Early Stages of Human Apostasy: Romans 1:21-23
“21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22) Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23) and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Romans‬ ‭1:21-23‬ ‭
As I look back over history, there were two times that all people knew the God of Creation. The first related to the generations of Adam and Eve right after Creation. The second related to the generations of Noah right after the flood. Both groups of people knew God.
The apostasy started quickly for both groups. Paul said, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.” (Vs 21) All it took was a passive attitude toward God and they started to slide away from Him. Satan exploited this attitude of indifference and filled them with the seeds of deception. They thought they were getting smart, but in reality they were foolishly and quickly drifting away from both truth and God. Human logic and reason can quickly turn dark.
It only takes one or two generations for people to abandon God and embrace humanism, naturalism and pagan religious practices. It only took six chapters in the book of Genesis for humanity to move from walking with God in the Garden of Eden to gross immorality and dancing with demons just prior to the flood.
The history of Israel is filled with cycles of Gods people turning from Him and embracing the carnal ways of the surrounding nations. (Read the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings) This was usually followed by a severe judgment and then a return to God for a few generations.
Pauls description of the decline of human civilization in Romans 1:18-32 can be applied to nearly every civilization in history. Many went through a time of awakening only to give way to tragic moral and spiritual decline.
This text equally apples to nations today. This is the story of the spiritual and moral drift of modern nations as well. They can move from knowing God to hating God in a relatively short period of time. Satan always exploits human depravity to lead people into sinful bondage and ignorance of the truth.
A key point is found in verse 22. During this entire process and decline, humanity boasts of becoming wiser, but in reality they are becoming fools. Sin can become so blinding that human science and ethics can no longer discern the difference between male and female, good and bad, right or wrong. All lines are blurred as truth is trampled under foot… and this is merely the beginning of the slide. Paul gets more graphic in the next several verses.
We must check our own hearts to detect any indifference toward God. Are you honoring God in lip service only? Are you secretly fantasizing more about sin than enjoying intimacy with God? Do you have a passive attitude toward God? We must guard our own hearts with all diligence.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global