We have already established that idolatry is the root cause for all the rotten fruit which is revealed in humanity. Because man turned from God to idolatry he went down instead of up; he devolved instead of evolved; and he is in the state of proceeding from bad to worse (2 Timothy 3:13). In his downward spiral into sin man has arrived at a defiled heart (impurity), degraded passions (immorality/homosexuality), and a depraved mind (impropriety). So we see that man’s heart, soul, and mind have been corrupted by idolatry. The very things that men are supposed to love the Lord his God with he uses for every purpose under the sun except for loving God.
In his fallen state man is worthless and useless – he is totally depraved. This is why we read, “All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:12). So you see that total depravity means that all of man, his heart, soul, and mind, is corrupted by sin and is not used properly by any man to worship God. The word depraved or reprobate is used to denote that which does not pass the test. It was used to speak of metals that were rejected by refiners because of impurities. The impure metals were discarded and therefore considered useless and worthless. This is the state of all men who have not been regenerated and cleansed and purified through the gospel.
In our last study, Devolving not Evolving, we stated all three categories of rotten fruit which comes from the bad root of idolatry. However, we did not go into any detail about the third and final root of idolatry.
The third fruit of the root of idolatry is a depraved mind (1:28-32) – impropriety. Just when you thought that you might be off the hook and that God missed you in his incriminating evidence He nailed you to the wall with indisputable evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that you too are a guilty sinner in need of the gospel. These verses deal primarily with interpersonal relationships between men. We clearly see the violation of “Love your neighbor as yourself” so that we see that idolatry (breaking the first half of God’s commandments) leads inevitably to breaking the second half of God’s commandments. Idolatry is the root which causes the fruit of our disobedience to God to grow.
The depraved mind has a predetermined and inevitable disposition to do those things which are not proper – the depraved mind is bent toward impropriety. The depraved mind does not dwell on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, whatever is excellent, or whatever is worthy of praise, instead the depraved mind dwells on the exact opposites. The depraved mind fills itself with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and evil.
Let’s look at some of these negative and condemning improprieties that all men everywhere are guilty of in some form or fashion:
Unrighteousness – that which is not right
Wickedness – that which is ungodly, evil, or morally bad
Greed – desiring what others have, itching for more, covetous
Evil – ill will, malice, malignity, a desire to injure
Envy – to feel displeasure and ill will over another’s happiness, success, reputation, or possessions. Envy causes hatred toward another because he or she has something that you want or are something that you cannot be – it was for envy that the Jewish leaders delivered over Jesus to Pilate (Matthew 27:18).
Murder – Murder is just one step beyond envy although there are other reasons that men murder besides envy.
Strife – contention or wrangling
Deceit – this word in the Greek means “fish-bait” and came to mean to lure, to ensnare, to beguile, to deceive. When a man lies – about anything – he is deceiving. When a man holds back the truth by not speaking it when he should – he is deceiving.
Malice – a desire to inflict harm or suffering on another
Gossips – secret slanderers, whisperers, tattlers, idle talk about the private affairs of others.
Slanderers – backbiters using false and defamatory statements or reports in order to injure the character and influence of another.
Haters of God – hateful to God
Insolent – boldly rude or disrespectful; despiteful; insults others
Arrogant – proud or haughty; showing oneself above others, with overbearing air of superiority and treating others with contempt
Boastful – the one who speaks with excessive pride especially about himself concerning that which he does not really possess – one may even boast in his humility!
Inventors of evil – always looking for and finding new ways to sin
Disobedient to parents – are you surprised that this is an indication of a depraved mind?
Without understanding – without spiritual or moral understanding; spiritual stupidity
Untrustworthy – covenant breakers; without good faith; promise breakers
Unloving – without natural affection
Unmerciful – without mercy, cruel.
“And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (1:32).
The heathen are under sin and therefore rightly under God’s wrath and they are without excuse. There is only one remedy – the gospel! Since God has given man over to depravity and depravity is a judgment of God on sinful man then we cannot legislate or mandate morality but must go with the gospel to sinners for it and it alone is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.