Once a reprobate, always a reprobate?

Here’s a deep topic we need to stop and get an understanding on (Prov 4:7).
Once a reprobate, always a reprobate? What do you believe?

Based on Pastor Burnett’s comment here on the subject, I’ll let that jump start this conversation.

Look at the construction of Romans 1:28 “28-And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”

1- They didn’t like to “retain God” in their knowledge. This is not talking about God and his person or a religious persuasion. This is talking about subjecting the life to God and HIS word. “they” the homosexual in this case, didn’t like to retain God in their knowledge.

Results:

2- “God gave them over” Notice they didn’t yield and God said OK pass go…
3- to a “reprobate” [strongs GK – 99 { adokimos }]
mind – a mind that is not approved by God nor fit for his purpose
4- “to do those things” ~ their plight is to perform these things because they have rejected truth.

In other words the ultimate reality is that they have rejected God and have been rejected of God due to their insistence, and the end result is their actions.

Having a reprobate mind is a dire consequence. I have often wondered about this. I agree completely that God gives them over to such an existence. And perhaps we’ve nailed how they get there and why, but do we do with reprobates once there?  Also was I a reprobate as a homosexual for 11 years? And if I was, was it grace and mercy that allowed me to break out of it? Or maybe all sinners are not reprobates. Is a reprobate mind only a consequence for homosexuals? Does it apply to all homosexuals or just some?  Let’s say that a person has a reprobate mind. Do we write him off now or what should our response be one who has been “given over”? If they are incapable of/prohibited from even perceiving what we are saying, what’s the purpose of talking to them?

Lots of questions, maybe you have some answers. I’d really like to hear a little more discussion and wisdom on this for my own edification.

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24 thoughts on “Once a reprobate, always a reprobate?

  1. My first thoughts on this comes from the scripture, “I will have mercy on whom I chose to have mercy” (paraphrase)
    Alongside this wisdom that the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy…….
    2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient,
    2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
    2Ti 2:26 And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
    My two cents.

  2. WOW. I believe this to be an excellent reply to the matter. As servants, we are to be gentle and apt to teach. God still touches the hearts and minds of individuals who have seemingly strayed into the deepest of conditions. In meekness, yes, instructing those that oppose themselves…that they may recover themselves. I have learned so much from this website and have been recommending it to others. Thank you for the teaching provided here. Sites like this make me check myself to be sure I am in the Word. I especially enjoy hearing from those who have turned from homosexuality to the one true God. I have been encouraging pastors to share the testimonies with their young people. Young people don’t need to hear the usual stereotypical preaching about gays but need to really hear what the bible says and to hear the testimonies of those whose lives have been changed. Glory to God.

  3. Elder DL,

    You said, ,“Also was I a reprobate as a homosexual for 11 years?”

    The key here is were you living content and making a biblical excuse for your sin? Had you reconciled your sin as normal? or did or were you living with a conscience that you had to be redeemed or saved?

    The answers to those questions go a long way to telling whether you were reprobate or not. I don’t believe that a person just goes from being reprobate to non-reprobate etc.

    The scripture speaks of reprobate 4 times and each time it is associated with rejection and judgement. (Jer. 6:30, Rom. 1:28, 2 Tim. 3:8, 1 Tim. 1:16)

    First, people who’s liives are simply “in sin” or “sinners” are not to be confused with those who are reprobate. These are two different classes of individuals in sin.

    That’s why I said the “they” in the case of Paul’s speaking in Rom 1:28 referred to homosexuals who created an apologetic as an excuse for their sin spcifically here, homosexuality.

    Secondly, a person can become a reprobate in other classes or types of sin also. Every reprobate reference DOES NOT simply imply or refer to the sin of homosexuality. Thanks for the attention to this matter though.

    God bless.

  4. Pastor Foster:

    What you are doing here is mixing theological contexts. The same word can have a different nuance when used in different contexts. You see, Villiam11, DrM, and dunamis2 are all correct. The context of Romans 1:18-32 is not worshipers of God, Christians in our dispensation, that have blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32), gone after false doctrines (1 Timothy 6, 2 Corinthians 13) or have denied the faith after confessing it (Hebrews 6). If you become a reprobate in that sense, there is no salvation for you.

    But the theological context of Romans 1:18-32 is the universal condemnation of all mankind due to the effects of the fall. They were reprobates because of the sin of Adam, and homosexuality (which Jewish culture of the time that Paul was writing considered to be a particular abomination and especially unnatural ) was the evidence of the sinful state of mankind.

    And this is where your context is confused. You are putting the cart before the horse. Setting aside such Calvinistic doctrines as perseverance of the saints and predestination for the purposes of discussion, with the other examples, you are a reprobate because of what you do. You are reprobate as a result of your action to, say, blaspheme the Holy Spirit, teach and follow false doctrines, or become apostate. But homosexuality is not an unpardonable sin like those. It is just another sin. So, you do not become reprobate by committing homosexuality. Again, viewing the context of Romans 1:18-32 correctly, you commit homosexuality because you were already reprobate because of the effects of the fall. The same is true with fornication, adultery, lying, gossip, coveting, theft, backbiting, idolatry etc. None of those things cause you to become reprobate. Instead, you do them because you are reprobate already because of Adam.

    So, before salvation, you were every bit a partaker of Romans 1:18-32 as anyone else. But salvation through Jesus Christ removes your reprobate status! Glory be to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who took away your sin! Praise Him and give Him glory forever, for He is worthy! Now again, setting aside Calvinism, were you to commit one of the three sins unto death at this point (apostasy, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, or start teaching Benny Hinn doctrines) then you would be reprobate in the sense that you are speaking of.

    So even though your analysis of the Greek term translated reprobate was correct, the issue was your application. The same term cannot always be applied the same way when it was used in different theological contexts even in cases where the meaning is the same.

    Now picking up the Calvinism again, you were predestined to have your reprobation removed by God the Father, given by God the Father to God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit was directed by God the Son to make sure that you would A) never deny or lie on His work, B) never teach or follow false doctrines when you have knowledge of the truth and C) never run off and join the Nation of Islam or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But people who do A), B) or C) never had their reprobation removed to begin with. They were people who, according to the parable of the sower, in whom the seed of the gospel never feel on good ground and bore fruit. So, by committing A), B), and C), they are only returning to their true nature, which is that of Adam, being what they already were from the foundation of the world, which is reprobate, and bringing still more judgment on their heads.

    Thank you.

  5. I just want to tell you how much I appreciate both your and Pastor Burnett’s ministry and work for the Kingdom. I have learned much from both your blogs. You are a blessing to the people of God.

    First of all, I believe what the Bible teaches. Those who are saved and those who are reprobate has nothing to do with whether you commit a particular sin (homosexuality) or anything that has to do with us (merit). It has everything to do with the grace of God and His sovereignty in extending grace to whomever He pleases. Repentance is required for both.

    Left to ourselves, we would all be reprobate. We are all by nature objects of God’s wrath according to Ephesians 2:3. But God has extended his scepter of grace and mercy to those who are being saved and passed over those who are not. Those who are passed over are reprobate. That means God allows them to continue on their natural course that they themselves have chosen, which leads to destruction. We were once on that very road until we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit and received our spiritual life. Those whom God has chosen are elect. Therefore, we must be careful not to condemn those who are reprobate because we committed some of the same sins as they, but we received grace and they received justice. However, no one received injustice. We only responded to God’s choice of us and the outpouring of His love that He lavished on us. Understanding the Doctrine of Grace has silenced my boasting in my delusion of moral and spiritual superiority over those who are lost.

    John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.

    What do we do with reprobates?
    Answer: Only God knows the difference between the reprobate and the elect. Therefore, we don’t do anything. We just preach the gospel to all and let God separate the wheat from the tare. The lost sheep in the homosexual community that hear Jesus’ voice will follow Him. According to 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Jesus will wash, sanctify, and justify them just as quick and He will anyone else. He will bring them to repentance and make them new creatures in Him. That’s the power of God.

    1st Corinthians 6:9:11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Was it grace and mercy that allowed you to break out of homosexuality?
    Answer: We are all saved by grace and mercy. It makes no difference, we all have an “ex” in front of what we used to be. I’m an ex-fornicator saved by the grace of God.

    Is a reprobate mind only a consequence of homosexuality?
    Answer: No, a reprobate mind is the consequence of sin.

    Are all homosexuals reprobate? Do we write off the person who has a reprobate mind? If people are reprobate, what is the use of talking to them?
    Answer: No. There is no one that God cannot reach. Jude 1:23 instruct us to snatch some from the fire. We don’t even have a clue of whom God has chosen. That is what makes witnessing so exciting. If you looked at Paul’s life before regeneration, you would never have believed he would be a Christian. But God!

  6. One thing I disagree with our reformed friends on is grouping “reprobate” with the condition of the fall. Saying that, we acknowledge that there are some sinners who are reprobate in their sins. Certainly we were “dead” in our trespasses and sins, (Eph. 2:1) but that doesn’t by virtue make us reprobate. We were simply sinners.

    I believe that the way scripture defines reprobate by example that a reprobate has tried to make their sin “right” before God, have chosen not to live under the dictates of scripture and or authority. They have offered sin as a sacrifice to God and are content with such. That’s why they are rejected when sinners are received.

    Once again, this is beyond homosexual practice but is also inclusive of it. there are things we can DO that are egrigious(sp) and that create worse penalties for sin that other things…there are degrees to sins just like degrees of rewards in heaven and one can preform acts because they are reprobate.

    This is good and covers a lot of ground Elder DL, what have you done man?

  7. I feel God’s mercy through the Holy Spirit can pull someone from wickedness, but only if they want salvation. But if a person completely shuts out the voice of the Holy Spirit then, I guess then they are forever lost. We must remember it will always be a battle between the flesh and the will. That’s where prayer comes into play. That’s just my two cents.

    Big Sadie

  8. Thanks for engaging this Elder DL and allowing my input.

    Sadie,

    I think what you outline is the conflict or the question here. Under calvinism a person can’t have that “want to be saved” on their own. It becomes a matter of election that they have that desire. Under the Arminian view that you explain and that I espouse, a person can desire salvation even though he/she is in sin because the grace of God has appeared to all men.

    The question is under either view, can a true reprobate even desire to be saved period? This is regardless of how much we pray for him/her. Is reprobation past the point of no return?

    I believe that my opinion as outlined is confirmed in the study found HERE at Net Bible

    Believe me I respect the opinion of them on both sides of this issue and don’t believe it’s an easy question.

    Thanks.

  9. I think Job has made the points well.

    Somthing to consider: God is the First cause of ALL, and God created man (in His own image a moral agent); thus man is the first cause of his own actions and choices – sin, not God. God took care of the sin problem (by His offer of grace to all men – Christ Jesus) and man is responsible for receiving said grace.

    I think Pastor Burnett understanding of “reprobate” is sound. All men are “sinners” but not all men will hold their sin up as holy before God. Instead of submitting to Christ’s lordship, they make themselves Lord – and God’s hates idolatry in no uncertain terms.

    While I don’t think all sin is equal – its consequences are the same. In addition, “all” sin is forgivable, no one is outside the reach of Christ.

    Reformed or not – Men do have the ability to come to Christ, lest one day a seeker asks – “may I come to Christ even if I am not of the elect?” The basis behind this type of question is in my opinion an equal tragedy and utter corruption of God’s word as is man thinking he has earned salvation.

    I know this is not without difficulties, but I think there is clear context in scripture that does not support either Isaiah or Paul answering the theological tension between man’s responsiblity (free will) and God’s utter control of all things. Both are True and both are recorded for our benefit. In the ancient near east, all peoples thought that everything that happend was from a god, the True God or not. Paul’s writing in Romans is the same anticpted questions from those who would rebell saying God made me do it – same questions and statements the Hebrews would have lodged against God’s issue of Judgement and exile. In both cases – God provides a Hope for the future and in both cases the call is the same – Turn back to God.

    Blessings DL – you do know the can of worms has been opened, eh? 🙂

  10. “Also was I a reprobate as a homosexual for 11 years?” That “was” stopped me cold. One who can lie to himself can also lie to me. To then take off with the idea that Romans 1:26-27 has anything to do with homosexuals…? My King James Version doesn’t even use “homosexual” because it wasn’t coined until about 1865. The writer and many of his responders need to re-examine these verses : “26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
    “Leaving the natural use “ seems to address some straight-man perversion. As a Gay man, I have never been so perverted as to have sex with a woman. Consequently I don’t know how to have sex with mankind “as with womankind” (Leviticus 18:22)

  11. Fred, it wasnt until 1899 that the word “gay” in connection to homosexuality was used and then by a male prostitute. If youre going to invalidate one word based on chronological criteria, then be fair and invalidate the other. Otherwise, your lexical invalidation argument is moot. If that is what youre basing the rest of your point on, its already dead. Perhaps you should try another angle.

    Secondly, you misconstrue my question. The question isnt about me lying to myself about being a homosexual, its a query into the application of the bible’s definition of a reprobate.
    Did you want to try again?

  12. Fred,

    You’re right about Lev. 18:22. I think there should be more discussion among Christians about the fact that it’s physically impossible for a man to have sex with another man “as he would with a woman.” For the biblical literalist, this poses a problem.

    And regarding the part about “leaving the natural use,” I have always found it derogatory that the Bible says men should have a “use” for women.

    GCMW: The pivotal word is “natural”, not “use”. Keep that in mind. “Use” is simply an interchangeable word for sexual relations and is also applied to homosexuals in the broader context. The technicalities of the sexual act carry no importance in Lev 18:22. Any same gender sexual activity was completely forbidden so its not an issue of literalism nor does it pose a problem. Its an issue of common understanding that sexual activity between members of the same gender was and is an abomination. There now, we’ve discussed it.
    Having said that,
    Rob, to help you out, here’s a one time reminder that this post is about understanding the state and fate of a reprobate mind.

  13. Fred, Let’s not be deceptive here. Lev 18:22 is obviously speaking about penetration. In other words you shall not penetrate a man, the same way you penetrate a woman, that’s all. Common sense would help you understand the context of the passage.

    Now you said…”And regarding the part about “leaving the natural use,” I have always found it derogatory that the Bible says men should have a “use” for women.”

    Why is it derogatory? Ok so you must assume that this passage is derogatory as well?

    1 Cor 7:2-4

    “2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

    3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

    4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

    Here we have in this display a Husband (man) rendering natural USE of his Wife (woman) and vice versa. Natural use when related between a man and woman identifies what God designed bodies for. The anaomy of a man is perfectly compatible for the woman, primarily for offspring; IN MARRIAGE. Notice the scriptures doesn’t say….

    “2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own HUSBAND, and let every woman have her own WIFE.”

    It is absolutely clear what is considered a natural and acceptable union in God’s eyes.

  14. Thanks to you Mark and to Job, the picture is becoming much clearer. Thank you for your wisdom and knowledge. I am in agreement now that this reprobate mind is not the exclusive domain of homosexual sin, but in context Romans uses it as an case in point example.

    Paul also wrote in 1 Tim 4

    1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils,
    2speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, 3forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

    This is clearly not speaking about sinners, but those who have once been in the faith. Which leads me to ask is Romans 1 also about those who have once been in the faith (when they knew God, they glorified him not as God)?

    I am still not completely sold on the reform teaching of predestination and perhaps its application in this context. I agree with free will and I agree with predestination. But Im not sure about the areas where they cross each other. I think there are conflicting points in both teachings in their current form. I really dont want to get into that this comment.

    @ Eric: thank you so much for sharing this. We strive to make Prov 4:7 a reality. There is no progression without understanding so Im very glad this site has helped to foster that. Your answers are great and to the point. Thanks for taking it one by one.

    Ive always believed —whether it was due to theological knowledge or not I dont know— that as long as there is breath in your body there is hope for redemption. That’s simply because I believe it is in the hand of the Redeemer to determine when that is no longer a possibility. I simply do not have that knowledge. Im fairly sure that some had written me off as one who would always be a homosexual and thus not able to be saved. God proved them wrong. Intellectually I believed what I was doing was wrong, but in rebellion I didnt care. Secondly, I felt powerless to change it which sort of fueled a vicious cycle in my life. I intentionally avoided church people because I didnt want to hear what they had to say and didnt want them trying to trick me into coming to church. Just being honest on how I felt.

    Yet, God broke through all that to rescue me (redeem me?). Job was saying that it was because I didnt justify my sin while knowing it was wrong.

  15. GCMW,

    Haha well it’s not really a discussion if you insist on having the last word, but you’re the boss.

    GCMW: You know you can always start your own blog and discuss it night and day if you like. Then, you’d be the boss. Think about it. 🙂

  16. I think the heart of God given them over to a reprobate mind is the fact that they, a split of a verse is coming, but here is the root.

    “And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge,

    God gave them over”

    He (God) was abandoned first, seeing how a person can be there and not be there, not being there if their heart isn’t in what they do in the first place.

    So going through the motions is the first sign of abandonment, so God knowing their likes and dislikes made it really easy for them, probably by not coming back to pollute His sanctuary.

    But before I forget, I think that this would apply to anyone that would choose to embrace a particular sin for whatever reason. God is too great to place 2nd in anybodies life. He chooses to choose another body or willing participant.

    Just like you or I/Me (whatever), we only enjoy the company of those who enjoy our company, all others can keep it moving!

    I hope that this helps, good read!

  17. Vaughn

    You make a very good point it is that “they” left, abandoned God. Thier heart has become hardened and they are not remoise for the life. They feel like they are not in the wrong and are innocence. Living in an life of unrighteousness. This maybe the reason why we think that once a reprobate alway’s a reprobate. God gives them over to thier on mind (way)of thinking,
    Were he can no longer work with that heart.

    It makes me think of these scriptures; That may or may not be of this topic of reprobate mind, but does concern the mind.

    2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
    And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

    And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

  18. Why do you narrow the list of sins of the reprobate to men having sex with other men and women having sex with other women? There are other sins mentioned (envy, murder, strife, deceit, and gossip) and yet of these same sorts of people who become Christians and Paul said of them, “… and such WERE some of you.” (1 Cor. 6:11)

    Do you know how many churches I have been in that had gossipy women? People who envied the wealth or position of others (at least in their heart)? Was not Paul himself a murderer?

    There is a huge difference between a person being “given over” and who have been so hardened their heart that there is no hope of repentance (Heb. 6:6) and person who was a slave to sin for a time (even to some of those mentioned in Romans 1) and have been delivered by the grace of God.

    We cannot assume that EVERY person involved in gossip has been “given over” and is a reprobate and neither can we assume that every person involved in homosexual acts is a reprobate and has been given over.

  19. It’s very hard for us to see ourselves for what were really were before we were regenerated. We can’t see our helplessness and depravity. John 6:65 say we can’t even come to Jesus unless the Father enables us. 1st Corinthians12: 3 says were can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. God uses comparisons to show us out depravity. In a comparison to light, we are darkness. As compared to life, we are dead. In comparison with sight, we are blind. In summation, our fall is radical. Ephesians 2:12 describe our situation as hopeless. Romans 5:6 states we were without strength. Roman 6:20 says were slaves to sin. Romans 8:7 say we were at enmity with God. Romans 5:10 say we had declared war against God. Our opinions of our pre-regenerate selves and even our regenerate selves are at the least hyper inflated. Even now with regeneration, if we have to stand on our own righteousness and merit apart from Christ’s imputed righteousness and merit, we would fail miserably.

    We compare ourselves with ourselves and say, “Well I wasn’t as wicked as the child molester, murder, rapist, or ‘God forbid’ the homosexual. I agree that our degree of sinfulness is not equal. However, compared to God who is (Holy, Holy, Holy), one act of disobedience whether it’s eating from the forbidden fruit or homosexuality is wickedness worthy of death and eternal damnation. Therefore, we have to see our pre-regenerate selves for who we were “wicked.” We were not simply good people whom God made better. We were sinners whom Christ has justified.

    How many people read the Bible and identify themselves with the heroes of faith like Abraham, King David, Elijah, Mary, Peter, or Paul. Rarely do people read the Bible and identify themselves with the villain. They don’t see themselves as a citizen of Sodom and Gomorrah. They see themselves as righteous Lot. Who sees their face in the crowd and hear their voice crying “Crucify Him?” Who sees themselves mocking, wagging their heads, and spitting into the face of Jesus? Who sees themselves nailing Him to the cross and laughing at His pain? Who sees themselves having a picnic while the Son of God is being crucified? We tend to leave all the blame for the cross at the feet of the Jews and Romans. We don’t see that they were just representatives for us (humanity) both Jews and Gentiles. The true nature of mankind was revealed through the brutality and savageness of the cross. We tend to place ourselves at the foot of the cross with Mary and John weeping for the savior. But would that really be where we would have been?

    Let us not forget what Paul said to the Jews in Romans 2 just the next chapter over as he was listing some of the sins reprobates commit as the Jews (who also had an hyper inflated view of themselves) were listening with disgust. Paul sobered them with the truth that they were doing the same things that he had just listed. I think that if we humble ourselves to the truth of the Word, we will see we were also doing some of the same things. But the Lord brought us to repentance, justification, sanctification, and soon glorification.

    1st Timothy 1:12-17 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    God can save even the worst of sinners. I’m living proof. The Blood is sufficient!

  20. Pastor Foster:

    “Which leads me to ask is Romans 1 also about those who have once been in the faith (when they knew God, they glorified him not as God)?”

    No. You are leaving out a key component. Now go back to the Old Testament prophets. They didn’t just go off and pronounce judgment on Israel. First, they presented their legal case, their lawsuit based on the sins of Israel. They would give the terms of the Deuteronomic covenant, give the curses that came as a result of breaking the covenant, and then tell how Israel broke the covenant, and then finally state that because Israel broke the covenant the curses, the judgment was coming. That is what Paul is doing in Romans 1.

    Now Paul primarily is speaking of the primordial period, before Noah and such, but it is applicable to all mankind. Romans 1 is generally called a statement of general revelation, natural theology.

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

    In this, Paul was giving his lawsuit, conviction, and judgment against the entire human race, especially those at the Tower and Babel and prior, but also the entire human race. Paul states that the mere existence of creation and observation of creation’s nature (orderly, self – sustaining) was enough to reveal to man not only the existence of God, but also God’s nature, and therefore to worship, serve, and fear God based solely on what they observed from this revelation.

    But mankind rejected this revelation of God and instead became evil idolators. Why? Because of the effects of the fall of Adam, which blinded their eyes. Original sin. Yet, because of general revelation, on judgment day, no one can claim that God treated them unfairly, including those who died without ever having heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. General revelation was sufficient to bring men to salvation, but men (because of original sin) rejected general revelation. So all people, the whole world, will face judgment unless they are called out of the world by God the Father (ekklesia, means “called out” and is translated as “the church”) and saved from the world by Jesus Christ. General revelation is what Paul was referring to later in Romans, Romans 2:13-15 when he stated that there was sin, judgment and death even without the law, because through general revelation (or common grace) they possess a form of righteousness and therefore “are a law unto themselves.” (It is through common grace, for instance, is how an unsaved man can still very much love his child even to the point of giving up his life for him.)

    So Romans 1, or at least the portion does not at any time refer to those who were once in the faith, the church. Romans 1, or at least the portion of it that you are referring to, only refers to the world which the church was called out of. Romans 1 refers to the tares, not the wheat. Both the wheat and the tares, the elect and the non – elect, must inhabit the world together. The reprobation of Romans 1, which has its origin in Adam and whose judgment of wrath will be based on their rejecting general revelation because of the effects of original sin, refers to the tares. I suppose that you can say that it also refers to people who were once in the faith but did not endure to the end, but they are only a small subset of the much larger group of tares.

    “Job was saying that it was because I didnt justify my sin while knowing it was wrong.”

    That is not what I was saying. That doctrine, while useful in other contexts (i.e. those who continue in their sin according to the Johannine epistles and also people like the one that Paul delivered unto Satan because he refused to leave the incestuous relationship with his mother) does not apply here. I am saying, and the Bible says, that what you did before you were unsaved does not matter. God will save you no matter your sin and will wipe the slate clean.

    Now you might have had intellectual knowledge of the truth. You might have even believed and known it to be true. But you were not saved. You were saved when God saw fit to save you, period. You had nothing to do with it because, by your own testimony, you were powerless to do anything. Now after God saves you, why would He hold against you what you were doing while you were powerless to do anything else but sin? It isn’t intellectual knowledge of or belief in the gospel that keeps you from sin. If that were the case, salvation would be by works, with your belief being a work, and you would be able to boast in your belief, saying that you were better, more righteous, or holier than the next person because of your belief, and that is why Satan’s hold on you was broken, through your own belief. No, what keeps you from sin is God, more specifically the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And when do you receive the indwelling Holy Spirit? Upon your salvation.

    Evidence is this is Simon Peter. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, Simon Peter was living under the law. So without the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s ministry, this same Simon Peter denied the Lord three times! Denied Him after being with Him more than three years, seeing Him raise Lazarus from the dead, witnessing the transfiguration, all of it! But after the Holy Spirit came, the same Peter who denied the Lord because of fear of being arrested continued to preach and teach right under the very noses of the Sanhedrin because he no longer feared death!

    Look, plenty of people justify their sins while knowing that it is wrong and are saved. Why? Because they repent, submit to Jesus Christ as their Savior. Plenty of people are wracked with guilt because of their sins but are never saved. Why? Because they never repent, or if they repent they never submit to Jesus Christ, but instead try to justify themselves with works or go after a false gospel or a false religion entirely. Or, like Judas Iscariot, their guilt drives them to commit suicide. And why did Judas Iscariot betray Jesus Christ and never repent? Because he never believed. He was perfidious, faithless as Esau.

    Why did this Judas Iscariot never believe? Because he never received the measure of faith. Who gives the measure of faith? God does. So whether you are a proud, boastful self – justifying sinner or a grieving, sad pathetic mess of a sinner, you will never be saved unless you receive from God a measure of faith. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ. Simon Peter denied Him (and denying Christ after seeing His mighty works was indeed a form of blasphemy). So were they really so different?

    Was I so different? No. I spent my college years as an atheist, denying and mocking God despite having been raised for 18 years in a Pentecostal church. So tell me, who’s sin was worse? What you did for 11 years, or my denying and mocking God for 8?

    I will not even repeat to you the evil wicked blasphemies that I said against Jesus Christ during that time because I don’t want anyone else to read them and get any ideas. And during this time, I would become extremely troubled, very depressed to the point where at various times I would contemplate suicide. Now I ask you, Pastor Foster, in what way was your sin worse than mine? And why did I not do as Judas Iscariot and go hang myself?

    I can tell you, it had NOTHING to do with the fact that “I didn’t justify my sin while knowing it was wrong.” Do you know why not? Because though I was willing to utter blasphemies against Jesus Christ, and though I was willing to utter blasphemies against God the Father, I WOULD NOT UTTER A BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT BECAUSE I HAD SEEN WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT. One of my atheist “friends” tried to get me to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, tried several times, but I wouldn’t do it! I couldn’t do it because I WAS TOO SCARED, TOO FRIGHTENED, TOO COWARDLY! Not wise. Not holy. COWARDLY. I WAS A COWARD AND A HYPOCRITE! So I wouldn’t do it because of my cowardice and hypocrisy. So I ask: did this cowardly hypocrite choose God? How? The Bible says that there is no salvation for cowards, no salvation for hypocrites.

    And I have yet to even tell you about some of the OTHER things that I used to do, that I used to THINK. So again, were you, Pastor Foster, a worse sinner than I? Salvation comes because God deals those whom He decides to save a measure of faith, gives them to the Son, and the Spirit acts on that faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Word of God = Jesus Christ. Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Yeshua translated into English is GOD SAVES. Not by works. Not by man. Not by decisions. But GOD SAVES.

    God saved you, and there wasn’t anything that you could do about it, nothing that you could do to stop or prevent it. And you tried. You tried to stop God from saving you. You tried to stop God from saving you because you were wicked. Your heart was deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who could know it? You were totally depraved, a dead man with no interest in spiritual things, a rebel, a vagabond upon the earth, a scoundrel. So you didn’t want God. You didn’t want to be saved. You did not have the capacity to want these things because it was against your nature. Since when does darkness want anything to do with light, let alone be overcome by the light?

    So all that time, you were boxing with God. But guess what … your arms were too short! Man cannot prevail against God. Man cannot run from God. God is too powerful. Though he may struggle and cast about for a season, ultimately man has no choice but to submit to God’s Will, whether that will be salvation and grace, or judgment and destruction.

    So what you have to do is quit spinning. Quit trying to figure it out. All you will do is frustrate yourself, wear yourself out and burn yourself out like John Calvin did, who spent so many years trying to figure out how many angels could dance on the head of a pin that he had ulcers, migraines, insomnia, exhaustion (among other stress – induced health problems) and ultimately went to an early grave. You won’t be able to figure these things out because it is not meant for you to. It is a mystery. If you could understand it all, why would you need faith? Having all the answers isn’t for the faithful, it is for the faithless. Faith is things that you can’t see, that you can’t understand. That is why we have to be like children. Other than some vague notions about the refrigerator, the kitchen, and grocery stores, a child doesn’t know where his meals come from, and he doesn’t care. All he cares about is that when dinner time comes he is going to eat! The workings of God, the love of God, is incomprehensible, irrational, impossible to understand. Our job is to stop fighting, stop struggling, and to submit and just let God work on us, work THROUGH us.

    Ultimately, every Christian has to accept that we will NEVER be able to understand or figure out why God saved us. Truth be told, from the perspective of our puny minds, is that THERE IS NO REASON. We were saved because it was God’s pleasure to save us. Whether it was arbitrary or according to some formula or system, we are never going to know in this life and will probably never know ever for eternity. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. God is sovereign, so whoever He decides to save for whatever reason that He decides to save Him, He is well within His rights, and it only happens because it is His Will and so that He may be glorified.

    Because let me tell you, Pastor Foster, it was no accident that you were born in a nation with a lot of Christians, a lot of churches, etc. instead of in India, Peru or someplace in 45 A.D. where you would have never had the chance to even hear of Jesus Christ to accept or reject Him. You were born in the time and place that you were because it was God’s Will for Him to save you. So even if you can figure out things pertaining to your 11 years in that lifestyle, so what. Can you figure out why you were born in “heavily Christianized” America as opposed to in China in 3500 A.D.? You can’t, because it is a mystery. Not for you to know, not for you to even think about, because thinking about it won’t make you an inch taller or grow a single hair on your head, because if it did I would do it, because I would love to be 6’4″ and I would love to be rid of this male pattern balding!

    So let the high things be and stick to the things that are foolish, offensive and simple, because it is by those things that men are saved, including you.

  21. Very true Eric. Youve really laid this out clear. Our wickedness is so deep it is stunning. We dont even realize it which is why so many are smug in thinking they are all right as “good people”. No one is innocent or good, save one. Only the blood of Christ can truly cleanse us.

    I remember when I was saved I saw this “vision” of people spitting, throwing rocks and yelling at Christ. Although I was perplexed at why he deserved such treatment, when I looked again closely I saw my own face in the crowd.

    He told me he endured it all for me. Oh, the contradiction of sinners against himself!

  22. Job, you are quite the theologian! Glad to have you help explain this. Like I said it is a rather “deep” topic that intersects several theological streets.

    But you do not think that Romans 1 is at all applicable to both mankind in general (the natural arguement) and those who were once in the faith? Isnt the “when they knew God…” a reference to a past relationship, perhaps even in the broadest context?

  23. Isnt the “when they knew God…” a reference to a past relationship, perhaps even in the broadest context?

    Well, Romans 1 is also about covenant theology (albeit not in the baptizing infants sense!). In ancient near eastern society, there was what was called a suzerain covenant. It would be initiated by a the suzerain, or in western terminology an emperor, and a vassal, or a king over whom the suzerain (emperor) had jurisdiction. In this arrangement, the covenant, or contract, between the suzerain and the vassal made the vassal the sole representative of his entire people, his entire tribe or kingdom. Transferring it to a modern sense, were the head of the United Nations (the suzerain) to make a treaty with the president of the United States (the vassal) for all intents and purposes according to the covenant, the president of the United States IS the United States, fully representing the people. Please note that in the suzerain covenant context, no such thing as individuality, democracy, freedom of will or conscience, etc. exists. Within the vassal population, all distinctions, all individuals, etc. are bound up within the one individual covenant representative, who becomes their personification. There are no individuals, the vassal IS his tribe or his nation, and the suzerain is well within his rights according to the contract to punish the entire population (to the very extent of wiping them out) because of the misdeed of their vassal representative (the king/tribal chieftain/president), or hold the vassal representative personally and fully responsible for any failures that he has in governing his people in a way that fulfills the terms of the covenant. So, if the people are loyal to the suzerain emperor pay their taxes as required under the covenant but the king/chieftain/president refuses to hand them over to the suzerain/emperor, the suzerain/emperor is within his rights to wipe the entire population of the nation out because of the actions of the vassal alone. Or if the vassal king is loyal to the suzerain emperor and wants to pay the taxes, but the people or the princes rebel and refuse to pay them, the suzerain emperor is not obliged to accept the rebelliousness of the vassal king’s subjects as an excuse, because it is the vassal king’s implied responsibility to govern and control his people well enough to live up to the terms of the covenant, and further the ability of a king to govern his people is inherently the duty of a king in the first place.

    Another point: these suzerain covenants did not have to be entered into by mutual agreement or negotiation, or at the request of the vassal king. (In most practical senses they could be, but they did not have to be.) Instead, the suzerain was well within his rights to unilaterally impose the covenant on his vassal king because of the sovereignty and superior strength of the suzerain emperor with respect to the vassal king. The suzerain emperor’s position: I am stronger than you. I can wipe you off the map, commit genocide against your population. If you want your people to live, you will accept this covenant and keep its terms, and if your people want to live, they had better accept your rule over them so that you can keep the terms of the covenant.

    Now that is the basis that God deals with mankind. He is the sovereign emperor, and moreover He has total ownership rights of creation to do with as He chooses. God has made several of these sorts of covenants with mankind. One of those was the Sinai covenant, with the first vassal (or covenant representative) being Moses, and after that the series of judges and kings who followed after him representing the Jews. Another of those was the Abrahamic covenant, with Abraham being the vassal and representing the people of God. Another of those was the Noahic covenant, with Noah being the vassal representing all mankind after the flood. And of course, there is the new covenant of grace, with Jesus Christ being the covenant representative of the church. So, not only is Jesus Christ the head of the church and we the Body of Christ (subjects of His kingdom) in a spiritual sense, but also in a legal contract sense. God the Father is the suzerain emperor, God the Son is the vassal king, and the church are the subjects of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone represents the church before the Father, and Jesus Christ has been given charge and rule over the church according to the terms of the covenant contract between God the Father and God the Son.

    Now I mentioned that Noah was the covenant representative of all mankind after the flood. Well, Adam was the covenant representative of all mankind, period. Look at the Hebrew: Adam in Hebrew literally means “human.” (That is why so many people, even people who are more or less evangelical and believe in a Holy Spirit inspired literally interpreted inerrant Bible as the final authority, have wondered if the Adam and Eve and Garden of Eve story was actually a parable to explain the fall of mankind, that Genesis 1:26-29 was the actual creation of man story.) So the name of man, the name of humanity actually is Adam, because being the vassal king (recall Adam was given a kingdom, dominion of the earth) he was the sole representative of the entire race, the personification of the entire race, and in a legal sense was the entire race. That is what original sin can be based on. It does not need to be this mystical thing that Roman Catholics teach, mysticism that according to their beliefs required Mary to be an eternal virgin and born free of original sin. Instead, original sin that condemns all mankind is due to Adam, standing in our behalf as our king, breaking his contract with the suzerain emperor Jehovah (which, by the way, being plural, is a Name that refers to the entire Trinity). And incidentally, the covenant with God was never made with Eve. Instead, Adam was Eve’s king and covenant representative just as much as you or I was. As a result, though Eve sinned first and suborned Adam’s sin, the consequences of her action were only herself. As a result, the spiritual (and legal) consequences of the fall were only propagated through the male seed. The female seed (ovum) is, well, “not under contract.” Females pick up original sin because they receive the “contract” from the male seed at the time of conception. But one born without male seed is not under contract, and therefore is not under original sin. This is the case with Jesus Christ. Yet as Adam and Eve were both equal, Jesus Christ was still fully human based on the female ovum. Incidentally, this is something that biology, genetics, has verified with human X and Y chromosomes! (Please don’t get into the issue of cloning humans, another topic for another day.)

    So that is what Romans 1 was talking about, in a covenant sense. Adam knew God, and through him all mankind knew God. And do not forget about Noah and his covenant. Noah knew God, and through him all mankind that came after the flood knew God.

    Now that is the best explanation that we can come up with for Romans 1:18-32 based on the Bible alone, and it is more than sufficient. It is also possible, however, that Paul was referring to a extrabiblical Jewish tradition that no longer exists (it may have been oral, or if it was written it may have been destroyed by the Romans along with the temple in 70 A.D., as Yochanan ben Zakkai, the creator of modern Judaism, was only able to get a few scrolls out due to his deal with the Roman general, I think Vespasian was his name) that detailed God’s dealings with mankind between the Garden of Eden and the flood and explained – among other things – how Cain and Abel knew to make burnt sacrifices, the meaning of Genesis 4:26 (And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD), more information on Enoch, etc. I personally doubt that Paul was referring to a relationship between God and man given in extrabiblical sources, but I do not rule it out, but the thing is that even if Paul was referencing an extrabiblical source, God’s knowing man through Adam (and Noah) in a covenant sense is true as well … at the very most they are both true simultaneously, with one not contradicting the other, and either being enough to adequately explain Romans 1 independently of the other.

    Further, even if Paul was referring to an extrabiblical source, the effects of Adam’s rebellion are still logically, legally and spiritually prior, because even the rebellion, the rejection of God that any extrabiblical source speaks of that took place at some point between the fall and the flood only happened as a result of Adam anyway. So at its root, either way “when they knew God” derives to “when ADAM knew God”, and by extension “when NOAH” knew God, and if Noah is in view here then the rejection of God spoken of by Romans 1 refers to the Tower of Babylon incident.

    So Romans 1 does not refer to those who were once in the Christian faith. Not only does it speak of a period that long predates Christianity, but please keep in mind: there is a difference between knowing God and having faith. Adam and Eve knew God. Judas Iscariot knew God, Jesus Christ. And of course, Satan and his demons know God.

    James 2:19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    So knowing God and having faith, saving faith, are clearly two different things. Again, go back to the parable of the sower. Consider the ones who receive the seed of the gospel, and a plant actually grows, but either in stony soil or weedy soil. This refers to people who actually believe in Jesus Christ, His deity, His resurrection etc. and even do mighty works in His Name. Example: Judas Iscariot, who was an apostle, who was sent out with the 12 to preach and do works along with all the rest. So Judas Iscariot KNEW GOD. But as Judas Iscariot proved, knowing God is one thing, saving faith is another. Romans 1 does not refer to anyone who was given saving faith by God and became born again Christians as a result.

    By the way, I am no great theologian. I just have a good commentary on Romans!

  24. Quite simply, I suspect that it’s an act of love by God to at some point turn the homosexual over to a reprobate mind. Once you get in and become addicted and it overwhelms you, you’ll go insane if you have an active conscience and a mind that’s wants to ponder the things of God. I mean, literally suicidally insane. Thank God it’s not permanent though imo.

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