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Paul talked about such a person in Romans 1:21-25. Read it carefully.
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. 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 (Romans 1:21-25).
Paul was talking about a group of people who knew God, but for reasons that are not entirely clear they decided to walk away from the truth, choosing instead to worship and serve the creature more than the Creator.
From that point forward things became progressively worse for them. Their lives became a slow march of deterioration of body and soul. Anytime you switch from adhering to God’s truth to clinging to your reality, you can expect a process of “soul degradation.”
To fully understand what is going on with a person like that you have to begin with the context, which starts in Romans 1:18 where Paul writes about the displeasure of God raining down from heaven on any person who chooses to push His truth out of their lives. Here’s the actual verse:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).
This passage applies to all of us, not just the determined sinner who actively and angrily pushes the truth of God out of their lives. Paul is telling us about a universal, absolute cause and effect regardless of how big or nasty the sin is.
He is saying the displeasurable wrath of God automatically descends from on high when a person chooses to sin, whether it’s your cute toddler or the hardened criminal. Paul uses the language of “suppressing the truth” of God out of their lives, which means pushing aside God’s truth–a voluntary choice to ignore what is right.
He goes on in verse twenty-one by talking about how nobody has an excuse for pushing the truth of God out of their lives. He further expands on this idea in Romans 2:14-15 when he talks about the non-believing Gentiles who do not have the Bible but know how to do the things that are in the Bible. Knowing the truth is not the exclusive domain of the religious person.
It does not matter who you are or how much you know about God; none of us can get away with using excuses when it comes to responding correctly to God. We all–saved and lost–are without defenses (Romans 1:20).
Nevertheless, some people for whatever reason choose to alter God’s truth into a truth that is more in line with their preferences. And when they do this, they set themselves up for a displeasurable response from God.
I have seen this in my life. The “so-called” smallest sin in my marriage puts me in an adversarial position with God. He is no longer “for me” as it pertains to my sanctification (1 John 1:7-10). Though I can never lose my salvation, I can impede our relational well-being when I choose to do my thing.
This pushing of God’s truth out of my life interrupts the shalom in our marriage too. You cannot sin and expect things to be okay between yourself and the person with whom you sinned. God’s Word is true: You push His truth out of your life, and you’ll incur His wrath.
I often use a weenie balloon illustration when describing Romans 1:18. It goes like this: The idea of suppressing the truth or pushing it out of your life is analogous to squeezing a weenie balloon that is full of air. As soon as you press it, the balloon becomes exaggerated on the other end.
You cannot put pressure on one end without the other end being affected. The balloon becomes out-of-balance. And so does your life when you push the truth of God’s Word out of your life. You become awkward with God and awkward with others. You’re no longer in-step with what is right (Galatians 2:14).
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
When God’s displeasure comes into your life because you chose to reject His truth, then you cannot help but live an awkward, out-of-balance life. You cannot be Jesus-normal when God is standing in opposition to you.
You can visually see what I am talking about in the Mind Map. The process goes from left to right. The individual is thinking about a life question, e.g., how I want to live in God’s world. The first step in that process is to run their possible decision through the Philippians 4:8 filter. You can do this by asking yourself a series of questions:
If the person is unsure how to answer these questions accurately, it would be wise to reach out for help. They can access the four means of grace that we are given from the Bible to make sound decisions:
After seeking sound advice from these four means of grace (altogether they should bring balance to the person’s decision making), the person should be able to proceed in faith, knowing the Lord’s favor is on their lives because they were not trying to push their agenda.
However, there are times when a person wants to do what they want to do regardless of what God and others think about their choices. Here are five reasons people choose to do their thing:
Regardless of how they got to the point of their bad lifestyle choice, they now prefer to stick with their poor choice rather than do the hard thing, which is (1) die to themselves and (2) walk with the Lord (Mark 8:34).
The call to die is much harder at first glance than the desire to do your thing; so they do what they want to do. At that decisive point, the individual has begun exchanging the truth of God for a lie. They have not exchanged it entirely, but they are well on their way to the dark side.
Let’s review what has happened thus far in chronological order:
Their decision to do the wrong thing does not mitigate the “noise” that is going on in their souls. Just because they decided to do what is wrong does not mean their struggle between right and wrong has subsided.
Paul talked about how our souls churn inside of us when our consciences struggle with God’s morality. Even the unregenerate conscience fights this way. Paul said,
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Romans 2:14-15).
Though the person has suppressed God’s truth out of his life, his conscience is still active and responding to his wrong choice. The only way for him to get rid of his sin is by repentance, but if that is not an option, he must begin a process of re-scripting his conscience so he can fully exchange the truth of God for a lie.
With the Canon sitting on the self, the Comforter turned down low to where He no longer illuminates his mind, and he dismisses the community, the last thing for him to do is shut the conscience down, so he does not have to hear its voice pinging him at every turn.
There are four ways for him to alter his conscience to the point of successfully pushing God’s truth entirely out of his life. When finished, he will be able to do whatever it is he wants to do without feeling. Those four things are:
Since repentance is out of the question, he has no choice but to turn to these four noise reducers so he can live in his version of the truth. Once that is complete, he has successfully exchanged the truth of God for a lie.
That is no man’s land. It is flying blind in a storm. It is the worst possible place for any human to be. God is not with him, for him, or helping him. His mind is evolving into darkness. He is becoming desensitized to the truth. The people who can help him the most have been set aside. He is on his own.
For those of you going dark: If you are making these kinds of choices, let this article be your warning and your guide. Don’t choose the four ways–justify, rationalize, blame, alleviate–of making your life choices “okay” when it is not okay for you to live that way. Choose repentance. Begin to change today. You can do that by letting someone know what is going on with you.
For those of you who are dark: If the light is off and you’ve made your bed, and you have no plans to change your lifestyle, let this be your warning. You can do what you want to do, but please be aware that God has stern warnings for those who persist in their way–especially if you call yourself a Christian.
For those of you who know someone: If you know of someone who is trying to exchange the truth of God for a lie, by any means that is appropriate, please warn them. To be desensitized to the truth of God is as precarious as you can be. If you can, please speak the truth in love to them.
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