By Elizabeth Prata
Yesterday on the blog I asked the question “Is America Under Wrath?” The answer is yes. Humans have been under God’s wrath since the Garden. I noted, however, that there are different kinds of wrath. We think of eternal wrath, as in lost people enduring for their punishment for their sins in hell. We also might think of eschatological wrath, the fire and brimstone kind of holy fury poured out on the world during the end of the last days during the Tribulation. But there is also a sowing and reaping wrath, cataclysmic wrath, and for today’s discussion, the wrath of abandonment.
Unsaved people, if they ever do think of God, just want Him to leave them alone. This is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen. Unsaved people are operating in sin, every moment of every day, and nothing they do is for God’s glory. It doesn’t mean everyone is all as bad as they can be, but it means that they are at enmity against God (they hate God, whether they know it or not), and nothing they do will count on the Day for His glory. He will eternally punish them for their sins on the day they die. But there is a wrath that some may experience prior to their eternal judgment that’s also very bad, and that is the wrath of abandonment, or, leaving them to their own sin.
We understand that the depths of God’s holiness cannot be reached. We often don’t understand that sin also has depths that cannot be plumbed. Sin goes deep. How deep?
Our thoughts are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). One of the Cities of the Plain in Genesis 18 was called Sodom. The five cities of the plain were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar (or, Bela). God destroyed four of them for rampant sin. Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities for the sake of ten righteous that might dwell in Sodom. Ten were not found. Only Lot and his wife and two daughters were considered righteous, and Sodom and its sister cities were destroyed. THAT is how rampant sin will be when left to do its worst in the unrighteous heart.
Romans 1 develops the progression from verse 18 onward. The section is titled “Unbelief and its consequences” in the NASB, “God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity” in the NIV, “God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness” in the ESV… you get the idea. It begins by reminding us that God’s wrath is already revealed against those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). It’s revealed in the Gospel. It’s revealed in the fact of God’s existence as Creator in the fact that the world exists. (Romans 1:20). The progression continues, getting worse as it goes.
When they deny the Creator, turn to created things to worship, suppress the truth, and avoid the Gospel, God gives them over to the sin in their hearts to perform gross immorality. (Romans 1:24). And the longer that goes on, he then gives their mind over to a depraved mind. (Romans 1:28). The word in Greek here for depraved literally means unapproved, or not standing the test.
debased mind: A mind that is incapable of moral or ethical discernment. Paul describes such a mind as hostile to God and unable to submit to His law (8:7). Faithlife Study Bible.
He left them alone…/shudder/. Matthew Henry writes,
“God gave them up, in a way of righteous judgment, as the just punishment of their idolatry-taking off the bridle of restraining grace-leaving them to themselves-letting them alone; for his grace is his own, he is debtor to no man, he may give or withhold his grace at pleasure.” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2195).
“The mental vacuum created by dismissing God was filled with four forms of active sin: wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. These four in turn express themselves in 17 more specific types of wickedness. … This whole pattern of evil becomes the lifestyle of people who continue to do these very things in open defiance of God.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 444).
The unsaved mind is a vacuum; an ethical, moral, religious vacuum. The more that people pursue sin and reject God, the more He lifts His hand of restraining grace. The mind wants to fill with immorality and other sins listed in Romans 1. If they want to be left alone, God lifts his grace from them and gives them over to fill that mental vacuum with all the sin they desire. And we know sin’s desire goes deep. And, the more they sin, the more futile their thinking becomes.
It gets worse. As we close out the chapter, Paul writes that such people are senseless (or, ‘without understanding’). They literally cannot make moral distinctions, cannot put together meaningful facts and come to a right conclusion. They are senseless.
“Romans 1:31a, they are senseless /asýnetos (“lacking synthesis”) describes a person failing to structure information in a meaningful way, and therefore unable to reach necessary conclusions. This person is illogical because unwilling to use good reason.” Strong’s.
A friend and I were talking the other day. We both have had conversations with people in our lives, especially lately, where they can’t see the light of day for being so deeply embedded in satan’s dark worldview. They don’t see facts, they believe immorality is moral, and they in fact become very angry. “I just can’t talk to her about these things” my friend said. Me either. Discussing conservative values, Christian values, or anything even whispering of Jesus sends some people into an anger frenzy almost immediately. It’s like rubbing salt on a raw wound. They cannot think. The only thing that can reach people at this stage of being given over is the Gospel, and even then, pursuing them more than once or twice reveals the necessity of the verse about not giving pearls to pigs (Matthew 7:6).
So what happens when God gives over almost an entire national population? It seems that America has gone crazy, a refrain I hear a lot from my friends and online acquaintances. You get a population that literally cannot think. And when it comes to sifting through information during an election or a crisis, to do what is logical, necessary, or desirable, they can’t. If it seems like America has lost its mind, it has. A great many people seem to have been given over to their lusts, and in so doing, their thinking is futile, their hearts are darkened, their ability to be logical and reasonable is gone. They are senseless.
The Gospel are the only words that will pierce their darkness. And prayer, perhaps, if the Lord is gracious.
Be very grateful God gave His people the mind of Christ. Even as the people around us pursue illogic, wickedness, and futility, we have the ability to think and reason in these dark times, to share the Gospel, to pray, to see the truth and to continue steadily in love.