Romans 1:29
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and hatred. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips,
Sermons
God's Wrath as Revealed Among the GentilesR.M. Edgar Romans 1:18-32
The Inexcusableness of the HeathenC.H. Irwin Romans 1:18-32
The Revelation of WrathT.F. Lockyer Romans 1:18-32
Human DepravityR. Wardlaw, D. D.Romans 1:26-32
SinJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 1:26-32
Sin its Own PunishmentT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 1:26-32
DetractionRomans 1:29-31
Hatred of GodT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 1:29-31
Hatred of God: its FutilityBp. Chr. Wordsworth.Romans 1:29-31
Spreading Tendency of SinA. Maclaren, D. D.Romans 1:29-31
The Prevalence of EvilRomans 1:29-31
With and Without the GospelJ. R. Lowell.Romans 1:29-31
No charge more acutely stings a man than that of being considered senseless; he would rather be deemed a knave than a fool. The apostle shows that man, whom God created upright that he might behold God and heavenly things, has continually gazed at the earth, and become prone like the beasts. Thus bending, he has wrapped his soul in shadow, and his religion, instead of a blessing, has proved a curse.

I. THE WORSHIP OF IMAGES ORIGINATES IN A NATURAL CRAVING FOR A SENSIBLE EMBODIMENT OF DEITY. Abstract ideas have little charm or power for men, and the worship of force or humanity can never attract the multitudes. The yearning for a visible God was answered in the Shechinah, and in the many appearances of the angel of Jehovah, and has received fullest recognition in the manifestation of God in Christ. The spirituality of Divine worship was to be preserved in Israel by the commandment not to rear graven images, and the ascension of Christ to heaven, withdrawing the Saviour from mortal eyes, is likewise intended to protect Christianity from the dangers liable to a system whose votaries should "walk by sight" rather than by faith. The Scriptures and universal history demonstrate the rapidity with which, as in the Roman Catholic Church to-day, men's homage and devotion are transferred from the Being represented, to the statue or figure which at first stood innocently enough as his symbol. There is a danger of modern literature seeking too much "to know Christ after the flesh," instead of relying upon the assistance furnished by the teaching of the Spirit, the invisible Christ dwelling in the heart.

II. THE TENDENCY OF IMAGE-WORSHIP IS TO DEGRADE RELIGION. The argument of Xenophanes, ridiculing the Homeric theology that if sheep and oxen were to picture a god, they would imagine him like one of themselves, only showed that natural religion, in framing a notion of Deity, rightly attributes to him the highest attributes of personality and intelligence conceivable. And the Apostle Paul accused the Athenians of unreasonableness in fancying that the great Father could be supposed to be less powerful and intelligent than his children. But without supernatural aid man sinks lower and lower in his conceptions; the direction of evolution in religion is downward, not upward, except where there is a manifest interposition of the Supreme Being. Note how strenuously the prophets had to combat the desire of Israel to ally themselves in worship with the abominable idolatries of the nations around. Man, selected as God's representative, becomes man in his lowest moods and merely animal existence; the transition is easy to the wise-looking owl and soaring eagle, then to the cow and the dog, and finally to the serpent and the fish. The unity of God is lost in the multiplicity of idols, and his power and righteousness swamped in bestial stupidity and depravity. Religious rites became scenes of licentiousness. "The light that was in men has turned to darkness, and how great is that darkness!"

III. THE WORSHIPPER GRADUALLY ASSIMILATES HIMSELF TO THE OBJECT WORSHIPPED. Man does not rise higher in thought and life than the Deity before whom he bows and to whom he submits himself; but he may, and too generally does, adopt the worst features of the character and conduct of his gods. What we constantly meditate upon transforms us into its own lineaments. Where the lower animals are deified, there the passions of the brutes are rampant, and a merely animal existence is lived. The lie substituted for the truth shunts man's behaviour on to another line, and a descending plane lands him in moral ruin. "They that make the gods are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." The revelation God gives of himself in his Word operates reversely on a similar principle, so that "we beholding as in a glass the true glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image;" and, the image of God in man being restored, the likeness to God to which we are made to attain grows unto perfection, till "we shall be like him, when we shall see him as he is." - S.R.A.







Being filled with all unrighteousness.
All is full of crime and vice; there is more committed than can be healed by punishment. A monstrous prize contest of wickedness is going on. The desire to sin increases, and shame decreases day by day. Vice is no longer practised secretly, but in open view. Vileness gains in every street and in every breast to such an extent that conscience has become not only rare but extinct.

( Seneca.)

Wickedness
The worst kind of religion is no religion at all; and these men, living in ease and luxury, indulging themselves in the "amusement of going without religion," may be thankful that they live in the lands where the gospel they neglect has tamed the beastliness and ferocity of the men who, but for Christianity, might long ago have eaten their carcasses like the South Sea Islanders, or cut off their heads and tanned their hides like the monsters of the French Revolution. When the microscopic search of scepticism, which has hunted the heavens and sounded the seas to disprove the existence of a Creator, has turned its attention to human society, and has found a place on this planet ten miles square where a decent man can live in decency, comfort, and security, supporting and educating his children unspoiled and unpolluted — a place where age is reverenced, infancy respected, manhood respected, womanhood honoured, and human life held in duo regard; when sceptics can find such a place ten miles square on this globe, where the gospel of Christ has not gone and cleared the way and laid the foundations and made decency and security possible, it will then be in order for the sceptical literati to move thither and then ventilate their views. But so long as these very men are dependent upon the religion which they discard for every privilege they enjoy, they may well hesitate a little before they seek to rob the Christian of his hope and humanity of its faith in that Saviour who alone has given to man that hope of life eternal which makes life tolerable and society possible, and robs death of its terrors and the grave of its gloom.

(J. R. Lowell.)

I need not, I suppose, spend any time in illustrating the vividness and truthfulness of that metaphor which compares any kind of evil in a man's character to the silently, gradually, surely working leaven. The cancer spreads; the fungus creeps steadily through the rotting timber; the smallest hidden speck of evil in a man's nature has in it a demoniacal transforming and assimilating power which works underground, unconsciously even to the man himself, until some strain of temptation and stress of trial comes; and lo! he finds that what he thought was solid timber is all eaten out in the heart of it, and has no strength to resist or to bear. The smallest sin may corrupt a man's whole nature, and change, as it were, the chemical composition of every part of it; though in itself it be but an infinitesimal and almost invisible atom that has been dropped into the hole.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Whisperers, backbiters.
These two words agree that they both wound the fame of our neighbour, and they both do it behind his back or in his absence. But they differ —

1. In that whispering doth it secretly and closely, but backbiting openly.

2. Whispering tendeth to breed strife among our friends, but backbiting to our general disgrace before the world. The one seeketh to deprive us of the goodwill of our friends, the other to destroy our service. They are often conjoined (2 Corinthians 12:20).

I. WHAT IS DETRACTION?

1. The nature of it in general. It is an unjust violation of another's reputation. God, that hath bidden me to love my neighbour as myself, doth therein bid me to be tender not only of his person and goods, but of his good name. Therefore certainly this is —(1) A sin against God, who hath forbidden us to bear false witness against our neighbour, and to speak evil of others without a cause (Ephesians 4:31);(2) A wrong to man because it robbeth him of his good name, which is so deservedly esteemed by all that would do anything for God in the world (Proverbs 22:1; Ecclesiastes 7:1).(3) The causes it proceedeth from are —(a) Malice and ill-will, which prompteth us to speak falsely of others, so to make them odious, or do them wrong or hurt. Now, to hate our brother is inconsistent with that charity which the love of Christ should beget in us (1 Peter 4:8; 2 Peter 1:7);(b) Uncharitable credulity, whereby men easily believe a false report, and so convey it to others (Jeremiah 20:10);(c) Rashness and unruliness of tongue (James 1:26). Possibly it may not come from downright malice, but (Proverbs 11:13) whisperers must be talking, and be it true or false, out it comes;(d) Passion for our different interests and opinions. Bitter envying (James 3:14) hath made mad work in the world as to strifes, and confusions, and quarrels, and bloodsheds, and persecutions. But usually it venteth itself in evil-speaking (2 Corinthians 12:20).

2. The kinds of it are two in the text.(1) Whispering, which is privy defamation of our brother. Now this is a great sin —(a) Because it is here reckoned among those which reigned among the heathen, and God hath expressly forbidden to His people (Leviticus 19:16; Jeremiah 11:4).(b) It is against natural equity, because they do that to others which they would not have done to themselves (Matthew 7:2).(c) It is a cause of much mischief in the world, as — Grief to the party wronged (Proverbs 18:8); much debate and strife (Proverbs 26:20; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 6:19); sometimes even the destruction of another's life (Ezekiel 22:9; 1 Samuel 22:9). But here ariseth a question, whether all private complaints and informations against others come under the name of whispering? I answer — No, with these cautions —

(i)If the party be duly admonished; for, before we go any further, the rule is (Matthew 18:15).

(ii)If it be made to such as have power to redress the fault by the most discreet and gentle means (Genesis 37:2).

(iii)If the complainer seeketh nothing but the amendment of the party.

(iv)If he grieve that he hath cause to complain, and pray for his conversion.

3. Backbiting is a more public speaking evil of our absent brother, to the impairing of his credit. Now, this may be done —(1) With respect to the good things found in him. There are four degrees in this:

(a)When we deny them. This is not only to wrong our neighbour, but to rob God of His own praise.

(b)When we lessen them. To extenuate and clip another's due praise is envy, but in honour to prefer them above ourselves is charity and humility (Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:10).

(c)When we but deprave them by supposing a sinister intention (Job 1:9).

(d)When we enviously suppress them.(2) With respect to evil supposed to be committed by them.

(a)When we publish their secret slips, which in charity we ought to conceal (Proverbs 11:13).

(b)When, in relating any evil action of another, we use harder terms than are required, and make beams of motes, and mountains of mole hills. We should lessen sins all that we can (Acts 3:17).

II. THE HEINOUSNESS OF THE SIN.

1. In general, that is evident from what is said already. I shall urge two arguments more.(1) That men shall be called to an account for these sins as well as others (Jude 1:15; 1 Peter 4:4, 5).(2) It is the property of a citizen of Zion not to be given to backbiting (Psalm 15:3).

2. More particularly, it is the more heinous.(1) From the person against whom it is committed. As suppose the godly and irreprovable for the main, who by their life and conversation have the best right to honour and esteem (Psalm 64:3; Numbers 12:8; 1 Timothy 3:7). Against these it is not only unjust, but noxious and hurtful to God's service.(2) From the persons before whom the slander is brought; so that they are deprived not only of private friendships, but the favour and countenance of these under whose protection they have their life and service (Esther 3:8; Psalm 52:1).(3) From the end of it. Some men have no direct intention of mischief, but are given to tattling. It is a great sin in them, and an unprofitable waste of time; but it is a greater in those that make it their business to disgrace others or sow discord.(4) From the effect or great hurt that followeth, be it loss of estate, as in the case of Mephibosheth, or a general trouble and persecution on the people of God. When their good names are buried their persons cannot long subsist afterward with any degree of service.Conclusion: Note —

1. How good natured Christianity is, and befriendeth human societies; it condemneth not only sins against God, but sins against our neighbour (Philippians 4:8).

2. That we should not speak evil of others behind their backs, but tell them their faults plainly in love and wisdom, nor encourage others in this sin (Proverbs 25:23).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Haters of God
Enemies of God in heart and work (Romans 8:7). Hatred of God is the essence of sin, as the love of God is the essence of holiness. Hatred to God is shown in dislike —

1. To His character as just and holy.

2. To His government as opposed to evil-doers.

3. To His laws as forbidding what is sinful.

4. To His people as bearing His image.Hatred of God is the cause of men's rejection of Christ (John 15:21-24). Written in characters of blood in times of persecution (Psalm 79:2, 3). Shows the intense wickedness and madness of the human heart. God is hated who is supremely excellent, and man's greatest benefactor. An unholy nature is at the root of such hatred, which is aggravated by conscious guilt and dread of God. It is only overcome by the belief of God's love as seen in Christ.

(T. Robinson, D. D.)

The inventions of a hater of God are as the proud engines and presumptuous artillery of a Titanic warfare of defiance against Heaven, which recoil on himself, like mountains which are hurled back on the heads of the giants who attempted to scale the skies, and which crushed them beneath the ruins.

(Bp. Chr. Wordsworth.)

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