Romans 1:20 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.
There is no excuse for not believing in God because creation proves that God exists. Something cannot come from nothing; out of nothing, nothing comes. For the world to exist, therefore, it had to be created. This is the default position according to the Bible. The burden of proof is not on people who believe in God, but on those who do not.
Creation also has obvious signs of design—the signature of a great designer. These appear in every plant, animal and mineral. The closer we look at anything, the more remarkable it appears. The visible marks of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of creation that a rational creature who will but seriously reflect on them, cannot miss the discovery of a deity (John Locke).
The fact that some refuse to acknowledge God does not bring his existence into question. It only shows that people are dishonest, which we already know. The Bible is clear: there is no excuse for not believing in God.
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.
The response of sinners to the revelation of God is to give him neither glory nor thanks. Tragically, by refusing to honor their Creator, they forfeit the very purpose for which they were made. What is the chief end of man?Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1).
If you find a cure for cancer, but do not glorify God, you have missed the reason for your life. Or if you write beautiful music, but do not glorify God, you have missed the reason for your life. Or if you become an astronaut, but do not glorify God, you have missed the reason for your life. You are like computer that was never turned on, a car that never saw the road, or a plane that never left the ground. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. That is the reason he made us.
Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
God’s response to those who reject his ways is to give them over to their sin. This idea was so important to Paul that he repeated it three times. God gave them over . . . to sexual impurity (Romans 1:24), God gave them over to shameful lusts (Romans 1:26), and God gave them over to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28).
God is the one who restrains us from sin, so if we turn our backs on God, there is no one to restrain us from sin. Paul calls out sexual sin because that is where human fallenness is so apparent. Whoever deviates from God’s idea of perfect sexuality is a sexual deviant to some degree. But every kind of sin is rebellion against God, and wants to destroy us. Many are addicted to sins today which they planned to break off years ago. Habits are cobwebs before they are cables.
But there is always hope for those who turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ. [H]e will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13), wrote Paul. God is not against us because of our sins, so much as he is with us against our sins. We are never alone in the battle, as long as we stay in the fight.
Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.
The worship of idols has been around for ages, and was a temptation to the people of Israel. [T]hey cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk (Jeremiah 10:3-5), wrote Jeremiah.
But idolatry can also be more subtle. Imagine a young man who bought his fiancé the most beautiful ring he could afford. Perhaps he worked overtime, and sold his favorite possessions, to buy her something lovely. He wanted to demonstrate his love for her, and hoped that she would love him even more. But what if she loved the ring more than she loved her fiancé, and loved him less because of his generosity?
This is the situation whenever we love created things more than our Creator. Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17), wrote James. But if we love money, pleasure or family more than God, we have become idolaters. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), wrote Paul.
Romans 1:28 [T]hey did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind.
The fact that God exists, and has the right to govern his world, is obvious from creation. And yet, the knowledge of God has nearly disappeared in many places. As punishment for not retaining the knowledge of God, God abandons people to their own depravity. Unless we are careful, this can happen to us.
Many who learn the Bible in their youth, forget it with age, because they spend more time watching television than reading Scripture. Instead of becoming more like Jesus Christ, they become more like the devil, as God gives them over to a depraved mind. It is not enough to obtain the knowledge of God; we must retain the knowledge of God, and grow in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).
Romans 2:1 [A]t whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
When I was eight years old, my bicycle was missing a valve cap, and I did not know where to buy one. So I rode my bike to a car dealer, stooped down between two cars, and transferred a valve cap from one of the cars to my bicycle. The valve cap had a value of about two cents, and I doubt it was ever missed. But I did not ask permission. I stole it. I am a thief.
This seems insignificant compared to what other thieves have done, but it puts me in the same category. If I condemn theft in any form, I also condemn myself. I do not need to hear it from a judge; I am self-condemned. [A]t whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
Reflection and Review
What are some ways to glorify God?
How do Christians commit idolatry?
Why is it important to grow in the knowledge of God?