Summary: The willful rejection of God from His due place in life leads persons who were created to worship their Creator into worshiping the creation.
ROMANS 1: 21-23
THE REASONING OF FALLEN MAN
[1 Corinthians 1: 18-31]
Our text continues to expose the dark side of human nature as the reasoning for God's settled wrath against fallen man continues to build. Mankind's suppression of the truth is seen in their rejecting the clear imprint of God within their being (v. 19). Their suppression of truth continues in their rejecting the clear evidence of God which is explicit His creation (v. 20).
Refusing to act on the clear knowledge of God leads man away from the truth. Man was designed and created to worship God. Once God is belittled, man then perverts the worship of God into idolatry. The willful rejection of God from His due place in life leads persons who were created to worship their Creator into worshiping the creation.
I. MAN'S REJECTION, 21.
II. MAN'S RATIONALIZATION, 22.
III. MAN'S RELIGION, 23.
The answer as to why mankind is without excuse for rejecting God (v.20) continues to be answered in verse 21. "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish (undiscerning) heart was darkened."
Man knows of God through God's general revelation (1:19-20) of Himself. Each and every person born possesses some knowledge of God but they rebel against this knowledge. God therefore is justified in His wrath and judgment because of man's willful rejection of Him. Although man is innately or inherently conscious of God's existence and power, he willfully chooses to reject that knowledge. Man has knowledge of God but does not act in accordance with that knowledge. Had men acknowledged God they would glorify Him as the only true God and become thankful for all the blessings they daily received from His provision.
Paul mentions four ways, in verse 21, in which men exhibit their rejection of God and suppression of the truth. First, man fails to honor God "as God." This refusal is at the core of man's pride and fallenness. It has been stated that the worst sin in the universe is failure to give God "honor" or glory (doxaz ). Above all else God is to be glorified. To glorify or honor God is to exalt Him, to recognize Him as supremely worthy of honor, and to acknowledge His character and attributes. The Westminister shorter catechism declares "the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Man was created to glorify God (Lev. 10:3; 1 Chron. 16: 24-29; Ps. 148; Rom.15: 5-6) and to fail to do so is the ultimate affront to his Creator.
The normal recognizing and honoring God for His character and deeds is what fallen man refuses to do. Millions upon millions of people have lived in the midst of God's wonderful world and yet proudly refused to recognize Him as its creator and praise His majesty and glory.
The second way man rejects God is that they refuse to "give" Him "thanks" for His gracious provision. Although God is the source of every good thing men possesses, life, air, rain, sun, water, and other natural blessings fall on the just and unjust alike but natural man fails to thank Him.
A small boy visited his friend's home for DINNER. When the youngster sat down at the table, he bowed his head and waited for someone to give thanks for the meal. The others at the table, however, began passing the food. The boy looked up and said, "You guys are just like my dog. You just dig right in!"
The apostle Paul told Timothy that all food is to be received with appreciation to God (1 Tim. 4: 4-5). Food has been given to us for our nourishment and enjoyment. Our expression of thanks sanctifies our food by acknowledging that what we eat is a gift from God. For what does it say about our society when people sit down to a full table, while pictures of starving masses flicker on their TV screens, and never bow their heads to express appreciation for their food?
A word of thanks is always appropriate for those of us who know that our daily bread comes not only from the grocery store but ultimately from God. Gratitude is a mark of godliness.
The third consequence of failing to honor God and give Him thanks is men have become "futile in their speculations." The word "futile" indicates a loss of touch with reality. They disconnected with God and as a result disconnected with the greatest reality in the universe and thus with the meaning and purpose of life. Only the reality of "God" gives true meaning, purpose, and understanding to everything else. By refusing to honor God and let His truth guide their life, men are dooming themselves to a futile quest for wisdom through human speculations which can only end in false conclusions.