Summary: Idolaters worship the things God made rather than God Himself. Is there anything you feel you cannot live without? Is there any priority greater than God? Do you have a dream you would sacrifice everything to realize? Does God take first place? Do you wor
Opening illustration: Video depicting idol worship (downloaded and edited to reduce duration) ~ 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.
Why did / does worship shift from ‘The Creator’ to the creatures?
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 sinning.
Does anyone have an excuse for not believing in Christ? God’s Word has an answer which is an emphatic ‘No.’ God has revealed what He is like in and through His creation. Every person, therefore, either accepts or rejects God. Don’t be fooled. When the day comes for God to judge our responses to Him, no excuses will be accepted. If people suppress God’s truth in order to live their own way, they have no excuse. They know the truth, and they will have to endure the consequences for ignoring it. Begin today to give your devotion and worship to Him.
Application: Make sure you are not pursuing a fantasy rather than the true God. Don’t suppress the truth about Him merely to protect your own life-style.
Illustration: Consequences for rejecting God have always been disastrous. Every time the Israelites rejected God and worshiped other gods, they ended down in a hole. Every nation or community that has rejected their creator doesn’t last long. The crumbling can be heard at a distance. Many nations and civilizations have just disappeared because of this grievous sin. One of the greatest examples we have in God’s Word ~ the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
2. Embracing ‘Worldly Wisdom’ ~ (vs. 21 – 23)
Paul goes on to insist that men cannot plead ignorance of God. They could have seen what God is like from His handiwork. Their rejection brings upon them the wrath of God, which is the inevitable punishment of sin. In the world we can see God. It is Paul’s argument – and it is completely valid – that if we look at the world ‘suffering follows sin.’ Break the laws of agriculture – the harvest falls. Break the laws of architecture – your building collapses. Break the laws of health – your body suffers. Paul was saying, “Look at the world! See how it is constructed! From a world like that you know what God is like.” The sinner is left without excuse.