There are two ways of living in this world. We live with God as Lord of our hearts, or live our lives in attempt to claim rulership over God. Every human being that has ever existed, is existing, or ever will exist, dwells in one of these two realms. There is no realm of neutrality in between. That is not to say that the process of being converted, by the spirit, into a worshipper of God is not a lifelong process. It certainly is. Nevertheless, at the foundation of our being, we look up to God in reverence and are learning to do so more and more, or we look down at him in blasphemous condescension. We are either born of God, and are being conformed to the likeness of his Son, or we are not.
When we finally embrace this biblical truth, we are at once placed in a position to rightly interpret what we see, not only in the world, but in the church. Many Christians who claim to hold scripture in high esteem, cringe when sharp distinctions like this are made. This may well reveal an unwillingness to live consistently with their confession that God brought the very fabric of time and space into existence.
To be made in the image of God and to live in this world is all that a creature needs to be worthy of condemnation for not bending the knee.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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
As always, the ink in Paul's letter is still wet. We see this suppression of the truth every day in the world around us. We see human beings, made in God's image, writing books with the fingers God formed, shouting their unbelief with lungs that God gave them, breathing air that God blessed them with, and inventing words like "atheist" to proudly wear on their shirts. Fortunately God does not believe in atheists, and to the extent that we do, we trust the word of man over the word of God. To the extent that we make this exchange, the unbelieving world will sense our lack of faith in our every gospel presentation.
Not only do we see these two fundamental realms in the world out there, but as I mentioned, it can be seen in the church as well. Every professing Christian claims to have given their life to God. Yet even those of us who claim the name of Christ have the most subtle ways of subverting his rule in our hearts.
God blessed us with means of connection with him. God blessed us with glorious promises in the gospel. God is the end for which God made the world. God is the end for which God made us. We don't eat ice cream in order to earn the pleasure of washing the bowl. The ice cream is the point. We don't worship God for anything. He is the reward.
Yet when our hearts deceive us, we seek out other devices. The deception as Christians is that the devices often look strangly religious.
We see this in worship. Rather than worship God for God's sake, we worship for the sake of his gifts. Sometimes we get them. When we do get them in the midst of such a mindset, we cannot be thankful for them. We worshipped our way to them after all. Such hard workers we are... choking down that pesky ice cream.
We see this as we bow in prayer. We either see prayer as a means of releasing our burdens onto the only sovereign, knowing he works all things for good, or we try to twist his arm with our "sovereign" prayer, thinking we can work all things for good.
We see this as we contemplate the Gospel. We either think that grace, given through Christ on the cross, was an unmeritted gift to underserving sinners, or we think that it was God's apology for giving us a standard we "good" people should never have been expected to live up to.
We either think God chose us in love, in spite of ourselves, before the foundation of the earth, to bring glory to himself through our glorification, or we think that we chose God, because of ourselves, to bring glory to ourselves.
Whether we go by the term "believer" or not, we are living in one of these two worlds. Either we are using all of our God given faculties to dethrone God, or we have decisively been placed, by God's sovereign grace, into the right world. If the latter, we are growing into that world by that same grace, learning not to look back.