In the beginning of Romans chapter 1 the Apostle Paul introduces himself and explains the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see in verses 16 and 17 a very powerful statement about Paul’s position regarding Jesus Christ; 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
So once Paul gets past the hi how are ya, wish I could be there, I’m a Christian and proud of it and want us to share the Gospel message, Paul cuts directly to the chase as it were in verses 18 through 23.
Romans 1:18-23… 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.
Many people who oppose Christianity like Atheists ask how do you know that God is real, what is the proof? Or another great Christian stopper, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” What they do not realize is that in their attacks against Christianity and God, they are basically making God’s case for Him.
The great Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote this in his book “Mere Christianity” on page 45 “(As an Atheists) my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
Our response should be; by what standard does the other person measure their claims against? Because, if they measure their claims or assertions based on morality, then they are arguing for God’s laws.
Paul does not pull any punches regarding sinners and what they can expect. He is giving the Romans, Jew and Gentile alike and us the answer to the question why do we need Jesus Christ and salvation. Paul is now going to tell us why humanity is in so much trouble. What do you think of when you hear the phrase “The Wrath of God,” maybe something violent, lightning and thunder, earthquakes, massive tidal waves, the book of Revelations, stuff like that? Do you think of things yet to come on the future? Verse 18; For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Is this warning a onetime thing for Paul? Nope, Paul shares this important topic in Ephesians and Colossians. The Apostle John also covered the subject in chapter 3 verse 36 of the book of John “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides (present tense) on him."
Wrath is a bad thing; meaning a fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire, vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger. Do we have a record of God venting His wrath on the world?
Genesis 6:6-7; And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."
Paul is telling us that mankind is in real trouble without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And what’s more, we do not have an excuse. You’ve heard the old adage: ignorance of the law is no defense. All citizens are charged with knowing the law? Well where do you think modern man came up with that idea? Atheists and others who deny God still understand this important thought. Men know what is legal and illegal, what is right and wrong, WHY? Because God wrote it in our basic operating system. But how does man try to avoid the truth? Since the 1700’s Satan through man has been using evolution and millions and billions of years to suppress the truth of God.
And that leads us right into verse 19: “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” That is why even so called heathen people, people who have never heard of God or Jesus or the Ten Commandants know in their soul that there is right and wrong. They know that there is something greater than they are. That is why every people group worships some type of God, even if they are deep in an African jungle, an island lost to the world or the Australian outback, people worship some type of God.
For the law of man, some lawyers say that “Even though ignorance of the law is not a defense, your specific lack of intent can be a defense. In order to convict you of an offense, the state does not have to prove that you were aware of a specific law, but they are generally required to prove that you intended the conduct that resulted in the violation.” That quote is from free legal advice.com. That advice might work for man’s laws, but it is lousy advice for God’s Law. That is because as Paul says, we cannot be ignorant of God. Look at verse 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,”
Why do you think it is that the Creation account is so vehemently and relentlessly attacked? Think about Genesis chapter 1; In the beginning God created And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, And God saw and God, Then God said, Thus God made, And God called, And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
God’s infinite power is seen in everything because everything was created by Him. Think about this. What is the basic point that Satan attacks regarding God? It is God’s infinite nature. By reducing God’s nature to the finite, then God becomes something finite and then there is no universal standard that can be the basis for standardized truths or morals. So we have “Relativism” where each person gets to decide what is right and what is wrong. Have you heard the line that there are no absolutes? Do you realize that that statement is in itself an absolute?
This is why, since Satan convinced Adam and Eve that they could be like God, that mankind has known deep down in his soul that there is a God. What did Adam and Eve do after they sinned when God came into the garden? They hid. Why? Because they knew they had sinned. God deniers are like every other denier in the world. There are people who deny that the Holocaust ever took place despite the totality of evidence. There are deniers that the world was ever completely covered with water as indicated by Noah’s flood despite the evidence, there are deniers that Jesus died and rose the third despite the evidence. No matter how irrational your denial might be, if you really don’t want something to be true in your life, than just deny it. We see it all the time in many ways. However, just because you deny the truth, reality or proof of something does not make it any less real. Saying that God does not exist, no matter how many billboards you put up is not going to make it true. Even Christians who deny that God could have created in six days are not facing the reality of God’s Word.
Do you realize that in the beginning man knew God? Man (Adam) walked and talked with the Almighty Creator. Knowing about God is not a case of evolutionary discovery. Man did not evolve from lower life forms and then decide that he needed some type of deity to worship. How could that idea have evolved in humankind when their ancestors, the apes felt no need to worship anything? In fact apes and every other animal act on instinct. They mate, they kill, they have no remorse, they don’t feel guilty. The lion that runs down, kills and then eats the Gazelle, does not later pace around crying woe is me, I feel guilty about what I have done, that poor creature did nothing to me. How then is it that when we became mankind, that we knew instinctively that there was right and wrong, good and evil? Because mankind has known about God from the very beginning.
However, knowing about God is not enough, John 3:19 and 20; 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. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
There is a necessary addition to man’s knowing of God and that is having a personal relationship with God which is not possible without a redeemer. But wait, as they say there’s more; Paul continues his indictment in verse 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.”
Here is where we can see the evolution of non-believers such as atheists. “Men enthrone human reasoning and dethrone divine revelation.” This is from “Exploring Romans by John Phillips.” Once again we circle back to the first eleven chapters of Genesis. In this case Genesis chapter 3 verse 5; “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." You will be like God! And mankind has fallen for that line ever since. Man makes the rules; man decides on meaning, man knows the way, man, man, man. But the way of man is the way of Satan and the way of Satan leads directly to hell. Every human knows in their heart that God exists, even Atheists who claim there is no God, know in their hearts that God exists.
Things have not changed all that much in the modern age. This is one of the opening paragraphs to the Humanist Manifesto from 1933. As I read this, think of what Satan told Eve about being like God and having it your way…
“Today man's larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation.”
I want to return for a moment to Atheists. Have you ever wondered why they are always in attack mode? Why they work so tirelessly to have any semblance of God removed from everywhere? Atheists say that there is no God. So if that is true, why are they always in “high dungeon” which means; a fit or state of indignation. Why do they care? Why spend all their time and effort to prove that the God of Christianity does not exist? And that should tell you all you need to know. Atheists don’t believe that there is no God, just that there is no Christian God. Have you ever heard of Atheist campaigns to remove Islam from anywhere, Buddhism or any other religion from the earth? NO, you have not. Do you think there might be a reason for that? Satan does not care about false religions, in fact, as far as Satan goes, the more false religions the better in order to keep people separated from the one true God. You might consider this another proof of the God of Christianity.
I have another word for people like Atheists and those who actively work to deny the existence of God before the world. This word is not original with me, but I think it covers a lot of territory. I call these types of people Hateists. Some of you might say, well pastor Bill, isn’t it hateful to describe and label these people as Hatiests? Well, these are people who hate God and Christianity so much that they are consumed in their efforts to stop any and all vestiges of Christianity. How is hate defined? intense hostility and aversion, extreme dislike or antipathy : loathing, an object of hatred; This about covers the continuing battle against Answers in Genesis’ Ark Encounter and Creation Museum theme parks. Why should people who deny the existence of God care if a group wants to build a big boat in Kentucky? But they can’t leave it alone; Because hateists know in their very souls that God exists and in their denial and hatred will do anything they can to prohibit the Gospel from being shared with God’s most precious creation…man. And why should that bother us, the Christians? Because their lost souls concern God, their lost souls should concern us.
Paul explains to us why people like this act like they do in verses 22 and 23; “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.”
This is from the “Believers Bible Commentary” and it is so on point regarding verse 22 and 23, that I cannot say it better. “As men grew more conceited over their self-styled knowledge, they plunged deeper into ignorance and nonsense. These two things always characterize those who reject the knowledge of God – they become insufferably conceited and abysmally ignorant at the same time.” I would say that about covers those people who deny God yet spend all their time attacking the God they say does not exist.
This disbelief of God and thinking that man is wise is not evolution but devolution. As man grew farther and farther away from God, you’ll notice that he did not leave God all together, rather he created new gods to worship. Even though evolution is called a science, it requires faith to believe that it happened. Faith is a belief and that is a definition of religion.
Dictionary.reference.com defines religion as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
This devolution of worship has led to the devolution of ethics and morals as well. As man has chosen to worship animals, it cannot be a surprise that he has started to act more like them, acting out our more animal instinct than morality. Paul is not done, with his indictment of mankind and their sin nature. However at least for today we are.
How should you respond to what I have shared today? You should be saddened. You should feel the need to go and share the truth about the God that these type of people say does not exist. We need to glorify God and thank Him for caring enough about us to sacrifice His only Son on our behalf. This is not original with me, but as we tell people about the good news, if they reject it, we are also compelled to share with this about the bad news of rejection.
Remember, were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we would all be not only indicted of sin against God, but we would also be sentenced and condemned. However, if you are here today and have not accepted the gift of forgiveness and eternal life with Christ then maybe you should think about changing that situation……