January 18, 2018

Whom Do You Acknowledge?

Romans 1:28–32

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28 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. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 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.

Whom Do You Acknowledge?

Central Truth

As Christians, this passage reminds us to: (1) rejoice that life outside of God is one we no longer are constrained to live; and (2) choose God over ourselves, because “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8b)

Devotional | Romans 1:28–32

Every day, we must choose whom we acknowledge: either God or ourselves. In fact, we as Christians, followers of Christ, are invited daily to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Whether we accept that invitation is, as...

Every day, we must choose whom we acknowledge: either God or ourselves. In fact, we as Christians, followers of Christ, are invited daily to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Whether we accept that invitation is, as it always has been, up to us.

As I look over the examples of what a life without God looks like, I can painfully pick out the ones that describe me when I've chosen my way instead of God's way: covetousness, gossip, boastfulness, foolishness, and heartlessness. Verse 32 makes it very clear that by choosing not to acknowledge God, we are approving the very practice of choosing ourselves instead.

So what now? We fight. We "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5b). "[F]or at one time [we] were darkness, but now [we] are light in the Lord," (Ephesians 5:8a), so let us trade the list in Rom 1:29-31 for the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is what is available when we choose to acknowledge and follow God.

But it isn't easy. A life verse that found me at a time when I had given up and chosen to focus anywhere but on Him is Hebrews 12:11. It encouraged me, as I hope it will you: "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

So let us be disciplined to acknowledge Him. Schedule time with Scripture and stick to it! Instead of thinking about praying, turn your thoughts into talks with the Lord. Get involved with the body, and take a chance at authenticity among others chasing after Christ. Be inconvenienced for the gospel, and let the Holy Spirit move you. Sacrifice your wants for others, and meet the needs of those around you. Tired already? Seek encouragement from your community, and don't forget that God will be your rock if you let Him. 




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Bio | Jeremy Garrett

Howdy! Jeremy here. I'm honored to "spend" some time with you on The Journey through Romans.

Over three years ago, I had sworn off being an active member in God's body until one of His faithful invited me to Watermark, where God began to break down the barriers I'd worked so hard to build. He's been ever gracious to give me opportunities to serve on The Believe Team and as a table leader in Equipped Disciple. 

I hope this devotional serves you, dear readers. May it bless you and lead you to worship today, tomorrow, and onward. 


Discussion Questions

1. After reading this passage, what do you think was Paul's motivation? 

2. Did this passage challenge you? If yes, how?

3. When was the last time you took a thought captive? What did it take for you to do so?

4. What discipline of the faith do you expect to be most beneficial for you right now? What steps would be necessary for you to achieve commitment?

5. How has Scripture impacted your ability to acknowledge God, perhaps even when you least desired?


31 Comments available

William Breazeale 5 months ago

Praise God that He continually draws me away from these things. I am no longer a slave to life outside of Christ!

Andi Guevara 5 months ago

#3 2 Corinthians 10:5 is one of my favorite battle verses. Our minds are battle grounds and I constantly find myself referring back this verse. Most of the times when I’m at work I have to restrain myself from participating in gossip or not agreeing to negative opinions of others. Great

Joshua Stelzer 5 months ago

Jeremy, thank you for sharing Hebrews 12:11 today. Whenever we distance ourselves from God, it is often a painful process to begin to bring that relationship back to where it should be. I have been feeling that struggle over the last few days and that verse has reminded me what it is I’m working towards. I’m looking forward to the “peaceful fruit” at the end of the tunnel!

Amy Merritt 5 months ago

Love the contrast with this passage and Galatians 5- who would trade Romans 1:28-32 for love, joy, Peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, self control. Me! Like you said when I chose to acknowledge and follow God these are the blessings given through the spirit of our living God. 2 Cor 10:5 says “we demolish strongholds that set themselves up against God” that is -the Lord fights them with us, He never leaves us and helps us take those thoughts captive and fight the good fight. He says, “surely I am with you always with to the very end of the age.”

Selena Thompson 5 months ago

Thanks for your real life devotional today, Jeremy. #2- your last paragraph brought a lump to my throat. “be inconvenienced for the Gospel” WOW!! In a world where we work so hard to have all the conveniences of life, it brings tears to my eyes to be reminded that we, as followers of Christ, are called to do something so radically different. #3 life before Christ was filled with self protection and daily I must take captive thoughts of not believing the best of people or negatively interpreting or just plain ugly thoughts. Reminding myself of truth is what has to replace those thoughts. I AM a daughter of The King! I AM loved. Christ DID die for my sins AND everyone’s. I DO have a new life in HIM. He IS faithful and true.

Rita Satagaj 5 months ago

Thank you Jeremy. Love this “every day we must choose whom we acknowledge: either God or ourselves.” You are so correct, we must choose daily as we are bombarded with things where we might choose the wrong way. We must remember that God is who we follow, we are not here to please ourselves. I am constantly reminding myself to look at the big picture. Galatians 5:22-23 is a wonderful way to do that.

Alma Barber 5 months ago

Two of my favorite words are “choose” and “discipline.” They always jump out at me wherever I see them. I am so thankful for a God who loves us enough to allow us to “choose.” Choose who we will serve, choose what to meditate on, choose to either lean on our own understanding, or live by faith in Him. Choose to be problem focused, or promise focused. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that His divine power has already given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness- and allows us to choose to discipline ourselves and participate in His divine nature in order to keep us from sin and help us live for Him. “So let us be disciplined to acknowledge Him. Schedule time with scripture and stick to it!..” (The rest of the last paragraph of Jeremy’s devo)

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

As a start you need to be ‘untied’ and that’s not something you can do yourself. Pv 5:22 “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.” After loosening, that old strong three fold cord of you, sin and others wrongful approving needs to be replaced by a stronger threefold cord of you, Jesus and encouraging community.

Burlon Leffall III 5 months ago

@JeremyGarrett Thank you!

Burlon Leffall III 5 months ago

Q2: It is a personal indictment, and if I may, an indictment against some in church buildings, and, obviously those who reject Him. The challenge for me with all 3 to—1) choose devote to God daily 2) with Christ, not be apathetic but not be pulled into the fray of mobs, either-even mobs of attitude or haughtiness 3) to still engage, regardless with my opportunities & gifts; the person described here is not beyond stepping onto the Romans Road. And I have to remember that my fight isn’t against people (it’s so easy to villainize, to us vs. them) And to not forget the author of Romans nor the Author of my faith.

Elizabeth Lariscy 5 months ago

Thank you Jeremy! Love the discussion questions. Thank you to all the comments as well. I am learning and growing in my faith with you!

Michael Macomber 5 months ago

As an over the road driver, I have plenty of time to listen to all sorts of Christian podcasts of sermons, shoes and music. But that was my only discipline for the last six years. And when I go home I would die the war that is waged in my home between my family and the devil. This year as I began my closed group in ReGen, I am making it a point to do my work daily, memorize verses to hide in my heart for the war, participate in this. And only 3 weeks into the year, I have began to see God in everything more, even in my life, and others through comments here and testimonies. Thanks for great devo!

Ronnie Oldfield 5 months ago

Thank you Jeremy for encouraging me today. When I read the list of faults Paul communicates, I can be overwhelmed by how many “fit” me. Without the power of the resurrection of Jesus which is available to me, I might fall into a pit of despair. But I believe in the resurrection and give myself over to the Holy Spirit so that He is the one people encounter—when their eyes say they encounter me. I pray the fruit of the Spirit abides within me. Thanks again brother.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Where is the edit button you need it: correction,Sin,leads us to see ourselves as more important than God.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

I am reading Romans one for the first time with an open heart and mind. In the past, I have read verses 26-32 with a very different mindset. Believing that it exclusively was talking about homosexuals and lesbians; how they alone practiced the list Paul lays out in 28-32 that leads to death. Piper says that: “Homosexuality is the most vivid form of that breakdown. God and man in covenant worship are represented by male and female in covenant sexual union.” However, I also think he is making the greater point; that when we seek our own way and will we are all worthy of death. That unrepentant sin leads us to disregard God and others. Sin makes leads us to see ourselves as more important than God. Piper says “Failed worship is our worst disorder. This is beneath all the maladies of the world.”

Ted Mattos 5 months ago

Thanks for this devotional, Jeremy. I lead Sunday school at my church and we are also doing Romans all year. We got much good discussion about this passage last Sunday.

Autumn Zevely 5 months ago

LOVE this scripture! I am being challenged currently to trust the Lord (always, but emphasis on career right now). This passage is a great reminder of what my life used to look like and how it looks now. I have so much more peace following Him (even when bad things happen), than I ever did not following Him (even in the “best” times). It feels so good having a true relationship with Christ. This devotional was on point!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

When we lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge God, God does the heavy lifting. From there we use disciplines of grace to cultivate the new life God gives. Daniel 4 34At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever"

Mark Hamblin 5 months ago

Thank you Jeremy. Your first sentence stopped me in my prayer this morning. “Every day, we must choose whom we acknowledge: either God or ourselves.” So powerful and so true. I am reminded that to grow and change, I have to CHOOSE something. God or me. And by not choosing Christ to guide my decisions and choices, I choose my selfish ways. Great truth.

Buster Zufelt 5 months ago

I think its great the way that God gets in our lives to draw us closer to Him. Work is slow right now on and off and there was a time I would be so disheartened and wven angry. Today I am encouraged with the exta time I have in His word. I even wonder if He didnt give me this time intentionally because I was in fact getting caught up in work and forgetting that Jesus is first and greatest above all. Thank you Lord, I promise to tithe with my time and always give you my best first.

Lisa Olsen 5 months ago

Thank you, Jeremy. To choose to live in a way that pleases God and deny our sinful flesh is certainly a battlefield. One I have failed miserably on time and time again. I see now that one of the main reasons for this was my stubborn will to try and accomplish godly tasks…without God. I foolishly believed that I had the strength to carry out godly desires on my own. All for the purpose of proving to God I was worthy of His love and acceptance. This is not the Gospel at all. While I can still easily fall into that mindset, I do see clearly that I need God’s help and work in my life to carry out the life I want in Him and fight the battles that come my way.

greg jones 5 months ago

so let us trade the list in Rom 1:29-31 for the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I’m so focused on what’s wrong with the world that I’m blind to what is missing in me, I’m backwards. I get backwards, a lot. But taking thoughts captive, which to me is saying God what do you think about what I’m thinking can turn me around. If I’m backwards 100 times a day and turned around 101 times a day I’m stirred. That’s how I would answer question 5.

Linda Aland 5 months ago

As God’s instruction manual for our lives, the Bible has for us every example of what to do and what not to do. And while it is hard to remember all of God’s directives, there are some basic ones that we all know. We are to love God and love others as we would love ourselves. Each of the unwholesome behaviors described in today’s verses violates one of the two commandments. While it is hard to keep our actions pure, righteous and biblical at all times, it is what God wants us to do. So keep trying…

Robbie Vedrenne 5 months ago

God is not trying to stifle and coerce you into loving, obeying or even acknowledging His existence (John 3:17). He does by nature and the design of His creation, allow for us to choose. This is not an unlimited choice or a consequence free choice. There is inevitability in our biology and there is immutability in the Godhead. We do not change God but we can defy Him. Paul’s admonition here is to recognize that liberty is a beautiful gift but is not about us. Our freedom can be deadly.

Larry Miller 5 months ago

I am grateful we serve a God Who willingly “tears down” as readily as He “builds up” and that we belong to a body that runs into the fray to pull others out. Thank you for your witness and encouragement today.

Donna Fisher 5 months ago

Taking my thoughts captive is truly one of my biggest struggles - thanks for the clear direction to give it to Christ and praying that I will be set free!!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Some verses back ‘they’ knew God but weren’t thankful or honoring to God and made a God caricature. Here ‘they’ know His decrees and don’t live them out, going their own way. They willfully do not worship. They willfully do not obey.

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

Thanks, Jeremy. Swapping the fleshly list of Romans 1 for the spiritual fruit of Galatians 5 is a great juxtaposition. Today’s reading has a loooooong list of ugly, hurtful behaviors that emerge from a depraved mind that God allows when people insist on ruling their own lives and not submitting to Him. The recent media flap over the Golden Globes awards reminds me that it doesn’t matter how good people look on the outside, all cleaned up and gussied up—God looks right past the outside façade and sees inside. And it can be UGLY. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. That’s the true reality we have to deal with, not “our truth,” but THE truth: that we are a hopeless mess apart from God.

Lindsey Driscoll 5 months ago

Q4- the discipline of prayer to take the insolent, gossiping, faithless, arrogant thoughts captive. Not praying over these thoughts and surrendering them to God is to know God’s decrees (1:32) but continue without looking to the righteous God who can change our hearts.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

For decades one of my primary idols was my church resume. Solid gold. Bullet proof. Sunday school teacher, prayer leader, lectionary reader, study group leader, committee service, committee chairman, Vestry service, Endowment Trustee and the big one - completion of a 4 year seminary curriculum for lay people. These formed my identity. My works told me and the people I wanted to please who I was. Paul teaches me what my REAL resume was, how debased my mind was, how I deserved to die, how I gave approval to others just like me. He also lays out the clear path back – seek to know who God is (Jer 9:23-34), acknowledge Him (Pr 3:6), know His righteous decree (Ps 119:7), do not give approval to the kind of person I was (Pr 12:7). Thanks be to God for His patience, (2 Peter 3:9).

Julie Newmeyer 5 months ago

I think Paul wrote this section of scripture purely out of love for the people. He loves them so much that he does not want them to be caught up in sin—which will leave one feeling empty, shameful, etc. He wants them to experience life in Christ, but they have to choose to give up the things that are sinful and follow Christ. 3) Taking thoughts captive is something that I have to do daily. The enemy loves to trade the price-tags (truth for lies) so I must be reminded of the truth on a daily basis to combat the lies.
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