Lesson 14 - Chapter 1 Verses 21-23

Chapter 1:21-23

Verse 21 – The Issue of Gospel Hearing


Once a person has reached God-consciousness and wants to know more about God, He has obligated Himself to provide the Gospel message to that person. Once the Gospel is presented and understood, this person must make a positive or negative decision to either believe in Jesus Christ as Savior or reject Him.

Verse 21 tells us about a person who has reached God-consciousness and has heard and understood the Gospel. The person referred to in this verse refuses to glorify (honor) God by believing in Jesus Christ for salvation. As a matter of fact, this person was not even thankful to God for getting the Gospel to him. This person’s volition is negative and therefore he/she rejects Jesus Christ as Savior.

The result of rejecting the Gospel is a vacuum in the soul, leading to blackout of the soul. We call this unbeliever reversionism, which is similar to believer reversionism. The believer who is a reversionist has rejected Bible doctrine not the Gospel. Both, however, result in the same vacuum and open themselves up for all type of satanic doctrines.

Controlled by the sin nature and Human Viewpoint Thinking, the soul of the unbeliever in reversionism darkens into a state of blackout. Deliberate rejection of the Gospel leads the reversionistic unbeliever directly into evil. In this case, evil is not what most people think of as evil. Here, evil is succumbing to satanic doctrine, which has entered the soul through the vacuum created by negative volition. The vacuum is an emptiness or a void in the mind that is going to be filled with something. For the unbeliever it is going to be Human Viewpoint Thinking. For this reason he is easily influenced or possessed by demons. Since thinking has become totally distorted, the unbeliever blames all his problems on God, on others or on circumstances, failing to take responsibility for his own bad decisions, bad choices and bad behavior. (Ephesians 5:11; 6:12)

From the blackout of the soul the unbeliever reversionist begins to build scar tissue on the soul, becoming callous to everything that has to do with God. The build up of scar tissue is synonymous with the term “hardening of the heart.” This instability causes the unbeliever reversionist to become divorced from reality. In this stage of reversionism priorities are distorted, norms and standards are based on human viewpoint and thinking lines up with Satan’s program. At this point unbelievers and believers who are in reversionism are indistinguishable. (John 15:23; James 4:4; I John 2:18; 3:8-10)


Verse 22 – Unbeliever Reversionism


What’s always amazing about an unbeliever in this stage of reversionism is that they become so arrogant that they actually believe they are wise. However, the reality is that they have become fools. This is the delusion of heathenism, which has often destroyed an entire nation or culture. Rome itself is an example of this delusional thinking. Therefore, we can see the importance of maintaining Divine Viewpoint Thinking as our norm and standard as believers in Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for wise is “sophos,” which means something that is naturally learned. We would call this human wisdom, as opposed to divine wisdom. The Greek word for fools is “asunetos,” which means without discernment or understanding. We will see the result of the self-righteous arrogance of unbelievers in the following verses. The thinking of the unbeliever in this condition creates evil and evil creates its own gods, as we will see. Arrogance always sets itself above the wisdom of God and distorts His perfect attributes into ridiculous images of humans, animals and other objects.


Verse 23 – The Pattern of Heathenism


Once a person rejects God, either at God-consciousness or Gospel hearing, and have set themselves on a course of evil, the only possible result is to find something to worship other than God. This “something” they choose to worship may be anything including self. Self-worship is arrogance, which produces self-deception, self-justification and self-absorption (a total preoccupation with self). The interesting thing about unbeliever reversionism according to this verse is that they actually make a conscience decision to exchange God, as their object of worship, for something most often ridiculous in nature.

The Greek word for exchanged is “allasso” meaning to make other than it is or exchange. Because these unbelievers became wise “in their own eyes” and placed their wisdom above God’s wisdom they followed the pattern of Satan when he rebelled against God.

What the unbeliever exchanged was the glory of immortal God. Glory is the Greek word “doxa” meaning honor resulting from a good opinion. In this verse glory refers to the sum total of all of God’s attributes. The Greek word for immortal is “aphthartos” meaning not liable to corrupt or decay, incorruptible, immortal or imperishable. God’s glory cannot be corrupted.

What these delusional heathens worship instead of God and His wonderful attributes are images made by corrupt, mortal, imperishable man to look like themselves, birds, animals and reptiles. What a wise choice!

The Greek word for images is “homoioma,” which means a copy, an appearance, a likeness. This is the idolatry of heathenism and God had already commanded mankind to have no other god other than Him. Therefore, idolatry is a direct violation of the law of God and one of many of Satan’s ploys to distract and confuse.

The Greek word for mortal is “thnetos” meaning subject or liable to death, corruptible, mortal or perishable. The arrogance of reversionism always seeks to corrupt the incorruptible and the creative work of evil is to destroy the incorruptible in the minds of others. Human Viewpoint thinking, which is corruptible, is the opposite of Divine Viewpoint Thinking, which is incorruptible. You cannot destroy the incorruptible God but you can create the wrong impression of Him. Arrogance always finds a human being setting himself up above the very power and greatness of infinite God. So the arrogance of reversionism seeks to corrupt the incorruptible by exchanging the perfect attributes of God for images of people or animals associated with what people admire in people or what people admire in animals — generally some form of power or some ability to kill, and so on. Creature power, no matter how it tries, can never supersede creator power. (quote by R.B. Thieme, Jr.)

Let’s look at what man patterns many of his gods after – the human body. The human body was created originally by God (biological life). No longer created by God, the human body is now a product of procreation. The purpose of the human body is to house the soul and, upon faith in Christ, the human spirit. The sin nature is passed to every human being genetically from the male and resides within the human body. God also imputes Adam’s original sin to the sin nature of every human being at birth, which results in spiritual death (separation from God). Therefore, what we all start with is a contaminated (corrupted) nature, spiritual death and an inability to have fellowship with God. The soul is also contaminated as a result. (Romans 5:12-21)

Since the human body is contaminated with a sin nature, it naturally tends to act out that nature by sinning. This is why the Scriptures refer to the body as “the body of sin” or “the body of corruption.” The body is also called “the flesh.” (Romans 7:7-18; 8:3-5; I Corinthians 6:19)


The Human Soul

The human soul is created by God and imputed to biological life at birth, creating human life. The soul of a person is their invisible essence (the real person). A shadow image of God’s essence, the human soul will live forever. Soul is the Greek word “psuche” and means “the breath of life.”

The essence of the human soul is:

1)    Self-consciousness - an eventual awareness of our existence as individuals. (Genesis 35:18; I Kings 17:21; Matthew 10:39; Acts 20:10)

2)    Mentality - an individual’s ability to think and reason, to learn and store information and the ability to apply that information. (Luke 12:19; Acts 15:24)

3)    Volition - a person’s freedom to make their own choices or “free-will” (Acts 3:23)

4)    Emotion - a person’s feelings and the appreciator of the soul. (John 12:27; II Peter 2:8)

5)    Conscience - the norms and standards of an individual. (Psalms 58:2-5; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19)

The soul of man is created perfect by God, but is corrupted by its union with biological life, which contains the sin nature. Therefore, it is the soul of mankind that needs to be saved. This is exactly what occurs when an unbeliever trusts Christ as Savior. God’s righteousness is imputed to the soul of the believer immediately upon faith in Christ. (II Corinthians 5:21)

Man is born with a body and a soul, but without a human spirit (dichotomous). We know this from I Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God…” The Greek word for “natural” is “psuchikos,” which means “soulish.” The natural man cannot understand spiritual things because he lacks a human spirit. We see this from I Corinthians 2:11-13. Spiritual information can be understood only by a person with a spiritual nature.

When your soul leaves your body at physical death, your life remains in your soul; it lives forever. No one has a choice as to whether or not his soul will live forever. However, faith in Christ results in eternal life in Heaven, but rejection of Christ results in eternity in the Lake of Fire.

The pattern of heathenism uses human wisdom, which is corrupted by the sinful nature of man and Satan’s world system, to create objects of worship. This was the pattern in the Roman Empire when the Apostle Paul wrote this book.