Romans 1:18-20 ESV
“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.”
Do you know that God has revealed himself to all humans? He has shown us his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – through the things which he created. These things are plainly seen, they are not hidden from us. Ever since the creation of the world these things about God have been clearly perceived. They are not ambiguous at all. Nothing shaded!
So, why is it then that so many people do not worship (revere, fear, honor) God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit? Why is it so many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ truly do not worship (fear) God, either?
It is because they suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, not because they don’t know the truth about God. And, notice with me here how they suppress the truth. It isn’t by their words so much, but it is by their actions – by their unrighteous deeds, which the rest of this passage makes clear.
So, what this means is that all humanity is WITHOUT EXCUSE, if they choose to deny Jesus Christ (God) by their unrighteous thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. And, especially those who have known the Word of God for a long time, if they have chosen the way of unrighteousness, instead, they have no excuse for continuing in their unrighteousness.
Romans 1:21-23 ESV
“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.”
And, here is the crux of the matter. It isn’t that people don’t know the truth. It is especially true that those who have been brought up under the Scriptures know the truth about sin and righteousness. And, it isn’t that they are not cognizant of God and who he is and of what he requires of us.
For, not only do they suppress the truth that they know by their unrighteousness, but they choose to worship (honor, esteem, value) what is created, rather than the creator. It truly is that simple.
Their flesh leads them to unrighteousness, and so they choose to follow the flesh rather than to follow God. It isn’t that they can’t change how they are. It is that they choose not to change. It isn’t that they can’t be faithful and moral. It is that they choose adultery, lying, and immorality over God, and over spouse, and over family, because they love darkness rather than light.
Romans 1:24-25, 28-32 ESV
“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.
“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.”
Not one of us is a marionette. We all have been given free wills to choose God or to choose our flesh; to choose righteousness and holiness, or to choose wickedness and impurity. But, if we choose wrongly, there is a cost associated with that. We will die in our sins (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, since we have free wills, and we are not marionettes hanging on a set of strings which someone else pulls and decides for us what we do, if we choose our flesh over God, God lets us. He lets us go our own way. And, we pay the consequences for the wrong choices that we make. So, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we choose the flesh over God. It is no one else’s fault!
But this doesn’t mean that God no longer pursues us. He definitely pursued the children of Israel through many generations of not only rebelling against God by their wickedness, but through their many refusals to listen to God and to his messengers who were telling them the truth, and who were calling them to repentance and to obedience.
But, if we, the people, rebel, and we choose to go our own way, and if we, the people, refuse to listen to God, and we refuse his calls for repentance and obedience, it will cost us our lives for eternity if we do not repent and turn to our Lord Jesus to follow him in surrender and in obedience to his will.
And, this goes for all people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, too. It doesn’t matter what prayer you prayed, or what confession you made. If you do not turn away from your sin, and if you do not turn to the Lord Jesus to follow him in obedience, you do not fear God, you don’t honor him, and you don’t know him (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 5:16-21).
So, it isn’t what you confess with your lips that matters. What matters is what you practice and whether you walk in the fear of the Lord. What matters is if you choose God over your flesh, and you choose to worship him instead of what is created. What matters is not what you know, but what you do (Rom. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-26; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
Soldiers of Christ Arise
Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1741
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His Eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day.
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