As you know I’ve been studying spiritual warfare and discernment. As Satan disguishes himself as the angel of light, things can appear good that are definitely not from God. We need to learn to discern. I found the following article from Time In The Word that I want to share today:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)
These verses show us what happens when people refuse to acknowledge God. In truth, each and every person is born with a knowledge of God and His Law in their hearts and minds. However, it is within our fallen human nature to work very hard at repressing that knowledge. You see, to admit the truth, that there is a Holy, Almighty God means that we as His creation are accountable to Him. And fallen, fallible man hates nothing more than accountability to a Perfect, Infallible, Higher Being. We crave the fulfillment of our own lust and pride, living to sin. And we will do literally whatever it takes to get away with it!
When we do this, if not for the intervention of God and His grace by the power of the Spirit, we will chase sin until it consumes us. We will believe the lie that sin is satisfying and we will learn the hard way that committing sin is like drinking salt water. The more you drink the thirstier you get until you die from dehydration! Sin leads to sin which leads to sin. It never finally or completely satisfies and it will eventually kill us.
If we reject the gospel and the truth that we are born with, we reject that knowledge of God and refuse to retain the truth in our hearts and minds then God will give us over to a debased mind. In other words, when we consistently and constantly abandon God in our thoughts He will abandon us to our sin. He will turn us over to be consumed by our impurity.
That truly is a frightening thought. But it happens all around us every day. Sinners who fight for all they are worth to deny the existence of God. And God turns them over to that vain, futile thinking. When this happens there is evidence. Jesus tells us we will know men by their fruit. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit or no fruit at all.
Those who are turned over to their debased minds to be ruled and ruined by their own sinfulness bear identifiably wicked fruit. The text lists them for us: “… being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful …” (emphasis added)
Unrighteousness is the opposite of righteousness. To be righteous is to be right with God, so to be filled with unrighteousness is to be filled with that which makes us wrong with God. Sexual immorality, wickedness, and all the rest that is listed here tips us off that a person who lives like this and acts like this and talks like this and thinks like this does not know Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:8).
In studying this terrible passage we must take note of a particular sin that makes the list. Often we think of sin in degrees – some being worse than others. And when we think of categories of sin we usually think along the lines of those things which are impure, immoral, or idolatrous. We admit immediately and willingly that murder, sexual immorality, and disobedience is sin. But how often do we think that it is a sin to be undiscerning?
And yet there it is in verse 31. Those who are turned over to their own devices and debased minds are undiscerning. That means that we can classify a lack of discernment as sin! Did you get that? We often wrongly think that discernment is a gift and we either have it or don’t. But the Scripture lists a lack of discernment as a sin, as a mark of living in depravity!
So what does it mean to discern? Discernment is the ability to know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, the sound and unsound. In the Old Testament it is referred to as “understanding.” In the New Testament it is spoken of as knowing the difference between sound and unsound doctrine, recognizing the differences between the truth and a lie.
As Christians then we are responsible for learning how to discern! To fail to discern is sinful. To close our eyes and refuse to inform our consciences so that we might sin and get away with it is no excuse. For us, sin is a matter of life and death! And to willingly neglect the truth and to live with our eyes closed shut while good and evil stare us in the face is to sin against God, ourselves, our families, and our church.
Again, this is worth stating over and over again. It is the responsibility of every Christian to learn, to be discipled in the Word, so that we can know how to be discerning. To fail to discern is to walk in darkness.