Romans 1:28-32 (NIV): 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 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.
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind,” – The fallen nature of humanity is depravity. As creatures, we belong to the Creator, and this is best. But for those who discount their Creator and think of Him as unworthy will find themselves depraved; hollow and empty, forever seeking to fill the void within the inner longing of their soul with the things of this world.
“so that they do what ought not to be done.” – It is due to their depraved mind that they “do what ought not to be done.” This is the answer to the question that so many skeptics ask: “Why does God have so many rules?” The rules are guidelines (to keep us on the narrow path, Mt. 7:13-14), and the guidelines exist so that our being may remain close to His being, for our sake. When we lack God, we lack purpose and fulfillment, so we seek out the pleasures of the world to fill our void. We “do what ought not to be done,” for we are depraved. If we turn to God and accept Him into our lives then we will know our purpose and find fulfillment in his precepts.
Everyone wants to be more than what they are. To be the popular one, the most affluent, the most intelligent, the best looking, the best dressed, the strongest, the hero in the movie, etc. And to be honest, this is all quite natural: the desire to be more than what we are. We all cling on to this fantasy that if we keep chasing the world, we will catch up to it. That time might just decide to stand still for us. However, the truth is that if we aim for the world, then the world is what we will get. This desire of ours to always be something more is indeed truly innate. But this is not a desire that the world can satisfy. The root of this desire of ours; this instinct, this insatiable thirst, it is the Lord’s calling. It is His calling to us and it says “Come to me, come and see, come and be all that I made you to be.” God has made us to be followers of Him, not followers of this world.
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness…” – Due to depravity (of God) mankind seeks to fill their inner void. If the depravity is a depravity of God, then what they are seeking needs to be God. If it isn’t God it can only be “wickedness, evil and greed . . . envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malic.” A godless humanity becomes “gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful.” These are all of the things that mankind becomes once they denounce God and seek fulfillment and purpose by means of the world.
This defines the true meaning of evil: the deprivation of good. You could make a real good moral argument on just the basis of Romans 1:28-32.
The passage says it is they who “invent ways of doing evil.” It isn’t God who invents this evil. No, it is by the fallenness of mankind, the turning away from God. It is original sin that “invents” evil. To see more about this go to ‘Why Does God Allow Evil?’
“They disobey their parents” – It only makes sense that if a person is incapable of obeying an all-loving and all-knowing God of the universe, then they will absolutely be incapable of obeying their parents who are perhaps loving, but not without fault, and only human. For mankind is rebellious, always bound to rebel.
When mankind casts away all understanding and reasonableness, they have no fidelity, which leads to more sin → approval of sin → corruption → steals their love → selfishness → no mercy. A slippery slope indeed.
“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.” – Mankind knows God but they deny Him on a volitional basis; they choose to not want to know, and live accordingly. People often seek happiness through their own vices, and often choose happiness over the truth. However, true fulfillment can and will only ever be found in our Creator. The creator of all that is good.
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” – Blaise Pascal
Feel free to use the discussion questions below for a group Bible study and if you would like, the commentary above to help facilitate the discussion.
- What are some reasons that people think it’s “not worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God?” If God is so good, why reject Him?
- What is the meaning of a “depraved mind?”
- What is the result of having a “depraved mind?”
- Why is “disobey their parents” listed among this long list of abhorrent crimes?
- Why is it that Christians are still inclined to sin, despite knowing the penalty for sin?