Romans 1:20-22

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”


When My son Wesley was about 8 yrs old, we decided it would be great if he learned to play the piano. We found a teacher and signed him up. Wesley hated piano lessons, and tried desperately to find a way to avoid them. Once he told the teacher that we were moving to Alaska, and that would be his last lesson. He must have been very convincing because poor Mrs. Norris called me up and asked me when we were moving.

Excuses. Teachers have lists of excuses that have been offered by students for not doing their homework. For example: I left my homework in my Uncle Joe's car. I had just finished it on the computer when my sister came in with an axe and broke the computer. My sister ate it. She eats paper ya know. And my mom told me I shoudn't do homework anyway, cause my sister will eat it.

I did my homework, but I was in such a hurry leaving for school that I brushed by it on the table. It fell to the floor and my dog picked it up. The dog went to the toilet and dropped it there. It was flushed and an alligator ate it. The alligator was caught and made into a wallet. The wallet was stolen and emptied and thrown to the ground. A vagrant took it but someone set him on fire and he was reduced to ashes along with the wallet containing my homework.

But before we laugh too much at the excuses of the kids, we should realize that the adults do not do any better. Some people offer strange excuses for not showing up for work. How about these:

I won't be in today. My fish is sick and I need to take it to the vet.

I'm not coming in because I need a mental day.

Last night in San Francisco I was attacked by a guy who didn't like the remarks I made about him and he hit me in the face and broke the windshield of my car with a small bat that I tried to hit him with.

Excuses, we love them. We use them all the time, whenever we do not want to do something and do not want to admit to others, or ourselves, that we do not want to do it. We all make excuses sometimes, and we laugh at our folly and our pretences. But when it comes to the things of God. Excuses are not funny.

In a modern version, The Good News Bible, Rom 1:20-22 reads: “Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all! They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. They say they are wise, but they are fools.”

The charge against “those people” is lack of reverence. "They knew God," but "they glorified him not as God." They knew there was a God; they never denied God’s existence; but they had no reverence for his name, they did not render him the respect to which he is entitled.

Many people never even think of God. God is not in their words; God is not in their thoughts. As the Psalmist puts it, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (10:4). Whether there is a God, or not, makes no practical difference to them, they have so little care for God, they might as well not believe at all.

Then there are these other folks that Paul is talking about in Romans. They believe in God, yet they do not treat God as God. God is not a real part of their life. They profess to believe on one level, but they live somewhere else. A person with any spiritual discernment would say that when the creature can do without the creator, something is really messed up, but many people do just that.

Their problem is that they do not really know who God is. God is Almighty, All-wise, All-gracious. God is infinitely glorious. And we should treat him that way.

Many people treat God like a telemarketer. The telemarketer calls up with a proposition. We say, I do not have the time or the money or the interest. Maybe that is ok for a telemarketer. But again, many say the same to God. I don’t have time to go to church. I don’t want to give money to support the church. I am not interested in Jesus. Maybe next week or next month. At some more convenient time, but not now. So we treat God like a lackey at our beck and call.

Further, “these people” did not glorify God because they did not obediently serve God—which leads us to ask the question, Have we served God? Do we look upon ourselves as servants of God? When you awoke in the morning, did you say, "What does God expect me to do today?"

Another charge brought against those who glorified not God is that they did not trust God. Our place is under the shadow of God's wings. If God made us, we ought to seek God in the hour of trouble. In the time of my need, I should apply to his bounty. If I feel unhappy, I should look to God for comfort. But we do not really trust God. If we get into difficulties we look to people and governments to help us. We may trust our rich uncle; but we do not trust God.

In addition, “these people” do not pray. It is a never-ending source of amazement to me that people say they believe in God but never pray. Imagine that you are a father or mother, and you have a child in the house. This child comes down in the morning, and eats breakfast; she comes in, and nibbles at her lunch; she dabbles at her supper and never speaks to you. She just will not talk to you. Would you stand for that? Of course not. You would say, “I am not going to take this anymore, young lady. You are going to talk to me." But many people treat God like that? They never pray, or they only occasionally pray. But that is pitiful. How can we possibly live in God’s family and call ourselves children of God and seldom or never talk to God.

Then there are others who do not glorify God. They know the way to be reconciled to God. Whosoever believes in Christ Jesus is forgiven; that person is adopted into the family of God; he drinks the wine of the love of God; he is saved with an everlasting salvation. Many know this in their minds; but not in their hearts. They know the gospel. They have been around church all their lives. They know all the words of faith. They know what to say, but none of it has penetrated to where they live. So what they say about God has no connection with what they do. Hence they know God, but do not glorify him as God.

But let us look further at Romans. Paul further accuses “those people” of a lack of gratitude. "When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful."

One of the worst accusations that you can bring against anyone is that they are ungrateful. And the accusation is especially awful when it comes to our relationship to God. When you say that “those people” are ungrateful to God, you have said about the worst thing you can say. But people show their ingratitude in several ways.

First, God's law is despised. The Ten Commandments are given to us for the good of our society, telling us what will harm us, and what will benefit us. We ought to be thankful for such plain directions. "Thou shalt." "Thou shalt not." God has taken the trouble to direct us along the right road; yet many despise the heavenly guide. That is foolishness. If you are driving down the road, and you see a sign that says “Danger, Bridge out!” and there is a big red and white barrier across the road, are you going to ignore the sign and crash through the barrier? Of course not. You are not going to go that way. The ten commandments are signs of a way to go and a way not to go. That is good. For the life of me, I do not see why so many people have a problem with that.

Next, God's day is dishonored by those who are not thankful to him. God has, in great mercy, given us a day, one day in seven, in which we are supposed to spend some time thinking about holy things. There are seven days to the week. God has said, "Take six, and use them in your business." But no, we must have the seventh as well.

It is like this: Suppose you are walking down the street and you have 7 dollars in your purse or billfold. You meet this homeless person and you give the man 6 dollars. But as you walk off, he turns upon you and assaults you and robs you for the last dollar. You would say, “What an evil, ungrateful wretch.” But don’t we do the same thing when we rob God of his day?

Moreover, God's Book is neglected by these ungrateful people. God has given us a Book; here is a copy of it. There has never been such a Book--so full of wisdom, and so full of love? We should come on bended knee to this book, for we find heaven between these pages. But, although God has taken the trouble to give us this wonderful Book, most do not take the trouble to read it. That is ingratitude. This is a father's love-letter to his children, and his children leave it unread. Here is a Book, the like of which is not to be found on earth, God’s gift to the human race, and most people never even glance at it.

But there is something even worse; God's Son is refused by the unthankful. God sent his son to this earth. The Son took our nature, and became a servant, and then died the death of a felon, the death of the cross, and all to save us.

We often talk about the mysteries of God. I will give you a real mystery, a mystery that even angels cannot comprehend: that after Christ died, there were still sinners who would not be saved by him. They refuse to be washed in the fountain filled with blood; they reject eternal life. They choose hell rather than salvation. They are so in love with their sins, that they will not be reconciled to God, even by the death of his Son. That is the extreme limit of ingratitude.

But noticed something else about these verses from Romans. This lack of reverence I have been talking about and lack of gratitude does not stem from ignorance. The verse says, "When they knew God."

If a person does not know God, if they never heard of the gospel, then we can make some excuse for them, but Paul is not talking about those folks. He is not talking about people who don’t know God, he is talking about people who know God, and yet do not worship him or love him.

And this applies to most people in the world today. Most of us are without excuse. We have heard the gospel all our lives. We have known some of God’s devout people who have taught us the way of salvation. We are not ignorant. If we do not glorify God, if we are not thankful to God, we have no excuse.

So what is your excuse today, for not properly loving God and worshipping God? There is none. We need to turn back to God, and to repent of our sin and folly and praise him and reverence him for he is the Lord God Almighty. Amen.



Inexcusable Irreverence And Ingratitude

A Sermon (No. 2257)

Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, May 22nd, 1892,

Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON,

At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

On Lord's-day Evening, July 13th, 1890.


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