A recently completed study at Oxford University found that humans are innately predisposed to believe in the divine. I find this interesting for many reasons, but mostly for its confirmation of what the Holy Spirit is currently imparting to me: a deeper understanding of complete accountability, and the power of faith.
Romans 1 (NKJV) is the most thorough and uncompromising teaching on accountability in the Scriptures, and I find that I cannot escape it these days. ALL of humanity is “without excuse” for any and every “ungodliness and unrighteousness…because what may be known of God is manifest IN THEM, for God has shown it to them.” I cannot begin to tell you just how powerfully the Spirit has used this passage to root out and excise the stronghold of pity in my heart, pity for myself and pity for others. There’s simply no excusing our sin.
The real gut punch is in verse 18, where Paul reveals that humans “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” The truth is innate but we suppress it! I looked at every translation I could find, and there’s no disagreement on the basic meaning of this statement. Unredeemed humanity attacks (suppresses, withholds, hinders, represses, makes inoperative, silences, crushes, detains, hides, prevents from being known, pushes away, says no to, holds back) the truth.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…
Romans 1:20-21 NKJV
The Oxford University study “involved 57 academics in 20 countries around the world, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy,” and the results appear to do nothing more than confirm Romans 1. We are not just born with the capacity to believe in God, we are also born to understand and KNOW that God is GOD.
I have often said that I spent a good deal of time running away from God, but I see now that that’s not the whole story. In fact, that puts a much nicer spin on things than the actual reality. The reality is that I knew the Truth and I attacked it. I did everything in my power to crush the Truth, because God’s very existence was an indictment on mine. I always knew that God was God, but I didn’t glorify Him as God, and I absolutely wasn’t thankful to Him for the life that He’d given me. That’s my real story, and, according to Romans 1, that’s the story of every human apart from or until being born again from above.
Each of us is born with the mark of our Creator, divinely wired to recognize “His invisible attributes” in the world around us. This gives me such hope! And why? Because in all those translations of Romans 1:18, in all the many different descriptions of how humanity treats the innate Truth of God, none of them describes the ability to destroy the Truth. We can suppress and crush and hide and hinder, but we cannot kill the Truth. Like God Himself, His Truth is eternal and inextinguishable. And if His Love and Light could uncover and ignite that eternal spark in my hard, wicked heart, how can I doubt His power to inflame that same spark in the life of anyone else I meet? He’s GOD!
(More on the power of faith in my next post.)