There is hardly any passage, which so clearly shows what happens to a man when he leaves God out of the reckoning. It is not so much that God sends a judgment on a man, as that a man brings a judgment on himself when he gives no place to God in the scheme of things.
When man seeks wisdom and happiness independent of God and He gives them over to futility and frustration. Three times in Romans 24-32, Paul uses the phrase GOD GAVE THEM OVER to demonstrate the folly of rebellious man in the spiritual, physical, emotional and rational levels of life.
In each case, the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Wherever men have existed, there have they shown themselves to be sinners—godless and wicked—deserving of the wrath of God.
Idolatry—GODLESSNESS—led God to give mankind over to SINFUL DESIRES and SHAMEFUL LUSTS that produce unnatural perversion, specifically homosexuality. Because they exchanged the real God for false gods, by the way of temporary punishment they exchanged natural sexual intercourse for homosexuality. Perversion of worship produces an unnatural perversion of desires and lusts.
Romans 1:26-27 describes what happens when GODLESS man becomes MORALLY perverted. Verses 28-32 describe what happens when WICKED man becomes MENTALLY perverted. Moral perversion and mental perversion are linked to each other. Romans 1:28 —
Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
SINCE THEY DID NOT THINK IT WORTH WHILE TO RETAIN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD what accurate picture of the United States at the end of the twentieth century. God has been removed from our schools, homes, and society. The depraved mind detests the knowledge of God! American children are ignorant of God because many in our nation do not want to retain the knowledge of Him.
If our nation acknowledges God, we must obey Him. If we don’t acknowledge Him, we are free to do what ought not to be done!
The Ten Commandments are the only true foundation of life, and the only effectual safeguard for morality. Those who abandon God and His commandments, He abandons! Paul observes this irony. Since mankind did not approve of God to have Him in their knowledge, God gave them over to an unapproved mind—a DEPRAVED MIND.
A DEPRAVED MIND is one that does not stand the test. It’s an undiscerning and reprobate mind that dwells on wickedness. Truly, it is a vain empty mind, worthless, good for nothing. It is devoid of all true knowledge and judgment; incapable of approving what is truly good, or of disapproving that which is evil; a mind that has lost all conscience of things, and is disapproved of by God.
The depraved mind is one which is so corrupted as to be a quite untrustworthy guide in moral decisions.
Hence, the person who turns from the truth will be allowed to have his or her way, will fall deeper and deeper into error, and will reap all the evil consequences of loving darkness rather than light. Those who hate the truth are “given over” to a depraved mind.
A DEPRAVED MIND is like an old abandoned building, the home of bats and mice, left “to do those things which are not fitting.” It is like the night clubs of modern cities, the dives and dens of the underworld, without God it gropes in the darkness of unrestrained impulses.
The apostle continues to assert that man has the knowledge of God, but exchanges the truth of God for the lie. When man makes an idol, he does it for the purpose of doing what he wants to do! Therefore, God allows man to choose his own course—TO DO WHAT OUGHT NOT TO BE DONE! That which is even offensive to man.
God’s abandonment doesn’t excuse man! Although the minds of human beings can no longer function as they should, people are still able to understand that the things they do are deserving of God’s death penalty.
Verses 29-31 show how human failure to give God His due has brought on the human race destructive evils of all kinds, ranging from gossip to murder. Putting something in God’s place leads to all kinds of sin— sins of personality and personal relationships.
Just as moral perversion produces wholesale sins of sex, so mental perversion gives rise to all manner of iniquity. The price man pays for rejecting God is to become moral and mental rejects.
Paul goes on to describe the consequences of mental perversion and does so by piling up one word after another in an attempt to show that man’s wickedness knows no bounds when unrestrained.
In verses 29-31, the pronoun THEY signifies four results of depraved thinking:
Depraved human character
Depraved human conduct
Depraved human communication
Depraved human concepts
Verse 29a describes the CHARACTER of a DEPRAVED MIND—
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
One does not need to buy a metropolitan daily newspaper to read about the wickedness, evil, greed and depravity that Paul writes about. Just read the headlines of the Public Opinion These things are not limited to places like Calcutta, Peking and California, but are part and parcel of Franklin County!
Paul uses four terms to describe the CHARACTER OF A DEPRAVED MIND.
WICKEDNESS (adikia) is unrighteousness of heart and life—a deed violating law and justice, an act of unrighteousness. The term means a violator of God’s law and includes those who are unjust, dishonest, and unfaithful.
Love obeys the Truth and hence finds no joy in wickedness according to 1 Corinthians 13:6—
Love does not delight in evil [wickedness] but rejoices with the truth.
The suppressing the truth of God leads to wickedness. Jesus called His generation wicked in Matthew 12:39—
A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
EVIL (ponhria) includes evil purposes and desires as well as malice. It is an abomination in spirit that lacks a desire to do good. It denotes everything bad that is contrary to God. When David had the opportunity of killing King Saul in the cave, he refused to do it; and in crying out to Saul afterwards, he reminded the King —
As the old saying goes, `From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
Wickedness and evil are linked many times in the Bible.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul warns that wicked and evil men oppose believers and their faith—
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.
GREED (pleonexia) is the hoggish desire to have more—covetousness. We see people who are grasping, itching for more, and who are extortioners, wishing to gain from the losses of others. The Holy Spirit describes greediness as idolatry in Colossians 3:5, idolatry, of course, is the worship of another object than God—whether it is a carved image, material possession or money.
DEPRAVITY (kakia) is a malignity, a malice that is not ashamed to break the divine laws. It is being morally bad and evil before God.
Those four characteristics are often manifested by the CONDUCT that arises from a DEPRAVED MIND, verse 29b—
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
Paul lists five CONDUCTS OF A DEPRAVED MIND.
FULL OF ENVY (mestouv fyonou) is the spiteful malice and resentment over another’s advantage. It is begrudging, desiring, hankering, or longing for what another possess to the point of producing wrong attitudes towards that person. Scripture tells us that Pilate assigned this depravity of mind to the religious leaders in Matthew 27:18—
For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
Paul might have had those religious leaders in mind when he recorded the next conduct of the depraved mind.
MURDER (fonou) is killing someone. Murder not only follows envy in the list but in life. The envious Jews crucified the Lord of Glory with the help of wicked men.
Murder is an act as well as an attitude. 1 John 3:15 states—
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:22—
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Aquinas said long ago, “Man regardeth the deed, but God seeth the intention.” No wonder Paul sandwiches MURDER between ENVY and STRIFE.
STRIFE (eridov) is contention, wrangling, quarreling, bickering, brawling, scrapping, spatting, squabbling, etc.
DECEIT (dolou) is the act or practice of imposing upon the worthiness of others by dishonesty, fraud, or trickery. The Greek word means FISH BAIT and by extension came to mean to lure, to ensnare, to beguile, to deceive. The prophet Habakkuk describes men as fishing for other men, and snaring them in their nets.
MALICE (kakohyeiav) is desiring or wishing pain, injury, or distress to another. Aristotle defined this word as “taking all things in the evil part.”
The tongue is a primary indicator of what resides in the heart and mind. Therefore, Paul describes the COMMUNICATION of a DEPRAVED MIND in verses 29c-30a—
They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful.
GOSSIPS (qiyuristav) are a persons who habitually tell private, scandalous, or sensational and often inaccurate information. The lexicon defines the Greek word as “speaking in one’s ear.” They are whisperers who secretly defame others. Proverbs 20:19 warns—
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
SLANDERERS (katalalouv) are backbiters who blacken the character of others. Slander rips in pieces the very heart and vital parts of love; it makes an evil man party and witness, and judge, and executioner. The slanders are not content to whisper into the ear of the listener, but publicly flaunt false charges against their fellow men.
The gossips and slanderers denote people who go about to destroy other’s reputations. Undoubtedly, the reason stems from the next four deprivations of the mind—they are God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful.
GOD-HATERS (yeostugeiv). They are the impious and wicked who speak against God. Hatefulness is a mind polluted with sin. Romans 8:7 says—
The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Ultimately, a God-hater must hate people since man is made in the image and likeness of God. God-haters really love themselves and no one else.
INSOLENT (ubristav) are uplifted with pride, heaping insulting language or acts upon others. They are pretentious, conceited and proud of their natural knowledge, learning, eloquence and vain philosophy.
ARROGANT (uperhfanouv) are those who proclaim themselves above others, with a presumptuous estimate of their means or merits. The haughty treat people with contempt.
BOASTFUL (alazonav) are braggarts—empty pretenders of their abilities, wisdom and works—all which they attributed to themselves, but in reality lack.
Verses 30b-31 describe the CONCEPTS of a DEPRAVED MIND—
They invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
The depraved mind of the godless and wicked invent ways of doing evil. They go far beyond what comes naturally. One has only to think of the long, shameful history of men’s ingenuity in discovering more and more hateful ways of torturing their fellow-men and of inventiveness with in the last half-century more and more fearful methods of mass-destruction have been developed.
It was the depraved mind that fashioned the Cross from a tree and nailed the Son of God to it!
DISOBEYING THEIR PARENTS is not only acting contrary to the light of nature, but to the Fifth Commandment of God. This grievous sin to God’s sight reflects the general lack of respect for age and experience. And it is the more grievous because so often it reflects the parents failure as parents. The divine admonition is “Children, obey your parents.” But where are the parents to obey? They have gone separate ways to do the things they ought not do!
SENSELESS (asunetouv) are without understanding—foolish. Man is without born spiritual understanding. 1 Corinthians 2:14 declares—
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Even the greatest minds of earth are born into this world as spiritual morons.
Sinful man is capable of committing all of these offenses, but not every individual is necessarily guilty of every one.
God gives humanity over to gross idolatry, unnatural perversion, and complete depravity.
This whole pattern of evil becomes the lifestyle of people who continue to do these very things in open defiance of God, a defiance aggravated by fully knowing the consequences according to verse 32 —
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Anthropologists believe that the standards of right and wrong of various societies are the result of variations in an evolutionary pattern of development. Our text says there is one standard of moral right and wrong. That standard was set by the LORD God Almighty and all men have a consciousness that God must hate and must judge sin. Therefore, there are no true atheists—only those who suppress the truth of God.
Romans 1:32 is probably the most “damming” statement in the Bible. Man knows God’s righteous decrees but continues to be wicked and approve of those who practice wickedness. Man deserves death— Hell!
The rebellious are determined to follow the broad road that leads to destruction. As expressed by some, “We don’t care what happens; we are determined to go our way.”
It is evident that human development is downward and evil is progressive. Expulsion of the knowledge of God led to idolatry, idolatry led to unnatural perversion, unnatural perversion gave birth to a whole brood of sins. Sin starts from the neglect of light, followed by madness that takes pleasure in doing wrong.
This verse speaks of the lowest point of degradation. To sin, even in the heat of passion, is evil, but to delight in the sins of others shows that the mind is completely depraved and reprobate.
Whenever people approve of sin, they encourage it! They side with the rebels against God’s righteous rule. So willful is the rebellious human heart that it is not content to sin in isolation but demands the right to carry others down in corporate sin.
To assent coldly and objectively to others’ sins is worse than to succumb to temptation oneself in the heat of the moment. Most certainly, God is testing the United States at this moment in history! The impeachment question that the Congress faces ultimately centers on God’s standard of morality.
Some want the Congress’ decision to be political, others want it to be legal, others want it to go away, but God expects it to be right and just!
If we continue to stifle our national conscience so that evil is accepted as if it were good, we can expect God’s sentence of judgment to be handed down against our nation—for God is not persuaded by public opinion!
Man has the revelation of God— THE BIBLE—yet mankind continues to flagrantly flaunt it by defying the judgment of God against such sins. Man continues to practice them and applauds and approves those who do the same. How much longer can God tolerate it and be patient with us? He has judged great nations in the past who gone in this direction and He will do it again!
Such rebellion against God full warrants His condemnation and punishment. When God removes His restraining forces and lets sinners satisfy their own desires, they receive a foretaste of hell. The Bible describes what will happen when God removes His restraining hand during the coming seven-year Tribulation that will break upon the world after the Church has been taken out. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 predicts—
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
When believers are removed from the earth and Holy Spirit no longer restrains evil through them, godlessness and wickedness will be more rampant than it has ever been. And the judgment of God will fall on the earth and on mankind.
Yet, there is the mercy of LORD lying below the surface of His judgment. A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language will turn to Christ during the Tribulation Period.
Remember that Jesus compared God to the Father of the Prodigal Son. Our Heavenly Father eagerly waits for His children to come to their senses—yearning that they repent and confess their sins and return home to Him. Depravity and calamity will be so bad in the Tribulation that countless numbers finally will come to their senses and repent like the Prodigal Son.
The apostle tells us what the world will be like prior to the rapture of the Church and the ensuing Tribulation Period in 2 Timothy 3:1-8—
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
The people of the last days listen to their depraved minds and consciences. “Let your conscience be your guide.” What a lie! The person who follows his conscience will land in the lake of fire. God put truth, originally, in the conscience of man, but man has fallen so far in the sin of Adam that the conscience is no longer a valid guide.
What an awesome picture Chapter 1 of Romans presents. It reveals that sin is progressive; one cannot stop once he heads the wrong direction, apart from a miracle of God. The only remedy is to realize our sinful condition and place our faith in Jesus Christ who paid the penalty of sin on the Cross so we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
There are two conclusions for this chapter. If you have not put your trust in the blood of the Savior, shed to purchase your pardon, then flee to the love of God before His wrath is forced to break forth upon you. “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
And if you are a believer in Christ, remember the roots of sin are in all people, and that they are still in you. Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior does not remove even one of the roots of sin or make the natural heart any different from what it has always been. But the entrance of Christ’s Spirit into our life does bring a new nature which makes it possible for us to triumph over the evil that is ours by the old nature and by choice. For Titus 2:11-12 tells us—
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
Are you saying NO to ungodliness and worldly passions? You’re not capable of saying NO without God’s grace! The very pious English Reformer, John Bradford, saw a murder carried off to die. It was he who first said, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Have you received God’s grace? If not, your mind is depraved and you are dead in your sins and trespasses! Ungodliness and wickedness reign in you.
Who needs a Savior?
You do, I do, and all mankind according to the first chapter of Romans. All mankind is poisoned with sin.
Isaac Watts wrote:
Sin, like a venomous disease,
Infects our vital blood;
The only hope is sovereign grace,
And the physician, God.
Madness by nature reigns within;
The passions burn and rage,
‘Til God’s own Son, with skill divine,
The inward fires assuage.
We lick the dust, we grasp the wind,
And solid good despise;
Such is the folly of the mind
‘Til Jesus makes us wise.
Is there ungodliness and wickedness in your life that needs to be cleansed? Are you purified from all unrighteousness?
God’s amazing grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Saying NO is the first step. The second step is confessing it.
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
In your life, is it time for confession and cleansing?