“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.

 

Thomas Sowell Tells It Like It Is

This article by black economist Thomas Sowell well encapsulates a point that I and many others have made on many occasions: the ongoing racial controversy and continual stirring up of grievances is orchestrated for political purposes and political purposes alone.  Moreover, the people who are fomenting it do not want to solve the problems which they allege and complain about.  After all, if tomorrow there were to be perfect harmony and equality, what would the race hustlers in media and politics do for a living?  They would have outlived their usefulness.ThomasSowell

More importantly, as Sowell so aptly points out, stirring up of black grievances, whether real or imagined, is done for one major purpose: to get out the vote for the Democrat party.  Therefore, be looking to hear more from Black Lives Matter in the coming months, which sadly, will probably involve more acts of violence against law enforcement.

Men may have a knowledge of words, and the meaning of propositions in the Scripture, who have no knowledge of the things themselves designed in them.  The things revealed in the Scripture are expressed in propositions whose words and terms are intelligible unto the common reason of mankind.  Every rational man, especially if he be skilled in those common sciences and arts which all writings refer unto, may, without any especial aid of the Holy Ghost, know the meaning of the propositions that are laid down in, or drawn from the Scripture; yea, they can do so who believe not one word of it to be true, and they do so, as well as the best of them, who have no other help in the understanding of Scripture but their own reason, let them profess to believe what they will.  And whatever men understand of the meaning of the words, expressions, and propositions in the Scripture, if they believe not the things which the declare, they do not in any sense know the mind and will of God in them; for to know a thing as the mind of God, and not to assent unto its truth, implieth a contradiction.  I shall never grant that a man understands the Scripture aright who understands the words of it only, and not the things which is the mind of God in them.  For instance, the Jews understand the words of the Scripture of the Old Testament in its own original language, and they are able to perceive the grammatical sense and construction of the propositions contained in it,-they are unacquainted with them and their writings who will not acknowledge their skill, subtilty, and accuracy in these things,-yet will not any Christian say they understand the mind of God in the Old Testament.  The apostle showeth the contrary, and giveth the reason for it, in the place before insisted on, 2 Corinthians 3.  Such a knowledge of the Scripture no wise man will value, let it be attained how it will.

Paul begins this lengthy list with “unrighteousness,” a broad term which can cover almost any transgression against the law of God.  Tracing all the way back to verse 18 where this section began, we find that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against the unrighteousness of men.  Men manifest their contempt for God by disregarding His law, caring nothing about what He says is right or wrong.  They invent their own rules of right and wrong, calling good evil and evil good, cursing the righteous and blessing the wicked.  Because God has given them over to do those things which are not convenient, they are filled up with unrighteousness, like a glutton at the feasting table.  To borrow a phrase from the next chapter, these reprobates who despised God and thus were despised by Him, grow worse and worse, treasuring up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath. 

As is common with these lists of sin that we find scattered throughout the New Testament, we find “fornication” near the top.  Why is this, except that sexual uncleanness is one of the forms of depravity to which men are so thoroughly given?  Ungodly lusts and acts tell the story of the lives of most of the men of the world, whether they be bond or free, rich or poor.  It is only the law of God and the Gospel of Christ which encourage, promotes, and actually fosters purity among men and women.  But those who have been reprobated by God, given over to follow the lusts of their own evil hearts, could care less that the law of God pronounces in no uncertain terms, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  In Paul’s day, fornication was a part of the religious devotions to the many idols of the Greco-Roman world, and was so prevalent even in Judea, where God’s people resided, that Jesus accused His own people of being an “adulterous generation.”  We well know what dominion the spirit and practice of fornication in its many varieties has in our own culture.  Young men and women are looked upon as oddities to be mocked if they are virgins by the age of 18.  Dating, with all its attendant evils, is the rule of the day, and even the parents in most cases seem to care less about the chastity of their sons and daughters.  Now that women occupy close to half the spaces in the workplace, adulterous affairs are common, and an untoward friendliness between the sexes is accepted even where no physical contact takes place.  As the apostle has already pointed out, viler forms of sexual perversion soon become common in the society which God has given over to a reprobate mind.  Our nation which once, like all the rest of the world, despised and denounced the practicers of sodomy, now embraces them with both arms, and reviles every person who would speak against them.  Incest, rape, child molestation, the billion-dollar industry of pornography, and many other grotesque forms of sexual deviancy are eating the vitals out of American culture.  One has to have blinders on his eyes to avoid viewing the scantily clad women on the magazine covers at the grocery stores.  Immodesty is a plague that is embraced by America, including its preachers, most of whom consider having a thread of clothing on the body as being enough to meet the biblical standard.  Many of them go so far as to deny what Hollywood and the magazine corporations well know, that tight and revealing clothing are fuel for the fires of sexual lust.  It drives one to soberly consider that, not only has the world around us been given over to a reprobate mind, but very likely many of the preachers and churches have as well.

Paul desires to stress that this act of reprobation by God is no mere arbitrary act of heavenly cruelty, but is a just judgment against those who have made war with the King of heaven.  Sound preachers have often wisely said that the worst thing God can do to us is give us what we deserve.  In the case of the heathens, God did precisely this, at least until such time as He sent the Gospel among them when the hour of His mercy arrived.  But still, His general method of dealing with His enemies who cast Him aside to worship idols and devote themselves to satiating the lusts of the flesh is to abandon those who have abandoned Him.  Surely this should teach us to seek God early while He may be found, before our hearts become hardened against His grace, and impervious to the threats of impending judgment.

This judicial decree, which consigned men and women to run wild in their lusts, to the point of devoting themselves to the pursuit of homosexual lifestyles, was God’s just retribution against the heathen, because they did not like to retain Him in their knowledge.  We have shown already how that the world which came off the ark knew God, and knew His laws of right and wrong, of good and evil.  Knowing all these things, the sons of Ham, and then soon the vast majority of the descendants of Shem and Japheth as well, decided it was not in their best interests to retain the knowledge of God, because it hampered them in their plans for personal pleasure and self-aggrandizement.  Plans for empire, desires for pleasure, pride of person, place, or accomplishment, could not exist peacefully with the knowledge of the God of heaven.  Therefore, they turned from the true God to the service of idols, idols devised by the minds of men, which better suited their corrupt inclinations.

We see a similar turning away from God in the history of European and American culture.  Since the time of the Reformation, the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ filled Europe from one end to the other, and was carried across the sea by those coming to colonize the new land.  For years the scriptures were in large reverenced in these societies, a biblical morality was upheld as the standard, guiding our legal codes and public standards.  But gradually, it became the fashion among intellectuals to be skeptics about the Word of God, questioning the authenticity of this passage, casting doubt upon the authorship of that book, publicly debating whether science or archaeology did not disprove the Bible.  Atheism and deism became rampant in the late 18th century, but God largely held back the tide of infidelity for a season by raising up such powerful preachers as George Whitefield and John Wesley, through whom thousands were converted to the true faith of Christ, and confidence in the sacred scriptures was upheld.  But then in the 18th century, through scientists like Charles Darwin, poets like Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a public education system designed to turn the minds of the youth away from the God of their fathers, a much larger apostasy began.  Germany, which God had once favored with the light of Gospel liberty through Martin Luther, became the center of relentless attacks upon the authority and infallibility of scripture through the higher critics.  Soon even conservative denominations were expressing a general skepticism towards the scriptures, so that great men of God like Charles Spurgeon were ultimately driven from the Baptist Union.  As men ran farther and farther from the Word of God, embracing instead the philosophies and ideas of men like Darwin, Freud, Dewey, Nietzsche, Marx, and Kinsey, God passed His decree of reprobation against them, just as He had against the Gentile world so long ago.

We are now witnessing precisely what happens when God delivers men over to reprobate minds.  Paul will now begin to list the many abominable crimes to which men individually, and societies in general, become enslaved, when once they have abandoned God, and He in just retribution abandons them.  Certainly, the general acceptance of sodomy is a major evidence of societal reprobation.  It, almost above any other, is a thing “not convenient,” for it not only is destructive of the reproductive process, it is destructive of the public health, and all public morality and order.  When once this sin, and the others which the apostle will quickly name, come to characterize a given society, we may be sure that the wrath of God has gone forth against them.

As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp Him, He could not be infinite. If we could understand Him, He could not be divine.

Women, who ought to be more tender in their affections and more sensitive in their consciences than men, turn, when they have forsaken the true God for idols, unto all kinds of perversions, including lesbianism.  The men also, we find in verse 27, turned from the natural use of the woman to the unspeakable crime of sodomy with members of their own sex.  Nothing can be more evident, even from nature, than that God created the woman for the man, and that he is to derive his sexual pleasure from the woman alone (and that in a state of lawful matrimony).  But men who are abandoned by God to the uncleanness of their own lusts can become so perverse in their lusts that the enjoyment of a woman is no longer satisfactory, and they must attempt something even more daring to satiate their beastly appetites.  There are good reasons why God filled up entire chapters in His law, as written by Moses, forbidding sexual contact with close relatives, with beasts, or men with men.  He knows better than we do how deep the seeds of corruption are planted in our hearts, and what unspeakable moral outrages we can commit if He does not restrain us.  He knows that wicked men will not be satisfied with the wife God has given them, and will turn to other women, up to and including their own mothers or daughters, and then even to other men.  Therefore, He pronounced the severest penalties against these despicable and destructive crimes.

Sexual perversion is uniformly treated in scripture as the fruit of idolatry.  Paul presents it so here, and in Leviticus 19:24, after having given His regulations concerning consanguinity, and several forms of perversion, God says, “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.”  When God first promised the land to Abraham, He told him that his seed must suffer in a strange land for 400 years before they could occupy Canaan, because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”  When Moses led the people out of Egypt, the Amorites had filled up the measure of their iniquity, so that there was no remedy for them, only extermination.  One of the chief proofs of their irreparable moral defilement was their widespread practice of sexual perversion.  Tragically, this was a sin that defiled not only the nations of Canaan, but it was a fixture in many idolatrous societies.  In Paul’s own day, there were temple prostitutes of both sexes, who performed all manner of abominable acts in their devotions to their false gods.  It is only the God of heaven Who teaches and leads men to lives of purity and holiness.  The idols of the heathen always foster and encourage the vilest and most sadistic behavior among their devotees.

But God would not permit us to think that one form of sexual behavior is just acceptable as another, though our generation has largely been convinced of this lie.  Paul writes that sexual perverts “receive in their bodies that recompense of their error which was meet.”  As they abandoned God’s commended mode of sexuality, so God rewarded them with all sorts of nasty diseases which ruin health, life, and reputation.  It is well known, even among the ungodly, that promiscuity leads to the rampant spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  These are now a virtual plague upon our society.  But the entire society, down to the little children, are not being taught it is because of rebellion against God’s law; rather, it is because people were not well taught enough to practice “safe sex.”  How blinding and deluding is the power of sin!  It is statistically proven that sodomites of both sexes, and males in particular, enjoy far briefer lifespans than heterosexuals, and are very often smitten not only with bodily diseases, but also frequently suffer from mental illnesses that produce high suicide rates.  Of course, all are familiar with the AIDS epidemic, which is usually the fruit of homosexual conduct.  But again, our blinded and reprobate culture is being taught that this is the result of unsafe sexual practices, rather than God smiting men in their bodies with the recompense of their error which is meet.  It is divine judgment, the reprobation of individuals and of cultures, which produces such blindness.  It is only divine mercy which can reverse this trend, which threatens to destroy cultures once so signally favored with the faithful preaching of the Word of God.

 

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