Paul says that we ought to be able to look around at the created order and know that there is a God. One commentator on this verse observed, “There is enough evidence of God in a flower to lead a child as well as a scientist to worship him. There is sufficient evidence in a tree, a pebble, a grain of sand, a fingerprint, to make us glorify God and thank him” (James Boice, Romans, Vol. I, p. 143). One Old Testament counterpart to Romans 1:20 is Psalm 19 which begins: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (v. 1).
One look into the human heart; one look into human culture; one look at the created order, ought to awaken in us a knowledge that there is a God. It should not awaken mere theism. But we ought to know the triune God of the Bible. We ought to know Christ. But, again, the problem is that sinners suppress this truth. They say they do not have enough evidence. They say they cannot know for sure. Or, perhaps, worst of all, some are oblivious to his existence.
In the last statement in v. 20 Paul declares: “they are without excuse.” The Greek word used here (anapolgetos) is the root for the English words “apology” and “apologetics.” They have no apologetic against God’s condemnation. God’s wrath against those who reject the gospel is not unjust. They have broken his law and his righteous character demands that his holy wrath be satisfied.
Imagine a man who is driving along in his car. He is speaking on his cell phone and eating his lunch, and he does not notice the signs that warn him to slow down as he approaches a construction zone. He then does not notice the signs that instruct him to change lanes for his own safety, and he hurtles through a barrier striking and killing a worker. As the police pull him from his car and place him under arrest, he protests, “Wait. You can’t do this to me. I didn’t see the signs. I didn’t know I was breaking the law. How can you possibly hold me responsible for my actions.” And they would say to him, “No. I am sorry my friend. You are without excuse and you must stand before the judge and give an account for your actions.”
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel article for 5.5.09. The devotion above is adapted from last Sunday’s morning message on Romans 1:18-23.