Deep down, all people know that there is a God and that they ought to worship Him. As God tells us through the apostle Paul in today’s passage, everyone who refuses to worship their Creator is “without excuse” for their sin and the judgment it will bring if they do not repent (Romans 1:20). We can see from the majesty of the mountains, the thunder of the storm clouds, the heat of the sun, and the crashing of the ocean waves that One who is greater than us has made this world in which we live (Romans 1:19). In our own selves, we see the amazing design of the human body, so many systems and organs working in beautiful harmony to give us life and breath each day. We find in our hearts a moral conscience that tells us that things like murder and stealing are wrong while loving and serving others is good. God has burned the knowledge of His existence into the soul of every man and woman who ever walked the face of His earth.
Yet in our pride, we reject the truths that God is and that He ought to be worshiped. We try to “suppress” God and kick him out of our thoughts and lives, choosing instead to sin against both God and our neighbors (Romans 1:18). We refuse to glorify God with our words and deeds and minds (Romans 1:21a). Our hearts are thankless, ungrateful, and foolish (Romans 1:21b). We fancy ourselves to be so smart and wise, yet we fail to do the thing that matters most – worship the God who made us – and thus show ourselves to be stupid (Romans 1:22). Instead of worshiping the Creator as we ought, we worship the creation (Romans 1:23; 25)). As I told our seventh grade boys on the way to Grandfather Mountain last week, people praise the mountain but fail to praise the God who made it. In the ancient times when Paul wrote this letter, people worshiped fake statue gods, idols that were supposed to represent gods of the sun, moon, stars, and animals. Ridiculous! But today, we worship money and stuff, power, popularity, relationships, sports, and our own selves. Idolatry has not stopped. People still look to worship anything and everything but the God who actually deserves the devotion of their hearts, minds, strength, and souls. And what does God do? He simply turns us over to our own wicked hearts, allowing us to sink deeper into our self-made chains of sin (Romans 1:24). As we will see in the next post, God is not the cause of our sin; we choose to reject Him and do evil. But He is not obligated to save anyone of us. If God let everyone of us die in our sins, He would still be absolutely fair and just.
But the good news is that God has not left us without hope! Though our sins against Him are many and we have no excuse for ignoring and rejecting Him, He has extended an offer of forgiveness and pardon to all who will honestly turn to Him in repentance and faith. This is the “Good News” – the gospel of Jesus Christ! While we were still prisoners of our own sin and disobedience, God in His great love for us sent His Own Son, Jesus, to save us by dying for us on the cross (Romans 5:8) and then rising from the dead. Through a personal relationship with Jesus, we can turn from worshiping idols and instead serve the living God who rescues us with His Own blood. If you reject that great salvation and choose to keep loving and serving idols, the wrath you will face is on you; you remain “without excuse” for your sin and cannot blame God. But if you repent and follow Christ, He will set you free to worship the only One who truly deserves your praise, both in this life and forever. I’ve made my choice. How about you?
The Text (Romans 1:18-25)
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 what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Questions to Think About
- Before you accepted Christ or rededicated your life to following Him, what did you worship instead of God?
- What idols are competing with God for control of your heart today?
- Have you ever tried to blame other people or your life circumstances for your own sins? Did placing blame help you to repent of those sins and find spiritual victory? Explain.
- The “knowledge of God” that Paul discusses in this passage is theologically known as God’s “general revelation.” Through the creation and our own moral consciences (our natural sense of right and wrong), people can see that there is a Creator who is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good. They can also understand that they have a problem because they do not live as they should, so deep down people feel shame and guilt towards God and they fear the just punishment that awaits them when they die. Today, our culture, which lies under the influence of Satan, is constantly working very hard to suppress this knowledge and get people to not feel bad about their sin and idolatry by convincing them that God is not real. The first step of evangelizing or trying to win people to faith in Christ in our culture, then, is not to tell them that Jesus loves them. Before we talk about God’s great love, we must first awaken people’s lost sense of their own sin problem so that they will again feel the shame and guilt of their burden and recognize their offense as being against their Creator. Only then will they be ready for the good news of being able to be saved from sin and restored to a right relationship with the One who made them.
- Scripture always lays the blame for our sin firmly at own feet. It is God’s grace that saves us and gives us His goodness, so that as Christians, anything good in us must be credited to God alone. But the bad that is in us is our own fault. We must never fall into the trap of trying to blame God or circumstances or others for own sins. That thinking is not biblical and will only keep us from the honest repentance that we need to get back on track in our walks with Christ.