What a horrible mess! The world! How did it happen? We have an answer! The Almighty God Himself gave us the reason in Romans 1. It was due to human rebellion against the Creator-God. The first description of rebellion Paul described was this. The Creator was exchanged for, or substituted by, created things, leading to idolatry. 1:21-23. In the previous article based on these verses we saw that this has had disastrous moral consequences including the modern-day prevalence of abortion as an option for deliberate birth control.
Paul then went on to describe the second aspect of human rebellion against God in Romans 1:25 as replacing the revealed truth about God for a lie as seen in false religion, 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. We now look at bit more deeply at this second exchange or substitution.
What is the “lie” that humans in rebellion chose in God’s place? In Romans 1 Paul showed that God had revealed Himself through His creation and through the revelation enshrined in the Judea-Christian tradition. But humans had rejected that revelation. For what? A “lie”! Yes, a lie! What was the lie that Paul wrote about here? The word for “lie” is (pseudos). As we look at its use in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament we notice the following in the underlined words. It can refer to idols and the false worship associated with those idols, for example in Jeremiah 10:14, Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. It is also used in the following examples where God (YHWH) rebukes the people of Jerusalem for rejecting Him for lies, Jeremiah 13:25, This is your lot, the portion I have measured out to you, declares the LORD, because you have forgotten me and trusted in lies. And again in Isaiah 28, 14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”. “Pseudos” is also used by David to denote the proud who turn away from God, Psa 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! We will see that the danger of “lies” in both Old and New Testaments is they are not just “non-truth”. Rather they are anti-God, the product of human rebellion.
Jesus is the truth, not the lie. When we turn to the New Testament we find that a contrast is made between a lie and the truth in Jesus. Humans in their rebellion have rejected the truth about God. They have exchanged it for a lie. Paul goes on in verse 23 to describe the outworking of that exchange, they … worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. The word for “worshipped” is sebazomai which is found only here in the New Testament. It means to venerate or worship, to be in awe of someone or something. The object of their veneration was the “creature” rather than the Creator Himself. “Creature” can mean the whole of creation, animate and inanimate. To ignore the Creator and to venerate the creation or any part of it was to engage in idolatry. The creation had been substituted in people’s hearts and minds by aspects of the creation He had made.
Not only did they replace the Creator by the creation He had made, they also “served” this creation. “Served” is from latreuō. The word combines the twin meanings of veneration and service to what is venerated. The veneration had its practical outworking. Those of faith like Paul could serve the Creator God “with a clear conscience”, 2Tim 1:3, and could “serve by the Spirit of God” Php 3:3. But those in rebellion against God chose to reject the Maker and to focus on what He had made.
Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan to throw in His lot with Satan by worshipping him instead of God. However Jesus replied, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” Mat 4:1. Those who replace the Creator by His creation do so as they yield to Satan’s seductions and temptations.
Jesus is not the “lie”. He is THE TRUTH. In John 1:14 John declared of Jesus the Creator who became human, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And in John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Truth became incarnate in the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus also described Himself as being “THE” truth in John 14:6, where He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He was making a claim to uniqueness. He was claiming that He alone is the only way to God. He was claiming that He alone is the truth about God. He alone reflected the Father perfectly in His life on earth. As He said in John 14:9, … Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” He alone is the life because only He can bestow eternal life, God’s life, to those who trust in Him.
The danger of worshipping and serving the lie. Jesus taught that those who opposed Him were walking in the darkness of error and not in the light of truth. He saw them as being deceived by Satan, the Devil, who had nothing to do with the truth. He saw them as doing the devil’s will rather than the will of God, Joh_8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
To put it succinctly. Jesus is the truth because He is the truth about God and the way to God. He is the truth about man because we see in Jesus how mankind was meant to live, as He lived in total dependence on His Heavenly Father. He is the truth about the eternal life which exists in Him. He alone has the power to bestow it to those who trust in Him. Paul summed up the truth about Jesus when he described Him in the loftiest of terms in (Col 1:11-22). He recognised Him as being the following:- the image of God; the creator of everything (which exists for Him as well as through Him); the sustainer of the universe; the pre-eminent one in all creation; the dwelling place of the fullness of God; the only one who can reconcile humans to God. In other words the Bible says that there is no one to compare to Him. He embodies the truth. Those who are opposed to Him and do not recognise His uniqueness are described as being deceived, in darkness, blinded by Satan and under his power. In other words they are not of the truth and have, as Paul expressed it in Romans 1:25, … exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. The creatures in their rebellion have rebelled against their creator! The consequences are enormous. But Jesus, and He alone, can do something about it.
When we look at the words associated with word (pseudo) “lie” of Rom 1:25, we see that they have reference to Jesus as the truth. If the gospel message did not contain the truth about Jesus Christ then it was a “false” gospel. Much of the content of the New Testament epistles was focussed on correcting “false” views of Jesus that were being spread by “false” teachers. The list of words includes the following. (False) – brother, apostle, witnesses, prophets, teachers, words, Christs and many others. One cannot countenance anything as truth if it does not give Jesus His rightful place in His universe. Anything that contradicts His teaching can never be truth.
We live in a world of rebellious humans. We have all been among them! But coming to know and receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord meant coming from darkness into the light of Christ. It meant being set free from Satan’s deception and from doing Satan’s will. Paul wrote of the Christian minister as needing to be “able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Tim 2:24-26.
If the Bible is correct in saying that Jesus is the Creator and Redeemer of the world, the embodiment of truth and ultimately the judge of its peoples, then nothing can be added to what He taught. If any teaching is different from what He taught, it is a lie. It means that the many so-called prophets which have arisen since Jesus lived and died and rose again are false prophets if their teaching is different to His. We need to pray for all those whom Satan has blinded and deceived that their eyes might be opened to the truth in Jesus. Only then will they recognise that they have been worshipping and serving a lie and not Jesus as the truth. Human rebellion in replacing the creator with anyone or anything else is based on a lie because it leaves Christ out of His rightful place as the pre-eminent One in this universe.
Heavenly Father, we pray for all those who remain in the darkness and ignorance of sin. Especially the sin of not making You the Lord and Master of their lives. Open their eyes to see that they have exchanged the truth in Jesus for a lie and are caught up in false worship. Touch them in the power of your Holy Spirit so that they might be brought from darkness into light, from bondage to Satan into the freedom which is in Christ, and from death into life. May they open their hearts to receive Jesus as their Saviour, to worship Him as their Lord, and to serve Him in the fellowship of His church. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and for His sake, AMEN.
Blog No.127. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Friday 23rd August 2013