Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images
(Romans 1:22-23 – ESV)
(Romans 1:22-23 – ESV)
Paul gives us a historical sketch of religion. He maintains that when man turned from God’s view of Himself in creation, he twisted and perverted pure religion into various forms of error and confusion. He is giving us the description, in just a few concise and convicting words, of the whole beginnings and beliefs of pagan mythology. They did not glorify God as God, and were not thankful to Him for what they did have, and so they lost discernment, and became darkened in their hearts and minds, and started to do all sorts of vain and vile things.
The world thinks that our religion is on the rise, but God tells us and history shows us that our religion is on the fall, not on the incline but on the decline. Religion will not ascend above that which it worships and man will never evolve beyond his sinful nature. Instead of man made in God’s image we have traded it for God made in man’s image. The religions of the world exchange God’s glory for less and they become less. You become like what you worship, and we as humans become more and more flawed, we are not God and God allows us to see what we are capable of. How vain in our imaginings and dark in our hearts we are.
This is what happened then, but it is also what happens now. This is what they did, and this is what we do. We think that we don’t do this today, exchange the glory of God for images, but yes we do, today it is simply more devious, more insidious, and more perverse. Young adults are taught this and adults model this behavior all the time. Commercials sell images, we say image is everything, we have self-help books and magazines, we all learn to project a certain image, and on and on and on it goes. We are more concerned about our image to others instead of God’s image for His glory. If you are more concerned about your image than you are about God’s glory then you are “making an image”, you are self-absorbed.
You are not God; you are called to glorify Him with what you do. It is not, “look what I did” or “look what I can do for God”, and not simply “look what God can do through me”, but it is “look at God through me” (Matthew 5:16).
We must become consumed with the glory of God or we will become consumed with self and vain in our imaginations. As Christians, we can either die to self or we will die from self (Galatians 6:7-8). Which way are you headed? Everything we say or do can be put in "check" by asking the question of... “By thinking this thought, by giving in to this feeling, by doing this action, who am I glorifying, who am I pleasing?”
Give it up for God – what do you have that He isn’t worth, and what can you gain that He isn’t greater than? People think that they can hold on to themselves and have Jesus too, but they are only worshipping a Christ of their own imagination, they have an image of Him that isn’t true. Mark 8:34-37 – Instead of trading God for images, trade everything for God. Are you an image maker or an image breaker?