Jump Start # 2505
Romans 1:25 “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
Exchange is nothing more than trading. And, trading, or exchange, is the fiber of commerce. We trade money for services. You need a haircut. You don’t want to do it yourself because it won’t turn out well. So, you find someone who will cut your hair. They cut your hair and you give them money for their services. That is an exchange. Your car makes a funny noise. You take it to a mechanic. You trade money for his services to fix your car. We do this when we buy groceries, go to the doctor or even buy things on Ebay. We exchange money for something that we want or value.
However, in our passage, no money was passed. A person traded in what they believed for something that they wanted to believe in. They traded the truth for a lie. The exchange wasn’t a good one. What they gave up wasn’t equal to what they received. They traded light for darkness. They traded God for the Devil. They traded being right for being wrong. The trade is foolish. The trade isn’t thought out. The trade often is based upon superficial feelings and instant pleasure. The trade involves exchanging the eternal for the here and now.
And, behind every sin, this lopsided, one sided, uneven exchange is found. Esau exchanged his birth right for one common meal. What would he do the next day when he was hungry again? He exchanged the spiritual for the physical. He traded a blessing and got not a year’s supply of food, but one simple bowl of food. How foolish that was. Eve traded her relationship with God and her home in Eden to take a bite of the forbidden fruit. Was it a good trade? No. Was it an even trade? No. Not thought out. Not carefully planned, she exchanged the best for the worst. The prodigal did the same thing. He took his father’s life savings, his share of the inheritance and blew it on loose living. He had nothing to show for it. He came home empty. No investments. No real estate. No business bought. Spent it all. Wasted it all. He exchanged an inheritance for a little sinful pleasure. He ended up on a dead end street. His life was a mess and he had no hope and no help. What a terrible exchange he made.
In our passage, Paul is detailing the descent of the Gentile mind. Rather than honoring God, whom they knew, they became like animals. They sank deeper and deeper into the pit of sin. They abandoned what was natural and what God had made. Their minds became depraved. They took themselves into things that are not proper, holy or right. They exchanged God for the devil. And, the cost of that exchange was their very souls.
It’s hard to understand why people continue to leave what the Bible teaches for things the Bible does not teach. This exchange doesn’t make sense. They are trading what is right for what is wrong. They do it be happy. They do it to be free. They do it because they believe it’s fun. Every year people walk away from the Lord, His word and His people. They run off to dance with the devil, laughing and having a delight the whole time. They don’t even look back. They have no regrets. And, their once washed souls are again marred with the stains of sin and error.
I’ve been reading about a most fascinating preacher in the 1800’s. His name was Jesse Ferguson. He preached in the largest congregation in the country at that time. It was in Nashville, TN. He was so popular and well known that he spoke before legislatures and gave speeches throughout the country. He started a paper, called the Christian Magazine. His name and his fame was spreading like a prairie fire across the land. But something happened. It all came to a crashing end. He got caught up in the spiritualist movement of the time. He believed spirits, ghosts and other phenomenal beings existed and communicated through mediums. That led to believing one could communicate with the dead and that the dead communicated with the living. And, in this downward spiral, he never saw that he was exchanging the truth for a lie. He got connected with a couple of brothers who claimed that spirits were doing magical things that no one could explain. Across Europe, Ferguson was the master of ceremonies for the famed Davenport brothers. Ferguson was convinced spirits were working through them. The Davenports were proven to be frauds. Ferguson died in Nashville. Not the man of faith that he once was. Fallen, alone and broken, he exchanged his soul for a lie. His once powerful congregation dwindled.
We look at such a story and wonder, how does that happen? How does a preacher give up the truth? How does any believer give up the truth? How does one exchange the truth for a lie?
It begins when the truth is spoken but not firmly believed. The foundation of faith must be the rock of Christ. When it’s the church, the people, the joyful feelings we get from worship and fellowship, then those things can be exchanged. We trade one group of people for another group of people. We trade one feeling for another feeling. Our faith must be personal, real and stand the test of trials, challenges and error. Our faith must be in what the Scriptures teach.
Next, the lie begins to change. The lie no longer seems like a lie. It’s possible, we think. Others are saying it’s true. We spend more time chasing our doubts and theories than we do strengthening our faith. Look at those who depart. Notice what they have been looking at on the internet. It’s not faith building sites. Look at what books they are reading. It’s not the Bible. Look who they are talking to. It’s not people of faith. It’s doubters. It’s critics. It’s champions in error. When Eve was talking to the serpent, that was mistake number one, he said, you will not die. Where’s the proof? Where’s the evidence? She allowed her doubts to grow and she stepped on what faith she had.
Then a person starts seeing everything wrong with what was right. They complain. They are critical. They point fingers. They accuse. They see that for years they have been held back and their eyes have been blinded. But not any more, they believe. Freedom. Run as fast as you can from the things you were taught.
Finally, once a person embraces the lie, the truth becomes a lie to them. They become outspoken critics of the very things they once believed. They turn against God’s word. They turn against God’s people. They even turn against God. Happily, they believe that they have found real truth. They have deceived themselves into thinking that they are the enlighten ones. They see the people that they left behind as poor, gullible simpletons who have been blinded to what is really right.
The reality is, they have exchanged truth for a lie. They traded God for the devil. Sure, they may be happy. They may think that they are finally free. They even convince themselves and others that they are more spiritual now than they have ever been. That’s why all of this is a lie. It’s not true. It may seem to be true but it’s not.
What’s the answer? What can be done? Teach God’s word. Give real answers to real questions. Realize God’s word never changes. Truth has nothing to fear. Investigate it. Challenge it. Look at it. Examine it. It stands the test of time. The lies will fail under similar tests. The lies come apart when looked at carefully. The lies are just that, lies.
Exchange. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. And, what did they get for that exchange? A lifetime of sinful living and an eternity away from God.