The Simple Truth
Devotion In Motion
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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, 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. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” We need to Understand, the Gospel is the greatest change agent known to man. The truth that Jesus died to forgive our sin and rose to live in our hearts has the ability to transform hearts, and history, and culture, and the future. When churches stray from the Gospel of truth, they do a disservice to both God and mankind.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation. William Gladstone once said, “Talk about the questions of the day – there is but one question, and that is the Gospel. It can and will correct everything needing correction.” We need to trust in its power and share the Gospel with our friends. Are you proud enough to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Beginning in chapter 3, Paul is going to explain the Gospel, but first his strategy is to convince us of our need for it. It’s been said, “Before the Good News can be received, the bad news has to be believed.”
A person doesn’t sense his need for a Savior, until he first admits that he’s a sinner. In the last half of chapter 1 Paul dissects the downward spiral of Roman culture. He discusses their three stages of moral and spiritual disintegration… In verse 18-21 he shows how the world suppresses the truth... In verses 22-27 how it confuses the truth… In verses 28-32 how it transgresses or violates the truth. If you take notes – suppresses, confuses, transgresses.
He begins, verse 18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness…” Verse 17 told us the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God. In verse 18 heaven reveals the wrath of God. Reject or ignore God’s righteousness and you’re subject to His wrath. Once a country church sat next door to a parcel of farmland owned by an avid atheist – a mean, godless man. Every Sunday morning he would rev up his tractor to try and drown out the pastor’s message. When harvest came his fields yielded a bumper crop. And he considered it proof that God didn’t exist. The atheist wrote a haughty, hateful letter boasting about his bountiful harvest. But I love how the pastor responded. He wrote back a single sentence, “Dear Sir, God does not settle all His accounts in the month of October!”
It may be now or it may be later but a Christ-rejecting world will eventually taste the awesome, faithful, eternal, and terrible wrath of Almighty God. Paul says God’s wrath is “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..” If grace and peace are the bookends of faith – “ungodliness and unrighteousness” are those of rebellion. “Ungodliness” is a rejection of God. “Unrighteousness” is a rejection of His standards.
A man first denies God, then he defies God’s commandments. Fifty years ago Bible reading and prayer were a regular part of our public school curriculum – and at the time, the top disciplinary problems educators faced were chewing gum, talking out of turn, and being late for class. Today, we’ve eliminated God from the classroom. We’ve excluded Him from the subject matter – outlawed prayer – and made it illegal for Godly christian teachers to read or consult the Bible… And now in our schools we have medal detectors that screen for guns and knives – and police dogs who sniff out drugs – and girls who won’t go to the restroom by themselves for fear of being rape.
I realize our problems are more complex than just an absence of Bible reading, but our public schools are a microcosm of the truth – ungodliness produces unrighteousness. When people stop believing in God there’s no higher authority to govern their behavior except themselves. Right and wrong are up for grabs. Modern society like ancient Rome has suppressed the truth of God and in doing so they have opened wide the floodgates of unrighteousness! Verse 19, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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…”
When we think of how God has revealed Himself we usually think of the Bible, but even without the Bible there’s much we know about God. The knowledge of God is revealed to all men in at least two ways… First, there is an intimate knowledge in them, in their hearts. And second, God reveals Himself to them, in the heavens. Look inward and you’ll find evidence for God… Look upward and you also see proof of His eternal power… Just as animals have migratory instincts, men and women were also made with an intuitive knowledge of God.
The Creator has implanted in each of us a homing device. It never shuts off until we find our way back to God. Ecclesiastes 3:9 expresses it well – God “has put eternity in their hearts…” A childhood disease left Helen Keller a very young girl without sight, hearing, and speech. Through the tireless work of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen learned braille and eventually how to talk. When Anne tried to tell Helen about God the girl told her she already knew about Him. She just didn’t know His name! There’s an innate knowledge of God in each and every one of us. Look inward and you’ll find evidence for God, but also look upward to the sky and there too you’ll behold the glory of God.
Psalm 19:1 puts it, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.” It’s been said, “Nature was the first missionary.” During the French Revolution, one of the revolutionary leaders bragged to a believing peasant, “We are going to pull down all that reminds you of God.” The faithful Christian replied, “Then pull down the stars!” Just think, you’re sitting on a ball 25,000 miles in circumference. It weighs 6 septillion, 588 sextillion tons – and hangs unsupported in space. Planet Earth spins at 1000 miles per hour, while careening through space at a 1000 miles per minute – yet your Bible doesn’t even fall off your lap. I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough faith to believe that happens by chance.
A world of order necessitates an orderly God. Design requires a designer. To the non biased observer God is an obvious reality, yet despite the enormous weight of the evidence many people suppress the truth.“ They resist it. Try to keep it under wraps. Excuse it away, or write it off, or ignore it. Yet, Paul says the evidence is so overwhelming mankind is without excuse. It’s not that we can’t believe in God, but it’s that we won’t believe. If a person concedes God exists, he’s no longer captain of his own ship. Admit there’s a God and you’re accountable to that God. This is why sinful man suppresses the obvious. Its scandalous for a society which prides itself on tolerance to be tolerant of every ideology except biblical Christianity?
I believe even the most ungodly, ardent atheist knows deep down inside the truth about God, yet he hardens his heart, and “suppresses the truth!” Verse 21, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…” Here’s a warning, it’s possible to know God – even receive His blessings – yet fail to acknowledge the Giver of those blessings. When your life goes well, do you take the credit? Or chalk it up to chance? Some people talk as if God is a non-issue. They take God for granted. “Nor were (they) thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
The world in Paul’s day worshipped idols. They turned birds, beasts, and bumblebees into gods. People today still worship birds and beasts and bees – on the weekends. You can turn anything into an idol – even a bird, a beast, or a bee… Idolatry is giving a greater glory to the creature than to the Creator. It’s placing a matter of secondary importance into a primary position in your life. Paul says people became “futile in their thoughts…” He says, “professing to be wise, they became fools…” Smart people stopped thinking rationally. This is what happens when people suppress the knowledge of God. Once a man rejects the most important thing, God – he tends to fall for anything. It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant people will refuse to believe in God, yet read their horoscope religiously, or visit a palm reader.
College professors who’d never pick up a Bible, and dismiss outright that God became a man, seriously believe we’ve been visited by aliens from another planet. Evolution is another example of “professing to be wise, they became fools.” Despite the absence of missing links – despite the near zero probability of life forming by chance – despite criticisms from their own camp – despite not a single shred of hard scientific evidence to support their theories – they still believe in the evolution of life. The strength of prejudice is amazing. Famed philosopher Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “I’m convinced the theory of evolution… will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible gullibility that it has.”
Remember, once I concede there’s a God, I’m accountable to Him. And modern man doesn’t want to be accountable to anyone, but himself. Darkness has taken over. Jesus said in John 3:18-21
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
The simple Truth
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