Monday, January 12, 2015
The Self-Deception of Unbelief
The Scriptures address these excuses in several places.
For example, in Isaiah 28:14-22, the nation of Judah thinks itself immune to God's chastisement for their apostasy because "we have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol [the grave] we have an agreement." That isn't meant to be literal, of course, since death and the grave aren't sentient persons. Rather, it is as if they said, "We can't be judged for our sins because we refuse to believe in sin or judgment." It is like the child who sticks his fingers in his ears, and sing-songs, "La-la-la I can't hear you," in the belief that he will will thereby not be accountable for violating his parents' rules.
How does God respond to Judah's claimed immunity? Verse 17, "I will make justice the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies..." He is no more impressed with Judah's pretenses than are the parents of that bratty child. In both cases, punishment is assured.
The Apostle Paul addresses the same deception in Romans 1:18-22: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them, for His invisible attributes, namely His power and divine nature, have been perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, so that they are without excuse. For, although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."
These remarks are primarily addressed to the professed atheist. God congratulates you on the cleverness for which you congratulate yourself, and which so impresses your friends. However, He is not impressed. Just as a responsible parent would never allow his children to pretend ignorance as an excuse for misbehavior, neither does God allow you to escape the consequences for your rebellion, just because you can come up with clever excuses.
For you, as it was once for me, the only answer is also given by Paul in Romans 10:9-10: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved."