Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight is study #43 of Romans 1, and we will read Romans 1:21-24:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
I will stop reading there. We were looking at verse 21, and the statement that mankind “became vain in their imaginations,” and we saw the word “vain” is only used here. But there is a related word that is used in association with “idols” in Acts 14.
Now we are going to look at the word “imaginations,” and this word is translated as “thoughts” in Matthew 15:19:
For out of the heart proceed evil , murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
So out of the heart proceed evil thoughts or evil imaginations, and then God goes on to list sins that come forth from the heart. They are evil imaginations, and that is what this word is referring to when it says they “became vain in their imaginations.”
In 1Corinthians 3, we find both words, the word “vain” and the word “imaginations,” but, again, the latter is translated as “thoughts.” I will read 1Corinthians 3:19-20:
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the of the wise, that they are .
The Lord knows the imaginations of the “wise,” and this refers to the wisdom of the world. He knows their imaginations, and He also knows they are vain imaginations or vain thoughts. They are empty. They are void of any true meaning and purpose, so they are vain imaginations.
Let us go back to Romans 1 and read the last part of Romans 1:21:
… and their foolish heart was darkened.
The Greek word translated as “foolish” is the Greek word “asunetos,” and it is found five times in the New Testament. The alpha prefix “a” is a negative participle that is attached to a Greek word that means “prudent” or “wise,” and, therefore, it is negating it, meaning “not prudent” or “not wise.” It is not true prudence or wisdom. The people of the world have a foolish heart – it is not wise, and it cannot be because “wisdom” is God Himself. Wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ. It says in 1Corinthians 1:30 that Christ Jesus is “made unto us wisdom…” He is the personification of wisdom. Every Word of God and all that it teaches is the essence of true wisdom, but men despise the Word. They despise the teachings of the Bible and the doctrines of Christ, and they come up with their own ideas. They put forth their own wisdom, but their wisdom is not actual wisdom. It is really foolishness. It is that which is not prudent and not wise.
Their foolish heart was darkened, and the word “darkened” is # 4654 in Strong’s Greek Concordance, and it is used eight times in the New Testament. Let us take a look at a couple of places. One of them is in Romans 11:9-10:
And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be , that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
Here, it is a little difficult to understand because the reference to “table” is really a reference to the Word of God, so their eyes being darkened that they may not see is very much along the lines of what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 13 regarding why He spoke in parables and regarding who is given to understand parables and who is not given. It says in Matthews 13:10-13:
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
And, again, that fits in with the statement, “Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see…” It is impossible for the unsaved to see and understand spiritual things so that they can truly grab ahold of them and live according to them and trust them with all their heart. That is an impossibility. They can have intellectual understanding of a spiritual truth for a time, but when God applies pressure and “fire is put to it” and they are tested, they will withdraw. They will back away from it and run from it because of persecution for the Word’s sake, showing they never really did embrace it to where it became a truth that they understood deep down within. That is not the case, and it can never be the case for anyone still in their sins.
This same word for “darkened” is also found in Ephesians 4:17-18:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding , being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
We can see the similarity in some of the things that are said here. “Vanity of mind” is close to “vain imaginations.” Remember that “imaginations” is the word “thoughts,” and evil thoughts proceed from the heart. And in the Bible, heart, mind, and soul are synonymous. So the Gentiles “walk,” and in the Bible “to walk” is to walk according to the commandments and the Biblical rules of life. But the Gentiles (the unsaved) come up with their own laws, and their own moral codes and stipulations regarding what they should do, or not do. And, yet, if it is not a result of following the Bible, it is just coming out of their own minds, so they “walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened.” It is darkened. They are blind.
They are in the dark, which explains a lot of the things that happen in the world on an individual, personal level, as we meet certain people and we see the things they do and say, and we see their actions and how they express themselves. It reveals the darkened state of their soul and the black condition of their heart. The blindness of their heart causes them to do these things, and now we are seeing it in all the nations, with governments and with all the things that are going on at the time of the end, as God has lifted His hand of restraint. The Holy Spirit had restrained this desperate wickedness of man, to a large degree, throughout most of history, but God is lifting His restraint a little more each day, it seems, and the world is staggering and stumbling around in the dark. They know not at what they stumble. Their foolishness is evident. It is so obvious, and they just lack understanding regarding life, wherein, on one hand, they are “up in arms” because a life has been taken, but, on the other hand, they promote the death of millions through abortion. How can they pass laws that say a child can be aborted the day before the child was due to be born? How can anyone who has a sense of morality and decency pass such a law? What is the answer? Their understanding has been darkened. They are in blindness, which is “ignorance of mind,” which is how God expresses it here: “…being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
Incredibly, as the elect see the injustice and the immorality of the things the world is going after today, we wonder, “How could the world come to the point of thinking it is a good and right and moral thing for two men to marry?” How is that possible when all the world throughout history has recognized that it was something that should not be? It says in Romans 1:26: “…for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” So it is “against nature.” When we look at nature and we see all the created animals and how nature operates, it is “male and female.” And, yet, man in his wisdom and in his own understanding, puts aside nature, and he thinks he is above the natural order of things, and he is really saying, “What really counts and what really matters are our feelings, if two people love each other.” Even if it is against the Law of God, which they do not consider, you would think they would hearken to the law of nature because they are natural men. And, yet, they are putting that aside, too, because it is really the things coming out of their heart and their emotion and their attachment to “sin.” That is why people feel that this is a part of them, and this is who they are, and they feel they were “born this way.” Of course, because we were all born sinners, and we have a strong attachment to sin. Look at alcoholics or others that get so caught up in a sin that it destroys their whole life. Why do they keep doing it? They cannot stop. They believe that it is such a strong desire, and they must go after that particular sin, so it is as though man has stopped fighting sin and trying to get away from sin and even to live according to nature (in this case), or according to the commandments of God. And they go with the baser, natural instincts that come with a fallen heart and a fallen human condition that is in rebellion against God.
And all this is done in darkness. It is all darkness. There is no light whatsoever, as God is light, and the Law is light, but they run from that light, and they cast off that light. They prefer the darkness, and now they are trying to be like God and make their own laws. They will build their “Eutopia,” and build a whole new world and moral code: “We will not live by these oppressive, restrictive commands of the Bible or the Law written upon our hearts. We will come out from those kinds of shackles and be free to develop our own laws that are inclusive and open, where everyone can do whatever they please, as long as they feel it in their heart.” And, of course, that is not going to be Eutopia. It is going to be “hell on earth,” and that is exactly what the world has become as God has turned the nations into hell. As man runs more openly after his sinful desires and tries to make them lawful and tries to make the Law of God unlawful, he is not going to make anyone happy. He is not going to make himself happy. It is going to be a way that God uses to pour out His wrath: “You want these things? You lust after these things and you desire these things? Then have your fill of them.” And we see the results. We see the chaos and the destruction of civilization. We see the fabric of society falling apart. Why? It is because of man’s wisdom and what he thinks is wise. He thinks he knows best, and he thinks he understands better than God. So, yes, he is going to change everything, and then force people to live according to those dictates: “You must now accept this new morality.”
And, yet, it is not anything new. There is nothing new under the sun. It is just the evil imaginations of men coming to the surface, coming out of the heart where they had been suppressed by the Spirit of God. And thank God that He did suppress these things throughout the history of the world, to a large degree, until recently, which allowed past generations to live somewhat decent, moral, and honorable lives in at least some ways. But today is the “last generation,” and it is an evil generation that is ruining their own possibility of living any kind of life that could bring them true happiness.
This word “darkened” is something we need to think about. I mentioned it is found eight times, and we went to two of those places, in Romans and in Ephesians. It is also in our verse in Romans 1, so that is three of the eight times. The other place this word is used is found in connection with the “darkening of the sun.” That is interesting, is it not? At least it was very interesting to me. It is the word used in Luke 23 when the sun was darkened when Christ was on the cross, and it is used in Revelation 8:12, and Revelation 8 is a chapter that describes God’s judgment on the “third part” or on the corporate church. We read in Revelation 8:12:
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was , and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
We realize when we read this chapter and the judgment on the third part, the “third part” is typifying the churches because the “third part” identifies with God’s true people who were in the churches throughout the church age. Then, finally at the end, God judged the corporate church by putting out the Gospel light there, and removing Himself from them, as He is the light of the world. He removed the Spirit of God from the midst of the congregations, thereby leaving them in spiritual darkness. Or, just as we read in Ephesians, they have “blindness of heart” and “ignorance of mind.” And as a result, we saw that the churches went after all kinds of crazy things, like “holy laughter.” Just imagine that! How can people calling themselves Christians be so deceived to think that God would move anyone in the form of “holy laughter”? It is a mockery in itself. The words “holy laughter” are ridiculous and, yet, many people went after that, as well as going after “falling over backwards” and “speaking in tongues.” They started going after all kinds of things and getting involved in politics and social movements. They began disregarding God’s clearly stated Law for the qualifications of deacons, elders, and pastors, and they allowed divorced people to enter into those positions, as well as women. And, eventually, it led to homosexuals becoming pastors, deacons, and elders. There was a total disregard for the written Law of God. What did they do? They developed their own understandings.
You see, what we are seeing today in the world first happened within the churches and congregations, with the darkening of the light that God had placed there, and it basically left man to rely on his own heart and his own spiritual condition. But man’s spiritual condition is one of “darkness.” He is dead in trespasses and sins. He is dead in his soul and, therefore, he has no understanding of spiritual things and the spiritual truths of the Law of God. He is actually contrary to it, and his natural instinct is to flee from the Law of God. That is what they did in the churches and congregations. They made their own laws and their own moral codes: “Here is how you get saved – you accept Christ (or you do this, or that). We will set up our own deacons.” It is just like Jeroboam did in Israel. He took of the basest of the people, and he set up them to be his own priests. Remember, he did not want the Israelites to travel to Jerusalem because he feared that they would return to the king of Judah, so he set up his own dates for feast days, and he set up his own house of God in Bethel, and he took the basest of the people and set them up as priests. And the people were fine with that.
And that is what they did in the churches. They set up their own “house of God.” It was a corrupt house of God. The tares were ruling and, for the most part, the tares dominated the congregations, so God soon called His people out. The elect did come out of the churches and congregations, and it was hardly noticed. The Spirit of God had departed out of their midst, and they did not notice at all because they were in darkness in their minds. And they set up dark laws. They set up laws of men (in place of the Laws of God), masquerading as Laws of God. But, in reality, they were laws of men.
We should have seen this coming, as far as what is happening in the world, because it is the same spiritual judgment. On May 21, 2011, immediately after the Tribulation, what do we read would happen, in Matthew 24? It says in Matthew 24:29:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be , and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven…
And shortly thereafter, the Supreme Court passed a ruling that two men may marry, or two women may marry. You see, we are in that period of time when the world has been “darkened.” The only light they had was the Law written upon their hearts and the witness of creation, and in some societies, there was some relationship to the Law of God. For example, the Ten Commandments could be found in some court houses, and they had some impact upon the laws of various governments.
But now it is darkened. The people of the world are stumbling around in the dark, in the blindness and ignorance that is in them.