For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.(ESV)
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Truth Vs. The Lie
Silas, Fellow Worker of St. Peter and St. Paul
10 February 2015
Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," a line which may be a variant of something that Mark Twain wrote. No matter who said it, it is a truthful statement about the power of the lie. The lie is so powerful because it is multiform, while the truth is single. Falsehood is like the evil robotic creatures in some sci-fi movie, which when shot do not die, but simply morph into several more unstoppable enemies. They just reshape themselves and charge forward. We wicked humans have managed to take up unnumbered ways to make a perversion of the divine self-revelation. Because God is one, the truth about God is single. Lies about Him and His ways are uncounted. This is some of the reason why the lie has such power.
Paganism hadn't long been defeated when John Chrysostom recollected the many ways the divine glory was given over to that which was not only not divine, but in fact inanimate. The prophets and apostles mocked the objects of pagan worship because they were unable to respond to the needs of their worshipers. They were mute stumps and blocks of stones fashioned by human ingenuity. How could they provide rescue to those who fashioned them?
Of course, Christianity merely drove paganism underground. Paganism still lives in the heart of every human, even every Christian heart, because paganism is still seeking to deify the human. The fall of Adam and Eve was about their becoming gods. The gods fashioned by the ancient pagans were simply expressions of their own yearning to be divine. They truly were what Ludwig Feuerbach wrongly accused Christians of doing to create the Christian God: the pagan gods were "humans writ large," and had as much variety as there were actual humans. This lie kept multiplying.
Through this lie, the glory of God was taken from Him and placed upon the creatures which He had fashioned. How ironic, that while He had the plan to become human and that the humans made plans to become gods. He was frightfully outnumbered by the liars. But that did not deter our Father from fulfilling His promise to the fallen world full of lies that the truth should become incarnate. Christ came as a creature to rescue the creatures from their lies. The truth came into the world to compete against a world full of untruths with a head start. The truth triumphed, even if slowly.
"The ways of ungodliness are many, and the way of truth is only one. For error is a thing various, multiform, and compound, but the truth is one. And after speaking of doctrines he speaks of life, mentioning the unrighteousness of men. For there are various kinds of unrighteousness also. One is in money affairs, as when any one deals unrighteously with his neighbor in them. Another is in regard to women, when a man leaves his own wife, and breaks the marriage of another. For Paul calls this also transgressing: 'No one (should) transgress and wrong his brother in this matter' (1Thess 4:6). Still others injure not wife or property, but the reputation of their neighbor and this too is unrighteousness. 'A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches' (Pro 22:1)....
"'For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them' (Rm 1:19). But this glory they invested in stumps and stones. This is similar to what happens if someone entrusted with the riches of the king is ordered to use them for the king's glory, and wastes them on robbers, and harlots, and witches, and makes these people magnificent with the king's riches, such a person is punished for having done thekingdom the greatest wrong. Thus those who, after having received the knowledge of God and of His glory, by investing idols with that glory, 'suppressed the truth in unrighteousness,' and, at least as far as was in their power, dealt unrighteously with the knowledge, by not using it upon proper objects.
"What then is Paul saying here? The knowledge of God, He placed in humans from the beginning. But this knowledge they invested in stumps and stones, and so dealt unrighteously with the truth, as far as possible. For the truth abides unchanged, having its own immutable glory."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 3
Lord Jesus, You are truth incarnate. Save us from the lies. Amen.
For Ruth Sovis, who has broken her shoulder in a fall, that the Lord would grant her a full recovery
For those who are considering an abortion, that they might be led to respect the life given by God
For Jim Keller, in thanksgiving to God for the pain relief has experienced through back surgery
Art: AERTSEN, Pieter Adoration of the Magi (c. 1560)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015