Romans chapter 1 talked about unrighteous people willfully denying God and turning to idolatry. It made these points:
1. God’s glory is all too obvious looking at the universe.
2. Absolutely no excuse for not knowing God’s glory.
3. Unrighteous people lie and deny their knowledge of God.
4. Instead of glorifying God the creator, they glorified image of the created.
(Romans 1:18–25 NKJV) “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Point number one to three applies to many people today. What about point 4, do we have idolatry today? Answer is no, at least not in the form familiar to Apostle Paul in the ancient world. Does the essence of idolatry carry on today? We will have to dissect what idolatry is.
In the ancient world, idolatry and pagan worship was common. In today’s world, idolatry is relatively rare. In the ancient world, people look at wonders of the universe and conclude there is god out there. In our scientific world, we look at the wonders of the universe, and with advance instruments, we can measure the universe. With theories and logic, we and predict celestial events. We know what cause eclipse and phase of the moon.
By using our logic, we can figure out how the created universe works. As we gain more knowledge, we understand a larger scope of the universe. Eventually, with enough time, we may be able to understand perhaps the vast majority of the universe. This universe that we understand is the created universe. God created the laws of physics. Therefore, we are studying the created and not the creator. We then are in awe and wonder for the created rather than the creator. So who do we give glory to? We give glory to “mother nature”. We are also in awe of what science has taught us, we learn all the intricacies of nature from the Milky Way to the electron. We in a way are doing what Paul in Romans said; we glorify the created rather than the creator. We use science to exclude God and our idolatry is giving glory to science which is the created and not the creator who is blessed forever. Amen.
What is Idolatry?
Obvious fact: Everywhere you look, you are treated to the most awesome amazing display of engineering and work of art. What you see simply blows the mind. Agnostics, atheist, theist and any other “ists” wholehearted agree the universe is amazing.
Here comes the problem: You see this amazing wonderful display of the universe. Who do you give credit to? Paul said is impossible not to know the answer. Is not a matter of figuring out who created the universe. Is more a matter of admitting God created the universe. If your answer is anything other than God, then you are worshiping an idol. The idol can be a false god, an object, theory of evolution, mother nature, science or anything you give credit to for existence of the universe.
Consequence of Idolatry
(Romans 1:26–32 NKJV) “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
There is a parallel between man’s response to God and God’s response back to man. Man refuse to give God glory; therefore, God takes away man’s dignity. God made man in his image to be holy and pure. God keeps us upright. When he takes away his protection, we are left to defile ourselves in debase and shameful acts. Why is homosexuality shameful? It is God who judge. We may think all we want that it is perfectly normal, but God ultimately say is shameful. When God’s glory is revealed, no person can stand up to him. Pride of the world disappears. Our filth that remains stuck to us is shown to be what it is, glaring faults.
God provided male and female for our use. Sex is a brilliant creation for our pleasure. Only God knows how to give us pleasure of sex beyond our imagination. God said man and woman shall have sex. If you refuse to acknowledge God, then it follows that sex can be between man and a man or woman and woman. Without acknowledgement of God, there is no shame in it anymore. Those who practice such things not only do it themselves, but approve of those who practice them. Christians too are influenced.
Christians are taught by the world to believe there is nothing wrong with same sex relationship. Oftentimes a very nice person, kind and gentle will tell Christians you can be gay and be perfectly nice like me. Christians do not want to make an enemy of someone so nice, so they accept what this very nice person said. Many Christians have convinced themselves that God approves of same sex relationship as well. That is in obvious contradiction to the Bible starting from the first book on creation of man. You cannot miss God’s intent for man and woman. Acceptance of gays is considered the practical modern way to live. Common logic is God made gay people that way. Christians also don’t want to be labeled as “judgmental” or outdated. Christians therefore are using worldly logic to understand (or misunderstand) God. Is hard enough, and the road is narrow enough to seek after God. You just added another layer of road block to fellowship with God. Note: Understanding homosexuality is not approved by God is very different than to discriminate against the gays. One is for you and you only. It is your conviction on the character of God. The other is how we treat our neighbor. We have neighbor who has had an abortion, had an affair, been divorced, gay, lied, cheated or even stolen from you. We are to treat them all as our neighbor. When the world tells you that you must “accept the gays”, be careful exactly how you interpret that. Many people will blur the line. Accepting them as your neighbor is different than changing your conviction on God’s character that is being revealed to you. Don’t contradict what God has revealed to you.