The Truth Held Down

You and I are not meaningless. The universe is not simply a flexing something that came from and will return to nothing. There is God, and His being gives meaning. There is, however, no shortage of vocal deniers of God’s existence. Faith in a revealed and speaking God is increasingly under attack, and even those who do not actively disbelieve often find the entire question of God irrelevant.

This state of affairs is not new. In Romans 1, Paul begins to explain the human condition that causes men to “hold down the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). This is not simply telling a lie, or not acknowledging a true thing, but holding down the truth.

The truth here refers to the first true thing, the first reality, concerning man and God in the universe. This reality is the sure fact that God and His existence are proved by the creation, and it is the definite fact that men, being without excuse, can know God by the creation. This great reality, this great truth, should cause men to know God and thereby to glorify Him and thank Him (v. 21).
Romans 1:18, note 5

The following verses describe man’s rejection of God despite the evidence of “the things made.” This rejection, which occurred in Paul’s day as it does in ours, goes all the way back to the fall of man. Note 1 on Romans 1:21 in the Recovery Version connects the order of Paul’s account with the sequence of man’s rejection of the Creator in Genesis. The Bible remarkably records that mankind, only shortly removed from Adam’s direct interaction with God, turned away from their Maker to every kind of sin. In every age, there is something in us that causes us to deny God.

This, in spite of the truth declared by Paul:

For the invisible things of Him, both His eternal power and divine characteristics, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being perceived by the things made, so that they would be without excuse.
Romans 1:20

But how are God’s “divine characteristics” revealed in creation? After all, doesn’t Jesus state clearly in John 6:46 that no one has seen the Father? The Recovery Version note on this crucial phrase is enlightening:

Gk. theiotes [θειότης], denoting God’s attributes, which are the special features, the characteristics, as the outward manifestations of God’s nature or substance. It is different from theotes [θεότης] in Col. 2:9, which denotes God’s Godhead and person. The characteristics of God’s nature can be verified through the created things; however, the created things cannot manifest God’s Godhead and person. Only the living person of Jesus Christ, the Word who is God and who declares God (John 1:1, 18), can express God’s Godhead and person, that is, the very God, God Himself.
Romans 1:20, note 1

Jesus Christ defines, explains, and expresses God. While the creation may show us God’s existence, and even His characteristics, God Himself, in His person, is known only in Christ. The former is the real situation, the latter is a real Person. Don’t just know the truth: know the Truth.

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