Yesterday we talked about the lie of my truth. Today I want to talk about THE truth. To do that, we need to turn to Romans 1 and work our way through a particularly dense portion of Scripture. Let’s read through it and then break it down as best we can in the time we have today.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 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. 21 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. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 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.
Romans 1:18-25 (NIV)
First, unrighteousness suppresses the truth. Righteousness simply means living rightly. To live rightly is to live in accordance with God’s reality. The standards God has given us perfectly correspond to the very real world He created. Anything that is contrary to God’s righteous standards is a lie. That sounds really cut and dry. It might even sound legalistic. But it’s not, it’s simply reality. When we embrace unrighteousness, we are suppressing the truth. It’s either truth or unrighteousness. You can’t ride two horses with one saddle. You can’t serve two masters.
Second, what can be known about God is plain to us. In other words, the visible world around us displays God’s invisible attributes, especially his eternal power and divine nature. How do we see God’s divine nature? In the things that have been made.
This is why I love science. Scripture and science are not at odds with each other. Science just hasn’t caught up to scripture yet. The more scientists learn about how the universe works, the more science supports God’s design. By all means, investigate creation; you WILL find God there. That is, if you are really looking for the truth. More on that in a minute.
Third, refusing to honor and give thanks to God results in the darkening of our hearts. In other words, true enlightenment can only be found in Christ. There is no such thing as enlightenment apart from God’s truth. There is only darkness there. The only way to find the truth is to be teachable. If you’re humble and honor God, you’ll discover God’s ultimate reality. If you’re proud and think of yourself as a God, you’ll be a fool.
Fourth, we become like what we worship. I am nearly positive that Paul is referencing the idea found in Jeremiah in verse 23. Jeremiah 2:5 says, “5 Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?” What Paul and Jeremiah are getting at here is, we become like what we worship. If we worship our creator, who made us in His image, we become like him, transforming with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor 3:18). If we worship things of this world or ourselves, we devalue ourselves. Our worth and value are found in who we worship. The only reason we have value is because the One who created us is valuable.
Fifth, God gave us over to our desires because we exchanged the truth for the lies of this world. The reason things are the way they are, the reason this world is so messed up is because of us. The reason things are getting worse in the world right now is because we are worshipping ourselves and our man-made ideas rather than God. The reason we dishonor our bodies, the reason we do despicable things with our flesh is because we have so devalued ourselves by believing the lies of the darkness instead of the revelation of the light.
So, what does all this mean? Like I tried to share yesterday, the truth of God is not a burden, it’s a blessing. Yes, it absolutely is restrictive. But the restrictions are not oppressive they are life-saving. Just like a seat-belt in the car is a restriction and kids hate to wear them, if you find yourself in an accident you discover that the restrictive nature of the seatbelt saved you.
Like we read yesterday, when Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light…” (Matt 11:28-30) He is not enslaving us to a system that restricts us from being able to experience joy, he is locking us into a relationship with Himself that will keep us from wandering off from the path of life.
The truth is there. Just as science has shown, there is a system to how the world works. There are many eco-systems that God intricately designed. By inspecting these elements you can see evidence for God. You can see reality, you can discover truth. By looking at the woodpecker who’s skull is not crushed by the force, but investigating the role the house-fly plays in the decomposition of materials back into dust, by investigating how a plant converts light into energy through the process science calls photosynthesis, you can see God.
But, beware. Even though much of what we know as science began within the realm of Christianity, for hundreds of years now, science has sought to prove that God doesn’t exist. Many scientists operate from a flawed premise that everything is an accident. This, by the way, is one of the things that God has turned us over too. God wants us to come to Him and choose to love Him, He will not force us. Sometimes, we have to be released to our own destructive devices. And, from my vantage point, this is exactly what has happened with science in many regards. God has turned them over to the futility of their thinking and the darkness of their hearts.
This is why we must be careful. When your assumptions are that God doesn’t exist, that all this is an accident and human beings are the masters of their own destiny – that flawed thinking influences the way you see everything. And I mean everything. Of course, we believe in “my truth” because science has told us that we are accidents. If you’re an accident and there is no higher purpose to any of this, then, yeah, it’s a free for all. No one is constrained by a higher order of things, everyone is free to do as they choose. The only rule is survival of the fittest.
This is a warning the Apostle Paul makes several times: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
He says the same thing in Ephesians 4:11-16
Eph 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Eph 4:11-16 NIV
We have to be established in the truth in order to withstand the crashing waves of relativism. The foundation of truth is solid as a rock, but you have to be standing on it. With the abundance of ideas that are spewed in our direction each and every day, it would easy to find ourselves deceived by empty philosophies being propagated by people opposed to God.
Ultimately, this is the strategy of the devil. His two primary tactics are ideas and isolation. If he can get you thinking about a lie all by yourself, you’re susceptible to his attacks. Revelation 12:9 says that satan deceives the whole world and Proverbs 14:12 reminds us “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Therein lies the difference. The endgame of the enemy, much like Thanos in the Marvel movie is to death and destruction. Except, Thanos is more merciful than satan, because satan wants to destroy us all. But the endgame of Jesus is life everlasting. It is eternal relationship in the presence of God himself.
A life built on Jesus is a life built on the truth. Jesus is the ultimate reality of the Father for every man. Jesus is God’s desire for you and me. Jesus is The truth and a life built on Him will withstand any storm.
So then, how do we stand on the truth? That’s tomorrow. See you then!