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The Companion Bible note at this point is "before = in defiance of" and refers to
Genesis 6: 11 "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with
violence". So to have any other `god' instead of, or alongside the Creator is to be `in
defiance of' the true God, and assuredly leads to `corruption' and `violence' as a reading
of Rom. 1: makes clear. The same chapter of Romans also makes clear the awful result
of persistence in this defiance: "God gave them up".
The Lie in
pp. 87 - 91
In our last study we saw that the lie does not necessarily involve the outright rejection
of God as Creator, but does involve the worship of something from the created order
alongside God. This is rebellion, and leads inevitably on to `corruption' and `violence',
as a result of which `God gave them up'.
They `changed the truth of God into the lie', but those who did so, and do so, first
`hold the truth in unrighteousness' (Rom. 1: 18). The word for `hold' (katecho) may have
the significance of `hold fast' (e.g. I Cor. 15: 2 where it is translated `keep in memory'),
or to `hold down', `suppress', `restrain'. With the thought of `restrain' in mind, it is
particularly significant that after having spoken of some who `received not the love of the
truth', in the second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul then continues (3: 1) to ask for
prayer that `the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified'. In such a
situation as that envisaged in the second chapter nothing must be allowed to restrain the
`word of the Lord'. And in the days in which we live we need to have particular care to
see that nothing is permitted to restrain the truth, for there are many areas in which the
Word of the Lord is both restrained, and suppressed. Further, as we recognize this
restraint and suppression the increase in violence and corruption in society today should
come as no surprise to us.
In the time of which Paul wrote in the first chapter of the Roman epistle, the restraint
upon the suppression of `the truth of God' resulted, as the A.V. puts it, in that truth being
`changed into a lie'. But can the truth ever be changed into a lie, or even the lie? The
word for `change' in verse 25 is a strong one meaning, perhaps, to exchange, or
thoroughly to change. It is seldom, in the strategy of Satan that there is an outright
exchange of the truth for his lie: he is far more subtle than that. Chapter 3: of Genesis
shows how he normally works with the truth, thoroughly changing, or perverting the truth
into his lie. He takes the truth, placing it in the context of his lie and altering its meaning.
It seems that it would be better to translate the phrase: "changed the truth in the lie".
It may well have been, as some suggest, that in the O.T. record of Baal worship, the
worshippers had been persuaded (as some would have us believe today) "we all worship
the same God. It's only the name which is different". With the result that the children of
Israel not only countenanced Baal worship in others, but adopted it themselves. We have