Summary: When people reject God's ways or God's truth, the only way remaining is the way of sin & selfishness. As people get further involved in sin, their sin inhibits their willingness & ability to form right judgments about life.
ROMANS 1: 28-32
ABANDONED TO A DEPRAVED LIFESTYLE
This section addresses the havoc that occurs in human relationships and in society because of mankind's suppressing of the knowledge of God (1:18). We have discovered previously in our study of Romans chapter one that people who crave their sin strongly rebellion against God's restraining truth. Because they crave their sin so strongly God gives people over to their desire for sin. He allows them to experience the degrading consequences of their sin so that, like the prodical son, they might repent and turn to God. This repentance due to the penalty of their sin is what God desires, but it is not what people desire. People desire to pursue the way of the world. They will even force the true thoughts of God completely out of their life to do so.
So when people rebelliously push away God, He leaves them to their sin. Naturally when people are abandoned by God they become worse, but they enjoy their depravity instead of abhorring it. As people get involved in sin, their sin inhibits their willingness and ability to form right judgments about life. As these people promote their sin to others, society itself can then become depraved.
I. DEPRAVED MINDS, 28.
II. DEPRAVED SINS, 29-31.
III. DEPRAVED APPROVAL, 32.
When people reject God's ways or God's truth, the only way remaining is the way of sin and selfishness. A mind that will not be corrected by God will become depraved in its thinking as verse 28 states. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,"
Human rebellion also includes putting God out of their thoughts. Men forced God from their mind. The rejecting mind then becomes the rejected mind. They did not believe it worthy to think about God so God abandons them to worthless thinking. They rejected God and God gave them over to godless thinking. When the mind rejects proper thinking about God, how can the mind still think properly? [Depraved is adokimos and is used of metals that were rejected because of impurities.] Since "they did not see fit" to retain the acknowledgment of God in their minds, "God gives them over to" an unfit mind.
A "depraved" or disapproved mind is explained in terms of what it approves or plans. It expresses itself in attitudes and actions that ought not be done or the doing of improper things. These are things that any un-depraved mind would regard as wrong. Notice that wrong belief leads to wrong thinking which leads to wrong actions.
II. DEPRAVED SINS, 29-31.
Once the mind becomes depraved it leads people into a whole variety of anti-social practices which ought not to be done. Together these practices describe the breakdown of human community as standards disappear, society and healthy social relationships begin to disintegrate. The mental vacuum created by dismissing God is filled (perfect tense implies will be filled full) with a catalogue of vices. Let's take this list of 21 results of not letting God be God in the mind one by one. The first consequences of exchanging the truth of God for a lie are given in verse 29a, "being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil;"
The list begins with four general sins (instrumental case) which fills depraved people. The first is unrighteousness or injustice, denoting the absence of what is just. [Adikia is the precise opposite of diaiosun , which means injustice; and] the Greeks defined justice as giving to God and to men their due. The injustice man is the man who robs both man and God of their rights. Fallen man erects an altar to himself so high in the center of his life that he obeys not God or man but himself.
Next is "wickedness" iniquity or villainy. In Greek this word means more than badness. There is a kind of badness which principally hurts only the person concerned. Wickedness is callously cruelty that intends to hurt others. The Greeks defined poneria as the desire of doing harm or being disruptive. It is the active, deliberate will to corrupt and to inflict injury. A woman, described as ponera deliberately seduced the innocent from their innocence. In Greek one of the commonest titles of Satan is ho pon ros, the evil one, the one who deliberately attacks and aims to destroy the goodness of men. It is destructive badness.
The third sin is "greed," or the lust or powerful urge to acquire more (Col. 3:5). It is an aggressive vice that pursues one's own interests pursue its own interests with disregard for the rights of others. It may operate in any sphere of life. If it operates in the material sphere, it means grasping at money and goods, regardless of honor and honesty. If it operates in the ethical sphere, it means the ambition which tramples on others to gain something which is not properly meant for it. If it operates in the moral sphere, it means the unbridled lust which takes its pleasure where it has no right to take it.