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Unbelief as the De-Throning of God (Men Imagine)

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Opinion, Religion, The Church, Theology | 0 comments

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In his book, The Existence and Attributes of God, the Puritan Stephen Charnock tells us, “It is natural to men to abhor those things that are unsuitable and troublesome as it is to please themselves in things agreeable to their minds and humors. And since man is so deeply in love with sin, as to count it the most estimable good, he cannot but wish the abolition of that law that checks it, and, consequently, the change of the lawgiver that enacted it. And in wishing a change in the holy nature of God, he wishes a destruction of God, who would not be God if He ceased to be immutably holy. They do as certainly wish that God had not a holy will to command them as despairing souls wish that God had not a righteous will to punish them; and to wish conscience extinct for the molestations they receive from it is to wish the power conscience represents out of the world also.” 

Charnock is expanding on the words of Paul in two verses in Romans. First, in Romans 1:18-23:

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 eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So 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, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and creeping things.”

In this passage, Paul tells us several things relevant to Charnock’s point. First is that all men have a knowledge of God, which leaves them with no excuse for their unbelief. He has revealed Himself in His work of creation, visible to every eye to perceive. Therefore, when a person claims not to believe in God, he is practicing deception, both to himself and to those around him. The reality is that he knows God, his accountability to God, and the judgment of God which he deserves. And he hates that knowledge, and strives to suppress it in unrighteousness. 

The other passage is Romans 2:15-16:

They [the Gentiles] show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

This is the internal aspect of our innate knowledge of God. In the earlier passage, Paul described the external testimony of God’s hand in creation. Here he describes the internal testimony of God’s law written in the hearts of men, and the conscience which responds to our choices to disobey that law. 

So inside and outside, every man has a continuous testimony to the existence, holiness, and justice of God. And, as sinners, every man resents that knowledge, and seeks to be rid of it. 

One thing that we can observe about “atheists” is that they are silent about Wicca or Buddhism or the other religions in the world. Because those faiths whitewash our wickedness! It is only the triune God of the Bible that inspires the protests and opposition of their unbelief. Because it is He alone who is known in their hearts, and He alone who cannot be thrown down at their convenience.

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