2. "Hold Down the Truth." Rom 1:18-19
The apostle shows the need for salvation by dealing
exhaustively with the subject of the ruin of the race. Writing to the
saints in Rome, many of whom would be Gentiles, and others of whom were
undoubtedly Hebrews, he dealt with the race by showing first that the
Gentile was condemned; secondly, that the Jew was condemned; and
finally, therefore, that the whole world was guilty.
i. THE GENTILE CONDEMNED
In this section dealing with the Gentile
condemnation, we have the statement of a principle; a declaration of
Gentile knowledge; a deduction concerning Gentile sin; and a description
of Gentile judgment.
a. A PRINCIPLE
In stating the principle, the apostle first declared
that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and
unrighteousness. This combination of terms should be carefully noted,
revealing as it does the cause and effect in all sin and consequent
corruption. That, out of which unrighteousness inevitably proceeds, is
ungodliness, the putting of God out of the life, and the neglect of, or
rebellion against the facts of His Kingship and requirements. That which
inevitably proceeds out of ungodliness, is unrighteousness, which is
life failing to fulfill the Divine requirements; for the only standard
of right is that of the requirement of God.
The process is described as that of holding down the
truth in unrighteousness, which is to say that unrighteousness
necessarily issues from the knowledge of some measure of truth, and
consists in refusal to submit to the requirement thereof.
b. GENTILE KNOWLEDGE
Seeing that this is so, the apostle immediately
proceeded to declare the measure of Gentile knowledge. Through created
things God had at least made perfectly clear the fact of His power and
divinity. There is but one conclusion for all rational thinking in the
presence of creation, and that is, that such creation demonstrates power
and divinity; or, if we would borrow the language of our own day,
creation demonstrates force and intelligence. This then was the measure
of truth possessed by the Gentiles.
c. GENTILE SIN
Gentile sin consisted in the fact that instead of
following the necessary issue of such reasoning, that of glorifying as
God, those invisible forces which the visible revealed, they deified the
visible things; and thus yielding themselves wholly to the creature,
instead of to the Creator, they became sensualized and degraded. This
action on their part had been professedly that of wisdom. The apostle
declared that by it they became fools, in that they turned from the
worship of the incorruptible to that of the corruptible in differing
d. GENTILE JUDGMENT
In these results already referred to consisted the
judgment of the Gentiles. That judgment the apostle proceeded to
describe at greater length. Its principle is evident in the threefold
use of the expression "God gave them up." An examination of the three
paragraphs will reveal the fact of the degradation of the whole man.
He gave them up that their bodies should be
dishonoured. Worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, they fell
into all manner of misuse of their own bodily powers, with the result
that their physical being was debased and corrupted.
This issued in the degradation of their spirit;
which, acting under the influence of deified physical powers, became in
turn the very inspiration and energy of vileness; and this reacted again
upon the body in all manner of unseemliness.
Once again the issue was a reprobate mind, a mind
haying lost its true balance and perspective, and being characterized by
all the evil things which the apostle names.
Thus the judgment of God on the Gentiles was not
capricious, and arbitrary; but consisted in the natural results of their
refusal to recognize as God, the One revealed through creation: and of
their deification of the creation itself.
"God gave them up" is the simple declaration of the
fact that God is the God of law, and another form of stating the truth
that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
The apostle finally declared in this connection that
those practicing such things knew that they were worthy of death, that
is to say, they were perfectly conscious that the issue of their
practices was their own destruction: and yet they continued in them, and
consented with them that practiced them.
The wrath of God from heaven against ungodliness and
unrighteousness is thus manifest in the corruption which follows upon
the sin of refusing to act upon the measure of light received.