Practical Atheism
Psalm 14:1-7
The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.…

This is natural to man in his depraved state. Not natural to him as created, but as corrupt. And it is universal (Psalm 58:2; Romans 3:9-12). For the proof that atheism is natural to man we note —


1. He naturally disowns the rule God sets him. Every man naturally is a son of Belial. He would be without any law. Hence he desires not to know God's law. The purity of the Divine rule renders it nauseous to him; so impure is man's heart, and therefore atheistic likewise. Hence he neglects the means of knowledge, or endeavours to shake off as much as he has (Romans 1:28). Or if he cannot do this he will not think of it, and his heart rises against God both inwardly and in outward art (ver. 4). What knowledge they seek for they desire only from impure motives. What they have they hold very loosely. One day it is "Hosannah," the next "Crucify Him." Some try to wrest their knowledge of God's truth to encourage their sin (2 Peter 3:16). But all this dislike to God's truth is a disowning of God as our rule. God's law cast against a hard heart is like a bail thrown against a stone wall, by reason of the resistance bounding farther from it. They show their contempt by their presumptuous transgression of the law, by their natural aversion to the declaration of God's will. That will they dislike and turn from. And this the more His will tends to His honour.

2. Man naturally owns any other rule rather than that of God. "They are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:4). They will prefer the rule of Satan. Or of the world, for this is evident from their regarding more the dictates of men than of God; and what regard they have for God's will, it is only because it is the world's will also, which they ever put before the will of God. But especially they prefer their own self-will. Self is the great opponent of God, the great Antichrist.

3. Man would make himself the rule for God, and give God law. We are willing He should be our Benefactor, but not our Ruler. This mind is seen in our striving against His law. In our disapproving the methods of His government. In impatience in regard to our own particular concerns. Because Job did not do this he is commended (Job 1:22). In envying the gifts and prosperities of others. In praying importunately for things which we do not know will please God (Proverbs 7:14), or which we do know are contrary to His declared will. As when men pray to be saved, but neglect the means of salvation. Or when we try to bend God to our own will. In all these ways, and yet others, man shows that he would have God take rule from him, and not he from God.


1. For proof see his frequent self-applause (Romans 12:3, 4). His ascribing to himself the glory of every success. His desire to have self-pleasing doctrines. His concern if he is injured, but not if God is wronged. His self-trust. All this is a usurping of God's prerogatives, and a vilifying of God and destroying Him so far as man can.

2. Man would make anything his end rather than God.

3. Man would make himself the end of all creatures (Ezekiel 38:2).

4. Man would make himself the end of God. He does so when he loves God only because God sends him good things, but would not if God sent him evil things. When he abstains from sin for his own sake, not because of God. When he renders duties for a mere selfish interest (Genesis 34:21, 22), which is evident from his reluctance to religion when self is not concerned (Job 21:15; Job 35:3). And man's practical atheism is further shown in his unworthy imaginations of God, from which spring all idolatry, superstition, and presumption. And in his desire to be distant from God. Naturally we have no desire either to remember, converse with, return to, or imitate God.

5. The uses of the foregoing truths. They are —

(i) For information, for they give us occasion to admire God's mercy, and justify His vengeance; they show our need of a new nature, how difficult conversion is. Also, the cause of unbelief in the Author of all grace; that there can be no justification by works, and the excellence of the Gospel.(ii) Exhortation: to labour, to be sensible of this lurking atheism, and watch against it.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

WEB: The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt. They have done abominable works. There is none who does good.

On the Atheism of the Heart
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