Summary: Today it may not be about golden calves which have been replaced by other things more important than God and our lives spin around them recklessly.
Opening illustration: Video depicting idol worship ~ puts shame to our worship of the living God.
Let us turn to Romans 1 and check out the kind of worship Paul was talking to the Romans about. Apparently this kind of worship was not new, it had gone on for ages and still does. We will also get some insights from God’s Word as to why this is prevalent in the society, even today.
Introduction: The apostle begins to show that all mankind need the salvation of the gospel, because none could obtain the favor of God, or escape his wrath by their own works. For no man can plead that he has fulfilled all his obligations to God and to his neighbor; nor can any truly say that he has fully acted up to the light afforded him. The sinfulness of man is described as ungodliness against the laws of the first table, and unrighteousness against those of the second. The cause of that sinfulness is holding the truth in unrighteousness. All, more or less, do what they know to be wrong, and omit what they know to be right, so that the plea of ignorance cannot be allowed from any. Our Creator’s invisible power and Godhead are so clearly shown in the works he has made, that even idolaters and wicked Gentiles are left without excuse. They foolishly followed idolatry; and rational creatures changed the worship of the glorious Creator, for that of brutes, reptiles, and senseless images. They wandered from God, till all traces of true religion must have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospel prevented it. For whatever may be pretended, as to the sufficiency of man’s reason to discover Divine truth and moral obligation, or to govern the practice aright, facts cannot be denied. And these plainly show that men have dishonored God by the most absurd idolatries and superstitions; and have degraded themselves by the vilest affections and most abominable deeds.
How does worship shift from ‘The Creator’ to the Idol?
1. Rejecting the ‘Truth’ [God] ~ (vs. 18–20)
People’s unrighteousness often leads them to suppress the truth and hold false views of God or the teachings of the Bible because they know that the truth would require that they repent. Why shouldn’t God release His wrath? They have substituted the truth about Him with a fantasy of their own imagination. They have stifled the truth God naturally reveals to all people in order to believe anything that supports their own self-centered life-styles. God cannot tolerate sin because His nature is morally perfect. He cannot ignore or condone such willful rebellion. God wants to remove the sin and restore the sinner – and He is able to, as long as the sinner does not stubbornly distort or reject the truth. But His wrath erupts against those who persist in a sinful lifestyle.
Man is ungodly by nature and by choice. This means that he has no relationship with God. Because He has no relationship with God, his relationship with his fellow man is also destroyed. Man is in open rebellion against the Lord and this is by his own choice! Another sign of man's rebellion is the fact that he knows the truth about God. This will be revealed more clearly in a moment. Even though he knows the truth, he "holds", or "suppresses" the truth. Man willfully suppresses the truth of God so that he may continue in his sins! Mankind is absolutely enslaved to his sin, Ephesians 2:1-3! Beyond that, man stubbornly holds to his sins while he seeks to undermine the truth of God. What is this truth that man suppresses? It is the very revelation of God Himself. You see, God has a strong desire to reveal Himself to men! God wants them to come to know about Him so that they will come to know Him personally. To do this, God manifests Himself to man in millions of ways every day. The purpose is to force man to a moment of decision! God's desire is that every person bow before Him in humble repentance and worship. However, not all will! Therefore, God has given man every conceivable revelation of Himself and has left those who refuse to get right with God without any excuse for their continued state of sin!