Chapter 1:18-23 (ESV) - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Question to consider: How is God’s power and divine nature revealed in the things He made?
Paul was eager to preach the gospel to everyone from every walk of life, for he was not ashamed to admit that all people need Christ’s righteousness on their behalf because every one of us had been broken by sin. This eager compulsion to preach the gospel was because all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men has been set to receive the wrath of God. This was revealed from heaven through the prophets in the old testament, and then by God’s Son when He came into the world. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18) Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. The world was already condemned.
Deep down, all people know this, but in their unrighteousness, they suppress the truth. Paul appealed to the natural revelation of God in the things He created. People may foolishly say, “There is no God,” but Paul insisted that everyone throughout history has known God regardless of whether they chose to honor or acknowledge Him.
Rather than submit to the one true God who made heaven and earth, people made idols of created things for themselves to worship because we inherently serve something. As we continue through Paul’s explanation for why people need the gospel in order to be saved, notice that he used the past tense. In this first part, Paul described the origin of idolatry.
Of course, this does not mean that we don’t have idolatry today. Once that idea came about, it never went away. Whether people worship man-made gods, themselves, their families, their jobs, or their things, it is all idolatry. It is all meant to satisfy our longing to be connected to our creator but tainted by our desire to rebel against Him.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for revealing Yourself to the world through Your creation. Help us to see Your majesty on display and also realize that though we are just a tiny part of it, You have demonstrated Your love for us through the rescue mission of Christ. Amen.