There is always a direct correspondence between love and hate. We hate the opposite of, or what is antithetical to, what we love. Men will hate the truth of God because they embrace every lie that opposes that truth. They will make a moral choice to hold to any version of truth that gives their rebellion against God and His Word seeming credibility.
Romans1:18–32 traces the moral decline of natural man in his repudiation of God. Paul clearly shows us in this passage that man’s moral rebellion is more than a personal phenomenon. It has outward manifestations that will be visible in the life of cultures and civilizations as well as individuals. God gives man over to moral rebellion, to a degenerate mind; He lets him manifest the personal, financial, and social consequences of his moral degeneracy (vv. 26–27).
Not every man becomes as bad as he can, theoretically, be; but the moral inclination of depraved man is toward greater depravity. Humanism does not make men better. As the elevation of man to supremacy, it represents his intellectual rationalization for the repudiation of the sovereignty of God. Humanism does not represent the ennobling of man, but rather the intellectual justification of his moral degeneracy.
Something precedes man’s descent into social and cultural degeneracy. It is tempting to say it is an intellectual process because it does involve a rationalization, but this would evade the Biblical explanation of the moral issue. We live in a moral universe because we live in the universe of a holy God. Man’s intellectual rebellion is a result of man’s moral rebellion. Man’s moral rebellion causes him to intellectually lust for lies that will justify his rebellion. Man loves lies and constantly crafts them because such lies are useful to him. Just like believable well-told lies are the stock-in-trade of a con man, fallen man needs well-told lies to cover his moral fraud.
Paul tells us that men “hold the truth in unrighteousness,” that is, they suppress the truth (vs. 18). When Paul says men know the truth (vv. 19–20), he does not mean that they know all truth, for men are still creatures, but they know the moral fact that they are responsible to their Creator. They are, therefore, without excuse.
When men are confronted by God in this morally depraved state, their moral and intellectual being refuses to acknowledge Him. Rather, they become “vain in their imaginations” (vs. 21); they raise their defenses around their useful lies, the constructs of their rebellious imaginations.
As rebellious man increasingly makes his self-proclaimed wisdom the standard in his war against the truth of God, he makes himself, in reality, the fool (vs. 22). Man’s moral rebellion leads him to believe in the autonomy of his own thought. “We are wise,” he claims. “We can deduce truth in a neutral world.” As man persists in this moral rebellion turned intellectual rationalization, he becomes increasingly confident he really knows things. Like some frauds, he loses sight of the truth; he comes to believe his own lies. Man professes himself wise, but he is, nevertheless, the fool.
The purpose of man’s intellectual pretense is clearly laid out by Paul. It is so that he can worship and serve the creature more than the Creator (vs. 25). It is to defend his original rebellion, his quest to be his own god (Gen. 3:5) and to embody his rationale in a system of intellectual justification. Today we know this convenient lie as humanism, but this is no more than another name for man’s justification of his own sinfulness. The problem with all of man’s justifications is that they are addressed to a mock court. Humanism is a justification addressed to sinful man and not to the righteousness of a holy God. Those who love the lies of sinful man will one day face a far more stringent bar of justice. There, no lies and no reprobate man will stand.
If we love God, we must love His truth and repudiate the lies by which sin and rebellion are defended.