CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

This Explains What Is Happening

Nov 2, 2020

Romans 1 fully explains where we are at today:

How do we understand what is happening in the world – especially the political, cultural, moral and spiritual decline we see taking place all over the West? Plenty of explanations could be offered here, and most would likely have some elements of truth. Here I will focus on a biblical and spiritual assessment.

The occasion of this piece is the various outcomes we have seen recently on the political landscape and elsewhere. As I just posted on the social media: “Hmm, 4 losses in a row: NZ, ACT, AFL, Qld. Better have a win on Tuesday – the most important contest of all.”

Of course the AFL bit was a little humour in an otherwise sad line-up. And one diehard Richmond supporter let me know it was no loss at all! Just yesterday I wrote about the various electoral defeats, and how the Christian should think about them: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/11/01/politics-elections-and-perspective/

And with the Tuesday American elections being such a hugely important make or break reality, those spiritual perspectives need to be kept in mind. Christians will need to be praying plenty over the next 40 or so hours. Much of the work has already been done: the politicking, the campaigning, the rallies, the voting, etc.

Trump is holding 14 rallies in the final three days – five of them today – and they are drawing enormous crowds in the tens of thousands! Not bad for an old guy who just went through a bout of the Rona. So while the time is almost out for more work, there is never a time to stop praying – so please do.

But I want to look further at a main explanation for all the frightful things we find happening all around us. Not just the electoral defeats that should bother all concerned conservatives and Christians but the general trend of unrestrained evil seemingly taking over everywhere.

As but one example, the evil of the culture of death just seems to be getting worse and worse. As soon as Palaszczuk won the Queensland election, she said her first priority would be to see euthanasia fully legalised. As I also just said on the social media:

There are various reasons for the Queensland result. One was many older folks left Pauline and went with Labor. Fear of the Rona seems to have been a major factor. They actually believed the alarmism of Palaszczuk and that she would keep them safe. Yet now she is pushing euthanasia big time. These folks will NOT be kept safe if that goes ahead. IDJUTS!!

Evil seems to be abounding, and righteousness seems to be on the retreat. Again, how do we explain all this? What I just read in my morning Scripture reading pretty well tells us exactly what is happening and why. And so important is this passage that it is worth presenting it in full here. I refer to that incredible text, Romans 1:18-32:

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

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There you have it. When evil goes on and on, and folks keep shaking their fists at the living God, he has no other choice but to give them up, and to give them fully over to their sin. Three times it says that God gave them up. There is no scarier place to be in than that.

And the outcome is as predictable as it is awful. Notice that the number one sin Paul lists here as a consequence of all this is homosexuality. And then he goes on to list plenty more, including unrighteousness, hatred of God, and the invention of evil.

Yep, sounds like Melbourne in November 2020, or Brisbane, or Auckland, or London, or Paris, or New York, or Chicago, or Toronto, etc. This is pretty much exactly where the West is at today. We may well be at the end of the line, and our chances may well be just about over.

There would be plenty of commentary I could appeal to here, but let me draw upon just one bit which I have often run with. I refer to the terrific 2009 expository commentary on Romans by the late R. C. Sproul (1939-2017). His remarks are also worth running with in full. He calls his chapter on Ro. 1:22-32 “Judicial Abandonment.” He writes:

Three times in this section we read about human beings being given up by God. They are given up to their vile passions, the lust of the flesh, and their reprobate minds. When God judges people according to the standard of his righteousness, he is declaring that he will not strive with mankind forever. We hear all the time about God’s infinite grace and mercy. I cringe when I hear it. God’s mercy is infinite insofar as it is mercy bestowed upon us by a Being who is infinite, but when the term infinite is used to describe his mercy rather than his person, I have problems with it because the Bible makes very clear that there is a limit to God’s mercy. There is a limit to his grace, and he is determined not to pour out his mercy on impenitent people forever. There is a time, as the Old Testament repeatedly reports, particularly in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that God stops being gracious with people, and he gives them over to their sin.

The worst thing that can happen to sinners is to be allowed to go on sinning without any divine restraints. At the end of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation when the description of the last judgment is set forth, God says, ‘He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still’ (Rev. 22:11). God gives people over to what they want. He abandons them to their sinful impulses and removes his restraints, saying in essence, ‘If you want to sin, go ahead and sin.’ This is what theologians call ‘judicial abandonment.’ God, in dispensing his just judgment, abandons the impenitent sinner forever.

Sproul says similar things in his classic book The Holiness of God (Tyndale, 1985, 1998), but applying it to nations as well:

God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to his patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.

Since it is our tendency to take grace for granted, my guess is that God found it necessary from time to time to remind Israel that grace must never be assumed. On rare but dramatic occasions He showed the dreadful power of His justice. He killed Nadab and Abihu. He killed Uzzah. He commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites. It is as if He were saying, “Be careful. While you enjoy the benefits of my grace, don’t forget my justice. Don’t forget the gravity of sin. Remember that I am holy.”

In 48 hours we may well know the result of the American elections. I have to say that if the Democrats win the White House, and especially if they also win the Senate and the House, then judicial abandonment would seem to be exactly what has befallen the US.

If not, then we have some divine mercy and grace – at least for a while. Keep praying my friends. Keep praying.

[1560 words]

20 Responses to This Explains What Is Happening

  • Irrespective of the outcome in the USA, we (stateside) shall experiencing some interesting times given the promises of the far left whom promise to riot in solidarity with one side or in opposition to the other.

  • Spot on as usual Bill.
    I despair of the Medico-Political Bureaucracy suppressing the truth about hydroxochloroquine treatments reducing the death rate from Covid infections by a factor of at least 3. However, while I must never stop trying to make that truth known, I recognise that the church and the West need a strong dose of discipline where we reap what we allowed on our watch.

    Applying Romans: “For what can be known about Covid-19 is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. … So they are without excuse. … Claiming to be wise, they became fools …”. My email correspondence with medical experts, when they actually (but very rarely) answer, makes it clear that they know the truth but simply avoid the topic. Sadly many Christians believe the media and the bureaucrats. More info at https://tinyurl.com/CovidAnswers.

  • Praying with you Bill for Tuesday’s election of the U.S. President/ leader of the free world. Praying especially also for the vital issue of Republican majority in the Senate, whereby Justice Barrett, for example, was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

    May we all be on our faces in prayer before Almighty God over these coming days, that Christians will turn out faithfully to vote for the honouring of God’s values, and that very many Americans will vote to uphold our Judeo Christian ethic and precious freedoms, for which so many of our forebears gave their lives.

  • Hi Bill, thank you again for such a detailed article, and a special thanks for referring to the writings of one of my heroes ; R.C. Sproul. I would highly recommend Sproul for any “young Christians” who are trying to get their heads around basic theology. In my younger days I found him to be excellent. Bill you’re so spot on concerning God’s patience not being infinite. This is highlighted in 2nd Kings 23:25-27, which I happened to be reading this morning. Chapter 23 highlights the incredible reforms of King Josiah, HOWEVER, because of “the despicable acts” of Manasseh (one of Josiah’s predecessors) God went ahead with his destruction of Jerusalem. God has already “seen” the outcome of the Presidential election, we mere mortals will have to wait! Someone correct me if I’m wrong; I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who at the height of the civil war, stated, “many times I was driven to my knees in prayer, because there was no where else to go.” Bill your closing statement says it all; KEEP PRAYING MY FRIENDS. KEEP PRAYING. Bless you Bill, and keep dishing it out!! Regards, Kel.

  • Peter.
    The globalists want us all vaccinated and microchipped then we Australians can be fully tracked and controlled. I fully expect the vaccines will be multiple applications so these evil people can fill humans full of evil substances that can be turned on and off and kill us if need be. This sounds completely off with the fairies , but I think it’s closer to the truth than we know, God bless. I won’t take any vaccines and I strongly recommend avoidance of them. Poorly tested and potentially dangerous. Bill Gates and wife can inject themselves first and we’ll monitor their health for 12 months.
    Phillip

  • By the authority as believers and followers of Jesus. We declare and decree VICTORY! By the power of The Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen

  • Trump’s more American than JFK, the last true leader of the Democrats, and Reagan was the last true leader of the Republicans.

    28% of attendees were registered as Democrats who went to a Trump rally in October. Everyone attending queued for hours outside beforehand.

    You don’t then not vote in November. Landslide.

    God Bless Bill, and God Bless President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.

  • Kelvin Nairn, my wife and I hit 2 Kings 15 this morning which describes exactly what you are talking about – that God’s mercy is not infinite and that there comes a time when He allows nations to go down the path they have chosen to go.

    David Skinner UK

  • A warning came from a Christian, Philip Zodhiates, who has been incarcerated in prison for two years, with at least another year to go, for simply performing an act of Christian mercy. And I am not talking about Iran or North Korea but the great America of the USA – the “land of free”.
    https://gaybullyingitisreal.wordpress.com/2020/02/06/urgent-appeal-for-philip-zodhiates-christian-prisoner-of-conscience-in-american-prison/

    On October 26, 2020 Philip, after he had completed 693 days of incarceration wrote,

    ‘A week from tomorrow [November 3, 2020] are elections in the United States, including for president. Yet unfortunately, the root cause of all the problems within the nation seems to have been completely ignored….
    Today, our president is once again campaigning with the same “make America great again” rhetoric. Yet he addresses every aspect of becoming a great nation again while seemingly ignoring this moral fabric, which underlines our decline. No longer does our nation have a fear of Almighty God, which was the real reason God blessed America and made it into a great nation in the first place…..

    Should the church, the President, and both of our major political parties continue to ignore and avoid this fact, the United States of America will ultimately disintegrate — perhaps very soon and suddenly…. Unless our leaders identify the root of our problems as moral failings, we are likely doomed to oblivion. It matters not if Donald Trump or Joe Biden is elected president; we are still headed toward the same cliff. One is merely taking us there faster than the other.

    It is so easy to get caught up in the “make America great again” political efforts, but that will fail unless President Trump and our nation’s leaders, and most importantly, our church leaders, recognize this as the spiritual battle that it is, and call this nation to repentance…..

    The devil and his demonic influence now have infested so many parts of our society with his deception and lies. Jesus said some of these demons do not come out but through fasting and prayer. I therefore encourage you to do two things:
    …First, fast and pray for revival in this nation, that the strongholds of Satan will be cast down. Second, contact President Trump, your senators, and your representative and tell them America will never be great again unless they address the spiritual condition of our nation……
    May God bring revival once again in America!

    Please write to Philip
    Philip Zodhiates 18649-084
    FCI Ashland
    P.O. Box 6001
    Ashland, KY 41105

    Please susbscribe to the 419 Fund : https://419fund.com/
    Must see https://www.facebook.com/419fund/videos/2265658846787242/

    David Skinner UK

  • Thanks David. A few things in response if I may. Four years ago many of us conservatives and Christians had genuine questions about Trump. Now many of us are much more willing to run with him, warts and all. See here for more on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/02/04/on-trump-for-potus-in-2020/

    And anyone who reads this site knows that I have always said that ultimately our problems are moral and spiritual in nature, and politics alone will not save us. But I have also always said that there are some real differences between left and right, and it is morally disingenuous to pretend those differences do not exist.

    So I don’t really buy Philip’s counsel of despair, unhelpful moral equivalence, and seeming inability to make proper moral distinctions. Simply tell all those babies allowed to be born under a Trump administration that there is absolutely no difference between Trump/Pence and Biden/Harris. Or tell small business owners there is no difference between the socialism of the Dems and the free market ideals of the Repubs. Or tell Christians who will be heavily persecuted under Biden that there is no difference. Or simply compare the followers, with those on the right happily and patriotically supporting their president in the tens of thousands, while the left prefers to loot, riot and burn cities to the ground. There are all sorts of major differences here.

    And if Biden and Harris get in, those sorts of cases that Philip is going through will increase exponentially. So I don’t accept his moral equivalence claims, although I can understand the great evil and injustice he is suffering.

    As to Trump and his faith, only God ultimately knows the human heart, but real deal Christians close to him are happy to vouch for his faith. Even if he is not a Christian, I’d much prefer a pagan president who largely does all the right things and largely has all the right values than a Christian who does not.

  • Hi Bill,
    Regarding our USA election, I wish I could say that most of us recognize the importance of the outcome, however, I am afraid that we are far from that truth. For that reason I have real concerns for the immediate AND long term conditions that will be manifested. Riots due to outcomes, calls for dissolution, refusal of our military leadership to obey lawful commands of President Trump as the newly re-elected commander in chief or ‘interim’ leader to keep the peace, the list goes on. YES, prayer is key and my family will be on their knees.
    God bless our country and we pray that God allow some more time for repentance. Lord have mercy.
    Respectfully, Ron Adams

  • In this passage of Romans, Paul also cited (v.23), the deification of men and beasts as judgment as well. There are more laws to protect a Bald Eagle egg than there is the unborn child.

  • Understandably everyone is down in the mouth, however we must remember this “it is always the darkest before the dawn”, this is not over yet and we must never give up hope. God is on our side, and no matter what happens we are taken care off. Our God is always full of surprises, and we have not seen his best work yet!

  • Hi Bill , Your commentary based on Romans 1 is so applicable for todays world , both in the USA , Australia and worldwide. I have really enjoyed your articles , keep up the good work !

  • Many thanks indeed Andrew.

  • Hugely significant word in Romans 1:24 is “Therefore”. Must go back to the preceding verses to see what it is referring to: the exchange of the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, reptiles.

    So when did our young people, especially those who have ‘graduated’ to LGBTI+, do this? Well, whenever they opened the science textbooks at school/uni they would have seen no glory given to the immortal God, but plenty of images of Stone Age man, the Age of Dinosaurs, and web-of-life connectivity via the Evolutionary Tree of Life. Dinos-to-birds, Age of Mammals, Iron/Bronze Age Man. No mention of Adam being the first man and a horticulture worker, or that musical instruments, bronze and iron tools were made in his lifetime.

    The “Therefore” in the cited Romans passage, to my mind, dramatically links the world’s willing embrace of the Darwinian Deception (and Green-Religion worship of created things rather than the Creator) to today’s general increase in “lusts of the heart” and other evils.

  • Bill, I do not disagree with you regarding the choice between Trump and Biden. As they say, “It is a no brainer”. But I think Philip’s message is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. I think it is realistic. But whoever wins, America will not return to normal. The divisions are too great. A Trump win would win the whole World a limited time to repent. But if Trump does not destroy the “Houses of the Sodomites” and the “High Places” and releases the captives, the ‘man of lawlessness’ will come all the sooner. We should all fast and pray to day that God will show mercy on our nations and drain the swamp of Biden/Obama/Clinton cabal. I don’t know which way Philip Zodhiates will vote, but I would imagine it would be for Trump.
    David Skinner UK

  • Again Bill you bring things together, and your readers too. I love your comment Ingrid.
    May God bless and keep may he also protect us and uphold us through these times.
    Mark Bryant

  • The last part you quoted from Romans could describe at least three generations now the hippies, mine (gen X), and the snowflakes. When God give a nations children over to their sins it doesn’t bode well for that nation.

    Lately I have been wondering is America where the Roman Empire was right before they fell??????

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