This morning I have had the old DC Talk song In The Light stuck in my head. The first few lines are:
"I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you
I am the king of excuses
I've got one for every selfish thing I do"
It's the "I am the king of excuses; I've got one for every selfish thing I do" that caught my attention. I know that I can be pretty good at justifying my bad behavior. Even when I am not excusing my behavior I am excusing my behavior. The "it's not an excuse; it's a reason" explanation–which I like to use from time to time–is often just an excuse clothed in faux humility or contrition. I would guess that I am not alone in saying that I do have an excuse for every selfish thing I do.
The problem is that all of my reasons and excuses really don't cut it; especially with God. Paul makes that very clear to us at the very beginning of Romans. What Paul is doing in the book of Romans is laying out a clear-cut and logical argument that we are all guilty of sin and need the forgiveness only provided by Jesus Christ. Paul hits the ground running in Romans 1:18-20 by quickly stripping away any excuses that we might have:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 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."
This passage is mainly referring to what we call General Revelation–or that God has partially revealed himself through nature. Paul is saying that there is enough evidence (Christian Apologists use these evidences as arguments for the existence of God) in the created world for us to recognize that there is a God. But Paul's statement goes one step further. He is laying the foundation for his overall argument that systematically strips away any excuses–or justification–for our bad behavior that we might have.
"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."
Overall Paul is talking about those that we would easily recognize as ungodly people. Paul is speaking about people that do not honor God or give thanks to him. He is speaking about people that worship people, animals and things instead of God. The problem is that when we start to strip away our excuses it becomes pretty clear that we do not honor God the way that we should; we do not thank God the way that we should; and we worship people, animals and things more than God.
Paul is telling us all that–as DC Talk states later in their song:
"This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I'm still a man in need of a savior."
It is a good reminder that I am the king of excuses and that I still need Jesus as my savior.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.