By Elizabeth Prata
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Romans 1:18-19).
What did they suppress, exactly? And where? Or how?
They, meaning unbelievers, deny in their minds that there is a God. They suppress that He made everything in creation. They hate thinking of the fact that He made them, which would mean they are accountable to Him at judgment for their words, their deeds, their lives. They squash their conscience when they do evil.
Where? In their heart. The Bible uses the word ‘heart’ a lot. It doesn’t mean the muscle organ in our chest. It isn’t a romantic phrase, either, like we hear from Disney mantra in seemingly every movie, ‘follow your heart’ like that’s a good thing- it’s not). Heart in the Bible means desires. It means our emotions and wants from which spring our words and then our actions. In 1862 the poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care.” The heart is the springboard from which all our desires and emotions flow. Since our entire nature pre-salvation is one of sin, all our desires and wants are sinful.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5).
This truth is stated in another way in Jeremiah-
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
The Hebrew word in the Jeremiah verse above for heart is defined by Strong’s: “inner man, mind, will, heart.”
We know that the heart is deceitfully wicked. We understand what comes from the heart is not good. If it was, God would not promise to give us a new heart. If we need a new heart, we can infer that the old one is defective and needs swapping out.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 11:19).
The heart without intervention from God is unacceptable to Him. Sure, we can do philanthropic things, give to charity, be nice to people. But the difference is that absent God’s intervention in saving us, we do those things for ourselves. The unsaved person is at enmity with God (James 4:4) and doesn’t do anything to honor or glorify Him. (Romans 1:23)
Sadly, there is nothing we can do about our unacceptable and wicked hearts ourselves. We need intervention from the outside, and that is God.
So the unsaved/pre-saved deny God’s existence, suppress the truth by burying it into their unrighteous hearts. The disbelieve He made all of creation, reject the concept of sin, never mind that they ARE sinners, and ignore that there will be a judgment upon which they will be called to account for their deeds.
But they suppress even more that that. That is the easy stuff they suppress. It doesn’t take much energy to allow the sinful mind to skitter away like butter on a hot pan from these external truths. It’s pretty easy to squash them back down to the dark corners of the heart when they threaten to rise to the level of conscience where the light is. Today’s suppression acts are much more advanced. The things they are suppressing nowadays are at the Ph.D level. It takes a master of suppression to suppress some of the evident truths these days.
They’d been accepting only false philosophies (Colossians 2:8), man-made wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:22, foolish sayings (Psalm 49:13). But now the unsaved in great numbers have marched beyond merely accepting false words and suppressing God’s words. They have become expert at suppressing another truth in unrighteousness-
They are suppressing their own biology. All they need to do is examine their own body and understand they are a boy or a girl. A man or a woman. God does not make mistakes and He didn’t put the wrong ‘heart’ into the wrong body. There are two genders and they are as solid as cement, not fluid, not changeable, but one OR the other. What you are is what you are and what God intended them to be when He formed them in the womb. If one rejects one’s own gender, it is an ultimate rejection of God, because He is creator not just of the world but of each person. It’s a supreme rejection of God because if I can change my own gender, I am my own god.
Romans 1 gives an overview of the progress an unbeliever individually makes or an unbelieving society makes from suppressing truth to depraved passions, to depraved mind, to practicing things worthy of death and encouraging others to do the same. We read in that devastating passage in Romans 1 from verses 18-32, that “God gave them over” three times. Each time He gave them over, they continued in their tragic path ever-deeper into sin. By the end they were filled with all sorts of unrighteousness.
Ignoring their conscience frequently enough and over time it becomes seared. Any flesh that is seared has reduced or no nerve endings and you can’t feel. It is the same with the conscience. God gives them over when they become seared in their mind to the truths of God and the Light, and they only feel and see darkness. They prefer the dark. Suppressing the truth never works, anyway, the truth always comes out
Here are the takeaways:
First, never underestimate sin’s power. We are to the point here in the U.S. where people regularly deny their own biology. Suppressing truth is easy to do for the unsaved. Pedophiles convince themselves their acts are nobly done in love. Abortion seekers deny that their stomach is filled with a human being.
Even the power of sin in the saved is strong. We have to work hard with the Spirit’s aid to unearth it, because there are many sins in us even we can’t see. (Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Psalm 19:12; You have placed our guilty deeds before You, Our hidden sins in the light of Your presence. Psalm 90:8)
Second, if you are unsaved and reading this, do not ignore your conscience. It is warning you of your immorality and wrongs done against God. It is possible to repent of sins and Jesus will forgive them. He said anyone, ANYONE, coming to Him in repentance He will never cast out.
Third point: If you are reading this and are saved by the grace of Jesus, then we should do as Paul advised. In view of the fact of the resurrection,
I also do my best to maintain a blameless conscience both before God and before other people, always. (Acts 24:16).
Matthew Henry commented on the verse thus:
to keep upon good terms with my own conscience, that it may have no cause either to question the goodness of my spiritual state or to quarrel with me for any particular action. I am as careful not to offend my conscience as I am not to offend a friend with whom I daily converse; Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2174). Peabody: Hendrickson.
God graciously set the law in our heart and gave us a conscience to warn us when we oppose Him. He gives grace to those humbling themselves in repentance to Him for these sins.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, (Titus 2:11)- if one repents.