WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS, a Devotion for 26 July 2018 Anno Domini
St. Andrews Anglican Parish Church
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:17-18; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
I am afraid that the above text from Romans is going to result in a great misery and grief for those who KNOW the truth, PREACH the Truth, but HOLD that Truth in unrighteousness.
There is no exemption from knowing the truth since God tells us: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:19-20). All of Creation are witness to the great works of their Maker. God did not excuse the aborigine or the jungle savage from acknowledging the truth which is made overwhelmingly obvious in the created being.
“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:11-16)
God does not take note of our righteous living from a mere snapshot in church on Sunday morning. His eyes run throughout the Universe to witness both righteous and unrighteous living – not just on Sunday’s at church; but every hour of a man’s life. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
In time past, I have been accused of being self-righteous in pointing out these offending articles of God’s law; but, believe me, I am the last one to claim righteousness. Often as I sit alone, with only the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and my words, I have a keen awareness that these words condemn me in the same sense as those who read these devotions.
I must admit that there are a great majority of churches that do not even preach biblical living; however, there are others who do indeed preach biblical righteousness. But one would get the impression, from the lives led by both minister and laity, that such preaching was merely a formality. “Let’s not get carried away with the sermon’s counsel” they seem to think. Those who know the truth profoundly, and live it not, are in enormously greater danger than those who are mere orphans to the Gospel. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
What of those whose minds entertain the question of in what truth consists? They are on firm ground to question truth. God will provide whatsoever truth we seek in righteousness. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
But what of those who ask trivially of truth? Remember the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate: “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” (John 18:38) Pilate certainly asked of the appropriate Person – the Lord Jesus Christ! It was a GOOD question and had Pilate patiently waited for an answer, he might have been richly blessed; but he did not. Instead of hearing from the Fountain of all Truth, he immediately returned the “generation of vipers’ who were the authors of lies. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8)
Each of us holds an abundance of truth in our hearts but, unfortunately, we have mixed there a fair share of poisonous deceit. We have heard lies which we may believe. We have read false and immoral things. We have lingered at the alter of false gods. And we find, out of all those possessions of the heart, we are unable to distinguish truth from lie. Man’s heart is not a fair arbiter of truth and righteousness. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) Do you believe that man’s heart has ‘evolved’ from the wicked fountain to be a source of truth and righteousness in our day? No, man has the same old sinful and fallen heart that he possessed before the Great Deluge. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23)
Truth may be found in its unadulterated form in only one source – the Holy Bible. When we are bold to receive the Author of Truth and Righteousness into our hearts as Sovereign of that organ, we shall know true Liberty.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins: “We hold these TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Our very founding document acknowledges the Creator God. It allows that all of our natural rights descend from God. The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American Republic – the U.S. Constitution merely codifies those principles put forth in the Declaration. But neither the Declaration, nor the US Constitution, grants any rights. The rights of man descend from God. The Founders acknowledged those rights as do good men of faith everywhere. It is self-evident to all that there is a great Creator God. All men – even atheists – know this in their hearts. If they deny, it is out of a rebellious heart that refuses to acknowledge any righteous government of its thoughts and actions. LIFE is a gift of God (along with the right of self-protection). Liberty is a gift of God (though it cost our Lord His life’s blood to purchase). And the gift of Pursuit of Happiness is a gift of God which allows us to worship as we please, meet with whom we please, and speak as we please.
There are thousands of valiant men and women who have given the last full measure of devotion in defense of those liberties granted by God. But true liberty dwells in righteousness, and the One righteous Lamb of God purchased our Liberty on a cross at Mt. Calvary. Now, that liberty must be watered and nourished by the blood of those who will take up their crosses and follow the Author of our Liberty – our Lord Jesus Christ.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25)
After all, why did Christ come to us? “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound .” (Isaiah 61:1)