Disobeying God is our responsibility. We degenerate, we cease to think straight, we speculate, and our hearts are clouded in ignorance, and man created in the image of God creates images of his own—of animals and even of himself. By not honoring God or thanking Him, man becomes futile in his actions and darkened in his heart (Rom. 1:21). He creates images “resembling mankind and birds and animals and creeping things” (v. 23). As a result of his defiance, man exchanges God for some aspect of the creation to worship, including himself, rather than the blessed Creator (v. 25).
We will consider the theme of “knowing the truth” by commenting on the biblical account of creation, fall, and restoration in terms of the loss and regaining of knowledge, by noting how Paul writes in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans of the plight of the human race. Though fallen, the race retains the image of God (Gen. 9:6; James 3:9). The term image when used in Genesis is not simply a flattering literary device but something that carries deep significance. We image our Creator by our capacity to know God as God knows us. But unlike our immutable God, we have lapsed into unbelief.
The image of knowing and willing remains, though it is spoiled. We have understanding and acts of will, and the Bible indicates this in various ways. Two ways are prominent: our ability to form false beliefs and our ability to have evil goals. The Bible sees these as the result of self-deception and the working of the effect of the fall on our conscience. We construct idols and have bad consciences. We worship the creation in some way or another, rather than our Creator. This is the Pauline theme of sinfulness as a loss of knowledge. For Paul, loss of knowledge is a matter not of forgetting a collection of facts but of having minds that twist what we learn. We are unbalanced and warped. Mankind at first had the knowledge of God—“What can be known about God is plain . . . because God has shown it” (Rom. 1:19)—to the extent that God has revealed His divine nature, His power, and more of Himself, which amounts to a perception of His nature through subsequent generations, despite our downward spiral.