Behind the Scenes

How does someone become a suppressor of truth?

Surely no one starts out with the goal to be a suppressor of truth. How then does someone become a suppressor of God's truth? Actually, the New Testament provides sufficient information on the matter that we can see the unfolding process. In Romans 1:19-25, Paul explains that a person’s thinking leads him into a life of unbelief that leads to actively suppressing the truth. Here is the passage from the English Standard Version (italics added).

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 animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:19-25 ESV)

How does a person become a suppressor of truth? The biblical explanation includes what appears to be a 5-step process.

Before Paul explains the process, he makes a statement that applies to and includes each one of us. Paul states that all persons are without excuse for failing to believe in God (vs 19-20). Paul says that everyone is capable of and expected to know certain things about God—specifically, “his eternal power and divine nature.” This is of the greatest importance. God’s eternal power and his divine nature is recognizable because these are put on display through nature since the beginning of creation. And as intelligent beings, God expects people to understand that God both exists and that He created all things. As an interesting side note, we have seen in other discussions on this site that people who oppose God actually begin their disbelief at this point. Nevertheless, according to the Scriptures, no one will successfully employ the excuse of ignorance as a defense for unbelief.

A common analogy of this situation is going to traffic court for a speeding ticket and the one charged with speeding uses ignorance as his defense. He simply states he did not know the speed limit. Of course, no one will be considered innocent of speeding on the highway by claiming he did not know the speed limit—the signs are clearly posted. The same is true about God. The Bible states that every person is capable of understanding that a creator made all things and that creation itself provides evidence for God’s eternal power and divine nature.

Paul explains how to become a suppressor of truth

Paul turns his attention to discussing how an individual becomes a suppressor of truth. I added italics for emphasis throughout the remainder of this section.

Step 1: Refusal to honor God

The first step to becoming a suppressor of truth is refusing to honor God or give him thanks for his creative works.

“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” (Romans 1:21).

No one should delude himself into thinking that God does not expect people to acknowledge and honor him for his efforts in creation. God is the reason for all that exists. When a human heart refuses to honor and acknowledge God for his creation, an individual’s thinking will become futile (empty of reasoning) and his heart becomes darkened (reality is obscured).

Step 2: Refusal to honor God results in foolishness

The second step in the process to becoming a suppressor of truth is publicly professing to be wise about unbelieving views of God.

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

When a person holds to incorrect views about God and the creation, there are tremendous implications that arise. Not only is the person's understanding and views of all of life skewed, but it causes him to publicly take a stand with those views. When a person claims to be wise, when in fact he is completely incorrect, he becomes a fool. How interesting it is that people often mock belief in God while citing their opinion that only fools believe in God. They are unaware that their foolishness blinds their hearts and minds.

Step 3: Exchange God’s glory

The third step to becoming a suppressor of truth is exchanging the glory due to God and giving it to created entities.

“…and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:23).

You may believe that this particular description pertains only to ancient pagans who worshiped idols, figurines in the shapes of gods and animals, and that sort of thing. This is not an accurate view. During the ancient world civilizations practiced paganism (some still do) and worshiped the gods of pantheistic mythology. These nations failed to give honor to the rightful creator and exchanged or redirected the credit to mythological entities. Today the situation is far more similar than many might imagine. Today, many people credit Mother Nature or the universe itself with bringing all things into existence. They withhold the credit due to God and redirect it to what he created—the Creation. In fact, practically the entire public education system in Western society instructs its children in evolutionary theory and naturalism as the source and giver of all life and matter. I cover this issue more extensively in the section titled, “Naturalism: the stone of no god."

Step 4: Exchanging the truth about God

The fourth step to becoming a suppressor of truth is exchanging the truth about God for a lie.

“…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

How remarkable! Suppressors actually exchange the truth about God and replace it with a lie.

This is not just a theoretical matter—it is a very real situation that occurs across societies. You need not look far to find proof of this. Here are a few public voices who proudly provide ample evidence of what has happened to them—they have replaced the truth about God with untruths.

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow, I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."--Isaac Asimov

"If it turns out that there is a God...the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.--Woody Allen

"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”--Ayaan Hirsi Ali

"If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it."--Haruki Murakami

"The fact that Christians exist is a proof that God does not exist."--Louis Scutenaire

"Forget Jesus! Stars died so you could be here. Every atom in your body came from exploded stars."--Lawrence Krauss

These are just few quotes uttered from mouths and hearts who stand opposed to the truth—they exchange the truth about God with lies.

Step 5: God gives them up!

The fifth step should be the most fearful. For those who continue in their denial of the truth, at some point, God gives them up to the folly of their darkened hearts.

“Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…” (Romans 1:24).

The testimony of the New Testament is that at some point during a person’s refusal to acknowledge and credit God for his creation, God gives them up. At some point when a person exchanges the truth about God with lies, God gives the individual up to his foolish thinking and God no longer attempts to provide light to that individual’s heart and mind. This is the only real explanation of how a created being can speak so disparagingly about his creator and do so without remorse or fear.

Just one note before we proceed. We should differentiate between persons who are not sure what to think about God and are searching for truth, and those who we would term as suppressors. Suppressors are primarily those persons who have come to a decision that they will not believe in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Suppressors often disseminate information in an attempt to persuade others to believe as they and will always adopt sources of authority contrary to Scripture while refusing to acknowledge the God of the Hebrew Bible. Once an individual comes to such a decision and replaces the truth about God with a lie, that person places himself or herself in the position of a suppressor of truth.

Let’s continue on to identify the primary tactic used by suppressors.

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