Lesson for the Lord’s Day

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Romans 1:18

A particular company had a rule that its employees were not permitted to work part-time for anyone else if that other employment was in direct competition with their employer. Employees were presented with this rule when they were hired. And it was posted prominently, along with other rules, in the company’s main meeting room. Everyone was aware of this rule. But not everybody obeyed it. One employee named Carson made some extra money freelancing during weekends and evenings, using skills he learned at work, and tools that he borrowed from work. He assumed nobody in the company knew about this. And nobody would have, until Carson made the mistake of accepting a part-time job for a woman who was the sister of his employer’s general manager. When the woman told her brother about the great work she was getting from a highly-skilled moonlighter, her brother decided to investigate. Carson suddenly found himself unemployed. He was an example of the expression in our text: ‘men who hold the truth in unrighteousness’.

What does it mean to hold the truth in unrighteousness? Holding the truth means knowing what the truth is, just as Carson knew the rules in his workplace. The word ‘unrighteousness’ here refers to the neglect of duty, just as Carson acted in direct violation of the rules. He had a duty to honour his employer’s competitiveness, but he worked directly against that duty. A person who drinks and drives is another example of a person knowing what the law is and scoffing that law, putting themselves and others in great peril. Most people who commit crimes know that what they are doing is unlawful, but choose to commit the unlawful acts anyway. You and I all know people who have heard the Gospel message but have chosen either to neglect it or to reject it outright. This is knowing the truth but not obeying it. And this disobedience comes at highest cost: the loss of their own souls. ‘What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?’ 1 Peter 4:17’Can Christians also hold the truth in unrighteousness?

Our text is not referring primarily to believers, but the principle holds. As the redeemed of Christ, we are forever excluded from the wrath of God. But consider Romans 8:8: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. A Christian walking after the spirit is free of condemnation. But what about a Christian who is walking after the flesh? it is true that such a Christian, as a Christian, is free from the eternal judgment of his sins. But such a Christian is depriving himself of the glorious compensation plan that God has for His obedient children. And such a Christian places himself in a position to be disciplined, often severely, by his God Who seeks to bring that person into conformity with the image of His dear Son.

The Spirit will lead us into all truth. Failure to follow His leading in that truth is unrighteous. -Jim MacIntosh

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