IT BEGINS WITH INGRATITUDE
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21.
Well, at least Paul was not afraid to call a spade a spade!
If he wrote this letter to explain to the Roman believers the righteousness of God in providing salvation, why did he start by painting such a bleak picture of human behaviour? Who is he talking about?
Paul spent half of chapter one, the whole of chapter two and half of chapter three taking pains to show his readers that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is guilty before God. There is not a single righteous person who can escape God’s wrath against sin because of their good behaviour.
What did Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have to say?
First of all, there is a whole group of people who ignore or deny the clear evidence of a Creator, which is written on every leaf and blade of grass and on every star in the sky. They choose to live as though He does not exist; they never give Him the time of the day let alone acknowledge His goodness by thanking Him for the very breath they breathe.
The road to ruin begins with ingratitude. Anyone who fails to acknowledge God by being ungrateful for what they are and have is in danger of taking the road to perverted values and a perverse lifestyle. Ingratitude makes God angry. Ungrateful people are self-centred and discontented. Ingratitude kept the children of Israel who were delivered from slavery in Egypt, out of the Promised Land.
Ingratitude is the first step towards muddle-headed thinking and mental “darkness”. What is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light, and in this case, the light of understanding. When people throw God out of their lives by refusing to acknowledge Him or His goodness, they lose their ability to think straight.
The light of understanding has only one source – God. David knew that, and he wrote about it in the Psalms.
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130.
God is the source of light, truth and understanding. Without Him, we are left to make sense of our lives on our own and, unfortunately for us, we cannot make sense of anything because we have thrown out the “glue” that holds it all together. All we can do is think up nonsense which has not connection with reality. How pathetic we are to think that if we believe what we made up, that makes it true!
There is a terrible downward path to destruction for people who choose to disregard God and go their own way. Unfortunately for them, they do not know that it is not God who chooses their end; they do because their empty and futile lives are only fit for one thing — the rubbish dump. God did not plan their lives to be useless and worthless, and it makes Him angry to see wasted potential when He had so many good things in store for them.
The problem with denying God’s existence is that we have to replace Him with someone or something because we all feel incomplete in ourselves. We all need someone bigger than ourselves on which to depend. When God is no longer there, and we have muddled brains, who or what are we going to put in His place?
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