The Berean Expositor
Volume 17 - Page 124 of 144
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The Epistle to the Romans.
NO. 9.
Given up (Rom. 1: 21-32).
In our last paper we found that the first step that led to the giving up of the Gentiles
was a failure to glorify God as such, and to give Him thanks for the evident good gifts
that He bestowed. In considering the next step in this downward course, we must
remember that it follows the first as does effect the cause. Man being what he is, it does
not seem possible for the throne of the universe to remain empty. If God be not honoured
as the great Creator and Benefactor, then man will soon listen to the serpent's voice
repeating the subtle temptation of Eden, "Y e shall be as God." As it was at the
beginning, so was it at Babel, and ever since. The temptation as presented led apparently
to the wisdom of God, " a tree to be desired to make one wise."
With the infallible sequence of cause and effect comes conscious distance: "I hid
myself"; and loss of innocence: "I was naked." Gen. Hi. is echoed by Rom. 1: The first sin
is repeated in all sin and in all men. There in Rom. 1: we have the other side of
temptation, " as God," and the worship of an image made like to man, with the dominion
placed beneath his feet. "To make one wise" is repeated in the words" professing
themselves to be wise, they became fools." The hiding of the guilty pair and the sense of
distance that came in is repeated in the" giving up" of Rom. 1: 24, 26 and 28, while the
loss of innocence in their conscious nakedness is but the tiny seed that produces the crop
of uncleanness that makes Rom. 1: 24-31 hard reading. Let us give our attention to the
record of Gentile failure. Starting from the withholding of that due to God both in
glorifying Him as God, and in expressing thankfulness for His bounty, we read the next
stage in Rom. 1: 21-23 :
"But became vain in their imaginations, and 'heir foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be
wise, they became fools, and changed 'the glory of 'he incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible
man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things"
As we read these words, Psa. 8: comes before the mind: "0 Lord our Lord, how
excellent is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens" (verse
I). Here the Lord, the Creator, is glorified" as God. "For out of the mouth of babes and
sucklings hast Thou ordained strength" (verse 2). This is the true sequence. The recog-
nition of God "as God" leads to humility. What a difference between" babes and
sucklings" and "professing themselves to be wise!" The contemplation of "the things that
are made," which was neglected and rejected in Rom. 1:, led the Psalmist to say :
"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; WHAT IS
MAN, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" (Psa. 8: 3, 4).
Here is no empty pride or vain profession, but true humility. This however does not
lead to a grovelling state of mind, nor an unholy denial of the dignity of that creation
which alone bears the impress of the image of God: "For Thou hast made him a little
lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour" (verse 5). In Rom. 1:
man sank lower than the beasts in his empty wisdom. When he robbed God of the honour
and glory due to His name, he at the same time robbed himself. Instead of standing in the
consciousness of the glory and honour set upon him by God, we read in Rom. 1: of
dishonour, degradation and shame.
"Thou madest him to have dominion Over the work. of Thy hand. ; Thou hast put all things under his feet. All .sheep and
oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field: the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths
of the seas" (Psa. 8: 6-8).