We see it all around us. It bombards us through television, social media sites, magazines, virtually everywhere. What am I writing about? I’m focusing on the values and standards of the world. They all reflect the values and standards of the devil. We all know the devil is “the thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a), but how does he go about doing that? What is his playbook for working his nefarious purposes? I would suggest to you that in Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of the devil’s playbook. Let me walk you through each play that he uses to bring the utter destruction of God’s highest creation.
Play #1: Eradicate the internal witness of God within every human being (Romans 1:18, 19).
God has made Himself known to the inner man and woman. It is the internal witness of God. In our souls we know that there is Someone bigger, greater, and more powerful than us who created us.
The devil has to deny that internal witness God has given us. How does he do that? He lies to the unbelieving by mocking the existence of God. He uses humans as his tools to do that. As we’ll see, “professing to be wise they became fools” (1:22). He uses “learned” men and women with advanced university degrees to carry out his will. These educated but not wise pawns call belief in God “naïve,” “primitive,” and “uneducated.” Once the devil has thrown shade on the internal witness of God, he moves to play #2.
Play #2: Teach evolution to deny God’s creative work (Romans 1:20-23).
God has revealed Himself through both natural and special revelation. Natural revelation is God revealing Himself through nature for all of nature declares the handiwork of its Maker. Special revelation is God revealing Himself through the person of Jesus Christ. In this text, our focus is natural revelation. God’s attributes, power, and nature have been revealed through all He has made. Natural revelation alone should lead men to honor God. They know that Someone greater than themselves created all this.
How does the devil counter the witness of natural revelation? Evolution is his vehicle of choice. “God didn’t create all this. It evolved over millions of years.” Romans 1:21 speaks the truth when it declares, “. . . they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Educators, in the guise of scholarship, shape the minds of the next generation to believe that there is no god. We simply evolved through natural selection. The Bible says they know better because to teach this lie they must first deny the internal witness of God within themselves (Romans 1:21). Once the lie is out there, even though disproven, the devil continues to promote it and defend it. Lies are useful to him. Truth is not unless it serves his agenda.
These “educated fools” swap belief in God for belief in evolution (Romans 1:22, 23). They promulgate the worship of the creation rather than the Creator. More than protecting the environment, they worship it. They turn the creation into idols of worship whether it’s whales, spotted owls, or dogs and cats. This becomes profoundly apparent when rescuing animals is a higher priority than rescuing babies from abortion.
Play #3: Promote gender confusion and sexual sin as human rights (Romans 1:24-25).
It is the ultimate identity crisis. It follows on the heels of idolizing the natural creation that mankind would idolize humans. How? By denying gender distinctions, seeking to change genders, and committing all manner of sexual sin. Romans 1:24 tells us that “God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity that their bodies might be dishonored among them.”
How does the devil pervert humans? He encourages humans to demand ungodly rights: the right to homosexuality, the right to use chemicals and surgery to change genders, the right to demand they be called by a different pronoun. Gender confusion reigns in our day to such an extent that society is embracing transgenderism. The devil presses for the right of men who self-identify as women, to use women’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and dressing rooms. Sexual sin is rampant as the devil seeks to entice society to normalize homosexuality and all manner of sexual perversion. This leads to play #4.
Play #4: Normalization of homosexuality as protected by law (Romans 1:26, 27).
Once society has become acclimated to sexual sin and now sees it as a right, it is a short step to normalization of homosexuality. The Bible describes women abandoning their natural sexual function as women with men for unnatural lesbian relationships. Men are said to burn in their desire toward other men. Soon it becomes a punishable legal offense to discriminate against homosexuals. In fact, even suggesting in speech or print that homosexuality is a sin is now punishable as hate speech. It is classified as a crime.
How will the devil convince society to make homosexuality a legally protected right? He will convince courts to declare heterosexuality and homosexuality as equally tenable relationships? He will do it by giving the homosexual minority a great voice through media and business corporations to trumpet their cause. Media moguls and corporate boards, wanting to curry favor with homosexual activists, will promote homosexual equality and “diversity.” This leads to play #5.
Play #5: Elimination of all moral constraints on society (Romans 1:28-32).
Once God is eliminated and sexual sin permitted, society is a short slide on the slippery slope of elimination of all moral restraints. Now whatever manner of sins men can think of becomes the norm. Men go from knowing God internally, even though they refuse to obey Him, to hating Him (1:30). Why do they hate God? They hate Him because their consciences continue to condemn them for their sins. The end result is sinful men giving “hearty approval” to other sinners in their sinning. It has become like the days of Noah when “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Yet the devil always “overplays his hand.” He thought he’d destroyed mankind but what he did was prepare a people for God’s own possession. A righteous remnant will not follow the devil’s playbook. Jesus Christ will return for His own and will rapture them to be with Him. The earth will be destroyed by fire as God rains judgment upon the wicked (2 Peter 3:10-13).
Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!