The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 123 of 181
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Can it be that men have no responsibility, and that they are drawn by a force which they
cannot resist into this terrible system of darkness and corruption? The answer is "no",
this is not true. Some may object and say that the Gentile world was in ignorance of God
and therefore they could not be held responsible, but Paul proceed to make it quite clear
that the opposite was the truth. Men could have known God in a measure, for God had
manifested Himself in creation as Rom. 1: 19 and 20 clearly shows.
Moreover the knowledge that they possessed, they deliberately suppressed, they held
the truth in unrighteousness. Katechein, to hold, means to hold fast (7: 6), and then to
suppress.  God had manifested Himself as Creator, but rebellious man deliberately
suppressed and ignored this revelation. As long as there has been a created universe the
invisible attributes of God can be clearly seen, so that as the Apostle says, "they are
without excuse" (1: 20).
This revolt against the truth of God resulted in idolatry and then men plunged deeper
and deeper into darkness and the moral depravity that goes with it. When they failed to
honour God as Creator, their minds became infected and debased till at last they were not
capable of truly rational thought about Him:
"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were
thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the
uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and
fourfooted beasts and creeping things" (1: 21-23).
Idolatry touches the realm of worship and there is only One Who has the right to
receive worship from created beings and that is God. Directly He is dethroned His place
is quickly taken by Satan and the powers of darkness, demon spirits under his control.
The Apostle Paul showed that behind all idolatry is demonism (I Cor. 10: 20 where
"devils" should be rendered "demons") and this gives Satan what he longs for, namely
God's position and the worship of mankind.
Three times we read that men deliberately took a terrible downward step, by changing
what was truth, into a lie, in order to gratify their lusts (verses 23, 25 and 26) and because
of these actions three times we read that God "gave them up" (verses 24, 26, 28). In
other words they were left by God to experience to the full the terrible consequences of
their backsliding. Israel too, in the past, had been temporarily "given up" by God, as
Acts 7: 42 reveals, and for precisely the same reason, namely idolatry. The result for
the Gentile world was a reprobate or depraved mind (1: 28). It is significant that the same
list of vices which follow, are repeated in Paul's last epistle, in the context which deals
with the end of this age (II Tim. 3: 2-5).
On the surface it seems impossible that, after nearly 2000 years of Christianity,
mankind will sink into such a state once more, but God's Word is truth and never
exaggerates. As we look at the conditions of the world around us we cannot help but
notice how standards are constantly being debased and the slide downward quickens as
men get further and further away from God. The conclusion of the Apostle is found in
verse 32: