“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 1:24-25 ESV)
I just began going through the book of Romans, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible, a veritable treasure-trove of the Gospel. I love this book, and it changes me every time I read it. Open it, and feel yourself both encouraged and convicted in every chapter, nearly every verse. It’s a gut-checking, heart-wrecking, soul-lifing letter that never fails to shake you up. You could memory-verse the entire book, methinks. Hmmm….that’s not a bad idea, right Step?
Today, when I read through chapter one, the verses above stuck in my head. Paul has been talking about the decline of man, how we refuse to acknowledge the God Who is clearly seen in what He has made, and how instead we begin to worship the things He made. It’s the stupidest trade-off in all the world, and we make it countless times a day. Specifically, Paul is talking about the fall into the worship of idols that look like men, birds, and animals, and how these things cause us to fall even further into sin, and the degrading of our bodies. Anybody relate?
As I read verse 25 today, it hit me that though Paul seems to mean by saying we serve the “creature” he means the created things (men, birds, animals), it could also mean “me.” I’m a creature. So are you. We are created beings, made in the image of God, and NOT other created things, but a creature, nonetheless. As I thought about that, it hit me that the worship of “me” (or you, don’t get proud) is the most prevalent form of idolatry today. Watched TV lately? Been to a gym? How many times do you look in the mirror throughout the day? What do you think as you do it?
I know that we are prone to all kinds of idols today, from our houses, to our cars, to our jobs, to sex, to alcohol, to money…there are a plethora of idols to choose from. However, the Word of God places the root of all those idols in us. In the book of James, we’re told that “each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14, ESV) We manufacture all the idols we could ever need. Paul said it in Romans, too. Verse 24 above says “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” We don’t need outside help, our flesh will give us all the help we need to make idols.
So what do we do? Paul spends the rest of the book of Romans telling us, but he’s already shown us in v. 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” James, also, helps us out in ch. 4 of his letter “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
You want to live free? You want to serve the Creator rather than the creature? Draw near to God. Remember that, if you are a believer, you are at war. The enemy of your soul, the devil, wants nothing more than to destroy you.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
The battle is real. Is your reaction going to be real, too?