Thursday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 1:18-23

Without Excuse

Having expressed the theme of his letter in 1:16-17 (that God gives a right standing before Him to everyone who trusts in Christ by faith), Paul begins a detailed argument from both Scripture and reason (or just plain common sense) why this MUST be so.  He will begin his argument in chapters 1-3 proving that all stand equally condemned before a righteous and holy God, both Jew and Gentile alike.  He begins with the Gentiles in 1:18-32.

I start by saying that the words in this short passage are some of the most frightful in all of Scripture, for they show us in glaring fashion man’s true condition before God without Christ.  There are three theological presuppositions behind this passage: 1) Man is created in God’s image and thus has a faculty for knowing God implanted within by which he retains an indwelling urge to know God (John Owen, Biblical Theology, 30-31); 2) This capacity for knowing God has been horribly damaged by sin but not entirely destroyed; and, 3) God holds man accountable for his sin, and his wrath against that sin is a present reality and not something only to be experienced in a future judgment.

Paul writes, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”  And why is this?  Because men suppress the truth.  What truth?  That there is a God, which God plainly shows men in His creation.  The heavens declare the glory God (Psalm 19:1), and all creation shouts His name.  We may add that the fact that man is created in God’s image supplies men with a conscience and a moral nature which screams the name of God within himself as well.  But men don’t want to acknowledge God.  It’s not that they can’t—they won’t.  And it is this that darkens the mind and hardens the heart.  They suppress (hold down, obstruct) the truth and do so willfully.  Man prefers his sin over the truth, and so exchanges the truth for lies, lies that allow him to enjoy his sin.  Man exchanges the Creator of nature for nature itself and so worships the creature instead of the Creator—which is to say he worships his sinful self and desires.  And all the while, man thinks himself wise when in truth he has traded wisdom for foolishness.  He will continue to sink in this condition with no way out, for he is a sinner and loves his sin, for people love darkness rather than light (John 3:19).  It’s not that they won’t—they can’t.

And it is this willful imprisonment in their sin that is the expression of God’s just wrath, for being left in our sin is the greatest judgment of all.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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