Pericope: Romans 1:18-23NIV
Sermon Text: Rom 1:21NIV 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Sermon Title: The Tonic of Thanksgiving
Context/History: The context of the text is this. We have Paul writing his famous letter to the church in Rome. This letter is considered by scholars to be the best letter of all of Paul’s letters, because he eloquently makes God’s argument about who God is and how God related to mankind and all of creation. The formula for salvation is found in Romans 10:9 - 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The letter argues the case for a theology after the OT. It digs deep into theology relationship between man and God.
Introduction: In our text, at the outset of Paul’s eloquent argument, in the middle of the passage we generally turn to in order to explain the sexual perversity of humankind, Paul says something up to now I have repeatedly overlooked.
...they knew God but refused to give God thanks... Wow they refused to give God thanks.
In the middle of Paul’s explanation for the decline and depravity of humankind, Paul said thanksgiving was withheld from God. REPEAT In other words, I know your name but you refuse to thank my name. Could it be thanksgiving is what stands in between mankind’s decline, depravity and perversity? Paul is saying something as simple as thanking God is the thing that prevents us from sliding down a hill away from God. Verse 21 says there are at lease three parts that should make us want to take the Tonic of Thanksgiving and receive the Thanksgiving therapy so we can maintain our close relationship with God. Thinking. Turning. Thanking.
Point 1: Thinking. Paul said the moment you stop thanking God your thinking changes. KJV puts it this way...neither were thankful but became vain in their imagination. The RSV says...they did not honor God or give thanks to him but became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. The Living Bible says - Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused.
The moment I stop thanking God I began to think it was me who provided for me. Moses reminded the Israelites against that kind of thinking. Deut. 8:11-18: 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery…17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me."
Paul also made the point when you stop thanking God your thinking goes from light to dark. In other words, I lose sight of the worth of what I have. The moment a person is not thankful for the blessings of a spouse they will unwittingly misuse, abuse and take for granted. Some with our car, clothes, children. Everything loses its value in your eyes when you are not thankful for it. The therapy of Thanksgiving brings in a balance of humility over huberous…Taking care of something over discarding it… Forethought over no thought. Thankful people are thoughtful people – thankless people are thoughtless people.
Point 2: Turning
Paul says when you stop thanking God you start turning to other things to take God’s place. You see thanking and honoring God is a part of who we are...
All of them know what we too know but sometimes forget. Even in the darkest hours of our lives "If We Give Him Thanks" a transaction takes place. Think about it. When you say thank you it is because some kind of transaction has taken place. Somebody gave you something and the only appropriate response is thank you.
That is still the case. God performs a transaction whenever you say thank you. The powerful thing about God's transaction is, even though you are saying it as result of Him doing something for you, more happens when you say it. What happens? He restores you! He gives you more! He gives you joy! He delivers you! All you have to do is say thank you!
We are made to thank God. The psalmist said let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Mankind must fill the vacuum within that constantly cries out for the Creator. When a person denies God’s existence by refusing to praise him then they must find a substitute. Paul says we find three:
A. Idols – vs. 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
a. We replace God with stuff, houses, clothes, food, fine living, etc.
B. Ourselves – vs. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
a. We replace God with selfish love, sex with self, preoccupation with ourselves by placing us on the throne
C. Creation – vs. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie andworshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
a. We replace God with God’s wonderful creation, wildlife, environment, etc.
Point 3: Thankful. Paul says the way to keep everything in perspective, the way to keep life in balance is simply give God thanks. Remember, Paul said in verse 1 – we knew God. The Hebrew for knew God means to have knowledge of God is to acknowledge God. In other words, Paul is saying there is no way you can know God without thanking God. to know God is to thank God. the two are inseparable. You just don’t walk past God lie someone on the street. If you see God, you immediately stop and thank God.