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Today we expect to pass by the iconic Hershey smokestacks in Hershey, PA
"Suppressing The Truth In Unrighteousness"
Note: Today's message is longer than usual.
Message summary: Many "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" but we want to be among those who faithfully accept and boldly proclaim His truth in righteousness.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).
Our country and world continues to slide into deeper depravity as the moral restraints of Scripture are abandoned in haste. On Sunday our pastor prayed about this in a very thoughtful way, at one point petitioning God on behalf of our country with these words:
"Father, Your Word urges us that supplications and prayers and intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings, and for all who are in high positions...Bring healing, bring peace, and bring transformation to the United States of America. We believe that the change and the transformation that this country needs can only come from You. It can only come from the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so I pray for our leaders that know You; that they will lead, live and govern according to that truth. And I pray for other leaders that they would hear the gospel, that they would believe it, and they would live by it, and then share it with others."
Especially meaningful when I listened and joined from my heart was the phrase, "So I pray for our leaders that know You; that they will lead, live and govern according to that truth." How we need bold leadership to stand up for truth and righteousness and against evil!
A recent exchange in the US House of Representatives poignantly demonstrates this. Last week Greg Steube, a congressman from Florida, whom I had never heard of before seeing the video, made a powerful plea to return to God and His ways in response to the horrific and misnamed "equality act" which was being considered. Steube clearly seems to be a student of Scripture and of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of our country. (See below for link to video.)
Astoundingly, in one of the most evil demonstrations of willful rejection of God's ways I can imagine, another congressman rebukes him by stating "Mr Steube, what any religious tradition ascribes as God's will is no concern of this congress".
Contrast this statement with President George Washington who, in his address of September 19, 1796, which was given as he prepared to leave office, spoke about the importance of morality to the country's well-being: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. . . . Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue?"
Normally we use the word "suppress" in regard to a product such as appetite suppressants, cough suppressants, and sleep suppressants. All have the characteristic of suppressing (restraining, blocking or holding back). But today we write about another suppressant permeating our world that earnest followers of Christ must be aware of and firmly resist, "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness"!
The first several chapters in Romans describe man’s depravity, that is, our fallen, sinful nature. In Romans we see a progression into depravity as described in Romans 1 and 2.
Three responses to the truth are taught in this portion of Scripture:
1) “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18),
2) “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” (1:25) and
3) “are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” (2:8).
This section is hard to preach and equally challenging to summarize in a short message! Today let’s just consider the first response to the truth presented in Romans; a powerful phrase that has been a human condition from the time of the Fall but is rapidly increasing in our age: “Men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness".
“Suppress” translates a Greek word “κατεχοντων” which literally means “to hold down or to quash”. It is in the present tense which indicates that ungodly men and women in their unredeemed condition are continually, actively, willfully, deliberately restraining, hindering and withholding the truth about God. Note also the active voice which indicates this is a volitional choice, a choice of their will. The word conveys the picture of putting all of one’s weight upon something in an effort to restrict it’s free movement, in this case to restrict the free movement of truth which sets men free. (See John 8:32.)
For decades the news media behind the Iron Curtain served a very different purpose than in the Free World. While airline accidents in the west got headline coverage, theirs went unreported in the Soviet bloc, as were crime, and crop failures, and nuclear accidents, and anything else that might raise a question about the efficacy of Communism. The truth was suppressed so the populace would not grow aware of their need for a “cure”.
“The truth” The definite article “the” is vital to a proper understanding in these passages. Bible teacher Kenneth Wuest observes, “The truth here is found in the context, the fact of a Supreme Being with divine attributes to whom worship and obedience are due, this truth being seen by all men through their observation of the created universe, the latter demanding a Creator to answer for its existence. The human race, possessing this truth, yet holds it down (suppresses) in the sense of refusing to acknowledge its moral implications, and goes on in its sin.” It is “not only the truth concerning God but also God’s truth concerning all things, including mankind. This truth is that people are creatures of God and can find true fulfillment only in worshiping and obediently serving God the Creator.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
“In unrighteousness” The Precept Austin online commentary makes this observation, “For Paul, fear of eternal condemnation was the first motivation he offered for coming to Christ, the first pressure he applied to evil men. He was determined that they understand the reality of being under God’s wrath before he offered them the way of escape from it. That approach makes both logical and theological sense. A person cannot appreciate the wonder of God’s grace until he knows about the perfect demands of God’s law, and he cannot appreciate the fullness of God’s love for him until he knows something about the fierceness of God’s anger against his sinful failure to perfectly obey that law. He cannot appreciate God’s forgiveness until he knows about the eternal consequences of the sins that require a penalty and need forgiving.”
Indeed many "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" but we want to be among those who faithfully accept and boldly proclaim the truth in righteousness. The Lord’s truth and declaration of what is right remains a steadfast rock in the constant shifting sands of that which we are exposed to. We have this truth expressed to us in the Holy Scriptures, which is an absolutely dependable foundation!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You have made Your truth known to both the righteous and unrighteous. Your Personhood is evident to all living creatures, though many turn away, ignore, or devise a false theology veiling or hiding the truth. They resist the truth of who You are by their sinful lifestyle and their eternal destiny is doomed. Your invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature has been visible since the time of creation, and we are grateful for Your revelation to all who seek the truth. May we be people who do not suppress the truth in unrighteousness but boldly proclaim Your truth in righteousness, for it is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our earthly path. Amen.
Additional study note:
Another approach to understanding this portion of Romans is to consider the word “exchanged”.
1) "They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1:23)
2) "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen" (Romans 1:25)
3) "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" (Romans 1:26-27).
A Deluding Influence: A powerful portion that is interesting to study in regard to today’s message is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Especially these verses, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."
Reality Check: I consider that we are already living in the age when this deluding influence is prevalent. Just a few days ago Brooksyne and I were listening to the news over the car radio and could hardly believe what we heard. From day to day the worsening of sin and its influence over our lives is disheartening at the very least and even distressing when we see its effect on those whom we dearly love. We must not be swayed but must remain firmly committed to the whole counsel of God, even that which may not please the prevailing attitudes of our day.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Jesus Saves" Video Travis Cottrell
Pastoral prayer from our church service this last Sunday which we alluded to in today's message Video
"Jerry Nadler Unmasks the True Nature of the 'Equality Act'"
(See here for video, only 90 seconds long)
Here's another very candid report about the incident in Congress last week. Jerry Nadler said "What any religious tradition describes as God's will is no concern of this Congress" and I have thoughts about that
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