Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Romans 1:18-32 (web)

Sin's Corruption
The Guilt of the Gentile

Reason for Gentile's Guilt

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
1:19 because that which is known of God is revealed in them,
for God revealed it to them.
1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being perceived through the things that are made,
even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.

1:21 Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God,
neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless heart was darkened.

1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
1:23 and traded the glory of the incorruptible God
for the likeness of an image of corruptible man,
and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.

Results of Gentile's Guilt

1:24 Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness,
that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves,

1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

1:26 For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions.
For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature.
1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman,
burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men,
and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error.

1:28 Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge,
God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness,
maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers,
1:30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful,
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful;

1:32 who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things
are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.

Discussion Questions

How do you know God exists?
If God is invisible, then how can He be seen?
Will people be held accountable for such knowledge?
As a result of rejecting the knowledge of God, in what ways do people become corrupt?
How does the corruption of our mind affect our behavior?
How might the rejection of God lead to homosexuality?
What are example of exchanging the truth of God for a lie?
Why might people think that it just isn't worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God?


Wrath Revealed, Truth Suppressed

Rom 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness

It seems that there are two channels through which God's wrath is being revealed. One is the Word of God. The wrath of God is part of the gospel message, else "salvation" has no context. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." John 3:36 and "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" Rom 5:9 The other channel is through the nature of things of which he'll talk about shortly.

"Godlessness" means to disregard God in one's life. Naturally this would include atheists, but even those who allege a belief in God may fall into this category if they disregard God in making decisisons or otherwise treating God with disrespect.

"wickedness" is more accurately "unrighteousness", which is simply to not do the right thing.

Such people characteristically suppress the truth. They don't want to hear it for themselves, nor do they want the truth to be a matter of public discourse. "by their wickedness" is more accurately "in unrighteousness", which is simply to say that suppressing the truth is not the right thing to do.

God's Existence Intuitively Obvious

Rom 1:19,20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

How can what is invisible be clearly seen? That is, God existence, and a number his attributes, are intuitively obviously from nature itself. You see? Consider, for example, is that people by nature behave as if God exists:

Now some people say, "God doesn't exist."
I don't know how such rumors persist.
They say, "We're only a product of chance."
I wouldn't be quick to take that stance
Cause if God is unreal we're nothing but dust
no basis for saying what's just and unjust
no basis for meaning and purpose in life
no basis for love, no basis for strife
The existence of God is really a must
cause people don't really act like dust

Secondly consider the order and design in nature. When a farmer plants a seed why does he expect a certain kind of plant to result? Because he knows intuitively that the seed contains some kind of plan in to create a certain type of plant. Today we know even something more amazing about this process. Today we know that there is actually information in the seed coded into a language form, DNA code which contains such a plan. But language in coded form implies intelligence, an Author.

More generally is the scientific assumption is that nature is governed by laws. Why that assumption? Why should there be laws governing nature? Law imply a Law-giver.

Because people know that God exists, that we are designed for a purpose, and that failing such we are subject to judgement, therefore there is no excuse. Though many may attempt to excuse themselves on the judgement day, they have no legitimate excuse. Claims of ignorance is no excuse, for what they may claim they didn't know, they should have known. And besides, people don't even live up to their own standards, let alone God's. Claims of inability is no excuse, for "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1Cor 10:13

Unthankfulness Corrupts the Mind and Heart

Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This verse reveals the origin of the mental and moral corruption of society. It all starts with people not acknowledging God. We are wired in such a  way that if we don't give God the acknowledgement or the credit due Him, decay sets in like a cancer.

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." Eph 4:17-19 This idea will be elaborated upon in the rest of this chapter. But the basic origin of such corruption is the fact that people don't acknowledge God.

But more than just acknowledgement, we are to thank God. For though many make requests of God, not as many will thank God when they receive what they requested, let alone when people neglect to thank God for providing one's needs despite no request being given. Take time now to thank God for what you may have neglected to thank Him for. "Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Ps 50:22,23 

The Wise become Fools

Rom 1:22,23  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." Ps 14:1 By not acknowledging God, or replacing God with an idol results in a corruption of one's thinking such that one becomes foolish. Yet such a person will reckon themselves wise. "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." Pr 12:15 That is, such a person makes their own opinion, their own feelings, the standard of truth. "A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart." Pr 18:2 For to reject God is to reject his Word and replace Him with that which is foolish be it oneself or an idol.

Concerning idols Isaiah notes, "Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, 'Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.' From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, 'Save me; you are my god.' They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand." Is 44:16-18 and goes on to say, "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 'Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?'" Is 44:20

Sexual Immorality Characterizes a Corrupt Heart

Rom 1:24,25  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator— who is forever praised. Amen.

This phrase "gave them over" is going to be repeated in this chapter. What it implies is that God is restraining people to a degree. Restraining their sinful desires from fully controlling their behavior. Addictions, be they sexual or otherwise, are largely the result of not acknowledging God as God.

Consequently one's sensual desires become the controlling factor in one's life, one's decisions and one's goal in life - to seek after that which fulfills one's sensual nature. More literally it says, "God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts" Rejecting the acknowledgement of God does not result in a clean, healthy lifestyle, but rather that which is depraved, dirty, corrupt. Such is the condition of the unsaved. Paul writes of the Ephesians of the unsaved condition, "among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Eph 2:3 And also to Titus he writes, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another." Titus 3:3

The mind and the heart go together. When people given themselves over to the desires of their heart, they will also find reason for doing so, to justify themselves, exchanging the truth for a lie. Jesus said, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mt 5:28 They exchange that truth for a lie. Jesus said, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Luke 16:18 They exchange that truth for a lie. Let alone, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." Lev 18:22 And "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." Deut 22:5 These and many more truths have largely been exchanged for lies, particularly in post-modernistic Western society.

And consider who or what the ungodly serve. They may serve themselves, a creature rather than the Creator. They may serve another person - a creature rather than the Creator. Or they may serve something, money, some material thing, like their car, their house, their toys - all creations rather than the Creator. What do you serve?

Homosexuality, a Depraved Behavior

Rom 1:26,27 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Homosexuality is a product of a depraved mind and a depraved heart which are likewise a product of not glorifying God as God nor giving thanks to Him. And if you talk with homosexuals it seems they really are depraved in their thinking in their considering their behavior and feelings so natural to them as to define a third gender in defiance of God's design. They furthermore defy God's design of marriage in that sex was intended to be limited to marriage. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" Mt 19:5 "Becoming one flesh" is referring to sex in that it is also written, "Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."" 1Cor 6:16 Sex outside of marriage, whether it be homosexuality, fornication, or adultery is immoral. But in terms of degree, homosexuality reveals the depravity of sexually immoral relationships.

But as I said, much as these are depraved, shameful and indecent acts, the homosexual generally has such a seared conscience and their mind so depraved as be desensitized to what is decent. There are differences of opinion as to what it means by having received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. While some point sexual diseases such as aids, it seems to me it's referring to this perversion of the mind and feelings such they their conscience is beyond a sense of decency. Though it is true that sin is naturally unhealthy and thus sexual disease, like aids, is a natural byproduct of such behavior.

In contrast to the political correctness which speaks of homosexuality as a category like that of race, religion, ethnic background or gender, the Bible speaks of homosexuality as simply another category of wickedness. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor 6:9,10 The fate of the sexually immoral is also reflected upon in Jude 1:7 "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

Retain the Knowledge of God

Rom 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

Is it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. You bet it is! But "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Ps 10:4  If you don't make room for God in your thoughts, the effect is that your mind is going to become depraved. But it takes humility to leave room for God. Furthermore when ask about God, the proud may acknowledge a belief in God without actual knowledge of God, but rather simply define God in their own mind, which is idolatry. You may ask them what one has to do to go to heaven. And they just simply make something up. The humble allow God to define himself. How can a person have a right relationship with God? God is the one who determines that. So the knowledge of God is necessary to answer such a question.

As for finding it, the Lord says, "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." Pr 2:1-5

The Bible is central to avoid a depraved mind as it contains the knowledge of God. Thus it is written that, "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth— men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected." 2Tim 3:8 The opposition to Moses was a rejection of the Word of God as Moses was God's spokeman at the time. Likewise for those who reject the teachings of Jesus and his apostles.

Vices: Part 1

Rom 1:29a  being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;

Characteristic of a number of his letters, Paul will now go into a list of categories of wickedness, which though long is not comprehensive. In fact Paul mentions reiterates a number of these terms in the list he gives in 2Tim 3:2-5

Unrighteousness is simply to not have the attitude to do the right thing. For example suppose you hit a parked car and no one else sees you. Do you think, "what's the right thing to do now?" Or do you think, "what can I get away with?" If the latter characterizes you, then you're a wicked person.

"Sexual immorality" is literally "porneia" in the Greek from which we get pornography. Sexual immorality has many forms, but all go back to a common root of allowing oneself to be sexually immoral as opposed to restraining one's sexual desire to that which God designed it for, which is namely marriage.

There's pornagraphy. "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mt 5:28
There's fornication and adultery. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Heb 13:4, which includes remarriage after divorce, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." Mk 10:11,12 And he previously spoke of homosexuality. These are the most common forms of sexual immorality.

"Covetousness" is a greedy desire to have more, especially that which belongs to others. "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Ex 20:17 Realize there's only a subtle difference between wanting the kind of thing your neighbor has and wanting what belongs to your neighbor. And likewise the difference between wanting that which you don't really need, and a greedy desire to have more is a matter of degree. Elsewhere Paul associates covetousness with idolatry.

Col 3:5 "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

Eph 5:5 "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."

So coveteousness is not limited to desiring other people's stuff, but rather is more generally desiring stuff in an idolatrous fashion.

"Maliciousness" is a vicious disposition, evil intent. But realize it may reveal itself in subtle ways. In Acts 8:22 the same Greek word is used by Peter to describe the attitude of a man who wanted to pay him for the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit upon people. In contrast to unrighteouesness, which is the intent to not do the right thing, maliciousness is the intent to do harm, to do evil.

Vices: Part 2

Rom 1:29b Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,

While covetous is the obsession with things, the object of envy is that which another has whether material thing or not. For example Jesus was handed over to be crucified because of the envy of the chief priests. "the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy" Mark 15:10 They envied his popularity. Envy is something we've all experienced from time to time. "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." Titus 3:3 But now "lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking" 1Pet 2:1

"Murder" speaks for itself - unjustly killing another person be it by abortion or otherwise. I say "unjustly" because the Bible does make a distinction between capital punishment and murder as it also does with unintentional manslaughter. In fact it advocates capital punishment in the case of murder. "Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses" Num 35:30 And while this was reserved for physical murder, hatred is a form of murder - unjustly wishing someone's death. "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." 1John 3:15 Murderers are one of the many categories of people who don't have eternal life.

"Strife" is contention for contention's sake. Christians are exhorted to contend. But not for the sake of contenting but to contend for the faith. "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b Thus for example we find Paul characteristically contending against false teaches and sinful practices within the Christian community. But he also says, "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." 2Tim 2:14 and "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind ..." 1Tim 6:3-5a Therefore "don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." 2Tim 2:23 even though labeling someone's argument as "stupid" may itself produce a quarrel.

"Deceit" is something Christians are regularly warned to be alert to. "Let no one deceive you by any means" 2Th 2:3 "Let no one deceive you with empty words" Eph 5:6a "These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you." 1John 2:26 and certainly Christians should not try to deceive others, but rather should be honest. Beware for there "are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." 2Cor 11:13,14

"Evil-mindedness" is a sort of malicious craftiness. It's the intentional planning out of malicious acts. It's organizing crime and evil acts. Pr 12:20 "There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace." Pr 14:22 "Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness."

"Whisperers" is a word only used here in the New Testament, though its a form of gossip, which is used more generally. But in particular this means to secretly slander someone. That is, to misrepresent a person behind their back.

Vices: Part 3

Rom 1:30  backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

"Backbiter" are defamers, evil speakers. As opposed to whisperers, these may do so on any forum. The basic premise is a disrespect for one's opponent, a disregard for human dignity.

"haters of God" these are exceptionally impious towards God. They detest God.

"Violent" In particular this word is "hubristes" is Greek, from which we get the English word "Hubris" meaning arrogance. The Greek lexicon has "hubristes" as one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong and finds pleasure in such acts. Ps 11:5  "The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates" It's found a few places in the LXX where it's often translated "pride". Job 40:11b "Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him." Pr 15:25 "The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow."

"Proud" (huperephanos) is distinction from "hubristes" in that it refers to "showing one’s self above others". Sort of Jesus' criticism of the religious elite of his day in Matthew 23. The Lexicon elaborates that "huperephanos describes one who thinks too highly of himself, describing a trait which is simply internal, not referring primarily to external manifestation, although this is implied. It means one who is proud, the external manifestation when it appears being in the form of arrogance in dealing with others." It's also the word used in the catch phrase "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." (Pr 3:34)

"Boasters" The lexicon describes as, "one who tells great things concerning his own prowess and achievements, with the implied idea that many of his claims are false. This word naturally describes a trait which manifests itself in contact with one’s fellow men, not one which exists simply within the heart." Paul says, "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" Gal 6:14 Avoid boasting about yourself, for inevitably the human (sinful) nature will cause one to make too much of oneself.

"Inventors of evil things" is the product of "evil-mindedness". These contrive of new ways to do evil or investors of things which are used for the purpose of evil.

"Disobedient to parents" falls under the general category of disregarding legitimate human authority. But respect for parents is something God particularly takes seriously. In fact under the Law of Moses it says, "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." Ex 21:17 And "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid." Deut 21:18-21 So "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Eph 6:1

Vices: Part 4

Rom 1:31  undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

"Undiscerning", which is to say "foolish" or "stupid" as the lexicon indicates. This word was used a few verses ago where Paul says, "their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:21c But Jesus even used to with regards to his disciples at times, like when Peter has him to describe the meaning of a parable Jesus responded, "Are you also still without understanding?" Mt 15:16 More generally, "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1Cor 2:14

"Untrustworthy" here is literally "to break an agreement" For example the breaking of the marriage vow would be an example of this. Likewise when one borrows money but refuses to pay it back. "The wicked borrows and does not repay" Ps 37:21a

"Unloving" is "without natural affection". A natural affection would be, for example, the parent's affection for their children. Such is the case even in the animal kingdom. Yet there are those without this natural affection due to the hardness of their hearts which is a result of their not glorifying God as God nor giving thanks to Him.

"Unforgiving" is implacable - impossible to appease - one who refuses to agree to any terms or suggestions of peace. It implies a state of war, and a refusal of covenant or even of armistice to end it permanently or temporarily. In contrast the Christian is commanded to seek reconciliation in our relationships, be they with man or God.  "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." 2Cor 5:19

"Unmerciful" means what it says. It's a person who doesn't exercise mercy. In contrast the Bible says, "Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy." Mt 5:7 and of Jesus, "He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Heb 2:17

Condoning Wickedness

Rom 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

"Knowing" here is epignosis - "to know about" something. That is, they've heard of God's righteousness judgment on such things, which is not to say they agree with such judgement. For these approve of that which should be punishable by death. Though which things are approved may be dependent on culture. Western culture largely approves of things like sexual immorality and covetousness - the self-centered, pleasure seeking type of sins, while the Muslim community approves largely of the violent atrocities committed in the name of their god Allah, along with things like lying and deceit. Wherever you go you will find whole cultures which approve of things of which should be punishable by death.

Now while on a case by case basis one may not commit a particular act of evil, yet by approving those who practice them, they condone the action and so are guilty. An example would be 911 where that very day Muslims all over the world praised that act of Islam terrorism. And there are those who themselves are not homosexuals, but approve of those who do practice homosexuality, and not only so, but demand that everyone else approve of such things. And there are those who didn't get an abortion, but approve of those who do. And so forth.

Consider whether you approve of those who practice what the Bible calls sin.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Dec 06,2010