“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made both of them” (Proverbs 20:12).
Scripture often uses the ear and the eye as metaphors for hearing the word of God and seeing his handiwork. This kind of hearing and seeing is not dependent upon the literal, physical presence of eyes and ears; for even those deaf and blind, but who thirst for God, see and hear him. The greater tragedy is to possess sight and not see; to have ears and not hear.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
While God is not the author of confusion, many are conflicted in their existence by the golden calves competing for the allegiance of the human heart. God desires for us a peace that surpasses all understanding. It is the byproduct of a single-minded devotion to the preeminence of Christ and a thankfulness for what one has, and nary a thought for what one hasn’t.
“Therefore God gave them up to vile impurity in the lusts of their hearts, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them” (Romans 1:24).
That God “gave them up” (v.24,28), or “gave them over” (v.26), is the same verb used multiple times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) to describe the action of God in handing over Israel to enemy nations as punishment for her unwillingness to repent. This should not be understood as God giving up on his people but, rather, the willingness of God to allow a rebellious people to indulge the lusts of their hearts; to enter into the hell of insatiable appetites. In becoming like the temporal idols they now worship, they become empty shells of God’s intended design. At the heart of God’s action is a redemptive intent; that, like the Prodigal (Lk.15), the rebellious might come to their senses and return to the Father.
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible mankind, of birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures” (Romans 1:22-23).
Where’s the wisdom? Made in His image, given dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-27), and having been crowned by God with glory and majesty (Ps. 8:5); it seems foolish, indeed, that humanity would exchange this lofty station, and all of its possibilities, for the empty promises of the earthly, temporal, and corruptible. While grinning with mock disdain at ancient cultures, who carved images from wood and stone as objects of worship, we are blind to the idols we have carved upon the altars of money, sex, and power. Three times Paul uses this verb, “exchanged” (v. 23,25,26), and on every occasion it’s a bad swap.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21)
Both internally, within the heart of man, and externally, in the majesty, glory, and wonderment of the universe, God has placed his traceable fingerprints upon the entirety of creation. To the point that Paul says, humankind is without excuse (v.20). That is, by what has been revealed, we cannot avoid accountability to the Creator. It is humanity’s failure to worship, honor, and give thanks to God, that it has fallen into the inevitable trap of self-deification, self-glorification, and every man doing what is right in his own mind (Judges 21:25).
“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Romans 1:19).
Despite the claims of atheist, there is something intuitive within humanity regarding the notion of God; that there is something, or someone, over us that transcends the natural world. Perhaps this is the very thing to which the wisdom writer is alluding, that God has set eternity in our heart (Ecc. 3:11). From personal experience, at my lowest point in college, and a year prior to my coming to Christ, I had decided to become an atheist. I was a failure at atheism, however, because all I thought about was God. The evidence for God is in, both, plain sight and within (Job 12:7-9; Ps. 19:1). The real issue is never one of knowledge, but acknowledgement.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
The wrath of which Paul writes isn’t some childish lashing out of a vengeful God, but the inevitable consequence to humankind’s rebellion against Him. That this wrath is “revealed from heaven” indicates the universal ramifications made evident in history against all who practice ungodliness and unrighteousness. No wonder Paul was eager to preach the gospel(v.15) to all, who by their actions, attitudes, and behaviors, “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
The “things” referenced in 1 Corinthians 10 were the sins of Israel—idolatry, immorality, and grumbling. While these things were detrimental for the Israelites, you and I can benefit from the error of their choices. The question is always one of whether we have the wisdom to learn from the mistakes of others or must we, foolishly, learn them the hard way of personal experience. We can be instructed by others or self-destruct.
“for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
As the recipients of God’s mercy, we have become the fulfillment all things promised to an ancient people—a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (v.9). God’s action has moved us from one place to another; from “a people” to “the people;” from a subjective people to a definitive people. Our “a” to “the” must now be missionally perpetuated from us to others.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: ‘But the righteous one will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).
Whether “faith to faith” is a reference “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16) or, perhaps, the faith of Old Testament believers to all present day believers, or even the faithfulness of God to his covenant and our respondent “obedience of faith” (1:5), Paul is pointing to a progression of faith and the forward movement of our hope. While other religious expressions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, hold to a pessimistic, circular view of time, the uniqueness of the Christian faith is an optimistic, hope-filled perspective of all history; that time is linear and, as such, is moving toward the end of the age and the culmination of God’s redemptive purposes.