Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
Romans 1:21-25, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.”
Paul’s aim was to show that the whole of humanity is morally bankrupt and nothing they try to do on their own can put them in a favorable light with God. All of mankind is desperately in need of His mercy and pardon.
When we read “They knew God,” remember that there are degrees to the knowledge of God. It doesn’t mean that they had full knowledge of Him as those who have been reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus. Remember that through general revelation people can know God’s power, deity, and glory. This knowledge is not enough to save them, but rather to condemn them, because they don’t live up to it.
Paul wanted us to know that humanity is largely prone to turn away from God because of the original fall into sin. They chose not to worship God but instead worshiped gods of their own making. This only led people to fall deeper into sin. They claimed to be wise, but in reality they became fools. In doing this, they earned God’s judgment. God reacted to the human decision to turn away from Him by giving people over to the consequences of their actions. In doing this, man’s plight only got worse…mankind dove into an ever-increasing cycle of sin.
Paul mentioned three times in this first chapter of Romans that God “gave them over.” Why? Because they exchanged the glory and truth of God for idols and lies. They took pride in their own wisdom for their own self-made images. They believed the lie.
Paul’s response was to echo Jeremiah and Isaiah’s thoughts, “Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them (Jer. 10:14)” and “Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie’ (Isa.44:20).”
Sometimes when we read passages about the worship of idols, we tend to think of folks being backwards and superstitious. Our culture today tends to think: we who live in the western world have advanced beyond that foolishness. We know that science and technology can explain everything; there is no need to rely on images made from wood, clay, or metal.
It’s easy for us to read over passages like these and not see how they relate to us today. But when we stop and make an honest assessment of things, we can see that we, the modern person, are not that different from those Paul is writing about. Think for a moment about our culture’s obsession with wealth, fame, power, and education. We live as if all our problems would be taken care of if we could just have these things. Yes, all will be great; we’ll live on “Easy Street” from now on.
Honestly, how does the pursuit of these things work out for us? How do these things address the ultimate questions of life? Isn’t our pursuit of these temporal things equally foolish and blameworthy? How easily do these things become idols to us? How quickly can we exchange the truth of God for a lie?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.