THEY EXCHANGED THE TRUTH FOR WHAT?
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served the created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:22-25.
What is the next downward step after ingratitude? Idolatry!
What is idolatry? In its most glaring form, it is the worship of man-made gods. Man in hisSINFUL simplicity or ignorance gives created things (or even dead people) the credit for having the power to affect their lives. The problem with this kind of idolatry is that human beings cannot conceive of a god who is any different from themselves. So, the gods they create are cruel, unpredictable and downright wicked and are motivated by evil spirits who must be persuaded not to harm their worshippers. Imagine that!
But there is a far more subtle form of idolatry that is rife in the world. We may look down on people who are foolish enough to put their faith in inanimate creatures (anyone in his right mind knows that a block of wood or stone has not power to intervene in a person’s life, even if that object has the shape of a creature), but behind the worship of that idol is the determination to do whatever they want. So, who is the real god? They are!
Have you noticed how sexual promiscuity or perversion is associated with idol worship? It was very much so in Paul’s day. Many of the so-called gods were conceived in lust and were worshipped in sexual orgies, temple prostitution and even worse, publicly having intercourse with animals. Take the “red light” district of Caesarea Philippi in northern Israel where the goat-god Pan was worshipped in orgies involving goats.
Why is there such a focus on illicit sex as a form of worship? Paul gives us the answer. God! God created man in His own image. Marriage was the first human institution after creation. Why? Because the permanent union between a man and a woman in a loving relationship is the best reflection of God’s nature. God is three-in-one, three Persons in a union of love and oneness in their nature and purpose.
God made Adam male and fashioned the female from a part of his body. He separated the woman from Adam and then brought her back to him to be united with him in a sexual union that mirrored the oneness they were to express in their lives together; one man and one woman for life. They were to satisfy each other’s needs through their mutual submission and the intimacy of their lives together. Paul said that this was God’s way of showing the world what Christ’s union with His church should look like.
Where do we see, in the sexual “freedom” that is destroying the world, the picture of God’s nature that marriage was intended to reflect? Satan, in his desire to get the attention and to be worshipped, has distorted one of God’s most beautiful gifts to man and, in the process, brought destruction and chaos into the life of every person who lives that way.
But why did this happen? Paul said it was an exchange. We can’t have God’s way and our way. So, because people want their way, they threw God out and replaced Him with themselves, creating gods like themselves, so that they could do what they wanted in the name of religion. Religion is a cover-up for whatever people want to do.
Some people thirst for power, so they subscribe to a religion which gives them the power to force others, even family members, to do it their way or face persecution or death. Others have perverted sexual appetites which they satisfy in the name of “worship”, but behind it all, is God who, by giving them what they lust for, is actually bringing judgment on them.
Have you ever thought about this? God is so just that He allows people to do exactly what they want, and in the doing, they bring the consequences of their actions down on themselves. Now that’s fair, isn’t it? God has not written His warnings in small print. He always tells the whole truth. Satan is the one who hides the consequences of his hideous suggestions until it’s too late to go back. Then he packs on the guilt and shame!
So why do people make the exchange? Jesus told us why? “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19, 20.
What better way to hide evil behaviour? In their religion!
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