We live in a world corrupted by sin, so everything is degraded from what it was meant to do. Man, the land, animals, plants, the air, everything is touched. Thus, the consequences of that fallen nature impact everything. Even in this corrupted, tainted world, including our sinful selves, we have a God who is offering His love and grace, if only we will reach out and respond. However, we cannot, so His Son, the Christ lived, as we should have. In our place, He took our sins to the grave, and arose to give us eternal hope and life. Even with the grace option offered to us, which is written upon our hearts, we still choose to rebel. We choose to take His wonder, love, and truth, and trade it in for lies. We desire to suppress His truth and love, and when it all falls apart, we blame God and others, refusing to take the responsibility for ourselves! We have no excuse! His revelation is clear; it is filled with our best in mind, and powered by His desire to see us saved. Let us turn from our evil ways, less we end up given up to our desires that will be fun for a short while, but will lead to everlasting regret and torment. It is like a parent letting his kid eat all he wants in a candy store until it makes him sick, times a thousand. With sin, we have the choice to realize it makes us sick, thus, it is meaningless. Therefore, we can stop, or keep at it until it kills us.
The laundry list of sins: (From the Greek words as they appear in their English forms in the KJV, NKJV and NIV)
Verse 30: If we have a faulty concept of God, we will have faulty relationships and be engaged in heinous sins! Be aware, God will allow us to dam ourselves! This is called "Penal Blindness," the natural consequences of sin, just as a sharp knife can be used to prepare food as it can be used to harm, the user chooses how it is to be used. Never forget personal responsibility and that God is just in His wrath against sin (Psalm 81:12; Isa. 6:9-11; 29:9-12; Jer. 44:25-27).
· Backbiters/ slanderers (revilers): The original word is improperly translated in the NKJV into backbiters. Its proper translation, according to Greek dictionaries and in context is "revilers," distinguishing it from whisperers/gossipers, as these people speak evil of others to their face (not their back). Backbiters also meant open slandering in the 16th century at the time of the KJV, whereas today it means in secret. It means making slanderous remarks publicly with opprobrious language and name-calling. The word can include evil speaking in general. This also means people who take pleasure in scandalizing others and seeking to cause divisions and chaos as speakers of evil, speaking nothing but lies. The word "whisperers" refers to a secret, and the word backbiters or slanderers, to an open slander.
· Haters of God: People seeking to blame their self-made problems on God, and deny any kind of personal responsibility or accepting the providence of God. Superstition can also play a big role here, as with refusing to acknowledge God's sovereignty. This also applies to a carnal mind that is hostile against God, His holiness, His justice, His sovereignty, and even His mercy and grace. This was quickly put into practice by governing offices under the influence of the philosophers and the whole body of the Roman and Jewish people. It included rich and poor, educated and uneducated to produce the persecutions of the early Christians. The Christian character of goodness is the direct opposite of a world of God haters.
· Despiteful, violent, or insolent: These terms do not express the full meaning of the Greek. We can translate them as injurious, as being so prideful, so filled with contempt, and so judgmental they are causing injury to others with extreme impertinence and insult. It is tearing others down by slanderous, abusive, passionate statements.
· Proud, or arrogant refers to feeling they are better than anyone else to an extreme, such as the Nazis' persecution of anyone different from them. This happens when people are so puffed up with a high opinion of themselves they become consumed with arrogance, insolence, haughtiness, and regarding others with contempt, as if they were unworthy of any contact with them.
· Boasters, or arrogant designates pretentious and flamboyant people who extend their self-image and self-determination over and against anyone or anything.
· Inventors of evil things is the creative thinking and inventing of evil, then conspiring to do it with accomplices and causing others not with them to stumble into such illicit pleasures.
· Disobedient to parents may seem benign, but when we forsake good instruction, we embark upon a path of self-destruction. In OT times, obedience to parents was considered a duty, taught by the Torah, and is the fifth commandment. Thus, is very important. Too many people take it too lightly then they fall into sin and other harm. When people disregarded this responsibility, they will leave the God induced love of children for their parents, and follow lies and malice.
Verse 31: These sins in Paul's time were not controversial in their definition or scope, as they were considered bad and reprehensible by educated Greeks and pious Jews. However, they were rarely condemned and often tolerated as the "just" looked the other away.
· Without understanding, undiscerning, or senseless refers to the reckless management of our life and affairs. This will cause long-term consequences to us as well as those around us! It does not mean people are stupid or have some kind of developmental disorder, but is refusing to yield to logic, reason, and what is best for our situation and for us. It also applies to the highly educated who are the most intelligent and enlightened in society; yet, reject the things and character of God or anything that respects the things of God.
· Covenant-breakers or untrustworthy or faithless refers to breaking of agreements and covenants. It applies to every agreement or bargain one makes, from business, to individual relationships, to contracts between nations.
· Without natural attention, or unloving, or heartless: It seems Paul has the Stoic philosophy in mind. This applies to parents neglecting their children, causing them to be in harm or the potential of harm. The Stoics were famous for being unconcerned and uncaring, letting people find their own ways, doing as they pleased and having no regrets or emotions to others. If you see a child that is hungry, let him starve. This of course is the opposite of Biblical instruction, yet the practice of many people.
· Implacable, unforgiving, or ruthless signify people who are callous and are relentlessly savage and hardhearted in their dealing with others, and who break solemn engagements. These people will breach the most sacred of engagements, such as oaths and religious rites, including marriage. In Paul's time, this applied to mostly to the rudest and most uncivilized barbaric nations who violated treaties.
· Unmerciful usually refers to those who are unmerciful to the poor. However, it also means people, who are without compassion, who do not feel for the distresses of others and those who cause these distresses.
Verse 32: Sin then as it is today is measured by its popularity. The more people doing it, means I can feel it is OK and thus rationalize that it is OK that I do it too. This illogical reasoning ignores truth and responsibility, no matter how many people you see or know who engage in sin, the sin's impact and significance remains the same as our consequence and God's condemnation of it.
· Knowing the judgment or righteousness of God: This chapter already tells us that God's ordinances are written in our hearts and in creation; thus, we have no excuse to reject Him, even if the gospel is never told to us! The heathens already knew, yet they chose to subdue themselves from God's most precious love and grace. This also implies that God's dictates are written in our conscience, from how to know Him to how to conduct our lives. At the same time, we have to be careful. If you are not a Christian, your conscience will not be reliable as your will forces and overpowers its way and noise over God's righteousness unless you listen. In addition, your conscience, your sense of right and wrong, is like a computer. God installs its operating system. Yet, you can still send in corrupt programming and get corrupt thinking. Only prayer and the Word will install good programming. Garbage in will equal garbage out!
· Worthy or deserving of death is what most scholars say is literal or figurative death because it is referring to future punishment and whether Paul is accusing all heathens, or if they are actually committing the sin, or just capable of committing the sin. This gets complicated in the Greek, but, nonetheless, if one persists in sinning, the sin itself can kill. Just look at all of the deadly communicable diseases, not to mention other perils sin causes. In addition, there is the final death of our separation from God in eternity, which is Hell, for rejecting Him.
· Not only do the same, but have pleasure or approve in them that do means that their corruption has become so entrenched, so entirely abandoned to sin, that they will conspire to push others into it also. They will approve and support others in their sin. Just look at all of the special interest groups propagating sin, such as Planned Parenthood, ACLU, NOW, and pro-gay groups, to name a few. They group tightly together, and rationalize and approve such things as abortion or homosexual sin as good and beneficial! They hate those who are just and righteous!
In summary Paul substantiates his charge in Romans 1:18 of immorality in the world that Jew, Gentile, nor anyone else is immune from. He starts out with ungodliness as the beginning and cause of sin, after which it turns into unrighteousness, which becomes the consequence that causes the evil against others. Theological decay will turn into moral decay. When we lose sight of God, we venture into all kinds of heinous actions and corruptions. This is what brings on the wrath of God, because it hurts too many of His children, whom He loves (Titus 2:12).
As we can see from this passage, nothing can be more horrifying than what happens when we venture into unrepentant continual sin and conspire others into it. This is clearly given to us by the Holy Spirit, who is very familiar with our sinful nature, our superficial actions, and our covert motives. We cannot see this as an exaggeration nor conclude these are just things that are caused by genetics or our environment. They do contribute, but we still have the final say with our actions! We may not be able to control our environment, but we can control our attitudes, behaviors, and choices! Rather, we choose these things freely and first, before we choose God. Thus, justification by works is impossible. Our only means to God is by His grace alone, by what Christ did for us!
(More lists of sin: Mark 7:20-23; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; 2 Tim. 3:2-5)
1. When you do your laundry, you take your dirty clothes and wash them clean. How well do you like to wear dirty clothes? How much more do you prefer your clothes clean? How is this like sin?
2. Can you think of any good excuses to sin? Why, or why not?
3. Did you see any of your faults/sins listed? If so, how did you feel?
4. Were there any surprise sins that you never considered heinous?
5. Have you ever considered that God's wrath is a form of love? If God did not care, or did not love us, why would He be angry?
6. What is Christ's role in dealing with our sin?
7. Why would people choose to take His wonder, love, and truth and trade it for lies?
8. Go through each of this laundry list of sins and ask yourself:
· Have I done this? If so, how, and why?
· Can I see myself doing this? If so, what would cause me to?
· What can I do to prevent such thoughts and actions from encroaching upon me?
Remember we do not deserve His love and grace, yet it is given to us anyway.
©1998, 2002, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org