Suppressing the Truth- Romans 1:18-25

In this passage Paul tells us how the wrath of God is displayed against those who choose to reject Him and live their lives in opposition to him. He begins, in verse 18, by telling us that the “wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men”. When we think of the wrath of God, we generally think of a future judgment in hell, and while this is certainly an expression of the wrath of God, it is not what Paul refers to here. We know this by his use of the present tense form of the verb revealed here: this is wrath poured out “here and now”, not “there and then”. What must be noted is that this wrath is expressed against “all” the godlessness and wickedness of “men”, even the godlessness and wickedness of believers (more on that in our next post). Paul then tells us how we can recognize when someone is expressing this godlessness and wickedness. Those who live in this way “suppress the truth”. What does Paul mean by this, what is he telling us here? The word suppress is katecho in the Greek, literally to “hold fast”. It may be more properly defined as to “have full and secure possession of” something, and what we have full and secure possession of is “the truth”. What Paul describes for us here is the original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve, who did much more than merely eat an apple. What they did was to decide for themselves what was right or wrong, what was truth or not truth, rather than accept what God said was right and true. What they did was to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. As Paul tells us, in verses 19 and 20, God is the only proper source of truth, for His “word is truth” (John 17:3), and we therefore have no excuse for suppressing the truth. God has put in every human being an innate knowledge that they have a creator, and because God created us, each of us owe Him glory and honor, each of us are obligated to look to Him as our source of truth, as the one who tells us what is right and wrong, true or not true. We are all obligated not to suppress the truth. Paul then proceeds to describe for us the “fruit” of our choice to suppress the truth, which takes place in several “steps”. The first is that our “thinking becomes futile”, or literally becomes “vain”. Now the word vain can mean futile, but it also can mean “proud or puffed up”. In other words, we become our own source of truth (the ultimate expression of pride), our emotions and experiences determine for us what is true and real, rather than God’s revelation determining for us what is true and real. This vain thinking then leads to the second step, a “foolish heart”. We begin to make foolish choices, choices determined by what we feel or see rather than determined by what God says. We begin to think we are wise, when we are truly “fools” (verse 22), for we have chosen the most foolish “exchange” possible, we choose to exchange the one true God for a substitute. Paul tells us here that our God is whoever is our source of truth, we all must look to someone or something as our ultimate source of truth, and we are all faced with the choice of whether or not we will “suppress” the truth by determining truth ourselves, or submit to what God says is true. Those who choose to suppress the truth will then be “given over” (step three) by God to whatever else we turn to (verse 24-31), their emotions and experiences controlling them and becoming “truth” to them. To summarize all of this, then, we “suppress” the truth when we exchange the objective truth of the Word of God for the subjective truth of our own emotions and experiences. When we choose to do so, those emotions and experiences will become our “god” and we will worship and serve them instead. While Paul, in this passage, primarily refers to the behavior of those who do not know Christ, this passage also has application for believers as well, for we can also choose to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, and become enslaved by our own emotions and experiences, living out the fruit of our choice to suppress the truth. Our next post will examine a contemporary example of just such a choice by believers and the “fruit” which that choice produces.

No Comments Christian Philosophy  //  Growing In Grace  //  Nature of Man  //  Scripture and Truth

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