2020 Summer Evening, Romans Series, Part 41, Verses 21-23

  • | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 29:01
  • Passages covered: Romans 1:21-23, Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:5-8, Luke 17:11-18,
    Luke 17:17-19, Luke 17:13, Leviticus 14:2-6, Luke 17:15-16, Luke 17:17, Luke 17:18,
    Proverbs 25:2.

| 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 |

Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s summer Bible study series, and tonight’s study will be study 41 of Romans 1. I will read Romans 1:21-23:

Because 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. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

I will stop reading there. Here, the Lord says, “…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful…” Again, this can have application to all human beings, whether they are people that were part of Israel of old or part of the New Testament churches, or if they were outside the churches living in the nations of the world, including people of other religions or no religion, or people that had no encounter with the Bible who may have lived on a distant island in the middle of the ocean. Basically, all unsaved mankind knew God in the ways that we have been discussing: through the Law written upon their hearts; through the testimony of the heavens and the creation itself; and through divine revelation, as Israel was entrusted with His Word, and the churches were entrusted with His Word. But they had more responsibility toward God, and that is one of the reasons why in God’s end-time judgment program, He speaks of those that knew His will as receiving “more stripes,” indicating that those that did not know His will would receive less stripes. The more God gives (as far as knowing Him and His Word), the more responsible man is for those things, and he will receive greater judgment.

We have actually seen how this worked out, with judgment beginning at the house of God. The churches and congregations were judged by the Word of God for 23 years before May 21, 2011. Then came the transition day when that judgment that had exclusively been on the churches and congregations of the world expanded to include all unsaved inhabitants of the earth. But the unsaved in the churches are also part of the unsaved inhabitants of the earth, so they continue to experience the judgment of God that is now on the whole earth, and that is how “more stripes” are given. The unsaved of the world were not being judged officially, in that sense, when God was pouring out His wrath on the congregations, so they receive “less stripes.”

Here, again, it says, “…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,” and the questions arises: “If they did not glorify God as God, then who did they glorify?” We read something in Revelation 18, and this chapter describes the fall of Babylon in the Day of Judgment, and Babylon is a type and figure of the kingdom of Satan consisting of the nations of the world. All unsaved people would be citizens of spiritual Babylon, and they would be under the rule of the king of Babylon, a figure of Satan himself. We read in Revelation 18:2:

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen

That is a cue phrase to let the reader know that it is Judgment Day. The world has fallen, because a house divided cannot stand, and if it cannot stand, it falls. Satan’s kingdom has come to an end. In this context, we read in Revelation 18:5-8:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Babylon (the unsaved people of the world) has glorified herself. That is who man glorifies – himself. He sets up images to himself, and he worships idols that are out of his own imagination. This is the rebellious nature of fallen man. And, finally, God holds him accountable and judges him, and that is what is happening in our present time. We are currently in the process of the world’s final judgment.

So, here, the Lord shows that there will be one who is glorified, if it is not God that is glorified. And Family Radio had that wonderful declaration for so many years: “To God be the glory.” And that is right, proper, and good, and it ought to be the desire and goal of every human being – every man, woman, and child. Every creature created in the image of his Creator should want to glorify God, but man does not: “They glorified him not as God.” They will glorify their fellow man. They will glorify other creatures and everything else under the sun, but not the One who is deserving and worthy of glory. And it is He alone who should be glorified, so it is just a testimony to the perverted and corrupt nature of the fallen human being.

We find an interesting historical account in the Gospel of Luke wherein some did not glorify God and give Him thanks, but there was one person who did both. And this is related to God’s salvation program, and it is a true, historical account that teaches us about God’s magnificent salvation program. We read in Luke 17:11-18:

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

So we see that he glorified God and gave thanks. Then it says in Luke 17:17-19:

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

When we read this, we look for what it means. What was the point of Jesus relaying this story? Yes, it was true history and a wonderful account of the power and miraculous works of Christ. It is another example of His healing, but we suspect there is more to it. And since this is the Bible, we are absolutely right in thinking that. When we look at the fact that these were lepers, does the Bible tell us anything about leprosy? Yes, leprosy was a terrible disease that “consumed” individuals, eating away their skin, and it was disfiguring and highly contagious. God uses “leprosy” in the Bible as a type and figure of sin. That is the nature of sin, is it not? It is an ugly spiritual disease that consumes the individual and rots them away in heart and soul, and it is highly contagious. It is passed on from the mother and father to the child, and sin begets sin, so leprosy is an excellent way to illustrate the desperately wicked and sinful condition of men’s hearts. So when Jesus did any kind of healing, that was a picture of salvation.

So these ten lepers stood afar off, and they lifted up their voices It says in Luke 17:13:

And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

Here, we can see that they were doing right by crying out to God, as Jesus is “God in the flesh,” that they might be healed of their leprosy. That is a very beautiful picture of the sinner crying out that he might be healed of his sin-sick soul. And then Jesus responded: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” Why did He say that? In Leviticus 14, there was a Law established by God for a leper in the day of his cleansing. We read in Leviticus 14:2-6:

This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:

Then they would go on to perform a sacrifice, and this was “the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing,” which was an extremely rare thing. We read of Naaman the Syrian, who was not even a Jew. And the Lord Jesus pointed out in the New Testament that there had been many lepers in Israel, but God chose to cleanse Naaman the Syrian, implying that He did not cleanse the lepers of Israel. So it was a very rare thing and, therefore, it was very odd that God would lay down the law that a leper in the day of his cleansing was to go to the priest and, yet, He did. And Christ, who is the Word, knows every jot and tittle of the Bible perfectly, and He referred to this and said, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.”

There were ten lepers, and the number “10” points to the completeness of lepers or all mankind as they hear the Word of God. They heard it, and it says, “as they went,” and they went to obey and to do what Christ had told them to do. And this fits in with the whole method of teaching in the churches and their hermeneutic of understanding the Bible only in the plain, grammatical, literal sense: “If it makes sense, then seek no other meaning.” Then they warn, “And do not go looking for some deeper mysterious understanding.” And they say that because they are ignorant of how God wrote the Bible. They are ignorant of its mysteries. They are ignorant of the tremendous treasures that lie therein. That is, they are ignorant unless past theologians of centuries ago had already unearthed it for them (and they happen to belong to a denomination that upholds that particular theologian), and then they may have some understanding because they make some allowance for that. But today, nobody is allowed to do that. Only they themselves are able to handle the Word of God and to parse the Scriptures and come to their conclusions that are only in harmony with their own theologians or their own confessions and creeds. And their confessions and creeds are never wrong in their eyes, and never to be questioned or thought to be in error where correction needs to be made. And, yet, it is obvious that there are errors all over the place because the Presbyterians do not agree with the Lutherans, nor the Lutherans with the Baptists, nor the Baptists with another denomination. They all uphold their standards, their confessions, their creeds, and their doctrines, and they disagree with one another, meaning that there are obvious errors.

But they will not look at that possibility, and they will not go to the Bible in the way that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Word manifested and God in the flesh, taught. Christ taught in parables for a reason, and that reason was to teach those that come to the Bible how to understand the Bible: “Without a parable, spake he not unto them.” He is the Word that was with God and who was God, and who was made flesh. And His Word is from Genesis through Revelation, and the Word speaks in parables. It is really obvious, is it not? It is really obvious that this was the reason Christ spoke in parables and, yet, the churches would cut that off, saying, “Do not go looking for spiritual meanings.” And when they do that, they fail to give God the glory. They are just like the people of the world that glorify not God: “…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” They are not giving God the glory for His Word and all the things He has said in His Word. They have limited the Holy One of Israel to the “capsule” that is their feeble minds and their finite ability to understand anything but the superficial surface nature of the Word of God, the Bible. They limit God’s depth of meaning in His holy Word and, therefore, they are very much like the unsaved outside the churches that do not give God the glory. Instead, the churches develop their own doctrines and their own gospels, just like the people of the world, the barbarians and heathens, and uncivilized tribes that are out there on remote islands, and they come up with a god of their own imagination and understanding. They cut down a tree, carve it and decorate it with gold and silver, and they say, “This is our god.” It is right out of their own minds, and the image (whether it be man or beast) comes from their minds. The way they carved it and the way they dressed it up, and the manner in which they set it up, and then they prescribe, “This is our god, and this is what we are to do to please him. This is what pleases him.” And they establish their own laws, exactly like churches and congregations have done with their doctrines, confessions and creeds that stipulate laws that God has not given. So they are very, very similar.

So, here, as the ten lepers went according to the commandment of Christ, we read in verse 10 that they were “cleansed of their leprosy.” In itself, it was a picture of salvation, but it was not actual salvation. Whenever a person was healed, it did not necessarily mean they were saved and, in this case, of the 10 that were cleansed of their physical leprosy, we find that only one out of 10 was healed of his sin-sick soul. That is, he was an elect person, and he became saved as God applied the salvation wrought for him at the point of the foundation of the world. The Lord saved this one out of the 10, and that would identify him as the few out of the many of mankind, or the few out of the many that were in the churches and congregations.

We read in Luke 17:15-16:

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

Here, both things are in view that were in view in our verse in Romans. He glorified God and gave Him thanks. They go hand-in-hand. He is glorifying God in an interesting way, and Jesus will point that out in Luke 17:17:

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

In a way, it was a strange question because it was Jesus Himself that commanded them to go. It was a command, was it not? Look at verse 14: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” And as they were going, all ten were cleansed. The Samaritan saw what happened to himself, whether he saw his hands had returned to normal, or wherever the leprosy was, and he knew a miracle had occurred. This awful disease that had tormented him and ruined his life and caused him to be an outcast was gone. It was gone! He could not help himself. Instinctively, he ran back to Christ, fell at His feet, and gave Him thanks. “Thank you! Thank you, Lord! Thank you for what you have done!”

We do not read that the other nine were Samaritans. It could be that they were all Jews, so they understood that Jesus said to go and show themselves to the priests. They realized they were cleansed, but the words of Christ were clear, were they not? “We cannot look for a deeper kind of meaning. We have to do what He said on the surface. We have to follow the plain, literal sense of the Word.” So the answer to Christ’s question (which Jesus knew full well) was that the other nine continued their journey, and they were going to do what the commandment said to do, and they would go find a priest and show themselves in the day of their cleansing, and then the priest would perform some sacrifice. But in following the literal nature of the Word of Christ, they failed to give God the glory. They failed to give Him thanks. And that is what Jesus pointed out, in Luke 17:18:

There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

The ones who were called by His name were Jews. They were part of Israel, the people of God. But, oh, no, they were not going to follow that Samaritan. They were going to follow “the letter of the law.” They were going to follow exactly what they were told. In doing so, did they glorify God? No – they did the opposite, and they failed to glorify God. You see, this account has everything to do with the Word of God, because Jesus is the Word. And it has everything to do with properly understanding the Word of God. It really ties in with what we read in Proverbs 25:2:

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

Both the word “thing” and the word “matter” are the Hebrew word for “word.” So, it reads, “It is the glory of God to conceal a word: but the honour of kings is to search out a word.”

God hid the “word” and He concealed it in Leviticus, because the law that a leper in the day of his cleansing was to show himself to the priest was a parable. The “priest” is Christ. The “leper” is the sinner. The “cleansing” is salvation. In the day of a sinner’s salvation, go to Christ. And, you see, the Samaritan did just that and glorified God. He found the deeper spiritual meaning. The others had no inkling or understanding, and they did not give God glory, neither were they thankful.