Suppressing the Truth (Part Two)- Romans 1:18-26

In our previous post, we examined Romans 1 and Paul’s contention that “godlessness and wickedness” are expressed in what is known as “suppressing the truth”. We then saw that to suppress the truth means basically to determine for yourself what is true or not rather than submit to what God says is true, to determine truth according to our own subjective emotions and experience rather than according to the objective truth of the Word of God. While Paul’s primary reference in Romans 1 is to unbelievers, the question also arises as to whether it is possible for believers to “suppress the truth” as well. In this post, we will examine just such a case, as well as look at its results. This post is not intended to be critical of any particular group, but merely to present a contemporary example of the suppression of the truth within the church and its effects on the church as a whole. We will now look at the example of the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. We begin, then, with the objective revelation of the Word of God. In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul tells believers that “we were all baptized by one spirit into one body”. The “we” here refers to believers, and we first note Paul’s use of the word “all” here. There are no exceptions to “all”, every believer is included in the group Paul refers to here. We then note Paul’s use of the past tense here. The verb translated “were baptized” is the aorist indicative of baptize. The aorist indicative is the Greek equivalent of the English past tense, and what Paul is plainly telling us here is that every believer receives the baptism of the Spirit at the moment of salvation. There are some within the church, however, who will ask other believers if they have received the “baptism of the Spirit”, which in their minds is another way of asking “Do you speak in tongues?”, which is considered evidence of receiving the baptism of the spirit. The assertion is if that you have not had the experience of speaking in tongues, you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We now must recall what it means to suppress the truth, and as we do so, we see that this is precisely what is being done in this instance. The truth of whether or not someone has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is determined not by the objective revelation of the Scripture (which clearly states that all believers receive the baptism of the Spirit at salvation), but rather by their own subjective experiences. As we see in Romans 1, they are then “given over” to their experience and begin to “worship and serve” their experience, they worship the gift rather than the giver. This then results in the experience becoming a source of pride. Those who have had the experience are somehow seen as “superior” to those who have not, as more “spiritual” than those not having the experience of speaking in tongues, thus bringing division within the church. Some even go so far as to equate speaking in tongues with salvation, asserting that those who have not received the subjective experience are not really saved. So am I condemning speaking in tongues here? Absolutely not! It is clearly listed in the Bible as a gift of the Spirit, and Paul does not forbid it, so we should not either. What I am condemning is taking the gift of speaking in tongues and making it a condition of salvation or a measure of spirituality. According to the very next chapter in 1 Corinthians, the true measure and evidence of spirituality is love. The entire context of Paul’s discussion in this section of 1 Corinthians is the use of spiritual gifts, that they are intended to be used in love, used to build up others, not ourselves. So what is the ultimate point in all of this? It is that believers can also “suppress the truth”. Believers can also choose to determine what is true based upon their own subjective emotions and experiences rather than based in the objective revelation of the Word of God. When we choose to do so, we bring strife and division within the church, threatening the unity which the New Testament calls us to, seeing fellow believers as opponents rather than co-workers, and fighting against one another rather than against our real enemy.

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