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"Suppressing The Truth In Unrighteousness"
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Note: This message is related to one we shared yesterday titled "The Wrath Of God". We use the same text but today will focus on another part of the passage. We pray that we will "stimulate you to wholesome thinking" (2 Peter 3:1).
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20).
There are a number of suppressant products such as appetite suppressants, cough suppressants, and sleep suppressants. All have the characteristic of suppressing (restraining, blocking or holding back). For instance if I took an appetite suppressant I expect that I would be less hungry and less tempted to eat the wrong food. (That's the easy part; the harder part would be to combine it with healthy diet and exercise.)
But today we write about another suppressant permeating our world that earnest followers of Christ must be aware of and firmly resist. We're speaking of "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness"!
The first several chapters in Romans describe man's depravity, that is, our fallen, sinful nature. Over the next several days we will explore this progression into depravity as described in Romans 1 and 2.
Three responses to the truth are taught in this portion of Scripture:
1) "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (1:18),
2) "exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (1:25) and
3) "are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness" (2:8).
"The truth" The definite article "the" is vital to a proper understanding in these passages. Bible teacher Kenneth Wuest observes, "The truth here is found in the context, the fact of a supreme Being with divine attributes to whom worship and obedience are due, this truth being seen by all men through their observation of the created universe, the latter demanding a Creator to answer for its existence. The human race, possessing this truth, yet holds it down (suppresses) in the sense of refusing to acknowledge its moral implications, and goes on in its sin." It is "not only the truth concerning God but also God’s truth concerning all things, including mankind. This truth is that people are creatures of God and can find true fulfillment only in worshiping and obediently serving God the Creator." (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
This section is hard to preach and equally challenging to summarize in a short message! Today let's just consider the first response to the truth presented in Romans; a powerful phrase that has been a human condition from the time of the Fall but is rapidly increasing in our age: "Men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
"Suppress" translates a Greek word "κατεχοντων" which literally means "to hold down or to quash". It is in the present tense which indicates that ungodly men and women in their unredeemed condition are continually, actively, willfully, deliberately restraining, hindering and withholding the truth about God. Note also the active voice which indicates this is a volitional choice, a choice of their will. The word conveys the picture of putting all one's weight upon something in an effort to restrict it’s free movement, in this case to restrict the free movement of truth which sets men free. (see John 8:32)
For decades the news media behind the Iron Curtain served a very different purpose than in the Free World. While airline accidents in the west got headline coverage, theirs went unreported in the Soviet bloc, as were crime, and crop failures, and nuclear accidents, and anything else that might raise a question about the efficacy of Communism. The truth was suppressed so the populace would not grow aware of their need for a "cure".
This truth is seen by all people through their observation of the created universe, which demands a Creator to answer for its existence. The human race, while possessing this truth, holds it down (suppresses) in the sense of refusing to acknowledge its moral implications, and goes on in sin.
"In unrighteousness" The Precept Austin online commentary makes this observation, "For Paul, fear of eternal condemnation was the first motivation he offered for coming to Christ, the first pressure he applied to evil men. He was determined that they understand the reality of being under God’s wrath before he offered them the way of escape from it. That approach makes both logical and theological sense. A person cannot appreciate the wonder of God’s grace until he knows about the perfect demands of God’s law, and he cannot appreciate the fullness of God’s love for him until he knows something about the fierceness of God’s anger against his sinful failure to perfectly obey that law. He cannot appreciate God’s forgiveness until he knows about the eternal consequences of the sins that require a penalty and need forgiving."
Indeed many "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" but we want to be among those who faithfully accept and boldly proclaim the truth in righteousness. The Lord's truth and declaration of what is right remains a steadfast rock in the constantly shifting sands of that which we are exposed to. We have this truth expressed to us in the Holy Scriptures, which is an absolutely dependable foundation!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have made Your truth known to both the righteous and unrighteous. Your Personhood is evident to all living creatures, though many turn away, ignore, or devise a false theology veiling or hiding the truth. They resist the truth of who You are by their sinful lifestyle and their eternal destiny is doomed. Your invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature has been visible since the time of creation, and we are grateful for Your revelation to all who seek the truth. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our earthly path. Amen.
Additional study note:
Another approach to understanding this portion of Romans is to consider the word "exchanged"
1) They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:23)
2) They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:25)
3) Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. (Romans 1:22)
A Deluding Influence: A powerful portion that is interesting to study in regard to today's message is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Especially these verses, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."
Reality Check: I consider that we are already living in the age when this deluding influence is prevalent. Just a few days Brooksyne and I were listening to the news over the car radio and could hardly believe what we heard. From day to day the worsening of sin and its influence over our lives is disheartening at the very least and even distressing when we see its effect on those whom we dearly love. We must not be swayed but must remain firmly committed to the whole counsel of God, even that which may not please the prevailing attitudes of our day.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Jesus Saves" Video Travis Cottrell
"I Know Whom I Have Believed " Video Chuck Wagon Gang
Interesting discussion regarding church music in relation to conveying truth. Video (10 minutes)
Today's photo of Balance Rock in Utah was taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt. His website is here.
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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