For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;…
I. THE THING SPOKEN OF HERE AS "THE TRUTH."
1. Truth in the spheres of science, literature, art, philosophy, is an object worth attaining. But it is not in reference to such truth that Paul writes. Truth, indeed, is one, in whatever you may find it, whether in geological records or in the Bible. It means universally the reality as opposed to that which is not real. Now we want to know what the reality is in everything that comes before our minds. We want the historian to give us the reality as he narrates for us the events of history. So also in the higher matters of religion. The truth about God and His relation to man; truth bearing upon our duties, destiny — this is our supreme want. That which distinguishes us from the brutes is the possession of a religious nature with its moral capacities.
2. It is only as this religious nature grows that the man himself can be said to truly grow; and this growth can proceed only in connection with religious truth, which is its proper food. Take away light and moisture from the plant, and it dies. So our spiritual being can live and grow only in the light and under the vitalising influence of religious truth. Christ assigns two functions to Divine truth in relation to our fallen humanity.
(1) A liberating work. Christ says, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." With all the progress of civilisation, and the spirit of civil and political liberty, moral slavery still prevails among every people. And men are not very adverse to it. A very real slavery this; because, while the body may be free, the man himself is fettered by the love of sin and the spirit of worldliness. How shall he be made free? The truth is the only instrument to effect his liberation. "The truth," not any truth. The truths of physical science or of political philosophy, however precious for other purposes, are wholly insufficient for the liberation of a soul from sin and guilt.
(2) A sanctifying work. "Sanctify them through Thy Truth." Growth in holiness of character is the great thing — greater than any advancement in culture, than brilliant talents and genius; than the acquisition of material wealth or social rank and power. As we grow in holiness we grow in real greatness and in real happiness.
II. MAN'S CONDUCT IN REFERENCE TO "THE TRUTH." It does not get access to the heart, does not get its rightful power and ascendancy; it is checked, hindered, held back in its design to bless by unrighteousness. In what way? Notice —
1. That sin extinguishes the love and desire for the truth. It does not do so in regard to secular truth. The astronomer in his observatory, the chemist in his laboratory, the geologist among the rocks — each in his own way seeks the truth and desires it. But it is very different in regard to "the truth" as it comes to us in God's Word, and sounds in the conscience. Why?
(1) Because it does not offer itself as mere abstract truth, to excite speculative interest; it comes with great demands; it is truth which claims obedience; and it is not so easy always to obey the truth as to talk about it and admire it.
(2) "The truth" is a rebuke to a life of sin; and we do not like to be rebuked for that which we know to be wrong.
(3) "The truth," again, reveals to man the peril to which a life of sin exposes him. The sinner, therefore, closes his eyes to it. He desires to be undisturbed and at peace in his sin.
2. Sin destroys the soul's sensitiveness to the truth. It weakens the soul's power of moral perception, beclouds the inner vision.
(A. Bell, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
WEB: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,