By David Faust
If an exterminator discovers that your house has termites, do you want him to tell you about it? If your doctor discovers that you have cancer, do you want him to withhold the information in order to spare your feelings? If your car’s brakes are on the verge of failure, do you want the mechanic to inform you?
Truth can be hard to hear, but it brings light into darkness and clarity out of confusion. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The problem is, human beings have a tendency to “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines suppression as “the conscious intentional exclusion from consciousness of a thought or feeling,” and that’s what happens whenever anyone attempts to deny the reality of God.
Drifting Toward Depravity
In Romans 1, the apostle Paul shines the spotlight of reality on a culture drifting toward depravity—and toward disaster.
We suppress the truth when we overlook the evidence of God’s handiwork in creation and ascribe it to blind chance (vv. 19, 20).
We suppress the truth when we quit glorifying God and giving thanks to him (v. 21)—when we claim to be wise but think and act foolishly (v. 22).
We suppress the truth when we serve created things instead of the Creator himself (vv. 23-25), degrading our bodies and minds with heterosexual impurity or homosexual degradation, exchanging “natural sexual relations for unnatural ones” (vv. 24, 26, 27).
We suppress the truth by acting greedy and malicious, spreading gossip, slandering others, or becoming arrogant and boastful. Truth is dishonored when children disobey their parents and when people think themselves clever because “they invent ways of doing evil” (vv. 28-30).
We suppress the truth when we “have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy” (v. 31)—when irreverence is considered cool, cynicism is trendy, and it’s hip when we “not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (v. 32).
But just when we begin to feel smug and self-righteous, looking down our noses at the sinners described in here, Paul keeps writing and pierces our hearts in Romans 2 and 3: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (2:1). Indeed, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23).
Surprised by Grace
Without Christ we’re all in the same boat, and it’s sinking. It makes nothing better if we deny the truth. Suppressing the reality of sin is like asking the exterminator not to tell you about the termites, the doctor to ignore your cancer, and your mechanic to forget about your car’s faulty brakes. We have to face the bad news in order to appreciate and accept the good news.
Despite its somber beginning, the book of Romans is about good news. It’s news we never should be ashamed to proclaim “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16). It tells us the bad news that “the wages of sin is death,” but goes on to assure us that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23).
The gospel of Christ is the medicine that can heal our wounded world. How will we handle that truth?
1. Do you ever find yourself denying something God’s Word says is true?
2. What truth about God do you personally need to rediscover?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 2, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Leviticus 24, 25
Leviticus 26, 27
Numbers 1, 2
Numbers 3, 4