“Wickedness” is a term which can cover all sorts of evil, but is generally used to denote either persons or actions of excessive evil. Paul witnessed wickedness on every hand in his generation, and we are no better, for we live in an age when murder, suicide, blasphemy, witchcraft, theft, and many other egregious crimes are running wild. Perhaps if one word could be adopted to summarize the generality of American culture, it would be the word wicked.
Covetousness! Here is a sin expressly condemned by the 10th commandment, a sin which we see all about us. By its widespread prevalence in society, we may conclude that this is looking more and more like a people given over to a reprobate mind. The entire advertising industry is built on covetousness, much of it being little more than shameless attempts to convince greedy people that they need luxury items that any person could live without. Men and women drive themselves and their families into debt, because they covet the same possessions as their wealthier neighbors. Thus they buy cars, boats, houses, and other expensive toys that their living would not justify. Birth control is so popular as to scarcely ever be questioned, not because it is a justifiable practice founded upon scriptural teaching, but because men and women think that they themselves know better than God how to dictate the process of life, and because they would rather have their luxuries, conveniences, vacations, and time for recreation, which they may not have if they had to be devoted to the care and raising of multiple children.
Maliciousness leads to all sorts of violent crimes, including murder. It was certainly a widespread problem in Paul’s day. Traveling overland was very dangerous, because of the robbers and bandits who lurked along the trade routes to plunder whomsoever they could. Paul himself had firsthand evidence of the malice of men even against truth and goodness, for he himself had both persecuted the harmless Christians, and then had been persecuted for preaching that Jesus is indeed the Christ. Harshness, brutality, and cruelty soon come to characterize the culture which departs from God. We see more and more crimes of a horrid nature, complete with torture and mutilation, because malice has filled the hearts of those who know not the God who is able to restrain the basest passions of our hearts.