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. Although they claim 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.
Paul’s warning was for those who knew God, but were not glorifying or giving Him thanks. He didn’t hold the primary position in their hearts and thereby became ungrateful and self-centered – believing they had a sense of entitlement before the Lord – for Him to work according to their whim.
When we stop seeking to glorify the Lord and give Him the thanks He deserves, we too begin to believe we deserve certain things from the Lord. Am I grateful for all that God has given me? For my family, my health, my home? Or lack thereof? The enemy traps us in greed and jealousy that causes us to murmur and complain against the very One Who owns and holds it all.
Paul warns against those who think they’re clever, but in their hearts are foolish and arrogant. “Although they claim to be wise, they became fools.” The mind alone cannot factor in everything – it is good for science and learning, but not in understanding spiritual matters. The heart grows darkened and foolish when the mind is left to its own understanding of God.
The mind goes into imagining and thinking it knows everything, but it doesn’t, especially in spiritual matters. Unless we seek God’s revelations in scripture through the power of the Spirit, our cleverness and intellect will lead us to pride and misunderstandings.
Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what You were placed to do.” Matthew 11:25-16
Pride is what blinds us to truth and the power it holds! God reveals truth to those who are humble and say, “I don’t know anything, Lord, and need You to reveal it to me through the Spirit. Fill me so I can receive.”
When we open our hearts to God and surrender ourselves, the mind will follow. But, if we continue to seek our own understanding of spiritual things apart from the Spirit, we become foolish.
The warning continues as Paul says the truth will be exchanged for a lie, leading to the worship of created things rather than the Creator. They exchange 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
When we seek to understand spiritual things apart from the Spirit, we create an image of God that looks an awful like . . . ourselves. BUT, NO!!! God is Spirit!! How can we make an image of of this invisible, incorruptible God? It can’t be done! Especially not in the form of ourselves – corruptible men and women! When we imagine God is like us, we degrade Him! He’s not like us! He’s Spirit, which means we need the Spirit to know Him.
Have we made our human causes, God’s causes apart from the truth of scripture and the Spirit? Have we tried to box Him into our cultural mantras as we cry out, “God is with us!” NO! You are worshipping at the altar of a god created in your own image.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Psalm 55:8
BUT, If anyone has seen me, he has seen the Father! So, why are you asking me to show Him to you? John 14:9 God showed us Himself in Jesus – the spirit of sacrifice. However, He cannot be fully understood apart from the Spirit, whom He also sent.
The disciples made the same mistake we make today, dreaming up plans for what they believed Jesus should and would be, according to their own worldview. As a group, they came from all walks of life and political leanings. If we tried to equate them to today’s culture, their ragtag group would hold an IRS officer, a republican, democrat and an anarchist! Can you image the firelight discussions!?! They each crafted Jesus into their own image. . . until Peter made a startling confession:
“But what about you,” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17
In what way am I trying to understand Jesus with my own intellect, apart from the Spirit? Have I made my causes His causes and thereby created an image of my own god for others to see and follow? Yikes! Lord, may it not be so!
For it is time for judgement to begin with God’s household; And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
1 Peter 4:17-18
In Israel right now, they are celebrating Shabbat Shuvah, which in Hebrew refers to returning. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
All the more, as we see the day approaching of our coming Savior, let us return our hearts to Him, so that He can return to us. Judgement begins with God’s household. It is hard for the righteous to be saved – those who have worked for their salvation according to their own understanding and strength; or have created God in their own image, thinking they are serving Him, but have really become self serving in their own foolishness. It’s time, my beloved to return to the Lord in repentance and humility, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
Let us say as Peter did, “Jesus, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. . . You are not a created being that can be manipulated according to my own agenda. Your kingdom come in my heart and my kingdom go. . . help me to know You for who You are, not just who I’ve created You to be. Shape me into Your image” Amen.
May this be our heart’s song: