Christianity & Culture Sunday School: Session 3
Romans 1: 19 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Paul says that since the beginning of the world, it has been obvious that God is totally awesome. He is the most brilliant, most wonderful, most powerful, most glorious. And we, His created people, have known this and resented it. Basically people want to come up with their own glory for themselves. In short, we want to be god.
Failure to Worship
Paul says that the path to turning away from God’s glory begins with not glorifying God. And this is manifest in a more general failure to be thankful. People don’t wake up one day and decide to become idolaters. They don’t decide to mold a golden image and burn incense to it. They don’t typically grow up dreaming of becoming prostitutes or homosexuals. People make a million decisions that lead them down one road or another. And the story arch is either one where God is worshipped and glorified or not. You can tell the difference by the gratitude test. When you worship God as the Creator, Lord, Savior of the universe, you see the universe as His gift. When you don’t worship God, you resent the universe as trying to ruin your life.
The first sign of idolatry is stupidity. People who look at the universe and then decide to make up their own story, their own reality, are insane. And it shouldn’t come as any surprise when they come up with more stupid ideas: If I wear this immodest clothing it will let me witness to more boys. If I watch this filthy movie, it will help understand my culture better. If I spend countless hours on Facebook, I will be wise. Not only do idolaters get stupid, they name their stupidity “wisdom” because they learned it in a song by Taylor Swift.
Related to this is the fact that lies are necessary to be this foolish. There are lies wound through the whole rebellion, but where it might be easier to hide whether you worship the Triune God or not (initially), you have to explain why you’re looking at porn, dressing like hooker, angry at your parents, cheating in school, not reading your Bible, etc. But the most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves and convince ourselves to believe. And we do this by believing that the glory we make for ourselves will be better than the glory that God can give. But it’s always a downgrade: changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image of something we found in the corruptible creation. It’s always trading a glory that lasts for a glory that melts away and corrupts.
Perhaps the most terrifying conclusion in this passage is the fact that at some point, God sometimes gives people over to the uncleanness and lusts. When people beg to eat dirt, and proudly proclaim that dirt is way better than steak, eventually God gets tired of the lies, and says, “Fine, you want dirt, you get dirt.”