Summary: This text addresses the need to either accept God’s truth on God’s terms or deal with the consequences.
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them. (Romans 1:16-32)
In this first chapter of the letter to Roman Christians, Paul makes some very strong statements. To say that he does not mince words would be an understatement. The point of emphasis that I wish us to examine today is verse 25 and the first portion of verse 26. This segment of the text tells us of those who rejected God's truth and suffered the consequences of God 'giving them up', allowing them to experience the consequences of their decisions.
Let's think about that. That pericope suggests that the guard rails of God's grace and mercy may be withdrawn if we choose to reject truth as God defines it. Think about that. That text suggests that if we choose to make God's truth subordinate to our will, then God may exercise the option of taking His hands from us. Think about that. The God of love will allow us to exercise our free will. He will allow us to define our own truth. He will allow us to make our own decisions. But how we choose to navigate our lives impacts the fruit of our labor. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap.
So how do we know the truth of God? Which translation of the bible represents God's truth? Which set of Dead Sea scrolls or Greek manuscripts have God's truth? Which seminary has the best version of God's truth? Did the terrorists of the 9/11/2001, who shouted 'God is great' have God's truth? Which televangelist has God's truth? Will we know God’s truth when we see it?
The broader text says that absent of inspired writings and the invention of the printing press, God's truth was initially revealed though His creation. No need for an earned doctorate, MBA or a law degree. God used nature to teach us His truth. Over the course of 365 days, we see a cycle of seasons – the concept of time passage. Ants work hard in the spring and summer so that they will have resources when they cannot work. Animals and insects engage in reproductive activity. Bees build hives to create places to live in community. Bears hibernate. Predators and prey struggle daily to eat and not be eaten. Creatures are born and eventually die. The flowers are content with their natural beauty. The birds get up early in search of their daily bread. Everything in nature runs cyclically and just trusts that the Creator is in control. The trees sway in praise and the crickets give Him glory; even the firmament shows the handiwork of God. Paul is strongly advocating that the truth of how we are live and respond to God is reflected in nature.