Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.
In Romans 1, Paul described the knowledge about God that is available through nature. But most people have rejected that knowledge of God. Romans 1:21 says, “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 heart was darkened.” Secularists argue that the idea of God is tainted by scientific investigation. They say, “We’ve looked objectively and can’t find any scientific evidence of God, so that’s why we’ve rejected God.” But the opposite is true. The person who rejects God has not objectively examined the evidence; he has started with the presupposition that there is no God. And he’s looking for evidence to confirm his presupposition.
We think atheists are honestly searching for God and just can’t find Him. You know why an atheist can’t find God? It’s the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman. They don’t want to find a God they have to submit to. That’s what Paul was saying. The unbeliever has received a revelation about the true God, but he’s rejected that revelation. He has replaced the revelation of the true God with the creation of a false God. Romans 1:22-23 says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” If you take a course in comparative religions, you’ll hear about the evolution of religion. The idea is just as man has evolved from an amoeba to a tadpole to a fish to a man, and is getting more complex, so man’s religion is also evolving. That is, man started out as a primate, and he worshipped things and other animals. That’s animism. But as man evolved, he went from animism to polytheism, the worship of many gods. And then he evolved to monotheism, the worship of one god. Now that’s a great idea, except it contradicts history. The opposite of that idea is true.
Paul talked about not the evolution of religion but the devolution of religion. At the beginning, man had knowledge of the one true God. Adam and Eve worshipped God. But because of sin, man began to devolve, and he exchanged the knowledge of the one true God for the worship of idols. He created false religions and replaced the true God with a god of his own making. All false religions are the result of people rejecting the knowledge of the true God and creating their own god. By the way, some professing Christians do the same thing. They say, “I can’t imagine a God who would send people to hell simply for not believing the right things about Jesus.” Or, “I can’t imagine a God who would condemn true love even if it was a same-sex attraction.” The operative word there is “imagine.” People assume that God is the sum of their imaginations about Him, and that is the basis of idolatry. The unbeliever has replaced the revelation of the true God with a creation of his own god. Therefore Paul says he is without excuse.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “What about Those Who Have Never Heard about Jesus?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.