I. YOU KNOW THAT YOU WERE GENTILES.
A. The word translated Gentiles is the Greek word Ethne, which was often translated heathen or pagan.
1. To the Jew there were just two categories. Jews and pagans.
2. If you were not a Jew then you were considered a pagan.
3. Pagan is defined by Webster as an irreligious person. I would challenge that definition. Often pagans were very religious people.
a. We make reference to pagan religions.
b. The Greeks were very religious people. Paul when addressing the philosophers on Mars Hill declared, "I perceive that you are very religious."
c. Very religious they were, they had deified every emotion, and mood. They saw gods behind everything.
d. The god of love, the god of war, the god of peace, the god of anger, the god of self love, the goddess of sex.
e. On the acropolis just above Corinth was the great temple built for the worship of Aphrodite. Aphrodite was the goddess of love in the Greek mythology. She was the patroness of physical love. Eros the god of love was her companion. She was also worshipped as the goddess of fertility, and was worshipped in fertility rites. She married He-phaes-tus, the lame and deformed blacksmith of the gods. But she had love affairs with Ares the god of war, and Anchises a Trojan prince. She also loved Adonis a handsome young hunter who was killed by a wild boar. Aphrodite pleaded with Zeus to restore him to her, which he did for six months out of the year. During those months the weather was balmy and all of the trees blossomed and flourished, but when he spent the six months in the underworld, all of the trees died, and the leaves dropped off. This is how the Greeks explained the changing seasons.
4. From the Christian perspective a pagan is one who worships something other that the personal, true and living God, the creator of the Universe.
5. The worship of nature is pagan worship. Nature is impersonal.
6. The appreciation of nature can lead you to the Creator. But if you stop short and worship creation rather than the Creator you are guilty of paganism.
B. Note that Paul puts it in the past tense. "You were pagans."
1. You were worshippers of Aphrodite.
2. Your lives were mastered by your sex drive.
3. You were slaves to your passions.
4. In chapter six of this letter as Paul spelled out some of the immoral practices of the heathen he said, "And such were some of you."
5. That was a part of your old life of ignorance.
6. Hopefully all of that is over, that belonged to the B.C. (before Christ) days.
7. In all honesty, for many it is not in the past, but has carried over into the present.
8. Some of you are still being ruled by your passions. You are into all types of pornography, which is as addictive as any drug.
9. The brain experiences some kind of excitment when you view a nude woman. You can get addicted to that excitment, but like any drug, it takes more and more to bring the same degree of excitment, so you get drawn deeper into the web.
II. PAUL ACCUSES THEM OF BEING CARRIED AWAY BY THESE THINGS.
A. It is frightening how carried away a person can become in the snare of sin.
1. They can lose all their sense of balance, these things take control over their lives.
2. They can lose all sense of value.
a. The thrill of these experiences can become more important to them than life itself.
b. Many homes are being destroyed by these things.
c. Many relations are being shattered.
d. Many hearts are being broken.
e. Yet the one involved seems to be so obsessed and carried away, that they sacrifice all to maintain this intense craving.
3. It seems that a person often loses all sense of reason.
a. God called to man through the prophet Isaiah, "Come now let us reason together saith the Lord." Living a life of sin is unreasonable.
b. The prophet Isaiah later spoke of the folly of those who worshipped their idols.
c. He said they cut down a tree out of the forest and from the same log.
Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth [it], and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth [it]; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.
He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth [himself], and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
And the residue thereof he maketh a god, [even] his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth [it], and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou [art] my god.
They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; [and] their hearts, that they cannot understand.
And none considereth in his heart, neither [is there] knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten [it]: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
d. None considereth in his heart, is the key verse, they didn't stop to reason things out.
e. That is still the problem today, a person does not stop to think things through.
f. He starts down the wrong path which seems so exciting at the beginning, but he does not stop to consider where the path is leading.
g. Solomon spoke of seeing a young man void of understanding accosted on the street corner by a prostitute and following her to her house, Solomon said that he was like a ox being led to the slaughter, he will not wake up until he discovers that he has contracted some horrible venereal disease.
III. SPEAKING OF THEIR IDOLS HE CALLS THEM DUMB IDOLS. THAT IS THEY HAVE NO POWER TO SPEAK.
A. The psalmist spoke of the idols of the heathen,
They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
B. You have been worshipping gods that have no power to help you in the hour of crisis.
1. They are insensate. When you cry out of your distress, they cannot hear you.
2. When you call, they cannot answer.
3. They cannot run to your aid.
C. I read where the friends of Timothy Leery had his ashes placed in a rocket that was sent out into space and they will be orbiting the earth for the next two years, before the rocket will re-enter the earth's atmosphere to end in a fire ball. They said that they were fulfilling his desire.
1. Unless he accepted Jesus Christ, that is the closest he will ever get to heaven.
2. The ultimate destiny is a fire ball.
D. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest. The idea was to build two altars one to Baal, and one to the true and living God.
1. They were not to kindle a fire on the altar but to pray to their Gods to kindle the fire to consume the sacrifice.
2. After the prophets of Baal had prayed all morning to no avail, the prophet Elijah began to taunt them telling them that perhaps their god was asleep, maybe they should cry a little louder.
3. The prophets of Baal worked themselves into a frenzy to no avail, for there was no fire forthcoming.
4. Then Elijah prayed to Jehovah and the fire came and consumed not only the sacrifice but the altar itself.
E. I don't know about you, but when I am in need, I want a God that can hear my cry and come to my aid.