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June 4, 2021

Lying to Ourselves

By Mike Standish

Eat mor chikin. I’m lovin’ it. Think outside the bun. Have it your way. 

Are you hungry, yet? I bet you could identify most of these fast food restaurants simply by the tagline. I’ll just put it out there that Chick-fil-A wins in every category: good food, great service, and catchy marketing. 

If we were to give culture a tagline, here’s what I think would rise to the top: you do you, follow your heart, or live your own truth. The message behind each of these statements is that there is a truth out there for each of us, and we need to press into what we believe is true. Authenticity is a virtue and exclusivity is a vice. The worst thing we can do today is tell someone they are wrong. 

Let’s be honest, we’ve all met obnoxious people who seem to get a lot of pleasure in telling people they’re wrong. Their approach is judgmental, and their words are harsh. Sadly, some of these obnoxious people do it under the banner of Christianity. These people might even quote Romans 1:18 as an example of those who have “suppressed the truth” and as a result have been given over to sin. They’ll focus solely on the sexual sins listed in verses 26-31, and conveniently dismiss other sins in this passage: gossip, deceit, pride, arrogance, and boastfulness.  

 

What Does It Mean to Suppress the Truth?

The first chapter of Romans does one thing: it leaves us all guilty. We all exchange the beauty of the Creator for our own distorted view of beauty. This is exactly the situation that marked the first sin of humanity. God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet in Genesis 3, when the woman saw the tree, to her it was good, delightful, and desirable. She followed her heart and suppressed God’s truth. 

The problem with every generation since then is that we are tempted to seek our own truth – to place ourselves above our Creator. Ultimately, when we do this, we are committing the vice of the day – telling someone they are wrong. In this case, we are telling the Creator of the universe that He is wrong. 

 

What’s the Remedy for Suppressing the Truth?

So here’s what we all need: Grace-Centered Truth. God has revealed Himself through the pages of Scripture and the person of Jesus. John 1 provides a beautiful picture for us: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14).

The response in Romans 1 is the same response in John 1. 

For though they knew God they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. (Romans 1:21)

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11) 

Creation points to the beauty of its Creator, and Scripture testifies to the truth of the Rescuer. God is glorious. Yet, we are guilty of exchanging His glory for our own version of what we find glorious: achievement, financial security, influence, comfort, entertainment, and relationships. The worst form of punishment is being handed over to something of no true value – to spend our life pursuing something that will never truly satisfy. 

The verdict is this: “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). No one has the pleasure of holding the megaphone and shouting condemnation on others without first realizing their own failures. Romans 1 offers a sober reality, but it is not the final word in God’s story. In Jesus, there is hope. 

The picture the prophet Isaiah gives of humanity is that of sheep – “All of us have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Romans 1 is humbling because it means that when we suppress truth, we don’t give God the glory He deserves, and our hearts are darkened. But Jesus loves His sheep. He doesn’t view us as worthless. In fact, He will leave 99 sheep to rescue one lost sheep. 

We all are lost on our own. We think we know what is good. We think we know what is delightful. We think we know what is desirable. Yet, even when these things leave us lost, confused, and less than satisfied, Jesus doesn’t leave us in this state. The Father placed on Jesus all of our punishment. He bore the sin of those who suppressed truth and who failed to offer God the glory He deserves. 

How Do We Embody Grace-Centered Truth?

If Jesus offers forgiveness to those who have rejected Him and His truth, then certainly we must live the same kind of life marked by forgiveness. That’s why Grace-Centered Truth matters at Grace. We challenge people to be their best and love them at their worst. We don’t want people to settle for their truth. We know that when we follow our heart, it will let us down. Therefore, we challenge them to be their best as they live out God’s truth. This is hard. It doesn’t always feel good. It often costs us. It isn’t always viewed favorably by others. Because of this, sometimes we exchange His glory for our own. We follow our truth instead of His. Even in one’s failures, we love people at their worst because Jesus loved us at our worst. We invite them back into this truth.

So what’s the slogan that defines your life? It’s okay if you don’t have a pithy and memorable statement. If you don’t have one, how about this one? “Follow His heart.” As you take that journey you’ll begin to see that He is good, delightful, and more desirable than anything else. 

 

Join us online or in-person to learn more about Finding Freedom in the book of Romans.

 

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