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 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, theydid not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom 1:18-21)
If we continue reading Romans chapter 1 we find that it is these same people who are that end up living degenerate lifestyles. These are the same who practice unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hating God, insolence, haughtiness, boastfulness, inventing evil, disobeying parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness. And then the really ‘moral’ people are condemned by their approval of these activities among the wicked.
Who are these degenerates? Everyone. This is the moral dilemma of every person who has ever been born. We are all degenerates. That’s why we must be regenerated. Even when we knew God, His power and glory and nature being revealed to us through nature, we did not honor Him as the God from whom all blessings flow and did not give Him thanks for those blessings. And that’s where all humanity begins. Every person who is born into this world is handicapped from the start. Handicapped by pride and self-sufficiency. We are able to do it ourselves and need not give thanks to anyone, least of all God, we think. After all, we have worked hard for what we have, haven’t we.
When I had received a gift once, not knowing who it was from, I thanked God aloud. A man standing nearby said, “Don’t thank Jesus, thank me!” I was taken by surprise, to say the least, especially given the fact that this man claims to be a believer! I thanked the man and explained to him as lovingly as I could that Christ was also worthy of my thanks and that I was thankful to both. But it struck me at that time that this is the problem. Even those who claim to believe in Christ are not thankful to Him. This is rooted in our pride and arrogance inherited from our common ancestor, Adam. And this pride causes us to be unthankful where thanks is due, to the God from whom every good and perfect gift comes. In turn our hearts are darkened to the knowledge of God that we may have previously had, which leads to idolatry, which leads to impure hearts, which leads to dishonorable passions, which leads to a debased mind, devoid of any knowledge of God. And it all starts, from our perspective, with unthankfulness.
There is good news, however. And it has nothing to do with car insurance. It is what has already been alluded to in verses 16 and 17 of this same chapter.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17)
This is good news. We have the power of God unto salvation given to us in the Gospel. What is the Gospel? The Gospel is Christ took the penalty for our sins in His own body and gives us His righteousness. We are justified freely by His own blood. He gives us a new heart, a new life, a new mind. Pride is removed and a humble, thankful spirit takes over. He saves us from our sins.
Knowing this, let’s remember just who it really is who deserves thanks this Thanksgiving.