World English Bible translation
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness, 1:19 because that which is known by God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. 1:21 Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Today’s Scripture begins a section in the Epistle to the Romans that lasts until near the end of Chapter 3. Paul has written that he is ready to preach the gospel of Christ in Rome. This gospel offers to all people a righteousness from God that is by faith. In this section, Paul methodically establishes the need for this righteousness.
As a counterpoint to the righteousness that God offers, man is filled with "all ungodliness and unrighteousness." God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against the unrighteousness of man. God is holy. The wrath of God is the reaction of the holiness of God to the unrighteousness of sinful man. As we are brought closer to God, our understanding and awareness of His holiness is magnified. At first, we have no awareness of God’s holiness at all. But, as we begin to understand the devastation that sin has wrought on the world and in our lives, we can begin to glimpse the holiness of God and how distant it is from our experience and understanding.
Paul states that the wrath of God is revealed against our unrighteousness because God has revealed Himself in His creation and we have been unwilling to receive this revelation and glorify Him. God’s power and His divine nature can be perceived through His creation. The intricate nature of the universe proclaims that its creation is beyond our own efforts. Yet, there is order and beauty that defies chance and the randomness of accidents. The universe was ordered through intelligence on an immense scale and the more that we learn about our world the more impressive that intelligence becomes to us.
Paul writes that even though God reveals Himself through His creation, man neither glorifies God nor gives thanks to Him. Instead, men created idols and gods after their own heart. Man worshipped idols of birds, animals and even attempted to deify mortal men. They professed themselves to be wise and in their culture and sophistication they turned away from the incorruptible and holy God.
"Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness." They would deny God, so God turned them over to their own sin. Instead of striking them down where they stood, instead of cursing them with all manners of plague, God simply allowed them to follow their own sin toward the paths of destruction. He withdrew restraint so that they might rush headlong into the sin which they chose.
They had exchanged the truth about God for a lie. They worshipped and served created beings and created things rather than serving the Creator. So God allowed them the full measure and the complete consequences for their rebellion.
The greatest of all sins is the sin of idolatry. To reject the Creator and replace Him with an object of our own choosing is the first step toward all other sin. When we fail to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our lives, there enters a fatal flaw in our lives. That flaw becomes a wound and that wound becomes a ravaging disease that consumes our soul and spirit. It is as inevitable as the dawn in the morning and the seasons of our lives. We were designed to properly function in the service of our Creator. Anything less makes us less than we should be.
Who do you worship? The Creator revealed in the world or a distorted image of your own making? What does your heart yearn for, the righteousness of God or your own desires?
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