Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Romans 1:25

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

They exchanged the truth for a lie and worshipped and served the created instead of the Creator. I always think here of Creation vs. Evolution: the ultimate truth vs. the ultimate lie. But what Paul is getting at here is that we deny the totality of God, exchanging this truth, Who God really is, for a lie. Anything other than God’s True Self is a lie—a lie that is idolatry. When we think of idolatry, we may consider ancient peoples worshipping the sun and moon or just plain nature. This type of idolatry is still around in astrology, tree huggers, evolutionists, etc. But today, idolatry is seen more by folks who are very uncomfortable with the bothersome god of the Bible, always telling us what we ought to do. People want freedom. So we invent gods that don’t bother us. We use them when we want, and then we put them back on the shelf. That god of convenience, the god who is love, but who would never interfere with what I want to do, I have created in my own image. He doesn’t get in my way, doesn’t tell me what to do or make things difficult. Or we think maybe all religions are spokes on the wheel, where God is at the hub. After all, we are all the same, we are all one, and we all worship the same God, right? Wrong. That is a false god. And yet, that is a very popular teaching today. The Bahai faith manifests that particular belief.

Those are typical ways we make idols. But we also make idols out of worshipping things that are good, but aren’t God—family, for instance. Family is a wonderful thing. But if you see your ultimate significance, safety, fulfillment, and satisfaction as being a husband or a father, or maybe a son, you have made family an idol. No human being can possibly give you the satisfaction that you need as a creature created in the image of God. Only God can do that. When we place all of our significance in a marriage, we are ultimately disappointed, because no human being can fulfill what we need. If we find our hope, our significance, our satisfaction, or our comfort in family, money, work, popularity, appearance, even in who we are other than children of the Living God, then we are idolators. Idolatry is placing anything or anyone before the one true God. And Paul is saying to us, that is what we need to be saved from, because every human being has a sinful nature, a natural inclination to that idolatry.

God is FOREVER PRAISED. AMEN. Paul, greatly troubled by being in the midst of an idolatrous world that dishonors his God and does not worship his God as the one true God, gets to the word, “Creator,” and he just has to pause for a second and say, “He is forever praised.” God’s truth, God’s glory, God’s blessedness are independent of our assessment. God, in order to be blessed doesn’t need to have our approval. God, in order to be true, does not have to have our concurrence. Remember the bumper sticker, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” As far as Paul is concerned, that’s wrong. It should read, “God said it, that settles it, it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not.” God’s glory is not going to be in the least diminished by my refusal to glorify Him; but I will never participate in His glory, if I do not glorify Him. This is ironic: I can refuse to glorify God, and it is not going to decrease His glory one bit, but it will destroy me. If I refuse to give myself to Him, I am in the end destroyed; but if I give myself to Him, and I glorify Him, I find that I get to partake in that glory. Paul wants us to realize that God’s glory is not impacted by our rejection of Him. God will be glorified. The idols will not triumph. The question is this: Will you participate in glory or destruction? Are you prepared for glory or destruction? Romans 9:22-23 “What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath–prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory?” Do you have faith in Christ? Are your sins forgiven by Him? Has He born the wrath of God in your stead? Then He will fill you with His glory.

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