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A Depraved Mind

What's On Your Mind?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:37
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Introduction

Through this quarter on Sunday nights we are going to be taking a look at what the Bible says about our mind. Everyday we all use our minds. Thousands of thoughts rush through our brain as we go through our day. I was curious so I looked up how many thoughts a person has per day. Most of the resources stated people have anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That is a lot of thinking. Have you ever heard of the “placebo effect”? Some believe that you can train the mind to help heal the body or at least remove pain. Tests have been done to attempt to prove this. Even us who are not in the area of Neuroscience discuss the power of suggestion. How many of you parents have described in an honest way but in a more exciting way something about a food you were giving your child and they loved it. After the meal you tell them in a more bland way and they immediately say they do not like it even though they had more than one helping.
Think about the imagination of a person! Through the thousands of books, play-writes, films, and articles that have been written. Think of the art and music that have been created. The list truly goes on. Think of the lives that have been saved on the operating table or the modern conveniences we have today! Seriously, how do a bunch of 1’s and 0’s turn into letters!
We could go negative and give negative examples of the power of our minds. No matter how you look at it our minds are powerful. Oxford defines the mind as the set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory, which is housed in the brain (sometimes including the central nervous system). It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.
Therefore it is vital that we as people understand the importance of guarding and keeping our minds with all diligence. Our mind stands as the battleground of our lives. Our flesh, worldly influence, and Satan himself does what they can to tear down the walls of your mind, of my mind! How you behave/act does convey your mind and what you believe! When the Bible states that out of the heart come the issues of life and the mouth speaks, it is talking of the mind! Throughout this series we will be seeing the condition of the mind, how to have a godly mind, the consequences of an ungodly mind, examples of people who lived with a godly mind, and how to train and mold our minds as God would want us!
Tonight for our first look into the mind of man we are going to start with the sad state of the mind--depraved.
-Let’s Read Our Passage
Here is a quote from Lord Bertrand Russell:
Preaching the Word: Romans—Righteousness From Heaven Understanding Unbelief (I) ( Romans 1:18-25 )

There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching.… You do not, for instance, find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him, and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation.2

-Lord Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian
This evening we are going to be looking at the reason why the gospel matters. What we look at tonight will reveal the importance of the power of the Gospel! We are going to see the utter wickedness of man. I want us to pause quickly and pray and ask God to clear our minds and hearts that we not look at this passage tonight and say that this is good to hear but I am saved and it does not matter for me. This is a erronious thoguht. This book was written to believers. Though Paul is talking about most likely the condition of the gentiles, even as believers elements of these attitudes can impact and creep into our minds. Also truly grasping the truth of this passage oughtto strenghten your mind and help you to live with gratitutde for God saving you from the end that those in this passage arive.
Pray.
The context immediately before was preached to us last Sunday afternoon. IT is in fact our theme for this year! Salvation the gospel is the power of God of which the Christian lives in the righteousness of God and does not have to fear eternal punsihment in hell (6:23). Paul then takes a break from discussing the righetouesness of God to show the unrighteousness of man. He takes 1:18-3:20 to explain the wickedness and lostness of man without God. He begins in our passage but showing what many refer to as the depravity of man. Man is utterly sinful and without excuse.
Main Principle: God reveals his wrath because man has rejected God resulting in God's retribution for their rejection of Him and turning to idolatry.
Main Application: Elevating our thinking above God produces passions of idolatry resulting in God's punishment.

I. God revealed His wrath, 18

Explanation:

The structure of verse 18 parallels that of verse 17. Righteousness of God and the unrighteousness of man are structurally the same. This is significant because it gives to us a contrast situation of God and man. It is always about God. Paul starts here as he brings man into the picture to make sure their is no doubt who is greater and who is truly righteous. The righteousness of God is revealed through the gospel. Unfortunately, man in their ungodly and unrighteous mind suppress the truth of God.
Because of this wrong thinking, God’s wrath is revealed. What does Paul mean by God’s wrath?
The moral desolation of human society throughout history, which is referred to by the use of past tenses for ‘handed over’ in verses 24–28, is an evidence of God’s judgment and wrath, anticipating what will happen on judgment day [BECNT- Schreiner, Gdt]. We see today in God’s grace a restrained version of God’s wrath because of the ungodly and unrighteous living. We should understand the wrath in eschatological terms, but should also not overlook its present reality [BECNT, HNTC, ICC1, Mor, NAC, St]. The eventual revelation of God’s wrath at the end-time is anticipated by the same principle of his wrath being revealed in the world here and now [BECNT, HNTC, NAC, TNTC, WBC].

It is the response of God’s holiness to human wickedness and rebellion that suppresses the knowledge of God and embraces a lie instead, the retribution that must operate in a moral universe [TNTC].

Preaching the Word: Romans—Righteousness From Heaven Understanding Unbelief (I) ( Romans 1:18-25 )

The word here is orge, which signifies a settled and abiding condition. It is controlled. “The wrath of God” is not human wrath, which at its best is only a distorted reflection of God’s wrath because it is always compromised by the presence of sin. “The wrath of God” is perfect, settled, controlled.

Paul speaks here of God’s wrath as being present with future implications. In other words we see God’s wrath today but will not see all of God’s wrath until His second coming and millennial reign when God defeats Satan for a final time and all of hell , Satan, his fallen angels, and those who never accepted Christ are cast in to the lake of fire for eternity. God follows this by destroying this earth and creating a whole a whole new one without sin and death.
This wrath of God is incurred because of their suppression of the truth. Paul further explains this as he details the rejection of God. The wrath of God is not what we want in life for the Bible states that it is fearful to fall into the hands of an angry God.
The word suppress carries the idea of holding down, to keep from being known, to hide. When I think of the word suppress, I think of a suppressor on a gun. It is fixed to the gun so that others will not know it has been fired. It seeks to take the noise and hide it or hold it down and unnoticeable. In the same way the unbeliever takes the truth about God and of God and hides it, restrains it, holds it down from impacting their thinking and mind.

The truth that the one true God is to be honored and worshipped is suppressed as people unrighteously refuse to do this [BECNT].

This means that by their unrighteous acts and rebellion against God’s just rule, people actually hinder or suppress the effect the truth would otherwise have had on their religious and moral state [NICNT].

What is the truth that has been suppressed?

The truth that has been suppressed is that God should be honored, worshipped, and esteemed as God, and the fundamental sin is the refusal to worship God and give him proper sovereignty in one’s life [BECNT].

In the NT, truth is something to be obeyed, not just to give mental assent to, and acting sinfully is to rebel against God’s rule and what he has said should be done [NICNT].

They suppress this truth by being and living unrighteously. Their unrighteousness is the method in which they suppress the truth.

Application:

People today are as through the years seeking to suppress the truth of God and His very nature of existence. The idea of a God of wrath and judgment is offensive to modern man’s sensibilities (Hughes, Romans, p32).I can remember as I learned about World history how many people tried to eliminate God’s Word through book burnings. Evolution itself tries to eliminate God and the need for God. Modern society has become highly pragmatic and self-focused. They seek to suppress the truth that life is about God and not themselves. They seek to hide the truth about sin. Sin is a naughty word and we cannot tell people that they are sinners. That is discrimination.
The opposite is true! God IS true! The next 5 verses help to give us the truth about the core of God’s revealed wrath.
This verse begins to show us how much God hates sin! It begins to show us the strong power of sin to ruin lives. It is a deadly foe as it incurs a righteous and powerful God’s wrath. Rejection of and suppression of God will bring devastating consequences and Paul over the next verses shows this very truth.

II. God was rejected by man, 19-23

Explanation:

God has made it clear and evident that He is God through the general revelation of who He is. The general reelation is that of creation. Creation was made by God to glorify and honor Him. He created it with enough that manifests God’s character. Sure sin ahs tainted and marred it but one can still see that God exists. He created man in his image and therefore was created with morality and a general understanding that God exists. It is this truth that they are suppressing and rejecting.
Their opposition to the truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance because God has manifest the knowledge of himself among them (Hodge).
Knowledge about God is what man rejected and what they want all men and women to reject. Romans 1:18-32 starts with the rejection of knowledge and ends with knowledge being rejected. Paul is emphasizing something here, man’s thinking!
Man rejected the knowledge of God even in spite of being able to clearly see God’s divine power and nature! (This refers to what may be known of God by observing the creation [AB, BECNT, ICC2, Mu, NAC, St], namely his power and deity as 1:20 states [BECNT, Gdt, HNTC, Ho, St, TH].) From the very beginning of creation God’s power and nature have been revealed to us. This knowledge of God that man has is not the same knowledge as a man or woman has once they are saved. The first knowledge is you could say a bit more on the academic side where after salvation it becomes experiential and personal. God through Paul states that man is without excuse because of this “natural revelation” of his character. The phrase “without excuse” stands as a bridge to 21-23.
Paul is not mentioning that men and women, boys and girls, can be saved through this knowledge, for that comes through a personal and experiential knowledge through faith and the preaching of the gospel! There is no suggestion here that this requires careful deduction or reasoning, for Paul states that it is a reality for all people; God has created people in such a way that his existence and power are instinctively recognized when they view the created world [BECNT].
Romans 1:21-23 gives the result and indictment on man for suppressing and rejecting God. The result takes the form of idolatry and the indictment is one of futility and foolishness. Their thinking becomes empty and foolish. The fundamental sin was a failure to worship God” (Schreiner). They worshipped the creation over the Creator. They stole the glory due to God and gave it to what God created. It is this idolatry that stands as the reason for God’s wrath being revealed. They stopped worshipping God as the one true God who is to be given all honor and thanks for salvation. For being God and all who He is! God created man for His glory not man’s glory. Have you ever made something and when it was publicized to others they gave credit to someone other than you? This is a trivial level compared to the truth that man is created for God’s glory and commanded to also give it to Him.
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: When God Gives up (Romans 1:18–3:20)

Instead of being thankful for all that God had given him, man refused to thank God or give Him the glory He deserves. Man was willing to use God’s gifts, but he was not willing to worship and praise God for His gifts. The result was an empty mind and a darkened heart. Man the worshiper became man the philosopher, but his empty wisdom only revealed his foolishness.

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: When God Gives up (Romans 1:18–3:20)

Having held down God’s truth and refusing to acknowledge God’s glory, man was left without a god; and man is so constituted that he must worship something. If he will not worship the true God, he will worship a false god, even if he has to manufacture it himself! This fact about man accounts for his propensity to idolatry. Man exchanged the glory of the true God for substitute gods that he himself made. He exchanged glory for shame, incorruption for corruption, truth for lies.

They had perverted the worship of God into a worship of nature. They turned from God to idolatry. Idolatry is why God’s wrath was revealed.This is the state of man before salvation. It is the state that one day God will judge with a final judgement. Fortunately, though today we have the wrath of God active, though tempered by His love and mercy, the power of of God and the gospel reveals God’s righteousness and how in God’s holy and just nature He loved us to shed His grace on us and provide a way to escape.

When truth is rejected, in time the ability to recognize and to receive truth is impaired (cf. John 3:19–20).

The ultimate irony in humanity’s refusal to glorify the true God is the insanity or stupidity of idolatry described in Isaiah 44:9–20. Man’s refusal to acknowledge and glorify God leads to a downward path: first, worthless thinking; next, moral insensitivity; and then, religious stupidity (seen in idol-worship).

Application:

Christian, are you experiencing God’s chastisement in your life because you have chosen to reject God’s truth about your life?
Are you worshipping God as the heathen do by suppressing truth? Yes, the believer is a new creation but we also still have the old nature in us and it desires to war against us and take us into sin. Persevere and do not reject God!
We are about to see God’s retribution and response to man’s wicked rebellion. It is not pretty! What kind of thinking do you have? Are you allowing the unrighteousness of the world to mold and shape your thinking and suppress your mind to the truth?
Listening to this fundamental fall of man deeper and deeper into sin should cause you to have a heart that burns more and more with a desire to see people saved.
Our emphasis is on the mind this evening and we can clearly see the wrong thinking of the unbeliever. We are only going to see more of it and in a more severe way with some very dire consequences that become true as the sin grows in a persons life. See 1 John discusses the concept of perseverence as does the letter to the Hebrews. Are you persevering or are you suppressing the truth even in light of God’s revealed divine power and nature?!
Transition: God’s wrath has been revealed because man rejected God… We are now going to see what that wrath looks like. It is not pretty to behold. It is sad and ought to make the believer cry out on the behalf of the unbeliever!

III. God exercised His retribution for man’s rejection of Him, 24-32.

Explanation:

In the further explanation Paul gives in Romans 1:24-32 we see a progression of sorts in regard to God giving them over. Three different times Paul says God gave them over. Paul begins by stating a generality of sexual sin committed because of their impure hearts. The impurity of their hearts (24) and dishonorable passions (26) can be placed together as the latter being a more detailed explanation of the first. You see improper desires acted on with their bodies. This all takes place as they turned the truth of God into a lie and worshipped/served the created of the Creator. They turned their own sexual desires and bodies into their god. I am going to borrow from his outline to help in understanding the depths of depravity man has fallen. Grasping the degree of mankind’s sinful and wicked nature will help the Christian, you and I and us as a church to better live according the calling Paul reveals to us in Ephesians 1-3.
Preaching the Word: Romans—Righteousness From Heaven Understanding Unbelief (II) ( Romans 1:24-32 )
I have titled these verses, “The Dimensions of Depravity.” It is good for us to consider all this because any Christian who truly grasps mankind’s depravity will be more effective in living for Christ in this fallen world. There are three aspects (outline borrowed from Kent Hughes) to man’s fallenness:
I. The Sensual Dimension (vv. 24–27) - Wrong Worship
lusts of their hearts to impurity - can be translated desires of their hearts to uncleanness. This carries the idea of dirty and impure. Not what comes from righteousness.
dishonorable passions - The genitive noun ἀτιμία ‘dishonor’ is qualitative, describing the dishonorable, disgraceful, or evil nature of the passions [AB, BECNT, Gdt, HNTC, ICC1, Mor, Mu, NICNT, SSA, WBC; CEV, GW, KJV, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, REB, TEV].
Paul in these verses illustrates man’s depravity with both heterosexual and homosexual perversion. The words used for male and female in this passage are the words that mean man and woman. You would have to deny the inspiration of scripture to deny this. He uses homosexuality as an example of mankind’s depravity. As often as we use this passage to harp on its wickedness and perversion of God’s creation. However as we will see in a few moments it is not the only one that Paul uses to exemplify man’s sinfulness. The reason he uses this illustration is because it so obviously goes against what is natural. It clearly makes a point as to what man has done and is doing to incur God’s wrath.
Now, clearly, in these verses we see God hates fornication and all types of sexual sin. Our world today though not as blatant in many regards publicly as the NT times, does the same thing. The internet is not wrong but what many people and companies use it for give evidence of turning the truth of God into a lie. Homosexuality and all other sexual sin is a result of idolatry. Sexual sin is not a way someone is born or develops. It is a sin and perversion of what God created. It is selfish worship of one’s won desires and passions rather than honoring and glorifying God!
Unfortunately, Paul was describing our society today. God hates all sin. Homosexuality is a sin therefore, God hates homosexuality.
The result of this self-deification was self-indulgence. (The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: When God Gives up (Romans 1:18–3:20))
The logic here is so clear: first a suppression of the majestic revelation of God, then a perversion to man-centered idolatry, and finally a perversion of man himself. “In the end their humanism (man-centeredness) resulted in the dehumanization of each other.”4 In the end, man lowers himself to a condition below God’s created purpose. (Hughes, 24-25)
Their self-indulgence and sinful life would and will receive today a penalty due to their sin. Sin brings with it consequences. Living in any type of sexual immorality or perversion will strip you away piece by piece both physically as noted in verse 24 and what we will see next that the degradation does not stop with the physical. Unrighteous living starts with and ends with the mind.
II. The Mental Dimension (vv. 28–31) - Wrong Thinking
God turns them over here to a debased or depraved mind. It is here we see the foundation to having a wrong worship. It is foundational to living ungodly. It is here we see that the ungodly have a wrong view of God which results in a wrong view of man. The truth of God turning them over to a debased and worthless mind means that their worthless and empty thinking was already present.
Preaching the Word: Romans—Righteousness From Heaven The Mental Dimension of Depravity (vv. 28-31)

Cranfield says that such a mind is “so debilitated and corrupted as to be a quite untrustworthy guide in moral decision.”8

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: When God Gives up (Romans 1:18–3:20)

“God gave them over” this time to a “depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28, NASB), which means a mind that cannot form right judgments. They now abandoned themselves to sin.

What does Paul mean by debased or depraved? What is a depraved mind?
The word mind refers to the center for moral reasoning and willful choice, not just to intellectual capacity [NICNT].
The word debased/depraved refers to:

It is a deep-seated blindness and perversity with regard to understanding and acknowledging God’s will or comprehending and practicing biblical ethical principles [NICNT].

Having a mind that is unfit comes as a result of esteeming God as unfit [BECNT].

This ungodly thinking is a thinking that produces action and living that should not be done. The phrase “things that are not proper” refers to actions that are morally wrong [NICNT]. It is living that is ungodly and empty. Paul in fact gives a list of 21 sins that characterize a debased mind. We do not have the time to go through each of these but I do want to mention a few. It is interesting that we often come to this passage of scripture and focus on the sins of sexual sin in verses 24-27 and tend to kind of gloss over these here in 28-31. All of these are evidence of a debased and depraved mind. In these verses Paul “traces the sins of inhumanity, of man’s hatred of his fellow man in all its terrible manifestations, to this same root sin of idolatry” (Moo, 117). Some of these sins have overlap and similarity. Here are a couple I want to briefly mention.
Strife - hostile differences of opinion; argue; debate contentiously
Gossip - the original word here is only used this one time in the entire Bible. A whisperer and tale-bearer of false or true info in order to hurt or ruin someone
Haughty - arrogance and conceited and contemptuous; this has a heavy inference toward someones attitude.
Disobedient to parents - It shows a lack of gratitude along with a contempt for family authority, which was considered to be a grievous offense at that time [Mor]. It is related to the arrogance mentioned in 1:30 [NICNT; David Abernathy, An Exegetical Summary of Romans 1–8, 2nd ed., (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 115.].
Faithless - untrustworthy; This denotes those who refuse to abide by covenants or treaties [NICNT; David Abernathy, An Exegetical Summary of Romans 1–8, 2nd ed., (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 116.]
So to put it simply, sin no matter the casing it is in, can be boiled down to idolatry. It is taking what God menat to have glorify and honor him and directed in an alternative direction.
SO, Is their any area in your life that these five or of the many others that you have allowed to take root in your life because if you were honest you are living like the unregenerate being described. The debased mind is turned over to each of these. Can you imagine how mad someone must be thinking and acting out these sins. How much more miserable would a Christian be if they began to reject scripture and live selfishly? This brings us to a wrong and dangerous conclusion! It brings the discussion full circle. It really started with a person’s thoguht life and it now ends with seeing the end of what wrong thinking does. It embraces evil and embraces those who do!
III. The Ultimate Dimension (v. 32) - Wrong Conclusion
God turns them over because not only do they choose to live with wrong thinking that produces wrong worship, but they choose to persuade and encourage others to do the same!
Because of sin God gave them over. Paul uses this phrase three times. He uses it in verse 24, 26, and 28. Each time the phrase means the same thing. Kent Hughes takes these three phrases and outlines them fairly well. I want to give a understanding of the phrase “gave them over.”

God is seen as taking an active role in this process [BECNT, Gdt, HNTC, Ho, ICC2, Mor, NTC, WBC]. This in not an impersonal working out of moral law, but it involves an active personal decision and response by God [BECNT].

God does even more than remove his restraint, he actively delivers them up to ever increasing wickedness [ICC1, Mu, NICNT]. Their being handed over is not merely a matter of God passively withdrawing his influence, but his taking an active role as the initiator of the process, handing them over to the terrible cycle of ever increasing sin [NICNT].

We see that as God gave them over to ungodly passions and thoughts that their worship was ungodly. It was of themselves. People as mentioned here are fundamentally unable to understand, think, and reason correctly in anything regarding God’s will and character (Moo, 119). Our world today and throughout it’s history, people everywhere have fallen prey to a debased mind. They have chosen to have a wrong view of God. They have chosen to worship creation over the Creator, ultimately worshipping self over God. Yet in our world people like to in their worthless thinking give excuses why people are the way they are (Give example of excuses). This is wrong, worthless, and ungodly thinking that God has revealed His wrath upon. In the book of Proverbs, scripture teaches that how a person thinks IS the true person.
Proverbs 23:7 NASB95
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 27:19 NASB95
19 As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.
The full purpose of Romans 1:32 is to pull out and emphasize the complete rebellion and wickedness of mankind.

Application:

A major part of thus entire passage is to show the sinfulness of man, the fact that no person is without knowledge of God to some degree by which it deems them without excuse. God’s wrath being revealed on a rebellious people, that does not have an excuse, changes the narrative to the negative results in life coming from men and women’s own personal decision to rebel and suppress the truth of and about God!
In Luke and in Matthew we are told that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our hearts reveal our thoughts. Our mind is where it all begins. In this last verse the ungodly person not only chooses ungodliness even when he knows the truth about God, but also encourages others to follow their ungodly and worthless path. A path that leads to God actively giving them over to their worthless thinking to be destroy by said thinking. James 1:15 clearly spells out that sin brings forth death!

Concluding Application:

So What? What does this all mean for the believer? A true believer will not and cannot have a debased mind as a part of their everyday life. If so then why look at this passage? Why examine the depraved mind to start this series?
Because it clearly defines for us what life ultimately results in when God is not in the picture in your personal life. Here are a few things for us to take away this evening by way of applicaation:
God contains an extremely high view of righteousness and a serious view of unrighteousness therefore, the Christian needs to view godly obedience as absolute for thier life.
God’s wrath is a result of my wickedness and sin and therefore apart from God I have no hope.
Having a book knowledge about God does not give me a personal relationship with Him therefore my relationship must be experiential and personal.
In viewing the core issue of the ungodly worship of idolatry, I must daily evaluate idolatry in my life as I do not want to be like the old man but rather like the new man.
The mind is extremely powerful and can destroy a person. Though I cannot have a full blown rejection of God and truly be saved, I can strive to have the right thinking in order that no aspect of a depraved mind makes it way into my life. That I may not deal with the chastisement of God.
Live with a correct view of God regardless of my surroundings. God and his Word are completely trustworthy. Do not take what is true and twist it as the ungodly for my own gain or personal interest, spiritual or otherwise.
Main Principle: God reveals his wrath because man has rejected God resulting in God's retribution for their rejection of Him and turning to idolatry.
Main Application: Elevating our thinking above God produces passions of idolatry resulting in God's punishment.
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