do these deeds, but many give approval to “those who practice them.”  Most likely, this is because it gives them approval for their own sins.

This includes judges, politicians, even ministers!  To remain silent gives tacit approval.  As a result, the society will only continue to slide into a deeper and deeper moral abyss.

Note too the “hearty approval”is for those who “practice” these wrong behaviors.  Just to think them is not sin.  Just to feel temptation is not sin.  It’s only when we act upon them that sin is committed.

We stop the temptation in our minds, by not letting the thought lead to practice.  Stop the thought and the sinful action will never occur.

Do you hate sin?  Do you love Jesus?

If so, how does your life reflect these convictions?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Today, are you feeling depressed?  Discouraged?  Thinking life has little meaning?

Have you cried out to God and heard silence?  Does it seem like God is on mute to your heart’s needs?  Have you gone through all your religious motions yet still feel depressed and discouraged?

If so, you need to read Isaiah 58.  In this powerful chapter, the people of Israel are feeling depressed and discouraged because God feels distant.  They don’t think he’s answering their prayers.  They don’t think he cares about their lives.

They’ve tried fasting.  They’ve tried worshiping.  Nothing spiritually seems to work.  And they cry out to God in frustration, wanting to know where he is and why he’s silent.

Guess what God’s response is?  He says, “I’m weary of your fasts and worship.  I’m tired of all your spiritual exercises.  They mean nothing to me. You’re just going through the motions.  Your heart is far from me.”

Then God exhorts them with a new challenge.  He says, “Here’s the kind of fast I want from you.  Here’s the kind of worship I want from you.  Go give bread to the hungry.  Go serve the poor and needy.”

Then God says something remarkable: “If you do this, your own depression and discouragement will lift like the sun arising at noonday” (vs. 10).

God created us.  He knows what we need to do to lift our spirits.  He knows that when we serve others who are hurting more than we are, our own spirits are lifted.  Then spiritual endorphins flood our souls.  Our depression lifts.

If you are depressed or discouraged today, what have you done recently for the poor and needy?

Your answer to that question may determine how light your heart will feel at the end of the day.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:30

“…slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…”

Paul continues his list of those whose depraved minds focus on the creation, rather then the Creator.

Do you find yourself on this list? 

For over three decades I’ve been doing gospel ministry.  I’ve watched, slowly but surely, our culture slide down into the moral abyss.  Two characteristics of idolatry on this list especially stand out to me in our American culture:

1   Haters of God.  I’ve seen the rise of an angry, antagonistic, militant atheism.  These atheists are “haters of God.”  They are not neutral.  They hate God.  This depraved mind is growing daily.

2   Inventors of evil.  I’ve seen people think of new ways to sin.  It’s as if once someone is titillated to sin, they need to find new ways to stimulate sin for greater satisfaction.  The mind is truly a sin-making factory!

Are you under conviction?  Have you found yourself in verses 29,30?

We all need a Savior!  Do you have one in Jesus?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:29

“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  They are gossips…” 

A person focused on creation rather than the Creator does not begin and end with homosexual acts.  There are more evil consequences for a debased mind filled with idolatry.

Paul gives the list.  Read and reread them.  For those who may say, “Well, I”m not homosexual.  Therefore, I don’t have a depraved mind,” think again!  We all find ourselves in this list.  We are all guilty.  We all fall far short of God’s glory.

We should all be very humble before God.  We all need a Savior! 

Are you certain your sins have been totally forgiven today?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:28 

“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.”

Idolaters never see fit to honor God.  They fail to acknowledge him.  He is not the center of their lives.  For some, he doesn’t even exist!

What does God do?  For the third time in this section of Scripture, Paul says God “gave them up.”  This time, they are given up to a debased mind.  It’s a mind that does not seek the highest and best.  Its eyes are lowered to self.

Whatever we think, we do.  The battle for God’s rule in a life begins with one’s thought life.  The debased mind here leads to people doing what they should not do.

If you want to know if God is central to your life, examine your thought life.  Get alone.  Perhaps even fast from food and drink for a few hours.  See where your mind continually wanders.  See to where your thoughts constantly go. 

You will soon discover your idols.  You will soon see what’s driving your life’s passions. 

You are what you think.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:27 

“…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.”

Another evidence of idolatry, and loving the creation rather than the Creator, is “men likewise” giving up natural relations to lie with one another.    It is “error.”  They are “consumed,” or inflamed (another translation) with a strong, inward, destructive desire. 

This is not pederasty, men lying with boys.  It is men lying with men, as Paul clearly teaches.  Nor is this, as some have suggested, Paul solely condemning abusive homosexual relationships.  Again, it is men lying with men.

The “due penalty” is what we all receive when we sin and miss God’s original intent for our lives.  Perhaps there is something greater that occurs within the person who persists in this sinful behavior, something physical, emotional or mental.  The word “due” suggests the penalty is commensurate with the behavior.

And notice it’s behavior that is condemned, not the feeling or thought. 

Paul makes it very clear that God has an original intent for human sexuality. Because of sin, it has been misused and degraded.

Always seek God’s highest in everything, yes, especially in human sexuality.  God’s design: one man, one woman, in a committed, permanent, heterosexual, monogamous relationship (Genesis 2:24).  It’s God’s design in creation(Genesis 1,2).  It’s echoed in the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 19: 4ff).

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Several years ago, one of my close friends was the producer for a local television program.  He attended the church I pastor, Forest Hill.

On one of the programs, Coach K was the guest.  During a break, my friend told Coach K about me, how I played at UNC under Dean Smith, bled Carolina blue, saw Duke as the evil empire, etc.  Coach K asked for my name and address.  He jotted both down on a slip of paper.

Several days later, a package arrived for me from Coach K.  Curiously, I opened it, only to discover a placard with Coach K’s picture on it, coaching his beloved Blue Devils to another victory.  Written on the picture were these words: “To David Chadwick, great player, wrong team!”

At first, I laughed.  Then, honestly, I had to say to myself, “What a classy thing to do!  He didn’t have to do that.”  Yet he did.  And that placard has found a place on my book shelf in my office.

Therefore, I must say to you, today, Coach K: “Congratulations on your 1000th win!  It’s a remarkable achievement.  It speaks to your longevity.  Your coaching acumen.  Your ability to relate to young men.  Your overall leadership!”

But I probably need to add this caveat: “Thanks too for sending me the placard and your kind note.  It’s on my book shelf in my office…a shelf right below all my UNC memorabilia!  I greatly admire you.  But I still bleed Carolina blue!"

Again, congratulations on a terrific, eye-popping accomplishment!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:26 

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.  For their woman exchanged relations for those that are contrary to nature.”

Any passion for creation over Creator is called “dishonorable” by Paul.  It’s unnatural.  All idolatry is.  It’s contrary to what God created humans to be.  We were never created by God to be the center of the universe.

Similarly, same sex behavior is “contrary to nature.”  It fails to represent what God’s original intent was in creating a man and a woman.  Men and women’s physical bodies have  “natural” way of relating to and interacting with one another.  Their “natural” desire should be for one another.  

This is the clear original intent of Genesis 1,2.  It’s the clear teaching of Jewish tradition.  It’s what Jesus affirmed in Matthew 19 when addressing divorce.  He quotes from Genesis 2:24, of God’s original intent, of marriage being the natural function of a man and woman’s committed, monogamous relationship.

It’s a contentious issue today.  But God’s Word appears to be clear about it.

What informs your beliefs?  Culture or God’s Word?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:25

“…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!” 

Paul declares that the other religions of his day were all based on a lie.  They all had idols who were worshiped.  They were all focused on the creature rather than the Creator.  Therefore, they could not be the truth but only a lie. 

Where is the passion of your heart?  What captures your every thought?  What motivates you internally to action?  Is it creation?  Or the Creator?

When Paul even thought about the Creator, he began to worship.  Upon mentioning God’s name, he cried out, “who is blessed forever!”  

Is this you?  Does even a thought about God cause you to worship?  Does a glance at creation cause you to glorify the Creator?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:24

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves." 

If we continue to quest for idols, for creation rather than the Creator, for “images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (vs. 23), eventually God will give us up to our desires.  It’s what I often call “Burger King theology.”  It’s God’s way of saying, “Have it your way.”  

It’s the absolute refusal to make God the center of our lives.  All sins are centered here.  Every wrong behavior somehow, some way, finds itself rooted in the desire to worship creation rather than the Creator.  It’s the stubborn stiff-arming of God, a failure to praise him in every good  that comes to us.

Is this you?  Is the living God of the universe the center of your life?  Or is creation, the things of this world with no eternal value?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

I am an optimist.  I believe God is in control of His world.  I believe He works all things together for our good and His glory for those who love, trust and obey Him.  I believe His plans for His people are good, for a future and a hope (even though we often have to wait long periods of time for these promises to come true).

But I’m also a realist.  I know we live in a terribly fallen world.  I know this world does not operate according to God’s original intent.  One day, Jesus will return and God’s created order will be restored.  But until that day, life often stinks.  Hurts still happen.

Therefore, in 2015, don’t be surprised if you see:

·      A continual, aggressive expansion of ISIS, where evil is personified in horrific fashion.

·      More cities in the United States experiencing the tinderbox of racial tensions and anger.

·      More revelations of leaders with hidden sins that are just now being exposed.

·      A fluctuating economy, one that will take a few dips and dives in the new year.

·      More global tensions among nations, as each seeks its own safety, security and power.

I believe all this (and more evil) will occur because sin is still in the world.  Malevolent evil still prospers, and will continue to do so, until Jesus returns.

But don’t despair.  God still sits on his throne.  He oversees the tumult of the nations.  He is guiding the prejudice in souls.  

Yes, we need to work for God’s kingdom in heaven to come to earth.  That’s our job description.  It’s a forever job description.  It won’t change until Jesus returns.

And he will return.  Just don’t be discouraged.  Remain hopeful in this new year.  

God knows what he is doing!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:23

“…and exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

What do fools do?  They exchange the truth about God for a lie.  They make up reasons not to believe.

What are they actually doing?  They are serving the creature rather than the Creator.  They are worshiping all God has given to them without acknowledging God.  They are worshiping themselves, humanity, putting God in their own image.  They serve themselves rather than the Creator.

And this is an out and out lie.

And when Paul thinks about his Creator, he erupts into praise and worship:  “Who is blessed forever!”, he says.  Paul blesses his Maker when even one thought enters his mind about God.

Is this what happens to you when you think about God?  If not, why not?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:22

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

So many in the world claim to be wise.  They have education, even multiple degrees.  They regularly think about life, purpose and meaning.  They educate others about these subjects, while excluding God.

These people are not wise in God’s sight.  They don’t have true wisdom.  True wisdom not only knows facts, it knows how to apply those facts to every day living, all for God’s glory.

These people are indeed fools in God’s sight.  They are foolishly frittering their lives away, never thinking they will one day meet a holy God and his wrath toward those who continually disobey him. 

Are you wise or foolish?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:21 

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

There are people who say they believe in God, especially as they look at creation, but they do not honor him by doing what he tells them to do.  Nor do they ever give thanks to him for all he has provided.  Continual thanksgiving to God and obedience to his demands are two proofs you believe God exists.

Over time, though, people futilely moved away from God in their thinking.  Their thoughts began to dwell on things of this world rather than their Creator.  Over time, their hearts became foolish.  A fool is someone who doesn’t see the reality of God and desire to seek and obey him.  Over time, their hearts became darkened, concentrating on self rather than the God who gives light.

Is this you?  You can become wise and start seeking God today.  Do so by giving thanks to him.  Honor him by your obedience to his will.  Receive his eternal life and light into your dark heart. 

You’ll never regret it.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:20

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.”

The invisible attributes of God are inextricably and visibly woven into the world.  We see his divine power and nature as Creator in the world in which we live.  The visible world points to the invisible God.  His existence is clear.  His divine nature is obvious. 

Therefore, all people everywhere are without excuse.  At the final judgment, all will be held accountable for their belief in God.  Everyone should believe because of creation.

Where there is creation, there must be a Creator.  Where there is design, there must be a divine Designer. 

Worship your Creator today!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:19

“For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.” 

The evidence of God’s existence is obvious.  It’s all around us.  It’s been shown to us.  By living in God’s creation, it should be obvious to everyone that there is a God.

Do you doubt the existence of God?  How can you?  Look around you!  It’s clear and obvious.

That’s Paul’s point in the verse.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:18 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Few like to think about the wrath of God.  Yet it’s a consistent Biblical theme.  God hates sin.  It’s a holy offense to him.  He must judge all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  Or he is not good.  He is not just.  He can’t be God.

The source of all human unrighteousness is our selfish, wicked hearts that suppress the truth.  Absolute, moral truth of God’s existence and oversight is all around us.  It’s clear in nature.  It’s clear in our consciences.  But we suppress this truth to live as we desire.  

If people continue to suppress truth and live in unrighteousness, one day, Paul says, they will face the wrath of God.

It’s a sobering truth.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 1:17

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.” 

In the gospel we see how to be righteous, accepted before God.  It comes through faith, by simply believing it is true and receiving it as a free gift from God.  It has to be by faith.  The only other alternative is works and no one can ever do enough to be be righteous before a holy God. 

Habakkuk 2:4 says the righteous will live by faith.  Hundreds of years before Paul ever noted it, he had an echo from God’s throne through the written word from Habakkuk, to his heart, about faith being the key to righteousness.

Do you believe the gospel is true?  Are you still trying to work for God’s pleasure, approval and acceptance?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

I’ve always found it odd that many people wait until December 31st at midnight to begin anew.  It’s as if Americans think then and only then can they start over.

Then what happens on January 2nd when we speak an angry word at our spouse?  Or think an evil, vile thought?  Or return to a bad habit?  Do we have to wait another 363 days before we can begin again?

Of course not!  For those who find their lives in Christ, we know every day is a new day.  We know that every hour is an opportunity for a fresh start.  Every minute is a chance to forgive and be forgiven.

That’s the power of the gospel.  It is an inward, transformative power of God’s love.  It makes all things new (Revelation 21:1).  It means we are new creations in Christ, the old having passed away, the new having come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This truth is not just to be claimed once a year but is an ever-flowing, never-ceasing fountain of God’s grace and mercy within.

Have you begun your new year and already sullied your soul?  Don’t despair.  Return to that fountain of God’s grace and mercy.  Drink anew.  Be cleansed anew. 

Yes, you don’t deserve it.  Nor do I.  That’s why it’s called grace.  It’s receiving what we don’t deserve.

And it is God’s great gift to his beloved.  And it will always be greater than our sin.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick