Suppression of the truth versus ignorance of the truth is what Paul will show in our passage today, proving that there is no such thing as an atheist or even atheism for that matter.
Paul indicated in verses 15-18, that he is not ashamed of the gospel, because in the gospel lies the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and that is because God has revealed His righteousness which begins and ends with faith, and that we must achieve this righteousness by faith, because God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Now, in verse 19-20, Paul gives support for his statement that people suppress the truth instead of saying that they don’t know the truth.
Romans 1:19 (ESV Strong’s)
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
There are three words in verses 19 that need to be first understood if verses 19-20 is going to make sense and if Paul’s message is going to be understood. The words are “what can be known”, “plain” and “has shown”. “What can be known” is one word in the Greek which refers to something that is able to be known or is capable of being known. “Plain” comes from a Greek word which refers to something that is so evident that it can be readily known. “Shown” comes from a Greek word which means to cause to become known, to disclose, to make known. The definitions come from the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Christian Literature, and the Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary.
With these definitions in mind, verse 19 can be explained this way: Paul is saying that because that which is able to be known or is capable of being known about God, is so evident to them that they can readily or without any difficulty know it, because God has made it known to them. God has disclosed that which can be known about Him to them, and it is not difficult for them to know it.
If you say God doesn’t exist, you are suppressing the truth
Romans 1:20 (ESV Strong’s)
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.
This is a bold statement that Paul is making here and he obviously must support it. Paul is saying to those that call themselves atheist, that they are lying when they say that they believe God doesn’t exist, because they know without a shadow of a doubt that God exist. What atheist are doing is actually suppressing the truth that they know about God instead of professing it. How does Paul support this statement?
in verse 20, Paul says that everyone knows that which God has disclosed about Himself, and therefore know that God exists. This is because God’s invisible attributes namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived or noticed, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made, that is, in the creation itself. This means that the creation is evidence of the existence of God, and reveals that which can be known about God to everyone. Creation reveals to every single person God’s eternal power and divine nature. This evidence is clear, it can be seen and it can be known without any difficulty.
Then Paul concludes verse 20 by saying that no one has an excuse for saying that they don’t know God or God doesn’t exist. Anyone who says that God doesn’t exist or they are not sure that God exists, is lying and suppressing the truth. This is why Paul says that they suppress the truth instead of saying that they don’t know the truth. To suppress means to actively and continuously hide away the truth that you know exist. As soon as you stop hiding the truth away, the truth comes out. It is like pressing a round ball in the water. You have to keep it pressed otherwise it springs out. Simply because you actively and continuously press the ball in the water, it does not mean that the ball doesn’t exist. This is what those who call themselves atheist do. They actively and continuously suppress the truth about God that they know, and then turn around and say God doesn’t exist. They do this because they want to continue to live in unrighteousness and ungodly lives.
Paul has clearly made a very good argument against those who claim that God doesn’t exist or they are not sure that God exist. Paul has clearly shown that it is impossible for anyone to say that there is no evidence for the existence of God. All they have to do is to look around them and there is plain evidence that God exists, because God has revealed Himself to us in the creation itself. Each time you go outside and look at nature and the heavens, you can only conclude that God truly exists. Therefore anyone who claims that God doesn’t exist or they don’t know that God exists, is a liar who is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and will face God’s wrath.