Please pray for God to use this article I wrote for a South African magazine. - Jonathan DeSeno
Atheism: An Opiate of the Sinful
Have you ever been frustrated or intimidated when someone tells you they are an Atheist? Do you suddenly feel inadequate to witness to them, because you don't know a lot about carbon dating, star light theory, or evolution? Maybe you feel that they will ask questions you don't know the answers to and make you feel stupid? I pray that by taking a look at what God's word has to say on the subject you will be emboldened and equipped to share the gospel with anyone, especially the professing Atheist.
While Atheists themselves may often play games and have various definitions as to what they believe, Webster's Dictionary defines it like this:
A'THEISM, n. The disbelief of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.
He then goes on to comment on the subject: " Atheism is a ferocious system that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us, to awaken tenderness.
Basically when someone tells you they are an Atheist, they are telling you they don't believe in God.
Now we can easily look at creation and come to the conclusion that there is a creator. Hebrews 3:4 puts it this way " (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)" Every building has a builder, every painting has a painter, things designed have designers, and creation has a Creator. Our Creator is eternal without beginning or end and he is the "builder of all things".
I often use this logic when speaking to professing Atheists. I may point to a building while we are talking and ask how they know it has a builder (even if they've never experienced him with their senses)? The obvious response is because there is a building. All they proof they could ever need that there is a builder is the building itself. And all the proof we could ever need of the Creator is creation itself. This is so simple a small child could get it. While many people respond quite well to this proof of God's existence, I'm still amazed when the professing Atheist won't accept this obvious evidence, and seek to discredit it, and come up with other excuses to justify his unbelief. You may have encountered this same frustration. Why is it that someone can be so blind?
If we take a look at the scriptures we can see that in fact they are not so much blind (though all the lost are blind) as they are shutting their eyes. Romans 1:18-23 says it like this:
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 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.
Rom 1:21 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.
Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Verse 18 tells us that God is angry with those "who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Have you ever been in a pool and tried to hold a inflated ball under the water? It takes a continuous purposeful effort to keep it under. The balls nature keeps pushing it to the top, while you keep pushing and holding it under. That is a picture of what not only the Atheist but also many of the lost do. They suppress the truth which they know about God. They through an act of their will, try not to think about, or even think against what they know about God. They suppress the truth.
Verse 19 Goes on to tell us something very important. It tells us that what can be known about God is plain to them, and that God has shown it to them. Do you realize what this means? The Atheist is lying to you. He knows that God exists. God has shown it to us and them. The Atheist is bluffing. Who are we to believe, him, or God? Of course God. The next verse, verse 20 actually tells us that because of creation, they "are without excuse". There is no ignorance about the existence of God, only suppression. Verse 21 tells us: " 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.” They knew God.... but they didn't like Him and/or respond to him correctly. And the consequences were to become futile in their thinking and have their foolish hearts darkened.
The next verse tells us: "Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,"
What an accurate description of someone who claims to be intellectual but says he doesn't believe in God. God says "they became fools". We see this earlier in the Bible in Psalms 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
This verse not only calls the professing Atheist fools, it reveals some things about their morality.
1. They are corrupt.
2. They do abominable deeds. One commentator alluded to the abominable deeds of Sodom. While homosexuality and other sexual sins are not the only abominations in the sight of God (pride, lying lips, etc.), they can often be the motivation behind professing Atheism. In talking with Atheists personally, I have found them to often be addicted to porn or other such moral failures. Often times when speaking with a professing Atheist, I'll mention this, and share how it is very convenient for someone who is guilty before God to not want to find Him. Kind of like a criminal who doesn't want to encounter the police. The motivation for saying there is no God, is a moral issue. No God, no absolute morals, guilt, or judgment.
3. They are not good. "There is none who does good." This is so important for us all to understand. There is no one who does good, no, not one. (Romans 3:12) The Atheist may pride himself in his "morality" towards his fellow man, while grossly breaking the greatest commandment to love God. If I am very nice to other people, but treat my wife as though she doesn't exist, I would be a sick, twisted individual. And so is the man who thinks he is "good" without God.
Now that we have seen the real, motivation for Atheism, how can we then witness to them? Pretty much how we should to anyone else. Law to the proud grace to the humble. While we can argue intellectually, with someone about the existence of God and truth of the Bible, real salvation is a work of God. Salvation is of the Lord. That being said, we should pray, and present the issue in a Biblical way. We need to help the lost see their need of the Savior. Romans 3:20b says: " for by the law is the knowledge of sin." We must talk with the lost about sin. The Bible defines sin as breaking God's law (1 John 3:4 KJV) We can do this by sharing God's law with them. We can ask if they've ever stolen, lied, or used God's name in vain. We can expound the spiritual nature of the law, and share how Jesus said that to look with lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28), and that the Bible considers hatred murder (1 John 3:15). We should reason with them about their guilt before God, and the coming day of judgment, on which they would be found guilty and end up in hell. (It is very important to note, that we should not be proud or have a better than you attitude when we share, but rather a loving humble one, of a sinner forgiven by grace.) We use the law of God, to help bring a greater knowledge of sin, and we prayerfully look to God's Spirit to convict of sin (John 16:8). If the person is concerned about their guilty state before God, we deliver the everlasting good news, that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect sinless life, and then 33 years into His earthly existence, He suffered and died on our behalf when he was crucified on the cross, bearing the wrath of God in our place. We broke God's law, Jesus paid our fine.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
What God requires of you, is that you repent (turn from your sin towards God) and trust alone in Jesus Christ as payment for your sins. (Acts 20:21). You will be born again, reconciled to God, and become an heir of heaven and eternal life. How greatly God will be loved and praised for His longsuffering patience towards you, or how fearful the justice of His wrath upon you, as you add to your sins and guilt before Him, continuing on in your disobedience. Please don't harden your heart, today obey the gospel. Repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ!