Descent into Depravity
Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul is the writer of much of the New Testament, which writings are found in his epistles or letters written to the various Gentile churches of that time. The teachings contained in these letters comprise what many have called the Pauline Revelation.
Paul says in his letter to the Galatian church that he did not receive or learn these things from men, but rather he received them by revelation of Jesus Christ. In other words, they were made known to him, they were disclosed to him, by the Lord Jesus Himself, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth.
Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, the book of Romans, is filled with many of these revealed understandings that God gave to Paul. One of the first things he talks about in the letter to the Romans is the descent of man into depravity.
Theories of Origin
The popular academic theories put forth today concerning the origin of man and the universe have to do with things like the Big Bang theory, which is the theory that there was a great cosmic explosion that started the universe into motion about 14 billions of years ago. And there are other theories like the theory of Evolution, which teaches that simple organisms came up out of the water and evolved into land-dwelling creatures that eventually evolved into animals and even into human beings. And, from that point, men supposedly began to advance in knowledge and intelligence through eons of time up to the present day.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Biblical story of creation is given in the first chapter of Genesis, which was authored by Moses. It presents a very orderly sequence of things created by the Lord on the first six days of creation. It starts with the making of the sky and the earth and progresses to the releasing of light into the creation, and the creation of the atmosphere which the Bible calls the firmament. Then dry land appeared from the watery surface, and grass and trees and vegetation of all types began to grow. After that, the sun, moon, and stars were set into the sky. After that, all marine life came forth, all fish and whales and oceanic life, and also every kind of bird and flying creature. Then all land-dwelling animals and cattle were made in all their variations, and every insect and thing that crawls on the earth.
The Creation of Man
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
The culmination of God’s work of creation was the forming of man. The Bible tells us that God created man in the image and likeness of Himself. Man was the highest level of created being that God made. In fact, Adam was placed in dominion and authority over all the earth and over all the other creatures that God had created. Adam was like God in the earth. He was made in the image of God, and he was set in authority over all things in the earth.
The Bible tells us that the man, Adam, walked with God in the cool of the day. He fellowshipped with God, he conversed with God, he had the capacity to understand God. Man was at his pinnacle of intelligence and mental and spiritual acuity when he was created. He was at one with God Himself. So, from the standpoint of Biblical Creation, man was at his absolute height of mental and spiritual development when he was in the garden of Eden. You could say that he started at the top.
The Fall of Man
Genesis 1:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Genesis 1:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Genesis 1:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
As we continue in the book of Genesis, we find that there came a time when man disobeyed the Lord by eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was consequently separated from fellowship with God and driven out of the garden of Eden. Adam was now without God in a hostile world, a world that no longer would bring forth his provision abundantly as it did before, but now produced thorns and thistles. His provision was now to be gained by the sweat of his face, by toil and hard labor.
Descent into Depravity
Romans 1:20 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:
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
As men multiplied and the generations of time went by, man became more estranged from God. Paul begins to describe here the process of time in which man began to move further away from God. He says that although they knew God, they did not honor Him, and they were not thankful to Him. And as they grew unthankful, they became vain in their imaginations, or, that is, their thinking became empty and foolish, and their nonunderstanding spirit was covered with darkness.
Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
While descending into this dark place of spiritual ignorance, they professed themselves to be wise, and they became vain and foolish. Yet somewhere within themselves they retained a knowledge that God exists, as well as an inner desire to have divine fellowship, and so they created their own gods by making images that were like men, or birds, or animals, or things that crawl on the earth.
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
God gave them over to impurity of mind through the cravings and desires of their own spirits, to treat with shame and contempt their own physical bodies among themselves. This is the first mention of God giving them over to their own inner desires. God allowed man to do what he wanted to do.
The Result of Idolatry
Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 1:26 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:
Because they chose to worship the created thing more than the Creator, God gave them over to vile affections, or, that is, to disgraceful and shameful passions that they did not previously have.
The Quest to Forget God
Romans 1:27 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.
Romans 1:28 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;
It should be noted here that the root of their unfortunate condition was the desire to forget God, and to replace Him with objects of worship that were not divine in nature, but merely things created by the Lord. They did not deem it worthy to hold on to the memory of God or to acknowledge God, and He allowed them to be given over to an unapproved and castaway understanding and intellect, and to be the doers of things that are not fit, or, that is to say, things that are unbecoming.
Returning to God
Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
That is quite a list of evil things. The first acts of unrighteousness mentioned in this chapter were sexual in nature, but the list of unsavory behaviors that resulted goes well beyond the sexual. Paul is, after all, presenting man’s need for a savior. He is giving a fairly comprehensive list of sins that men are guilty of before God and presenting the offer of being rescued that is available through Christ. It is by believing the gospel, the good news of Christ, by receiving the redemption that is through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, that man finds the means by which he can be saved from his sinful condition and be restored to a place of right standing with God.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.