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Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
(alleging, asserting, affirming) TO BE WISE: phaskontes (PAPMPN) einai (PAN) sophoi:
(Ro 11:25; Pr 25:14; 26:12; Is
47:10; Jer 8:8,9; 10:14; Mt 6:23; 1Co 1:19, 20, 21; 3:18,19)
(phasko from phemi = to say or affirm) means to affirm,
allege, pretend, profess. The idea conveyed by this verb is that one is
speaking with an air of certainty, stating something with a high degree
of confidence. The NAS translates phasko with the English word assert
which means to affirm or declare positively or with assurance and often
even forcefully or aggressively. The idea of assert implies stating
confidently without need for proof or regard for evidence.
Marvin Vincent writes that
phasko "is used of unfounded assertion."
Thinking they are wise, they have
become fools because their own speculations cannot replace the
revelation they reject.
Here are the three NT uses of
phasko -- Acts 24:9; 25:19; Ro 1:22
“is used of unfounded assertion.” (Webster
adds that "assert implies stating confidently without need for
proof or regard for.")
Vine adds this pithy comment:
"Mere profession of wisdom is spiritual hallucination. The
condition of heathenism is the consequence of departure from the
primitive acknowledgment of God and the recognition of His attributes as
revealed in creation; it is not a state from which men have advanced by
stages to attain the knowledge of God."
Man rationalizes his sin
and proves his utter foolishness by devising and believing his own
philosophies about God, the universe, and himself. The next stage of
downfall consists, as in Orwell’s novel, 1984, in asserting as truth its
opposite—darkness is really light, futility is really wisdom.
God warned faithless Israel and by
way of application all of sinful mankind in Isaiah 5:20, 21...
Woe to those who call evil good, and
good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who
substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are
wise in their own eyes, And clever in their own sight! (cp Mal 2:17,
3:15, Jdg 21:25= they did wrong and because of their deception thought
it was right [!], see warning in Pr 17:15, Jesus also warned against
this danger in Lk 11:35, 36, cp Lk 16:15)
Frederick Louis Godet
writes that ...
Paul does not mean to stigmatize
ancient philosophy absolutely; he only means that all that labor of the
sages did not prevent the most civilized nations, Egyptians, Greeks,
Romans, from being at the same time the most idolatrous of antiquity.
The popular imagination, agreeably served by priests and poets, did not
allow the efforts of the wise to dissipate this delirium. When good is
omitted, there always comes in its place an evil committed. As, in
respect of the understanding, the refusal of adoration ( they did not
glorify ) became a vain laboring of the mind ( they became vain ), and,
finally, complete estrangement from truth, folly ( they became fools );
so in respect of the heart , ingratitude was first transformed into
darkness; and, finally—such is the last term described ver. 23-into
monstrous and debasing fetishism. The ungrateful heart did not stop
short at not thanking God, it degraded and dishonored Him, by changing
Him into His opposite. (Godet, F: The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans)
Sinners are fools for they think they are "safe" and there is no Holy
One to judge them. Isaiah records these words to foolish, idol
"And you felt secure in your
wickedness and said, 'No one sees me,' Your wisdom and your knowledge,
they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, 'I am, and there
is no one besides me.' (Isaiah 47:10)
Spurgeon wrote that...
The way to be a fool is to pretend to
be wise. A shortcut to wisdom is the confession of folly. The near way
to folly is the profession of wisdom.
THEY BECAME FOOLS: emoranthesan
Rejecting the light of God’s
knowledge in their consciences, men now arrogated to themselves wisdom,
and became—what? Fools!
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning”—of both knowledge and wisdom (Pr
1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Ps 111:10-note;
Job 28:28). Romans Verse-by-Verse
They became fools - Compare
Psalm 14:1 (note)
All of creation screams in glorious
harmony the resounding chorus...
"There is a Creator! Observe His
handiwork! Believe My awesome testimony!" (cp Ps 19:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-note
- literally every sunrise testifies to the truth "I am the LORD, and
there is no other; Besides Me there is no God." Isa 45:5, 14, 21, 46:9,
see esp Isa 45:22 the verse God used to save Charles Haddon Spurgeon-
see Spurgeon's testimony)
And yet despite overwhelming
evidence, men had made a choice of their will to deny the irrefutable,
indescribably glorious truth of natural revelation, not to mention the
special revelation found in God's love letter (Ro 5:8-note,
cp 1Jn 3:16, 4:10, 11, 19, Ep 5:1, 2-note),
the Holy Scriptures.
from morós = foolish and root of our English
moron = very stupid person) can refer to
physical sloth or dullness, but mainly is a reference (and especially in
the present context) to one's intellectual life. It means to cause
content of certain thoughts to become devoid of meaning or even to cause
them to become nonsense.
Moraino is used only 4 times in the NT-
Mt 5:13; Lk. 14:34; Ro 1:22; 1Co. 1:20. Below are all the uses in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint and the NT...
2 Samuel 24:10 Now David's
heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to
the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD,
please take away the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have acted
Isaiah 19:11 The princes of Zoan are mere fools; The advice of
Pharaoh's wisest advisers has become stupid. How can you men say to
Pharaoh, "I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings "?
Jeremiah 10:14 Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every
goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are
deceitful, And there is no breath in them.
Jeremiah 51:17 All mankind is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every
goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, For his molten images are
deceitful, And there is no breath in them.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless,
how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except
to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Ed: What an
interesting use of moraino by our Lord! See further discussion
Luke 14:34 "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become
tasteless, with what will it be seasoned?
Romans 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is
the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the
wisdom of the world
(even as He did those here in
Romans who professed to be wise)?
(Comment: Keep the context in mind for
Paul was writing to the Corinthian
saints in one of the intellectual centers of the ancient world!)
The greatest fool in all the
world is the person who exchanges God’s wisdom of truth and light for
man’s wisdom of deceit and darkness. (See the tragic example of
the "brilliant" fool Voltaire)
has a variety of secular Greek uses depending on the context. And
so moraino can mean “insipid” in reference to insufficiently seasoned foods. Jesus
used moraino in this sense declaring to His audience that
You are the salt of the
but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It
is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled
under foot by men. (Mt 5:13-note)
The lexicographer Photius bears
witness to this secular use of moraino in the sense of meaning
"insipid", documenting this use in writings of both physicians and comedians. Thus
the physician Dioscurides Medicus, who was a contemporary of Paul and also from
Cilicia, speaks of insipid roots (medicinal). Elsewhere in medicine
moraino is used of the slackness, fatigue or dulling of the
nerves. Moraino is also
used in respect of the sluggishness of animals in winter. With reference
to men the use of moraino is predominantly psychological. In this
context, moraino implies censure
on man himself; his acts, thoughts, counsels, and words are not as they
should be. The weakness may be due to a specific failure in judgment or
decision, but a general deficiency of intellectual and spiritual
capacities may also be asserted. The charge of folly does not have to be
a definitive judgment. In many cases it is more in the nature of an
admonition or warning, or it expresses the impossibility of
understanding or following the thinking or acts of someone. But the
judgment of one as a fool can also imply condemnation of their whole personality. In other
cases it is implied that there is not just a deficiency, a mere
stupidity or irrationality, which would not occur if there were better
mental equipment, but that man is controlled by a power which confuses
his understanding, causes him to do mad things, and hides the right path
ILLUSTRATION: For a
modern example of men professing to be wise but really being fools, see
the September 1976 National Geographic article entitled "The
Awesome Worlds Within a Cell" .
On page 358 the authors describe the utter complexity of the cell. There
is no such thing as a "simple one-celled organism"! Even the simplest
cell has turned out to be "a micro-universe" (p.358). Then on p.388 we
read, "...this really is the major problem of biology. How did this
complexity arise?...biologists still confront the deep, basic mystery of
science: How did it all begin?" Then on page 390 the "experts" answer
this by crediting it all to CHANCE and saying that given enough time
even the IMPOSSIBLE can happen! With time, chance and evolution all
things are possible! "They have become fools" -- Romans 1:21, 22. (Middletown
Godet writes their...
Futility of thought has reached the
character of folly. What, in fact, is Polytheism, except a sort of
permanent hallucination, a collective delirium...And this mental
disorder (ironically) rose to a kind of perfection among the very
peoples who, more than others, laid claim to the glory of wisdom. (Romans
who deny the God of creation are fools and "without a defense" (Ro 1:20)
Yet they come to such a foolish decision in the belief that they are
scientific in trying to explain the infinitely complex, majestic,
beautiful creation without a Creator. The ancient pagans did this, with
immeasurably tragic results in the history of the human race. Modern
evangelicals, compromising with evolutionism and increasingly flirting
with New Age pantheism, feminism and occultism, are in serious danger of
starting down that same slippery slope (2Ti 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12, 13-note).
The fact is, once a man rejects the truth of God in Christ, he will fall
for anything foolish, and trust far more tenuous and fanciful systems
(eg look at evolution, mythology, etc) that what he has rejected from
God. This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly must
be seen as one manifestation of God's righteous wrath against those who
have rejected His revelation
J C Philpot has a brief
note entitled "Utter fools!"...
"Claiming to be wise, they became
utter fools instead." Romans 1:22
What am I by nature? A fool! All my wisdom, outside of Christ, is
nothing but the height of foolishness—and all my knowledge nothing
but the depth of ignorance! (Ed: Does Philpot's conclusion make you mad? Are you
insulted? If so, you desperately need to study the epistle to the
Romans, especially Romans 1-3. When we see our state outside of Christ,
we are horrified, humbled and amazed that He would deign to save
wretches like us [cp Ro 7:23, 24, 25-note]!)
Left to ourselves we are utter fools! We have no wisdom whatever
to direct our feet. We are . . .
utterly unable to find our way to God.
All wisdom which does not come down
from the Father is folly (Jas 3:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18). All strength
not divinely wrought in the soul is weakness. All knowledge that does
not spring from the Lord's own teaching in the conscience is the
depth of ignorance.
We must know the value of the gem before we can really prize it. When
diamonds were first discovered in Brazil, nobody knew that they were
diamonds. They were handed about as pretty, shining pebbles. But as soon
it was discovered they were diamonds, they were eagerly sought, and
their value rose a thousand fold. (Ed: Amen! May God be pleased
to cause the value of our priceless Christ to continually "rise in
value" in our hearts!)
So spiritually. Until we can distinguish between the "pebble of man's
teaching" and the "diamond of divine illumination" we shall neglect, we
shall despise (Ed: Even David "despised the word of Jehovah" when he
sinned with Bathsheba, see the prophet Nathan's comments - 2Sa 12:9,
10), we shall not value divine wisdom (Ed: Ultimately a Person -
see 1Cor 1:24, 30, 2:6, 7, Col 2:3-note,
cp Job 28:28, Lk 21:14, 15).
THE "BRILLIANT" FOOL
The famous (infamous) French
philosopher (infidel) Voltaire (note
- interestingly this reference records no record of his horrible last
days!) is a tragic example of a
An aristocratic woman who was old and
blind wrote to Voltaire in the hopes that he could dispel her
pessimistic view of life and offer some comfort. He replied, "I think we
[human beings] are indeed contemptible creatures.... I exhort you to
enjoy as much as you can life, which isn't much" (Norman L. Torrey, The
Spirit of Voltaire [N.Y.: Columbia University, 1938, p. 216).
Voltaire once made a despicable,
desecrating execration against our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ (a quote I hesitate to even record because it is so heinous, and
yet it so dramatically depicts the depths to which a man's depravity can
plummet when he begins to suppress the truth of God in order to
justify his unrighteous behavior!). Voltaire said...
Curse the wretch!
In the midst of that period of
intellectual history called The "Enlightenment" (Ed: In regard to
what transpired during this time regarding Christianity and the Holy Word, what a sad oxymoron - the "age of
reason" gave birth in fact to the "age of fools"!), a philosophy known
as deism (note)
was sweeping Europe. In the midst of this development, the famous
skeptic, Voltaire, proclaimed that within 50 years, the Bible would be
forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. Voltaire wrote...
I’ll show how just one Frenchman can
destroy it within 50 years.
In twenty years Christianity will be
no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve
apostles to rear
However, ironically some 20 years
after Voltaire’s death in 1778, the Geneva Bible Society
purchased his house for printing the Bible and other Christian
literature! And it later became the Paris headquarters for the British
and Foreign Bible Society. The Bible is still a best-seller; an entire
6-volume set of Voltaire’s works was once sold for 90¢ (Ed:
"Methinks God has a sense of humor"!). Voltaire claimed to be a believer
in God, but it was a "God" of his own imagination and not of the
Holy Scriptures, for Voltaire clearly rejected the God of Holy Writ even
to the point of ridiculing the idea of life after death. (Ed:
Like the Russian cosmonaut who said something like this - "I went into
space and I did not see Him!" Wrong! Had he opened his cockpit and
stepped out into eternity, he would have met Him. And so did Voltaire
when he breathed his last breath, even that breath being a gift from the
God he despised, derided and decried!) On his deathbed Voltaire
had some of his most intelligent revelations as he began to doubt his
doubts! Would many skeptics follow his suit, but do so long before they
draw their last breath! Voltaire apparently began to question (this time
correctly) whether there might in fact be a heaven and a hell after all
is said and done. He was indeed wise in one regard, for he clearly
understood what would be his "eternal address". Just before
his death, the noted atheist swore
I wish I had never been born!
Voltaire, on his deathbed, addressed
his apparently Christian physician Trochim...
I am abandoned by God and man. I will
give you half of what I am worth, if you will give me six months’ life.
The doctor replied
Sir, you cannot live six weeks.
Then I shall go to hell, and you will
go with me.
And so, as almost his last utterance,
he cried out,
I am abandoned by God and man! I
shall go to hell! O Christ! O Jesus Christ!
Apparently not long after the
preceding declarations Voltaire breathed his last.
The nurse who attended Voltaire on
his death bed said
For all the wealth in Europe I would
not see another infidel die.
What a tragic mixed up life Voltaire
led as inferred from quotes during his life
If God did not exist, it would be
necessary to invent Him...The world embarrasses me, and I cannot think
that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.
To one who claimed to have gotten rid of
hell, Voltaire replied
I congratulate you, for I have not
been able to do that myself.
Voltaire, true to the spirit of
Now look at the mighty mind of
Newton, who discovered gravitation; when he began to study the Book
called the Bible, it seems in order to credit its fabulous nonsense, he
believed that the knowledge of mankind will be so increased that we
shall be able to travel fifty miles an hour! The poor dotard!
Today even a skeptic should be able
to look at Voltaire's life and his philosophy and say
Newton was a wise philosopher;
Voltaire a poor old dotard. (The foolishness of God is wiser than man).
Voltaire is reported to have said
If a miracle occurred in the market
place of Paris and in the presence of two thousand men, I would rather
disbelieve my own eyes than the two thousand.
It is sad but true that no matter how
many facts (truths) we present to skeptics/agnostics (I don't believe
men can be atheists in the truest sense, because that would require that
they have all knowledge, including the knowledge that there is no
supreme being. And since they are not omniscient, they cannot in truth
know with absolute certainty that there is no God. Upshot? Know God!)
are not sufficient to bring a man to Christ (cp 1Cor 2:4, 5), for only
God's Spirit can do that (Jn 3:5, 6, 7, 8, 6:63, 8:24). And yet we
should not grow weary in proclaiming the truth of the gospel (2Ti 2:9,
for we do not know which of the hearers will receive the Word implanted
which will save their soul from eternal separation (2Th 1:9, Mt 25:41,
cp the first "separation" Ge 3:8, Mt 7:21, 22, 23-note;
Mt 22:13, cp Re 6:16-note)
from their Creator (Jas 1:18-note;
, Jas 1:21-note
; Ro 1:16-note
-- see the power of the Gospel in Col 1:5, 6-note;cp
1Cor 1:17,18, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Acts 6:7, 12:24, 19:20, 1Th 2:13-note)
Peter McKenzie, the famous Methodist
preacher, was being shown over Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks in London.
Coming to one object, his guide said
This is the chair in which Voltaire
sat and wrote his atheistic blasphemies.
To which McKenzie replied...
Is that the chair?
Then, Peter McKenzie, without seeking
permission, he stepped over the cord, sat down on the chair, and sang as
only a real believer could
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth His successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
a moment of respite and worship at His throne by singing this great Hymn
The Christian physician Trochim
who attended Voltaire during the last illness gave the following
testimony in a letter to a friend
When I compare the death of a
righteous man, which is like the close of a beautiful day, with that of
Voltaire, I see the difference between bright, serene weather and a
black thunderstorm. It was my lot that this man should die under my
hands. Often did I tell him the truth.
’Yes, my friend,’ he would often say
to me, ’you are the only one who has given me good advice. Had I but
followed it I would not be in the horrible condition in which I now am.
I have swallowed nothing but smoke. I have intoxicated myself with the
incense that turned my head. You can do nothing for me. Send me a mad
doctor! Have compassion on me-I am mad!’
Trochim went on to say
I cannot think of it without
shuddering. As soon as he saw that all the means he had employed to
increase his strength had just the opposite effect, death was constantly
before his eyes. From this moment, madness took possession of his soul.
He expired under the torments of the furies. (Ed: May this tragic
story of a "brilliant" man, motivate us to speak forth the gospel of
Christ boldly to those who are in danger today of stepping into a
Christless eternity. Amen)
I cannot help but pause after
writing these somber notes on Voltaire and be reminded of Paul's great
truth that even the intractably rebellious infidel Voltaire will one day
bow before the precious Lamb of God and proclaim that Jesus is Lord...
Therefore also God highly exalted
Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the
name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on
earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Amen!) (Php 2:9,
Consider another man who professed to
be wise, Thomas Paine (note), the renowned American author and enemy of
Christianity who exerted considerable influence against belief in God and
the Scriptures. And yet Paine, like Voltaire, came to his last hour
(June 8,1809), a disillusioned and unhappy man and during his final moments on
I would give worlds, if I had them,
that Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help
me! O God what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But
if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for
God’s sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be
alone. If ever the devil had an agent, I have been that one. (Ed:
Woe! We would all be wise to listen to the last words of men, both
sinners and saints, for the former should shock us into reality of a
Christless eternity and the latter would comfort us with the true
reality of an eternity with Christ!)
The world's theology by
James Montgomery Boice
The world's theology is easy to
It is the view . . .
that human beings are basically good,
that no one is really lost,
that belief in Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation.
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Romans 1:22
John Newton writes in his
Man is a FOOL. "Professing
themselves to be wise, they became fools." Romans 1:22. He can indeed
measure the earth, and almost count the stars; he abounds in arts and
inventions, in science and policy—and shall he then be called a fool?
The ancient Heathens, the inhabitants of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, were
eminent for this kind of wisdom. They are to this day studied as models
by those who aim to excel in history, poetry, painting, architecture,
and other exertions of human genius, which are suited to polish the
manners without improving the heart. But their most admired
philosophers, legislators, logicians, orators, and artists, were as
destitute as infants or idiots of that knowledge which alone deserves
the name of true wisdom. Professing themselves to be wise, they became
fools. Ignorant and regardless of God, yet conscious of their weakness,
and of their dependence upon a Power above their own, and stimulated by
an inward principle of fear, of which they knew neither the origin nor
right application, they worshiped the creature instead of the Creator,
yes, placed their trust in stocks and stones, in the works of men's
hands, in non-entities and chimeras. An acquaintance with their
mythology, or system of religious fables, passes with us for a
considerable branch of learning, because it is drawn from ancient books
written in languages not known to the vulgar; but in point of certainty
or truth, we might receive as much satisfaction from a collection of
dreams, or from the ravings of lunatics.
Through Jeremiah God
Every man is stupid, devoid of
knowledge; Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his molten
images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are
worthless, a work of mockery; In the time of their punishment they will
perish. (Jer 10:14, 15)
Jesus speaking in the context of
not placing one's trust in earthly treasures declared that...
"if your eye (the ancient idea
was that the eye was the window through which light entered the body. If
the eye was in good condition the body could receive such light)
is bad (With their eyes they were coveting money and wealth), your whole body will be full of darkness (an internal corruption
of one’s whole nature). If therefore the light that is in you is
darkness, how great is the darkness (darkness actually emanates from
within and affects one’s whole being)! (Mt 6:23-note)
Paul writes to the "wise"
Corinthians warning them...
"Let no man deceive himself (a
severe warning to any who would try to interfere with or destroy the
building of the church on the foundation of Christ). If any
man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish
that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness
before God. For it is written, "He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN
THEIR CRAFTINESS" (1Co 3:18,19)
Charles Churchill, who died in
1764, was the English poet and satirist given to every kind of loose
living, and whose literary productions were rough, ironical and insolent
in tone. In his last hours, conscience-stricken, he regretted his lost
life and the prostitution of his craft and died saying:
What a fool I have been.
"Here is the divine estimate of the great philosophers of Greece
and Rome. In God’s eyes they were fools because their philosophy was
based on a rejection of God’s truth. Dr. R. A. Torrey used to read Ro 1:22 this way,
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became
philosophers? No, Foolosophers."
That’s what God thinks of the world’s intellectuals. Although possessing
great intelligence, they are moral and spiritual pygmies. Have you ever
ridden a see-saw? It works on a very simple principle: If one person is
up, the other person must be down. Both people can’t be up at the same
time. It’s the same in the spiritual realm. If God is up, then man is
down. If man is up, then God is down. Both can’t be up at the same time.
When God is up in his rightful place, man will be down in his rightful
place. But when the roles are reversed reality itself is distorted."
William Newell writes that
"The silliness of these "modern" shallow-pan days! How men are
rushing back to the old pagan pit out of which God’s Word and His gospel
would have delivered them! They suck up sin; they welter in wickedness;
they profess to be wise! They sit at the feet of "professors" whose
breath is spiritual cyanide. They idolize the hog-sty doctrines of a rotten Freud: and count themselves "wise"! They say, "God is not a
person; men evolved from monkeys; morals are mere old habits; self-
enjoyment, self-expression, indulgence of all desires—this, " they say,
"is the path of wisdom." It is the path of those who go quickly down to
the pit and on to judgment! The very morals of Sodom, as our Lord
foretold, are rushing fast upon us, and God will bring again the awful
doom of Sodom (Lk 17:28, 29, 30, 31). This is a strange introduction to the
gospel of God’s grace, we answer, It lies here before us, this awful
indictment of Romans One, and cannot be evaded! Moreover, until man
knows his state of sin, he wants no grace. Shall pardon be spoken of
before the sinner is proved a sinner? While the evidence is being
brought in, the whole attention of the court is upon that. If the
evidence of guilt be insufficient or inconclusive, there is no necessity
for a pardon! Preachers and teachers have soft pedaled sin, until the
fear Of God is vanishing away. McCheyne used to Say, "A holy
minister is an awful weapon in the hands of God" A preacher who avoids
telling men the truth about their sin as here revealed, is the best tool
of the devil. (2Ti 4:3, 4-note,
Acts 20:30, Heb 13:9-note)"
A FAIRY TALE
Frog + Princess = Handsome prince (this is called a “fairy tale”)
Frog + 10 billion years = Handsome prince (this is called “science”)
Here is an illustration from
The jungle native is wise enough to
know that the one who makes something is greater than the thing made.
What does he do? He cuts down a tree and with half of the trunk makes a
canoe. He knows that as the maker of the canoe he is greater than the
canoe. He then uses the same tree to make an idol and he worships it!
Instead he should have cried out from his heart, "I want to come to know
the One who made this tree and this world!" Does God honor the seeking
heart (Jer 29:13; Heb 11:6-note)? For a modern example of men professing to
be wise but really being fools, see the September 1976 National
Geographic article entitled "The Awesome Worlds Within a Cell" . On page
358 the authors describe the utter complexity of the cell. There is no
such thing as a "simple one-celled organism"! Even the simplest cell has
turned out to be "a micro-universe" (p.358). Then on p.388 we read,
"...this really is the major problem of biology. How did this complexity
arise?...biologists still confront the deep, basic mystery of science:
How did it all begin?" Then on page 390 the "experts" answer this by
crediting it all to CHANCE and saying that given enough time even the
IMPOSSIBLE can happen! With time, chance and evolution all things are
possible !!! "They have become fools" -- Romans 1:21, 22. (Romans 1)
Dr. Stephen Jay Gould wrote
the following futile foolish rumination...
arose, rather, as a fortuitous and contingent outcome of thousands of
linked events, any one of which could have occurred differently and sent
history on an alternate pathway that would not have led to
consciousness." - Scientific American, October 1994, p. 86)
As another evolutionist
logically but sadly concluded
"I refuse to believe in God, so what other alternative do I
have but evolution?”
No evidence for evolution led to disbelief in
But rejection of God led to evolution!
The French Mathematician, Lecompte de Nouy, examined the laws of
probability for a single molecule of high dissymmetry to be formed by
the action of chance. De Nouy found that, on an average, the time needed
to form one such molecule of our terrestrial globe would be about 10 to
the 253 power billions of years.
“But,” continued de Nouy ironically,
“let us admit that no matter how small the chance it could happen, one
molecule could be created by such astronomical odds of chance. However,
one molecule is of no use. Hundreds of millions of identical ones are
necessary. Thus we either admit the miracle or doubt the absolute truth
of science.” (Quoted in; “Is Science Moving Toward Belief in God?”)
G. K. Chesterton wrote that...:
It is absurd for the Evolutionist to
complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to
make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more
thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.
- In the past few years, millions of people have discovered a
fascinating new world of communication. By linking their computers to
the electronic web known as the Internet, they now have at their
fingertips vast resources of information and entertainment. No wonder
Internet addicts are perhaps the fastest-growing segment of our culture.
But as we zoom into the Information Age, let's not lose our perspective.
A glut of factual data and visual experiences doesn't guarantee an
increase in wisdom.
A century ago, British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson lamented, "Knowledge
grows but wisdom lingers." The Bible highlights this crucial difference
between mere knowledge and authentic wisdom. The book of Proverbs
emphasizes that it's not enough to acquire information; we need to gain
the understanding that is based on a healthy respect of the Lord (Pr
1:7). The apostle Paul pointed out that some people are always learning,
yet never coming to a grasp of truth that really matters (2Ti 3:7-note).
Information and technology can be wonderful tools. But don't get so
caught up in gaining knowledge that you fail to put it to good use. Only
the Book that tells us about Jesus Christ brings ultimate wisdom (Col
— Vernon C. Grounds
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O truth unchanged, unchanging,
O light of our dark sky.
and sing this hymn)
Wisdom gives wings to knowledge.
The Main Goal in
Life - In 1636, a group of Puritans founded Harvard University. Its
motto was Christo et Ecclesiae, which means "For Christ and the Church."
One of the school's guiding principles was this: "Everyone shall
consider the main end of his life and studies, to know God and Jesus
Christ, which is eternal life. John 17:3."
That prestigious center of learning and culture has long since abandoned
its original spiritual intent. Even many Harvard Divinity School faculty
members now regard its Christ-centered goal as narrow-minded and
outdated. In fact, not long ago a group of Harvard students staged a
mock funeral procession through the Divinity School. They carried a
coffin and proclaimed, "Our God, the Father, is dead."
Those students were as far from the truth as east is from west. The
everlasting Father, who has created all life (including those who mock
Him), is as immune to death as He is to sin.
Three hundred fifty years after the establishment of Harvard, the chief
purpose of life is still and always will be, in the words of those
colonial Puritans, "to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal
life." Let us make that the main goal of our lives. — Vernon C. Grounds
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
My heart's desire is to know You,
To walk close to You today;
To know Your grace, Your love, Your power,
For You are my life and my way. --Bierema
To know life's purpose, we must know life's Creator.
Lewis Thomas in Harvard Magazine, 1981:
I cannot make peace with the randomness doctrine; I cannot abide the
notion of purposelessness and blind chance in nature. And yet I do not
know what to put in its place for the quieting of my mind. It is absurd
to say that a place like this is absurd, when it contains, in front of
our eyes, so many billions of different forms of life, each one in its
way absolutely perfect, all linked together to form what would surely
seem to an outsider a huge, spherical organism. We talk—some of us,
anyway—-about the absurdity of the human situation, but we do this
because we do not know how we fit in, or what we are here for. The
stories we used to make up to explain ourselves do not make sense
anymore, and we have run out of new stories, for the moment.
monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing the things that are said to be—
Said one to another: “Now listen you two
There’s a certain rumor, but it can’t be true,
That man descended from our noble race—
Why, the very idea; it’s a disgrace!
“No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies and ruined her life.
Nor did ever a mother-monkey
Leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to another
‘Till they scarcely knew who was their mother.
“And another thing you’ll never see
A monkey building a nest around a coconut tree,
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monkeys to have a taste.
Why, if I build a fence around a coconut tree,
Starvation would cause me to distribute to you.
“Here’s another thing that a monkey won’t do:
Go out at night and get on a stew;
Or use a gun, a club, or a knife
To take another monkey’s life.
Yes, Man descended, the ornery cuss!
But Brother, he didn’t descend from us.”
THE GLORY OF THE INCORRUPTIBLE GOD:kai ellaxan (3PAAI) ten doxan tou aphthartou theou:
(Ro 1:25; Psalms 106:20; Jeremiah 2:11, 12, 13)
From Paul's divinely inspired
"pattern of moral/ethical devolution" here in Romans 1,
notice how suppression and
rejection of the knowledge of the true God
[Ro 1:18, 19-note,
Ro 1:20, 21-note,
naturally "devolves" into worship of false gods and how this false
worship in turn is intimately associated with the practice of sexual
immorality in all forms!
[Ro 1:24, 25-note,
Ro 1:26, 27-note,
Ro 1:28, 29, 30, 31-note,
Knowledge of the one true and living God and growing intimacy with the
Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit
[2Pe 3:18-note; Gal 5:16-see
in daily quiet times of worshipful fellowship
on His Word, Ps 119:9, 10, 11-note
, But Caution:
Beware of these "spiritual" disciplines becoming "legalistic"
tendencies) are the BEST
preventative measures and cures for so-called addiction to sexual
immorality, better than all the Christian books and programs that are
flooding the marketplace! Let us return to the "ancient paths"
(Jer 6:16, 18:15), the
"highway of holiness" and as Christian men begin to experience a freedom
in this area that heretofore we never even thought was possible in light
of the pervasive permeation of American culture by sensuality and sexual
In first Thessalonians Paul teaches
that "knowing God" is vital for countering our natural,
passion" as he writes...
For this is the will of God, your
sanctification (holiness -
hagiasmos); that is, that you abstain (present
= speaks of our continual need, this is to be our habitual practice; the
verb is apechomai
- see use in 1Pe 2:11-note)
from sexual immorality (porneia
> English "pornography", cp uses in 1Co 5:1, Ep 5:3-note,
Col 3:5-note); that each of you know how to possess his own
vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, (an
exceedingly strong expression, emphasizing the strength of unbridled
desire) like the Gentiles who do not know God (cp 2Co 4:6, Gal
4:8, 2Pe 1:3, 4 [notes]
= note in context where this gift comes from - true knowledge of Him!).
1Th 4:4, 5-note)
Comment: "Not in lustful
passion" clearly stands opposed to knowing God. Know God and no lustful
passions is the take home message. Of course, because we as believers
still live in this physical flesh and possess the "fallen flesh" until
glory, we will have to fight continually to know God that we might have
continual victory in this area of sexual sin to which so many of God's
choice saints are falling prey in these last days because of the
prevalence, "privacy" (God still sees! And often the wife discovers!)
and ease of internet pornography. So men, let us seek God in His Word
that we might know Him, that we might grow in the grace (not legalism,
not rules, not a list of "I won't do this" or "I will do that") and the
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we make that the bent
of our life, we will walk in the power of His Spirit (cp Ro 8:13-note,
and will experience and walk in the will of God for our lives, our
sanctification (holiness), manifest in part by our abstention from
sexual immorality (and especially internet pornography).
(allasso from állos = other, another) has the
literally meaning of to make otherwise. The basic sense is “to make
other than it is." It means to to change, to cause
one thing to cease and another to take its place, to exchange one thing
for another. To make
something different. To alter.
Allasso is used 6 times in
the NT - Acts 6:14 (changing the customs of the law); Ro 1:23-note; 1Co 15:51, 52
(speaking of our future "change" of our bodies, exchanging
"earth suits" for "heavenly suits"! = glorification); Gal 4:20 (change
tone of speaking); Heb 1:12-note
(speaking of changing of creation as we now know it).
Allasso is translated in the NAS - alter(1), change(1), changed(3),
Allasso is used 28 times in
- Ge. 31:7; 35:2; 41:14; Ex 13:13; Lev. 27:10, 27, 33;
Jdg 14:13; 2Sa 12:20; 1Ki. 5:14; 20:25; 2Ki. 5:5, 22, 23; Ezra 6:11,
12; Neh 9:26; Ps 102:26; 106:20; Is 24:5; 40:31; 41:1; Je 2:11; 13:23;
52:33; Da 4:16, 25, 32
Notice the fallen
never improves, for ancient Israel (cp 1Cor 10:6, 11), chosen by God and
privileged to have access to His holiness (Shekinah
glory cloud would or should have been an ever present reminder of
His holy presence) and His holy Word fell prey to the wooing of the
corrupt nature that is opposed to God and ever seeks us to make this
They made a calf in Horeb, And
worshiped a molten image. 20 Thus they exchanged (Heb = muwr/mur =
alter, barter, dispose of, exchange; Lxx = allasso)
their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They forgot God
their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, 22 Wonders in the land
of Ham, And awesome things by the Red Sea. 23 Therefore He said that He
would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach
before Him, To turn away His wrath from destroying them. 24 Then they
despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, 25 But
grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.
26 Therefore He swore to them, That He would cast them down in the
wilderness, 27 And that He would cast their seed among the nations, And
scatter them in the lands. 28 They joined themselves also to Baal-peor,
And ate sacrifices offered to the dead.29 Thus they provoked Him to
anger with their deeds; And the plague broke out among them. (Ps
Webster says that
the act of giving or taking one thing in return for another" or "the act
or process of substituting one thing for another.
indicates that this is a historical fact, a past completed action. The
indicates that men volitionally or willfully choose to make this unspeakably
tragic exchange. God did not force men into this act. It did not happen
by accident but by choice.
Men could not actually
change the glory of God into anything. His glory is immutable. They made
an exchange like Israel at Mt Horeb (while Moses was on the mountain)
image. Thus they
(Septuagint uses very same Greek verb
glory for the
image of an
grass (Ps 106:20).
The Septuagint also uses
(twice in this verse)
gods When they were not
gods ? But My
glory for that which does not
Notice that this exchange does
not bring about evolution, but devolution (degeneration, a passing
onwards or downwards from one stage to another). Man is not progressing
but regressing, going backwards, not forwards. The direction is not man
going up, up up, but it is man going down, down, down. Man is not man
getting better and better but getting worse and worse. Man is not man
reaching the heights, but is plummeting to the depths.
from a = not, + phtheiro
= to shrivel or wither, spoil, ruin , deprave, to destroy by corrupting
and so to bring into a worse state) is an adjective which describes that
which is not subject or liable to decay and death
and thus is in a sense immortal. Aphthartos is that which is not corruptible
or not liable to corruption or decay. It describes that which is
impervious to corruption.
Synonyms include immortal,
God is not liable to corruption or
decay, especially when compared to man-made idols which are liable to
decay and corruption.
Aphthartos is used 8 times in
the NT - Mark 16:8; Ro 1:23; 1Co 9:25; 15:52; 1Ti 1:17; 1Pe 1:4, 23; 3:4
The words incorruptible and corruptible
are inserted in order to expose more vividly in the contrast the folly
of the exchange. Incorruptibility is of the essence of God’s being Who
is not liable to corruption or decay, but is imperishable in dramatic
contrast to the man-made idols which are liable to decay and corruption.
From the beginning less eternity past to the endless eternity to come,
He is the glorious self-existent One. Now came the high insult: having
rejected knowledge of God, but unable to escape the consciousness that
He exists, men, like Israel later, (Ps 106:20). The more you reflect
upon the infinite glory and majesty of the eternal God, the more hideous
will the unspeakable insult to Him of any kind of idolatry appear to
you! Men first likened God to man; but, being given over, they rushed
rapidly downwards: a bird, a quadruped; and finally, a reptile!
is a dangerous thing to change the glory of the incorruptible God for an eikon (image) of your own choosing. It is absolutely essential that
we constantly compare our own concept of God against the reality of
Who God is as revealed in His Word lest we become guilty of worshipping
a self-made "god".
Because man is incurably "religious", if he will not worship God, he
will find (or make) something to worship. When man makes this exchange
and turns away from God, he creates an "image" to worship. First the
images look human, then the images begin to degrade into those of birds,
then four-footed animals and finally images of snakes and bugs. When man
exchanges the truth about God, he begins by worshiping himself, but he
doesn’t stay there. The course is always downward. There is a practical
point here for all of us to remember: When you turn away from God, you
always turn to something else. No man lives in a vacuum. You either
worship God or replace him with a god of your own making!
It cannot be denied that even some believers treat images as idols or
magical amulets—superstition, like any other sin, unless guarded
against, can find its way into God’s people. In the same way, Jewish
customs such as touching the Torah scroll as it is carried around the
synagogue or kissing the mezuzah on the doorpost can be subjectively
converted from reminders of God into superstitious practices. And so
believers still have the latent propensity to worship idols and have the
need to constantly
Watch over your heart with all
diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. (Pr
you may find cities without walls, or literature, or kings, or houses,
or wealth, or money, without gymnasia or theaters. But no one ever saw a
city without temples and gods.
Man cannot seem to resist the temptation to create God
into his own corrupt image, or even in an image beneath himself. The
great tragedy in this is that we inescapably become like the "god" (or
Although the present passage is
referring primarily to the heathens or pagans, it is clearly applicable
to those who should know better as exemplified by Israel who had been
set free from Egyptian bondage and were awaiting Moses' return from Mt
Sinai. What did they do while they waited? They came to Aaron and said
Come, make us a god who will go
before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of
Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." And Aaron said to them,
"Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons,
and your daughters, and bring them to me." Then all the people tore off
the gold rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And
he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and
made it into a molten calf; and they said, "This is your god, O Israel,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt." Now when Aaron saw this, he
built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said,
"Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD. (Exodus
How quickly Israel played the
fool and exchanged the glory of Jehovah for that of a lifeless golden
is really just another system devised by man to replace the truth and
the worship of the One God. Empiric evidence supports the
man is not naturally godly, but he is naturally religious! Witness for
example the fact that most people in the world claim to be religious.
Hindus have 330 million gods.
Millions of Buddhists revere a tooth said
to have belonged to Buddha.
The development of
religion is not evidence of man’s progress but of his depravity and
rejection of God. Fallen man wants and need a god but one they like
better than the one True God.
The Gentiles substituted the worship of idols for the worship of the
Historians report that many ancient gentile cultures did not
originally have idols. For example, Persia (Herodotus; The Histories,
1:31), Rome (Varro in Augustine; The City of God, 4:31), even Greece and
Egypt (Lucian; The Syrian Goddess, 34) had no idolatry at their
The fourth-century a.d. historian
Eusebius reported that the oldest civilizations had no idols. The
earliest biblical record of idolatry was among Abram’s family in Ur
(Joshua 24:2). The first commandment forbids it (Ex 20:3, 4, 5), and the
prophets continually ridiculed those who foolishly practiced it (Isa
44:13; cf. 2Ki 17:13,
14, 15, 16). Although the false
gods which men worship do not exist, demons often impersonate them
Today it seems that many even in the Church have exchanged God's glory for an image in the form
of corruptible man. What little "g" god are they worshipping? The god of
self (unbiblical self-esteem...self image...self, self, self!)
FOR AN IMAGE IN THE FORM
OF CORRUPTIBLE MAN: en homoiomati eikonos
phthartou anthropou: (Dt 4:15, 16, 17, 18; 5:8; Ps
115:5, 6, 7, 8; 135:15, 16, 17, 18; Is 40:18,26; 44:13; Ezek
8:10; Ac 17:29; 1Co 12:2; 1Pe 4:3; Re 9:20)
Image (1504) (eikon) is
an artistic representation, as one might see on a coin or statue (an
image or a likeness, as in Mt 22.20). Eikon can also refer to a
visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form (see
As used here in Colossians eikon speaks of an embodiment or
living manifestation of God.
Here are the 23 uses of eikon in
the NT - Matt. 22:20; Mark. 12:16; Lk. 20:24; Rom. 1:23; 8:29; 1 Co. 11:7;
15:49; 2 Co. 3:18; 4:4; Col. 1:15; 3:10; Heb. 10:1; Rev. 13:14f; 14:9,
11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4
Eikon is in
the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, the Septuagint (LXX) in Genesis
God said "Let Us make man in Our
image (LXX = eikon) (Genesis
The story is told
of the slave who saluted General George Washington and to whom
Washington returned the salute. When ask about this seemingly unusual
behavior, Washington answered that the slave bore the image of God, and
thus was worthy of respect.
Paul in fact
confirmed that man
is the image (eikon)
and glory of God (1Cor 11:7).
Paul went on to
just as we have borne the image
(eikon) of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the
heavenly. (1Cor 15:49)
the basis for such English terms as icon ( a conventional
religious image typically painted or engraved on a small wooden panel
and venerated in Eastern Orthodox Churches), "iconography" (the
illustration of a subject by drawing), or "iconoclast" (the
medieval zealots who broke up religious statues and then anyone who
attacks cherished beliefs or practices).
God created us in His image, and we
are to be a living testimony to our Creator. Only one image is ordained
by God to represent Him. This is the crown of His Creation, human
beings. To form any other image as a representation of God is a
violation of the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, it is sheer blasphemy.
This was the sin which Paul condemned so strongly in the prologue to his
Roman Epistle (see note
(Detzler, Wayne A: New Testament Words in Today's Language)
In early Greek the
eikon was an engraving of the Emperor's head on a coin but soon
was also attached to a statue or a metal image. Likewise eikon
was the copy of a picture or the embodiment of a certain virtue. This
idea is seen in English phrases such as, "She is the `image' of
The Jews rejected
all images of God. The Ten Commandments forbade any casting of images,
which was the sin into which Aaron fell at the foot of Sinai. In fact,
the only image of God which is depicted in Scripture is man (Genesis
1:26). In this connection
the New Testament uses the word eikon.
expresses two ideas. First, likeness, as in the image on a coin
or the reflection in a mirror. Second, manifestation, with the
sense that God is fully revealed in Jesus. Eikon does not denote
mere likeness or resemblance. Eikon conveys the meaning that
Christ is whatever God is--spiritual, omnipotent, omniscient, holy--all
the attributes of the eternal God.
used in Revelation in multiple references to the Antichrist or
beast who will demand worship from non-believing earth dwellers
Daniel's Seventieth Week,
the seven year period preceding the return of Christ to defeat the
Antichrist and set up His 1000 year millennial kingdom on earth. An
image (eikon) of the beast will be erected as the object of
Participation in the society of the day will be limited to those who
worship the image of the beast (Rev 14:9-note,
God will summarily condemn those who have bowed before the beast's image
On the other hand, God's eternal glory will be reserved for those who do
not fall down before the beast's image (Rev 20:4-note).
Notice that the first creature man
substitutes for God is himself! Man is the first false god! This
exchange fulfilled Satan’s purpose when he told Eve “Ye shall be as
God!” (Ge 3:5) which is like saying “Glory to man in the highest!”.
Extreme examples are Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, the Caesars, Hitler,
Jim Jones, etc. Voltaire sarcastically observed that “God made man in
His own image and man returned the favor!"
Harry Ironside calls the
Observe the downward steps on the
toboggan-slide of idolatry: God first thought of as an idealized man,
then likened to the birds that soar into the heavens, next to the beasts
that prowl over the earth, and finally to serpents and other detestable
creeping things, whether reptilian or insectivorous. Even the Egyptian
worshiped the serpent and the scarabeus (Ed note: Family of beetles,
including the dung beetle! The Scarabeus sacer was revered by the
ancient Egyptians as the symbol of resurrection) and yet back of all
Egyptian mythology is hidden the original revelation of one true and
living God. What degradation does this imply on the part of one of the
most enlightened nations of antiquity! And other empires bear similar
marks of declension and deterioration. (Ironside, H A: Romans, Loizeaux
Man is essentially constituted to be a worshiper. If he abandons the
worship of God, some other object will be found to take the place of the
Creator. If man will not worship the true God, he will worship a false
god, even if he has to manufacture it himself! This fact about man
accounts for his propensity to idolatry. Instead of man being made in
God’s image, man made gods in his own image—and then descended so low as
to worship birds, beasts, and bugs! And remember that from idolatry to
immorality is just one short step. If man is his own god, then he can do
whatever he pleases and fulfill his desires without fear of judgment.
The result of this self-deification was self-indulgence. And modern man
has not outgrown or become too sophisticated. Astrology, wealth, health,
pleasure, sex, sports, entertainment, celebrities, all at an all time
Early in Israel's history God
warned the chosen people who had seen even more than "natural
revelation" but had seen first hand His great and mighty deeds in
delivering them from Egyptian bondage:
"You shall not make for yourself an
idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath
or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve
them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity
of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations
of those who hate Me (Exodus
"So watch yourselves carefully, since
you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from
the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make a graven image
for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or
female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of
any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that
creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water
below the earth. (Deuteronomy
In the Old Testament the voices of the prophets are
continually raised against the folly of idolatry, for God is remonstrating
with His own people for turning from Him and falling to the level
of the nations around them. The Gentiles, though
originally turning from the worship of the Creator, were not guilty of
folly to the same extent as Israel. Gentiles are brought up in idolatry.
Hence sarcasm is not used in appeal to, or remonstrance with, them.
How far did Israel wander from the
light and God's revelation and His clear warning? Ezekiel describes an incredible scene in
the confines of God's Holy Temple in Jerusalem (where His glory was
still manifest as the "shekinah" glory cloud over the Temple!)
just prior to the final destruction by Babylon writing...
"Son of man
(the Spirit is speaking to Ezekiel = 8:3 "the Spirit lifted me up
between earth and heaven and brought me [from Babylon] in the visions of
God to Jerusalem, to" the holy Temple grounds), do you see what they
are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are
committing here, that I should be far from My sanctuary? But yet you
will see still greater abominations."
7 Then He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked,
behold, a hole in the wall.
8 And He said to me, "Son of man, now dig through the wall." So I dug
through the wall, and behold, an entrance.
9 And He said to me, "Go in and see the wicked abominations that they
are committing here."
10 So I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things
and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of
Israel, were carved on the wall all around. (remember this is in
the Temple area where God's holy presence was still manifest! Talk about
sinning against greater light!)
11 And standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of
Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man
with his censer in his hand, and the fragrance of the cloud of incense
12 Then He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the
house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his
carved images? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us; the LORD has
forsaken the land.'"
13 And He said to me, "Yet you will see still greater abominations which
they are committing."
14 Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the LORD'S house
which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping
for Tammuz ( = a Babylonian "deity", husband of Ishtar, who after
his death supposedly became god of the underworld. Some have understood
him as a vegetation-deity, dying in the heat of the summer and rising in
the spring. Base immorality was connected with his worship as is always
the case with idolatry!).
15 And He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see
still greater abominations than these." (note rejection of the
revelation of the true God leads to sin is progressively downward...to
greater and greater abominations)
16 Then He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house. And
behold, at the entrance to the temple of the LORD, between the porch and
the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of
the LORD and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating
themselves eastward toward the sun (Do you see this upside down picture?
Backs toward the "shekinah glory cloud", a manifestation of the true
God, the Creator, and faces bowing down in worship to the creation, the
sun! God's people had rejected truth of natural revelation and of
special revelation - His written word - and like many ancient
civilization had become base sun worshippers!)
17 And He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a
thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have
committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and
provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their
18 "Therefore, I indeed shall deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity
nor shall I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet
I shall not listen to them." (Ezekiel
Romans 1:18ff gives ample proof that the heathen are lost. Dan Crawford,
British missionary to Africa, phrased it this way:
“The heathen are sinning against a
flood of light.”
There is a desperate need for us
to carry the Gospel to all men, for this is the only way they can be
saved. The ultimate irony in humanity’s refusal to glorify the true God
is the insanity or stupidity of idolatry. Isaiah speaks of this
"insanity" writing that...
9 Those who fashion a
are all of them futile (Septuagint
translates the Hebrew word with the Greek word mataios Strong #
= idea of an ineffectual attempt to do something, an unsuccessful effort
to attain something. Paul, used it to depict the meaninglessness that
pervades the thought life of fallen human beings. The ideas of the unregenerate are futile and aimless because
they lack divine insight; they produce a life of purposelessness and
their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to
see or know, so that they will be put to shame.
10 Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit?
11 Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen
themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them
stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame.
12 The man shapes iron into a cutting tool, and does his work over the
coals, fashioning it with hammers, and working it with his strong arm.
He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and
13 Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with
red chalk. He works it with planes, and outlines it with a compass, and
makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may
sit in a house.
14 Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak, and
raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir,
and the rain makes it grow.
15 Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them
and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a
god and worships it; he makes it a graven image, and falls down before
16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he
roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha!
I am warm, I have seen the fire."
17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls
down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me,
for thou art my god."
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over
their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot
19 And no one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say,
"I have burned half of it in the fire, and also have baked bread over
its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an
abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!"
20 He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he
cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
21 "Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be
forgotten by Me." (Isaiah
Man cannot seem to resist the
temptation to create God into his own corrupt image, or even in an image
beneath himself; the great tragedy in this is that we inescapably become
like the God we serve. The Greeks made their gods like men. Many statues
still exist that were taken from old Greek or Roman temples. The
Egyptians worshiped the bull Apis, the ibis, the cat, the crocodile, etc. At first, idols were probably designed as only
representations, but they finally became objects of worship.
absolutely essential that we constantly compare our own concept of
God against the reality of who God is as revealed in His Word; we can
also be guilty of worshipping a self-made God.
Paul on Mars Hill declares...
Being then the offspring of God (all people were created and given life
by God), we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or
silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. (see
Writing to the Corinthian Christians
Paul reminded them...
You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb
idols, however you were led (1 Corinthians 12:2)
John in the Revelation
makes it clear that man's propensity toward idolatry will persist until
the very end writing that in context of horrible plagues (read
"the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not
repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the
idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which
can neither see nor hear nor walk; (see note
John MacArthur explains
Every form of idolatry is a form of
self-worship, just as every form of idolatry is a form of demon, or
Satan, worship. Whether his idols are fashioned out of his own depraved
thinking or are inspired by Satan, every false god appeals to man’s
fallen nature and entices him to glorify and indulge himself. In one way
or another, all idolatry is worship of self and service of Satan. (MacArthur,
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
AND OF BIRDS
AND FOUR-FOOTED ANIMALS AND CRAWLING CREATURES: kai peteinon kai
tetrapodon kai herpeton:
Notice the downward
progression — man, birds, animals, creeping things. Instead of evolving
from lower forms, “early man” was of a high moral order. By refusing to
acknowledge the true, infinite, incorruptible God, he devolved to the
stupidity & emptiness of idol worship. This whole passage gives the lie to
evolution. Man is instinctively religious. He must have some object to
worship. When he refused to worship the living God, he made his own gods
of wood and stone.
Godet adds an interesting
Thus idolatry, according to Paul, is
not a progressive stage reached in the religious thought of mankind,
starting from primeval fetishism. Far from being a first step toward the
goal of Monotheism, Polytheism is on the contrary the result of
degeneracy, an apostasy from the original Monotheism, a darkening of the
understanding and heart, which has terminated in the grossest fetishism.
The history of religions, thoroughly studied as it is nowadays, fully
justifies Paul's view. It shows that the present heathen peoples of
India and Africa, far from rising of themselves to a higher religious
state, have only sunk, age after age, and become more and more degraded.
It proves that at the root of all pagan religions and mythologies, there
lies an original Monotheism, which is the historical starting-point in
religion for all mankind. (Godet, F: The Epistle of St Paul to the
Charles Hodge adds that
who bowed down to sticks and stones are denounced as worshiping gods
which had been made with their own hands. Idolatry includes not merely
the worship of false gods, but the worship of the true God through
images. The universal prevalence of idolatry among the heathen, despite
the revelation which God had made of himself in his deeds, is the
evidence which Paul adduces to prove that they are ungodly and
consequently exposed to that wrath which is revealed against all
(Click Torrey's Topic on
John MacArthur elaborating on creature idolatry writes that...
Among the many birds worshiped in the
ancient world were the eagle in Rome, and the stork and hawk in Egypt.
It was because eagles were often deified by Romans that the Jews so
vehemently opposed their being displayed in any form in Israel,
especially in the holy city of Jerusalem. Some American Indians still
worship various birds, as seen in their totem poles. The stylized Indian
thunderbird has become a popular symbol in modern society. Ancient idols
in the form of four-footed animals were almost too numerous to count.
The Egyptians worshiped the bull-god Apis, the cat-goddess Bubastis, the
cow-goddess Hathor, the hippopotamus-goddess Opet, and the wolf-god
Ophois. As already noted, even the ancient Israelites were guilty of
fashioning and then worshiping a golden calf, which was intended to
represent the true God! Many Egyptians and Canaanites worshiped bulls,
some of which were buried with great riches just as were the pharaohs.
Diana, or Artemis, a popular Greek goddess in New Testament times (Acts
19:27), did not have the form of a beautiful woman but rather that of a
gross, ugly female beast with countless nipples hanging beneath her,
supposedly enough to suckle the world. Other ancient idols were in the
form of such diverse objects as mice and rats, elephants, crocodiles,
monkeys, and the sun and moon. We also know from secular sources and
well as from Scripture about many kinds of crawling creatures that were
worshiped, many of which are still deified in parts of the world today.
Among their many idols, the ancient Egyptians worshiped the scarab
beetle, likenesses of which are sold as souvenirs in that country today.
The insect lives in manure piles and is commonly referred to as the dung
beetle. The Assyrians became fond of worshiping snakes, as did many
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
As his concept of deity degenerates, his morals degenerate also. If his
god is a reptile, then he feels free to live as he pleases. Remember too
that a worshiper generally considers himself inferior to the object of
worship. Created in the image and after the likeness of God, man here
takes a place lower than that of serpents! When man worships idols, he
worships demons. Paul states clearly that the things which the Gentiles
sacrifice to idols they sacrifice to demons and not to God (1Co 10:20).
The result was an empty mind and a darkened heart. Man the worshiper
became man the philosopher, but his empty wisdom only revealed his
foolishness. Paul summarized all of Greek history in one dramatic
statement: “the times of this ignorance” (Acts 17:30, cp 1Co 1:18, 19,
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31)
Deities of human form prevailed in Greece, those of
bestial form in Egypt; and both methods of worship were practiced in
Rome. Serpent-worship was common in Chaldea, and also in Egypt.… The
priests of Isis contrived that the silver images of serpents kept in her
temple should move their heads to the suppliant.… The vestal virgins
were entrusted with the attendance upon a holy serpent, and were charged
with supplying his table with meats on festival days.
is often interpreted as
referring only to snakes, it also includes in biblical contexts (as the
result of the influence of classifications based on Hebrew terminology,
as in Ge 1.25, 26, 30) a number of small four-footed animals as well as
snakes, for example, rats, mice, frogs, toads, salamanders, and lizards.
However, in various NT contexts it does appear to refer primarily to
Mahatma Gandhi, he of the horrible, toothless, diabolical grin of
conceited folly; having been educated in England, and having heard the
gospel and read the Scriptures, and rejected their light: sits on the
deck of the steamer returning from India—doing what? Forming mud images
with his own hands! A self-advertising illustration of the idolater’s
heart-conception (deception) of the glorious incorruptible God.
Read Hosea 4:1. Why are
people without the knowledge of the true God? Did they never have this
knowledge or did they have it and reject it? See Hosea 4:6 for the
answer. And just as this was true of Israel the same principle is
brought out in Romans 1:19, 20, 21, 22.
Compare Romans 1:23 with Psalm 106:20
and Jeremiah 2:11 -- It is no surprise that they "became fools"-- Ro
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