Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight is study #51 of Romans 1, and we will be reading Romans 1:28-32:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
I will stop reading there. That brings us to the end of the chapter. We are actually going to begin in verse 29. I just read verse 28 to give more of the context, and in verse 29, we are given a list of sins, and it begins with saying, “being filled with all unrighteousness.” So these sins are what fill the ungodly. They fill them up, just as God fills the believer. But these are the fruits of wickedness that unsaved man is filled with, and when we read the list, we find that there are 23 sins listed. And a good thing to do would be to get a pen, and starting with the word “unrighteousness,” put the number “1” next to it; then go to the next word, “fornication,” and mark it number “2;” and so forth. And as you do that, you will find that when you get to the last word, “unmerciful,” it is number “23.” There are 23 sins. Did that just so happen? Is that what we are to think?
God’s end time judgment program began on the churches, which was a 23-year judgment, and now it is followed by judgment on the world for an inclusive 23 years. The number “23” identifies with tribulation and judgment. And it is really not surprising to see it here. We have seen it in other parts of the Bible as well. For example, in Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar made an image, and he wanted everyone to bow down to the image at the sound of the musical instruments. The musical instruments were listed four different times, and with each listing, there were six instruments, and then one time there were five, totaling 23 musical instruments, because that chapter had to do with the Great Tribulation.
And this, too, has to do with the Great Tribulation, because it was at the beginning of the Great Tribulation that God began to lift His hand of restraint, and iniquity began to abound, both inside and outside the churches. And these things that had always been present in the hearts of men began to show themselves all over the earth.
We are not going to study each of the particular sins mentioned. We are familiar with a number of them, like unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, and covetousness, but there are a few that are not as familiar, so I thought I would just comment on them.
The first one would be “debate” in verse 29. The word “debate” is Strong’s #2054, and it is also translated as “strife,” as “contention,” and as “variance.” For example, in Galatians 5 we read of the “works of the flesh.” I think I called it “fruit of the flesh” earlier, but it is “works of the flesh.” We read in Galatians 5:20:
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, , emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
The word “variance” is the same word as “debate,” and, to tell you the truth, I never knew that before, so it is helpful to me to understand that “variance” means *“debate,”8 and I think we can best understand this Greek word translated as “debate” by how it is used in Titus 3:9:
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and , and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
The word “contentions” is this same word, so debating about the law ends in strifes and contentions with people, going back and forth, back and forth. That is not what the Lord would have us to do. We are to state the truth, the faithful teaching of the Bible, and if someone does not understand, we cannot open their eyes. We should not get into a long, drawn-out argument with them. That is unprofitable and vain.
Going back to Romans 1, we also see the word “malignity,” and it is only found in this verse, but it is a compound word. When we look at the two words that come together to form this word “malignity,” the words are literally translated as “evil manners.” Of course, we know what “evil” is, but we see the word “manners” in 1Corinthians 15:33:
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good .
And that really does not give us too much of an idea what “manners” is, but this is “good manners,” so, perhaps, it has to do with behavior or conduct, and things that are good, meaning that they are in line with what the Bible says. But “evil communications” corrupt them, and when they become corrupted, they become “evil manners” or “malignant,” so that is also a word that I was interested in because I was not too familiar with it.
Another word is “backbiters,” in verse 30. And, again, these are things that are filling the wicked, and it is coming forth from their hearts. It had always been there, but it was not so much in evidence until we reached the end of the world, the time we live in. The word “backbiters” is only found here, but it is a compound word meaning “to speak,” and it is joined with a preposition “against,” so to be a “backbiter” is “to speak against.” That is how the Bible would define it.
The twenty-third sin listed in our verse is the word “unmerciful.” We can contrast that with what the Lord says in Matthew 5:7:
Blessed are the : for they shall obtain mercy.
And we know that God is merciful, but once He bestows His mercy upon the elect, they also become merciful, as well. They have been the recipients of the grace and mercy of God, and then they go forth with the Gospel, and they have a desire to share the Gospel which brings mercy (in the day of salvation). And they conduct themselves as “merciful” to their fellow man, especially as God command their newborn souls to forgive, to forbear: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” As God had mercy upon us, we have mercy upon our fellow man, and this leads only the elect to genuinely show forth the fruit of mercy, while the unsaved did not receive the mercy of God, and they can show no genuine mercy. They have no ability to genuinely forgive and to pardon their fellow man. That has always been in evidence to some degree as we talk to someone of the world that say, “I will never forget what he did to me. I will never forgive him.” And they absolutely mean it, and they hold a grudge. That is being “unmerciful,” and especially now, at the time of the end, this is one of the characteristics of Judgment Day and the end time.
And the end of the world began in 1988 upon the 13,000^th^ year of earth’s history, so we would expect to see this sin. And it is a sin to be unmerciful. It is just as much a sin as is fornication, as far as God is concerned. We tend to think, “Well, this sin is more sinful,” but they are all sinful. They are all equally sinful. And we would expect to see this sin in evidence, and are we not seeing it all over the place? When someone said something or wrote something 30 years ago, now it is being brought to light. And even when the person apologizes and says, “I was young and foolish. I am a completely different person. I am sorry,” do they say, “OK, that is understandable, and we will now forget all about it. Let us just forgive. We have all done wrong things. We have all said and written things that we are now sorry for”? Do we see that? No, we do not find that. The response is, “Let us get rid of him. Let us fire him.” Then he is publicly ridiculed and labeled as “this” or “that,” and it is just complete wrath and judgment and condemnation. There is no mercy. No mercy is being shown from the people of the world to other people of the world – they have no mercy. It is just not in them, because mercy must come from God.
Now let us go to the last verse. It says in Romans 1:32:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
The unsaved who are “filled” with all these sins, “while knowing the judgment of God.” And this goes back to the earlier Scriptures we read in this chapter. If you remember what it said in Romans 1:18-19:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
So that is why God is saying that they know the judgment of God. By the way, the Greek word for “judgment” here is actually better translated as “righteousness.” It is Strong’s #1345, and it is translated as “ordinances” in one place, and also as “righteousness.” It is the same word, for example, that we see in Romans 5:18:
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
The word “righteousness” identifies with the righteousness of Christ. It is the same word translated as “judgment.” It is also the word found in the book of Revelation regarding the righteousness of the saints. It is the identical Greek word, which means it should be translated, “Who knowing the righteousness of God,” and that is what was stated in verse 18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” God wrote the Law upon man’s heart, and there is the testimony of the heavens concerning righteous acts. And when men conduct themselves in accord with those natural laws, we could say, of the creation and the Law upon their hearts, as well as the Bible, they have some sense of doing right. But, also, they know when they have done wrong: “Who knowing the righteousness of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death.”
Man knows this, deep down. He has offended God, transgressed His Law and done things worthy of death. By the way, the word “worthy” is translated as “due reward,” in Luke 23, where one thief on the cross said to the other, in Luke 23:41:
And we indeed justly; for we receive the of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
He was referring to Jesus. Eventually, this thief who Christ saved went to be with the Lord that same day (in heaven), but he was saying, “We are receiving that which was worthy of our deeds (due reward). We have done wrong, and now we are going to die.” “The wages of sin is death.” It was right and according to the Law of God. He was acknowledging the righteousness of God’s Law.
Sometimes when we are looking through the prism of another verse, it helps us to understand a verse that had not been so easy to understand previously. It says in Revelation 13:6:
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are .
This is referring to the unsaved people of the world (Babylon of the nations). It was commonly thought long ago that this had some kind of spiritual relationship to the blood of Christ because only the elect drink of the blood of Christ and are worthy. But that is not correct here. It is referring to those that have shed the blood of the saints and prophets. It is the unsaved of the kingdom of Satan, and they are “worthy” of a “due reward,” because God has given them their own blood to drink (their own life). “The life is in the blood.” In the Day of Judgment, the Gospel for the unsaved people of the world is not the blood of Christ that had provided salvation, mercy, and grace. But it is a Gospel where they are the “grapes” being tread underfoot, and it is their blood that is gushing forth, so the atonement that is in view is not that of a Mediator that was performed on their behalf, but they themselves are the ones being crushed under the wrath of God, as their death is required, and that is the “blood” that is to be drunk by the unsaved people of the world in the Day of Judgment. Why? It is because they are “worthy.” It is their “due reward.” They have done wrong, and now God is satisfying the Law’s justice by giving them this kind of “drink” of the Gospel in the Day of Judgment.
Let us go back to Romans 1:32:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
I always had a different understanding of this verse, concerning the last part of the statement. I had looked at it as just that man loves their sin, and that is why we see all these fictional books, movies, TV shows and all the entertainment industry involve, in one way or another, the sins of man, and they put them on view. And although many people out in the world may not do these kinds of sins outwardly, yet they take pleasure in them that do it. My understanding of what God was saying is that they not only do these things, but they take pleasure in them that do them. It is true when we look at the entertainment industry, that these things are basically their business. The thing they are marketing (buying and selling) are the sins of men. They try to make them glamorous and exciting and, yet, it is always showcasing evil and wickedness, the rebellion of man against God. And is it not amusing? Is it not thrilling and exciting? Yes – people find pleasure and enjoyment in witnessing others committing sin.
But after looking at this word “pleasure,” where it says, “not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” I found that it is not the same word for “pleasure” as in Hebrews 11, where we read of Moses, in Hebrews 11:25:
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the of sin for a season;
It is not that word, and there are other verses that give that same kind of idea, like in 2Timothy 3:4:
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of more than lovers of God;
That, too, is not the word. There is another word that ties lusts and pleasures together, but it not that word either. What word is it? Well, this word is not referring to sensual pleasure, but it is another compound word that means “with consent.” That is what it means. It is the same word translated as “consent” or “consenting,” which we find in Acts 8, which we find with preposition “with,” in Acts 8:1:
And Saul was unto his death…
That refers to Stephen, who we read was stoned to death in the previous chapter, and Saul was watching their coats. They laid their garments at his feet: “Yeah, you guys go ahead. I will keep watch, and make sure your things are safe.” In other words, he was in full agreement with the stoning to death of Stephen, and that was a very sinful thing for all those Jews to have done because Stephen was speaking the truth. He was a true man of God.
So when we read concerning the judgment of God that “they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” it means, in other words, that they are in “full agreement” with those that do these things. They are consenting.
And that could tie in with watching TV or the things we read. If we are engaging in that, and we are looking for amusement to pass the time and to be entertained, or even if we spend time concentrating on the evils going on out in the world and are fascinated by them…and it is not surprising because even the elect still have bodies that are corrupt and lust after sin. So it would be a “natural desire” for the physical body to observe these things and to also “consent” and have agreement with it.
I just thought that was interesting because it was a little bit of correction to how I had understood that verse.
Well, it took a while, but we have come to the end of chapter 1. Lord willing, in our next Bible study, we will begin Romans 2, and that chapter is one that is very quickly going to get into the Day of Judgment, where God speaks of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” and He lays out His judgment program, the two-fold “tribulation,” and so forth. But that is all the time we have for this study, and may you be blessed by the Word of God according to God’s perfect will.