The brethren of the first century lived in a world that was dominated by godlessness and idolatrous influences and the evidence of that is seen in the letters that the apostle Paul wrote to the various congregations of the Lord’s church. To the church in Corinth Paul wrote referring to a whole list of immoralities that were common in Corinth that time, “And such were some of you…” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Their lifestyle before obeying the gospel had been dedicated to the idolatrous immorality of their day, but upon hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ they responded to it and were “washed” (1 Corinthians 6:11), which means that through baptism their sins were forgiven.
The brethren in the congregations of Galatia lived in very similar circumstances and to them Paul named what would have essentially been an incomplete list of immoralities that he called the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). The works of the flesh stood in stark contrast to the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) that the Christians were to have in their lives. The Galatian brethren would have been aware of the immoral lifestyles that were common in their communities just as we are today. Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse concerned what he called “things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2) that also consisted of various immoralities common to the first century world. Every city and town that Paul visited, whether just passing through or to stay and preach the gospel, was full of idolatry and the idolatrous immoral influences. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols” (Acts 17:16).
Paul also wrote to the Christians in Rome, and he expressed his faith and confidence in the “gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), and then he wrote concerning God’s reaction to those that do not obey the gospel. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). The version cited here, the American Standard Version, uses the phrase “hold the truth in unrighteousness”. Some other versions say, “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. The word translated “hold” or “suppress” literally means “to hold down”. For example, it is as if two people were wrestling, and one was trying to hold down the other. Paul was teaching that the rampant immorality in the society of the first century world was struggling against the will of God and those that practiced such were in effect trying to “hold down” or “suppress” the truth by their ungodly lifestyle. The world has continued for some twenty centuries since when Paul wrote, but the lesson is just as applicable today as it was then.
The month of June is now being promoted and celebrated by various immoral groups that are doing essentially the same of those in the first century. To proclaim the month of June as a celebration of immorality is to try to “hold down” or “suppress” the truth in unrighteousness celebration. We are twenty centuries from when Paul wrote to the church, but the lessons remain the same. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Just as they could not stop preaching the gospel, neither can the Lord’s church stop preaching the truth in the twenty-first century.