Calvary Road Baptist Church


Romans 1.28-31


I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word. Romans 1.28-31:


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;

29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.


Continuing from our previous foray into Paul’s letter to the Romans, where we stopped part way through verse 29, you will remember that we were examining four lists of vices given by the apostle to establish that all of mankind has a serious problem. Do you remember the designation of each subgroup of sins? They were filled, stuffed, puffed and snuffed. Last time we examined the “filled” subgroup of sins, and this time, we will examine the “stuffed” subgroup of sins.

Stuffed. “Being full of. . . .” You will remember that verse 29 begins with the words “Being filled with all.” That particular phrase, if you remember my previous explanation, indicates a present state of being that is the direct result of some past action. Mankind is presently filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, and maliciousness. And the reason mankind is presently filled in such a way is because of past action taken by God. What past action taken by God? The past action of giving mankind over to a reprobate mind because man dared to judge the living God.

You might think in your heart of hearts, “But I am not filled with such sins as these.” That is good. But you must remember what Paul is saying in our text. He is not implying that every man or every woman commits or is wrapped up in each of these sins. He is not even saying that each person is necessarily guilty of even one of the sins of this list. What he is saying is that the existence of any of these sins in the human race is evidence enough to substantiate what he is trying to prove, that all of mankind has a terrible problem. That individuals can get this bad is an indication that the whole human race has a problem. We are in this together.

Remembering that the five sins previously examined are the present result of past action, let’s turn to the next group of sins listed by the Apostle Paul. These are the sins that “they” are “full of.”

There are five sins listed:




Did you know that the motive back of the chief priest and his henchmen delivering the Lord Jesus Christ up to Pontius Pilate to be crucified was envy, according to Mark 15.10?


“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”


And the sin is so widespread even among Christians that Paul indicated from Roman imprisonment that some preachers he knew were preaching Christ, not from a heart of love or a desire to render service to the Lord, but of envy, Philippians 1.15:


“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will.”


No wonder Peter says, in First Peter 2.1-2, that he wants believers to lay aside the sin of envy, among other things, so that we can feed on the Word of God and grow:


1  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.


This particular word that is translated “envy” in Romans 1.29 is not the more usual Greek word for “envy” which is sometimes translated “zeal.” This word seems to carry the meaning of having animosity toward someone because that other person is somehow perceived to be superior and the one with envy does not like it at all.

Think about this word for a moment. How much of what some people do is an attempt to prove that they are better than someone else? Is it not a common motivation in the field of athletics? Some athletes do not play as hard as they can every time they play. They play their best only when it is time to prove that they are better than someone who just might be better. Such behavior is more than just the consequence of a lack of character. It is an outright sin. And in the business world, it is often the same.

But since this kind of behavior is so typical of lost people, and since it is the kind of behavior that results from being turned over to a reprobate mind, and because it is so extremely damaging to the person who practices such sin, God wants the believer who commits such a sin to lay it aside.

Let me give you an example of this sin’s destructive power from my sad experience. So competitive were my brother and I while we were growing up that at one point we reached out to talk to each other only once in fifteen years. And why were we so competitive? Envy. He, being only eighteen months younger than I, always wanted to prove that he was as good as I was. I, on the other hand, was more to blame for being unwilling to sacrifice every opportunity I had to be a good older brother so that I could prove that I was better than he was. That sad dynamic lasted until I was forty years old.




Does this term need to be defined? I do not think so. Nevertheless, comments do need to be made. Questions need to be asked.

How many lives must be taken by a person before that person is considered a murderer? Are you a murderer when you have killed ten people? How about if you have only killed five? How about when you have killed only one person? Are you considered a murderer then? Sure you are unless the murder is socially acceptable.

For example, in Rome and Greece a person was not a murderer if he only killed a deformed child. After all, of what value is a deformed child, they thought? And it was not considered murder to put an old person out of his or her misery. After all, “What good are they?” the cultured and refined Romans and Greeks thought.

But here we are in the cultured and refined United States of America. And murder is only murder in our society if it involves the socially unacceptable taking of a human life. Abortion is not considered murder by anyone in our society, except by religious fanatics. And doctors are allowed to starve a deformed newborn to death. Why we even regularly deprive hospital patients of water and food when we think they are too sick to recover. But that is not murder.

It is not murder if it is legal, is it? I mean, if it is considered by my friends to be acceptable then God doesn’t care. Does He? He wouldn’t hold someone responsible for doing something that everybody did. Would He?

My friends, murder, is murder, whether it is legal or not. And murder is a sin, whether it is legal or not. And being sin, it damns and defiles the conscience, whether it is legal or not. And making something legal will not free the conscience from the guilt of murder.

Aren’t you glad that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin? It was God’s mercy and grace that made it possible for Saul the murderer to live life before God with a clean and clear conscience as the Christian named Paul.[1]

If you are not saved, it would not be an unusual thing for you to be a murderer. It is a common thing in our society. But it’s still not right. However, Christ will forgive you even of the sin of murder and set you free.

Oh, Satan will work to condemn you by dragging up the sins of the past, as every Christian here can verify. But there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ.[2] Amen, Christians?




Synonyms for this word would be strife, discord, and contention. This is just fussing and arguing, which lost people, Galatians 5.20, and even unspiritual Christians do a great deal, according to First Corinthians 3.3:


“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”


Another bad example from my youth. When I was on my grandfather’s farm in Texas, as a very little boy, a friend of mine and I were nicknamed ‘Tis and ‘Taint by my mother. I am told that every time I would say the sky is blue, he would say, “No, it isn’t.” And every time he would say the flower is pretty, I would say “No, it isn’t.” There was no rhyme or reason to our debate, other than the fact that we each lived to dispute what the other said. Thus it is with mankind.

Well, it seems that in my pastoral ministry God has requited to me the sin of my youth. I find now that it is a very frequent occurrence for me to say something to someone from God’s Word and to hear, almost to the letter, the words I spoke as a child being spoken back to me. “First Corinthians 10.13,” I will quote. “No. My problem is different, is more severe, is unlike anyone else’s,” the person across from my desk will say. For my part, it is the law of sowing and reaping coming back to haunt me. But for the other person’s part it is the sin of debate.

And what's wrong with debate? The spirit of it, for one thing. It is a spirit of divisiveness and rebellion. Debate is what you have when you have a person who is so unwilling to submit to another person that he will not even allow the other person an opinion without challenging it. And when debate is present unity is impossible. Marriages that do not experience unity need to be examined for the sin of debate.

And when the person committing the sin of debate is confronted with the sin? He or she will be found to see debate as an inalienable right. When the suggestion is made that he simply shut up and quit arguing he will feel as though his right to communicate freely is being challenged. But that’s not it at all. It’s just that the other person’s freedom to communicate is being stifled whilst you engage in the sin of debate.

Bottom line: Effective interpersonal communication does not take place when one or both people engage in debate. People who debate are so proud. And people who debate are so lonely. And why is that? Who wants to be around someone who challenges everything you say. But for the presence of sin you would wonder why the debater doesn’t learn to hush a little bit so he or she could have a little more companionship, a few more real friends.




This is an interesting word in that most of the times it is found in the Bible it is stated that a person does not possess this trait.

In John 1.47 the Lord Jesus Christ stated that Nathaniel was an Israelite in whom there was no guile. In First Thessalonians 2.3 Paul reminds the Thessalonian Christians that he had exercised his ministry among them free of guile. Then, of course, in Isaiah 53.9 and First Peter 2.22, we are told that the Lord Jesus Christ had no guile. Finally, in Revelation 14.5 we are told that the 144,000 will be young men in whom there is no guile.

What is it that Nathaniel and Paul and Christ and future evangelists were lacking that seems to be a prominent sin among lost people? Deceit. Often translated guile, this is a cunning and a treachery that seeks to gain an advantage over others. While it may not involve outright lying, it does involve allowing the other person to think that which is not true, thereby gaining an improper advantage over him.

It is selling your used car for $2000, knowing full well that the transmission is about to fall out of it and that it will then be worth about $500. If you fail to tell the buyer, you are guilty of deceit. You have used guile to take advantage of someone else.

Does it matter that so much of our nation’s commerce operates by guile and deceit? No. Does the solution to the problem lie in the adoption of government regulations and laws to protect the buyer from crafty businessmen who use guile on the unsuspecting? No. The solution is for men and women to be born again and to allow God to bless them honestly, without taking advantage of their fellow man.

With the Lord Jesus Christ, for example, what you see is what you get. It was that way with Paul, as well. And it was that quality in Nathaniel that the Lord praised. It should be that way with you and me, as well. Among Christians, it is often called transparency. No airs. No put-ons. Something for us to strive for. Amen?




Used only here in the entire New Testament, the word is very close in meaning to our word “deceit,” except for one thing. With “deceit” or “guile” you do what you do with no hard feelings for the other person. Victims are considered to be nothing more than the first unfortunate sucker to come along. But with this word “malignity”, there is an emotional component. The malignant will do the same kinds of things to people as someone who uses “deceit,” but here there is a desire to hurt and do harm. He enjoys the suffering caused by taking advantage of the other person. Perhaps he will even ridicule their “stupidity” for being such suckers that he could take advantage of them.


When you look back over these five sins, you will notice something of a pattern. Envy. Murder. Debate. Deceit. Malignity. Each of these sins is made possible only when the perpetrator, when the person committing the sin, refuses to see the other as a real live, flesh and blood and feelings, human being. Each of these sins is symptomatic of a person who is cut loose from ethical moorings and who is divorced from absolute standards of right and wrong. Each of these sins can be committed only by human beings incapable of establishing and maintaining genuine and real relationships with others.

I feel so sorry for us. We are such a race of misfits. We are so hateful and nasty toward each other. But it is our fault. Because mankind refused to highly value God our ability to highly value our fellow man has disappeared. And because we discounted the value of a relationship with the Creator we have only the most bizarre relationships with other creations of God . . . highly valuing little puppies and seals and Tennessee River blue darters, and at the same time discarding unborn children as rubbish.

What a mess. Man’s only hope, his only possible solution, is the establishment and the enjoyment of a relationship with Christ. Highly regard Him and your regard for others will return. Love Him and your capacity to love others will grow and develop. Instead of envy, there will develop an enjoyment of another’s blessings. Instead of murders, there will develop a reverence for life. A submissive and cooperative spirit will replace debate. And honesty and reliance upon God to meet needs and to bless will replace deceit and malignity.

But more than that. Trust Christ as your Savior and the guilt and the condemnation of such sins will be taken far, far away.


[1] Acts 23.1; 24.16; First Timothy 1.5, 18-19; Second Timothy 1.3

[2] Romans 8.1

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