Tim Keller | February 15, 2009
We’re in a series tracing the storyline of the Bible: what’s wrong with the human race, what God has done about it, and how it’s all going to turn out. We’ve begun to look at Romans 1 through 4, where Paul gives us perhaps the single most comprehensive explanation of what God has done about our problem through Jesus Christ.
We turn now to this passage in Romans where Paul actually reflects back on Genesis and what it says is wrong with the human heart.
If you look in every human heart, Paul says, you’ll find four things: 1) the knowledge of our God, 2) the manufacturing of our idols, 3) the hardening of our humanity, and 4) the capacity for endless praise.
This sermon explains the main ideas in Romans 1:18-25, focusing on our mistakes as humans, how God fixes them through Jesus, and the final result. Paul’s thoughts on Genesis 1-4 outline problems in the human heart, highlighting four common human characteristics: knowing God, making idols, becoming stubborn, and having the ability to praise endlessly.
1. Knowing God
Deep down, everyone knows God is real, but sometimes we hide this truth because we want to be in charge and we don’t want to thank God. This ungratefulness can make us feel like we don’t need God, and lead us to believe in a fake image of God instead of the real God who deserves total respect and thankfulness. This struggle between what’s true and what’s not affects everything we do, so it’s important to understand the world around us, instead of ignoring it.
2. Making idols
It’s human nature to make idols because we’re built to live for something. Often, we put our biggest hopes and loyalties into things other than God, like our desires, money, material possessions, following religious rules, or even the church itself. It’s crucial to recognize and deal with these idols because they can block our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with God.
3. Becoming stubborn
The Bible says that idolatry makes us stubborn. When we worship material things instead of God, it affects who we are as humans, making us blind, deaf, and confused. Idolatry can lead us to desire control, causing stress, guilt, and resentment, and in the end, making us less human.
4. Ability to praise endlessly
The worst outcome is being controlled by the desires of a messed up heart, as getting what we want can ironically be a kind of punishment. Rather than wasting our sorrows and disappointments, we should use them to identify and give up our idols, focusing instead on God. By imitating the angels who find true happiness in the love and beauty of Jesus, we can change our passions and fight against the power of our idols by praising and loving Jesus.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer