We Become Like What We Worship
Reading: [Rom 1:18-25 NASB] 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Prayer: Heavenly Father we pray that your word would speak to us today; that your truth which you inspired would come alive inside our hearts. Teaching us who You are, so that we might become like You. That we might become like the very One, we worship. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Message: It doesn't take a very keen Cristian eye to see the presence of sin in our world. Pauls words: Ungodliness, Unrighteousness, or his phrase The Suppression of Truth, all describe the headlines of our day. Whether it's the legislated genocide of babies on the altar of a woman's right to choose or the mind-altering poisons of pornography and drugs or even still, the attempted redefinition of marriage and gender, sin is clearly alive and well.
It also doesn't take a great theologian to know that God is going to judge both the living and the dead. The Apostle Paul tells us plainly that "the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," and yet again in Romans chapter 2:2 Paul says, "and we know that the Judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things."
But what does require a little more skill to see is what lies at the root of all this sin. And not just the sin of the world; but your sin and mine. According to the testimony of Scripture what lies at the root of sin, what lies at the root of all behavior for that matter is worship; Who we worship more specifically.
Another way we might say this is that we become like what we worship.
Would you say that with me? "We become like what we worship." This truth is communicated throughout scripture.
As we read at the outset, Humanity "knew God," 21 "they did not honor Him as God or give thanks" clear terms we use for worship. Humanity refused to worship God. Consequently, they "became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." It all starts with a refusal to worship God but it never ends there.
Then in verse 22-23 "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." Enter idolatry!
But remember what happened next, 24 "Therefore God gave them over IN the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them." They refused to worship God, choosing to worship another, so God said: "have at it." 25 "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..."
We become like what we worship.
Of course, this all starts with a refusal to worship God, but it never ends there. People don't simply declare that they are now atheists or agnostics. In fact, there is no such thing. Mark my words they worship something as god; most likely themselves. As Bob Dylan said, "you can serve the devil, or you can serve the Lord, but you're gonna serve somebody."
When we refuse to worship the One who alone is Holy, the One who alone is Righteous, the One who alone IS Truth we become like all that is opposite. We become like whatever we replace Him with. That which is unholy, unrighteous and that which suppresses and even hates the truth. The harder ones to spot are those that seem to have the appearance of godliness but lack the power.
In Ephesians, Paul communicates this truth (that we become like what we worship) in a more familial way.
[Eph 5:1-2 NASB] 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
The first thing we see here is imitation. Imitation is what? The sincerest form of flattery. The word praise is a common synonym here. We praise God and from that flows imitation.
But, second and far more important is the example set for us by Jesus Himself.
[Heb 1:3 NASB] 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature."
Jesus is the exact representation of the one He worships, that is His Father in heaven. What did Jesus according to Ephesians 5:2? "(He) gave Himself up for us," (But as what? An act of worship!) "an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Jesus Himself modeled the truth that we become like what we worship.
Paul teaches this. Jesus models it and Jesus Himself communicates this truth in Luke 6:40 when He says,
[Luk 6:40 NASB] 40 "A student is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher."
John the beloved communicates this truth yet another way:
[1Jo 3:1-2 NASB] "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and [such] we are." (He's talking about those who are worshippers of God). "For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, WE WILL BE LIKE HIM because we will see Him just as He is."
We become like what we worship. There's a future glory for sure, but even now we ought to resemble our Heavenly Father.
In Pauls letter to the Ephesians, he goes on to say that immorality, impurity, greed and many other things are not to even be named among us. Why? Because those traits are not like the one, we worship. John goes on in verse 3 to say that we are to purify ourselves as He (God) is pure. Why? Because we become like what we worship.
The truth about our sin in this life, the truth about ALL our behavior is that it displays who we worship! If we are truly worshipping our Heavenly Father, then we will look like Him. We will look like Jesus.
[1Jo 3:10 NASB] 10 "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (These are those whom the scripture calls "sons of the devil" "sons of the evil one" etc.)
If our lives display something that is not godly, it reveals a problem. It reveals who/what we are truly worshipping. Therefore observing our actions matters greatly!
Remember the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? Do you know what their real problem was? Exactly what Paul said their problem was. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. They began to worship the creature rather than the creator. What happened after that? The Fall. They became like what they worshipped!
So let's go back to Romans 1 and think through what Paul says. So that we can see why sin is such problem.
[Rom 1:26 NASB] 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,"
Of course this is a hot button issue today but what Paul shows us is that the god who supports this kind of behavior is not the God he proclaims through the Gospel. God has defined marriage and when we attempt to redefine it what we are really doing is setting up another god. One created in our own image. One with our own sensibilities. This is simply idolatry!
Paul goes on in verse 29: "being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; [they are] gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
We've entered into a place of idolatry. We've violated the first three of the ten commandments. These commands are not oppressive they are actually the love and mercy of God. God knows we become like what we worship.
[Deu 5:7-11 NASB] 7 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 8 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, [or] any likeness [of] what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 9 'You shall not worship them or serve them..."
Look at what the psalmist says about idols and our becoming like them.
[Psa 115:4-8 NASB] 4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man's hands. 5 They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; 6 They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; 7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. 8 Those who make them will become like them, Everyone who trusts in them.
Finally we have the third commandment. This one hits home as it prophetically discribes the issue in our culture today.
11 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
The question is always "can I be a Christian and be..." No. but why?
Conclusion: Church this is why Paul's stated agenda in Romans 1 was to preach the Gospel to those in Rome. This is why the great commission is for all of us today. What we are calling people to with the Gospel, what we are calling them to as followers of Jesus, as disciples is a call to worship.
Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and The Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I command. Invitation to worship, invitation to be changed.
Anytime sin has it's grip on us church the answer is worship. Now I don't mean just sing a verse of "It Is Well," and all will be well. No! I'm talking Romans 12:1-2
[Rom 12:1-2 NASB] 1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.