by Mike Ratliff
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32 ESV)
We have been looking at unbelief and the utter foolishness it begets. Also, I have been in discussion with several of you about the trials you are currently going through that are, for the most part, oppression resulting in despair as you are dealing with others who either claim to be Christian, but prove they aren’t by their reprobate lifestyles or they claim to be superior in knowledge about nearly everything and so attack those who profess to be Christian in an attempt to disavow the gospel, the atonement, our desperate need for redemption, and that Jesus Christ came to fulfill that role. I have been dealing with this as well, but instead of despair or fear while I have been going through this, I have felt nothing but pity for the one whom our enemy as assigned to attack me and this ministry. The superior attitude is offset by an arrogance that is so off the scale that it is laughable to one whose faith is strong. As they attempt to cast doubts on God’s sound doctrine and say stupid things like, “everyone knows that the bible is nothing more than a book of symbolism so you can’t use those exegetical techniques you use to prove anything!” Really? Wow, and why am I to believe this person? It is because he or she says so that’s why. This person uses many of the same arguments that the emergents use, but claims to not be part of that. In fact, he or she appears to be pagan, but actually, aren’t the emergents moving more and more into that realm of stupidity that is marked by fuzzy logic, disavowing all proof and claiming to know the truth is a mark of arrogance? As I said, dealing with this person has not been stressful for me at all. Instead it has been a great source impetus to dig into God’s Word to show the deep ignorance of the reprobate mind in contrast to the grand and deep truths given to us by our loving God.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28 ESV)
28και καθως ουκ εδοκιμασαν τον θεον εχειν εν επιγνωσει παρεδωκεν αυτους ο θεος εις αδοκιμον νουν ποιειν τα μη καθηκοντα (Romans 1:28 WHNU)
The word translated as “debased” in the ESV rendering of Romans 1:28 is the Greek word αδοκιμον. This anarthrous adjective means, “unapproved, unworthy, spurious, or worthless. In the context of Romans 1:28 it is speaking of those who do not have a sense of pending judgment. They have a reprobate, abominable mind that is abhorred by God and men who do know God’s truth. The word “mind” here is νουν. This anarthrous noun is the intellectual faculty of the natural man, applicable to God or Christ (Romans 11:34; 1 Corinthians 2:16), employed in practical judgment, capable of being good or evil, and of being regenerated, the mind, the reason, the reasoning faculty.
Do you remember what the grammatical form called anarthrous means? It is a word or group of words which appear without definite article. Anarthrous constructions are most often intended to point out the quality of something. Therefore, when we see this we should dig even deeper for this could be a marker of a definitive point in the God-inspired text to which those who do not have an αδοκιμον νουν should pay close attention because God is teaching us something vital.
Notice the cause of a person having an αδοκιμον νουν. Those who have this horrible condition got it because they did not (ουκ) see fit (εδοκιμασαν) to acknowledge (εχειν) God (θεον). Here is an alternate rendering of this phrase, “And as they tried not to hold God in full knowledge.” The word rendered here as “in full knowledge” and “to acknowledge” in the ESV and “to hold in full knowledge” in the KJV, is εχειν, which is a verb in aorist tense, indicative mood, and active voice. This means that the action described here is not continuous nor does it indicate the relative time of the action to the time of speaking or writing. It describes the action of having, holding, holding on, counting, considering, regarding, or wearing. However, remember those being described here, “tried NOT to hold God in full knowledge.” That is their crime. In other words, they are guilty of pushing all true knowledge of God out of their minds which God then allowed that truth to be replaced with something else. God delivered them up (παρεδωκεν αυτους) unto a debased mind (αδοκιμον νουν). The word παρεδωκεν describes God handing over or giving up or yielding up these people to the very thing they were seeking. He allowed them to no longer consider His truth. Instead, His truth was seen as false and what was really false was seen as true in these people’s minds. This caused them to be seen in God’s eyes as completely worthless. Those who sought full rebellion against God and the incarnation of Christ for their sins, were given over to that rebellion so that what they sought seemed perfectly right to them while the truth of the Gospel is seen as foolishness, et cetera. This is what the reprobate mind is. It does not hold any of God’s truth in it and sees no need to be concerned about the coming judgment.
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18 ESV)
18εσκοτωμενοι τη διανοια οντες απηλλοτριωμενοι της ζωης του θεου δια την αγνοιαν την ουσαν εν αυτοις δια την πωρωσιν της καρδιας αυτων (Ephesians 4:18 WHNU)
Those with reprobate or debased minds are darkened (εσκοτωμενοι) in their understanding (διανοια). Those who reject the knowledge of God think of themselves as “enlightened” (cf. Hebrews 10:32). Their ignorance here is not due to a lack of general education, some are brilliant in their own way, but such brilliance is all wasted and futile in the end when combined with hardness of heart toward the truth of the gospel in Christ (cf. Matthew 13:14-15; John 12:40; Acts 28:26-27; Romans 11:8). These unbelievers are intellectually unproductive. As far as spiritual and moral issues are concerned, their rational processess are distorted and inadequate, inevitably failing to produce godly understanding or moral living. Their life is empty, vain, and without meaning (cf Romans 1:21-28; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Colossians 2:18). They are also spiritually separated from God, thus ignorant of God’s truth (1 Corinthians 2:14), and their willing spiritual darkness and moral blindness are the results (Romans 1:21-24; 2 Timothy 3:7). They are blind, “hard” like a rock.
Now my brethren, consider what we have just seen in these passages. Those separated from God and His truth are so because of their own rebellion. They attempted to push God and His truth from their minds so He gave them over to their rebellion and they got what they were after which is what God is going to use to condemn them to the Lake of Fire at the Final Judgment. That is, unless He has mercy on them and draws them into the light via the washing of regeneration. However, when God gives people over to this full rebellion it is accompanied by a heart hardening that is purposeful and will keep these people from ever being affected by the preaching of the Gospel. Only God could break through it.
Soli Deo Gloria!