Calvary Road Baptist Church


Romans 1.32


Romans chapter 1 can be summarized as follows: In Romans 1.1-6 the great apostle to the Gentiles identifies himself at the beginning of a rather long introduction. He does this by naming himself and then describing himself, in verse 1:


“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.”


Then he describes his message, verse 2:


“(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)”


Next, he describes his Master, verses 3 & 4:


3      Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4      And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:


Finally, he describes his ministration, verses 5 & 6:


5      By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

6      Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.


The second thing Paul does by way of introduction is address himself. In verse 7 he addresses himself with precision, demonstrating that he knows both who and what his readers are:


“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”


In verses 8-10 we see prayer and praise, as he expresses gratitude for their testimony, verse 8, prayers for their blessings, verse 9, and then requests permission to journey to them, verse 10:


8      First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9      For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

10    Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.


Then, in verses 11 & 12, we see that he addresses himself with a passion that longs to give to and to establish his readers, and a passion that seeks to comfort as well as be comforted by his readers:


11    For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

12    That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.


In the final segment of the introductory portion of Paul’s Roman letter the author expresses himself. His desire is stated in verse 13:


“Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.”


His debt is expressed in verse 14:


“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”


His duty is declared in verse 15:


“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”


And his determination to continue his ministry in Scriptural fashion is articulated in verses 16 & 17:


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.

17    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.


Paul has thus thoroughly stated his goals and objectives to these Christians he is attempting to enlist in his holy cause. He has a message and a ministry that every human being who has ever lived is in dire need of exposure to. And he has a profound moral obligation to spend himself so that the lost might be saved. He is in hopes that the Romans would see that their moral obligation to help him is just as profound.

Having rehearsed, in extremely rapid fashion, Paul’s introduction, it is also reasonable that I quickly outline the rest of Romans chapter 1 before I turn my attention to today’s text, which is the chapter’s final verse. Beginning in Romans 1.18 and extending through Romans 3.20, Paul seeks to establish to his readers the great need of lost mankind for justification. He does this to convince the readers, who he hopes will support his ministry through prayers and contributions, that what people who have no standing before God need his ministry provides. So, how does he go about establishing that mankind has this great need to be justified by faith in sight of God because of sin? “Romans 1:18-32 demonstrates the guilt of the pagans. Romans 2:1-16 proves the guilt of the moralist, who violates the very standard by which he judges others. And Romans 2:17-3:8 establishes the guilt of the Jews, who had access to all the benefits of divine grace but as a whole rejected God’s righteousness nonetheless.”[1] This places us right in the middle of Paul’s description of mankind’s problem as we take up Romans 1.32. And here is how Paul lays out the evidence of man’s severe spiritual problem. First, he reminds the Romans that God has revealed Himself to mankind, Romans 1.18-19:


18    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19    Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.


Then he shows how mankind has chosen to respond to God’s revelation. But for illustration Paul divides mankind into three categories, and the first of these categories, in Romans 1.20-32, we have examined over the last several weeks. This first category has so far been identified by Paul as “them” and “they.” If you have not figured it out for yourselves yet, the “they” and the “them” of Romans chapter 1 are the great unwashed of Paul’s day, the pagan Gentiles.

It is the obviously depraved and spiritually unclean Gentiles that Paul has described throughout chapter 1 as being in constant rebellion against God. For changing the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, God gave the Gentiles over to uncleanness. For changing the truth of God into a lie and worshiping the creature more than the Creator God gave them up unto vile affections, including sexual perversions. And for willfully refusing to retain God in their consciousness God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

What is staggering to the contemplative mind is the fact that, through this stark picture of man’s rebellion against the revelation of God and God’s response to man, we are reading about ourselves. For the most part, we are the “they” and the “them” of Romans chapter 1. We are the ones given over to uncleanness and vile affections and a reprobate mind. Us. Look at Romans 1.28-31. Is this not a description of how unsaved Gentiles live? Is this not a description of how so many of us lived before we came to Christ? And, sadly, is this not also a description of the kind of sins that our relatives and family members fall into when they take their eyes off of Christ and sink back into the mire of this world? How tragic and how very sad.


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


verse 28. That shows us man’s decision, rebellion against the knowledge of God.


“And God gave them over to a reprobate mind,”


also in verse 28. That shows us the concept of God’s response. And from there through verse 31 we see the specific conduct that has sprung forth from God’s judgment of man for his rebellion.

Would to God that was the end of it, my friends, but it isn’t. Our race has not finished at this point in committing sin against a holy God. You see, there looms before us verse 32. And as bad as are the sins of verses 29-31, what we find in verse 32 is even worse. Please stand for the reading of today’s text, 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.”


Here we see unsaved man’s consensus against God.

Three statements of fact in this final indictment of the pagan Gentile man:




“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death.”


This is one of the most descriptive statements in the entire Word of God, showing the depravity of the lost man’s mind. Take note of that word “knowing.” This is not the ordinary Greek word for knowing something, ginosko. No, the word here is an intensified form of the word, epiginosko. The very best Greek lexicon defines the word like this: To know exactly, to know completely, to know through and through.[2]

Think about that for a moment. Regardless of what any individual may say or convince themselves of through self-deceit, the Bible says that the lost individual has a thorough knowledge of things about the judgment of God. And what is the content of this knowledge of God’s judgment? That those people who do the things listed in verses 29-31 are worthy of death for doing them. Certainly not worthy of death in our judicial system, but in God’s judicial system on eternity. Amazing. Lost people know that if they are guilty of such sins as fornication, envy, debate, covenantbreaking, pride, and disobeying parents, they deserve the death penalty for flagrantly sinning against the holy God, the Creator, and Sustainer of all things.

They know that. They know that. How startling it is to realize that given unsaved mankind’s attempts to deny the undeniable, to ignore the truth that is true, and to pretend what will happen will not happen.




“not only do the same”


What does this tell you? Is this consistent with rationality? Is this consistent with wisdom? Is this consistent with enlightened self-interest? Is this consistent with informed self-love? Not at all. The first statement of verse 32 declared, in no uncertain terms, that lost people are fully aware and comprehend that God’s judgment against those who commit sin against Him is rightly and properly death. They know that. Whether or not they have ever been exposed to the truth of God’s Word, have or have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached, they nevertheless know such guilt deserves death. But, according to the second statement of verse 32, such people will still commit such sin. The person who commits sex sins knows that sex sins deserves the death penalty, but will continue to commit sex sins. The boaster knows the judgment of God but will boast still. The unmerciful will be unmerciful still, even though failure to show proper mercy is a capital offense. And the child will rebel against parental authority, even though such sin in sight of God deserves the death penalty.

My friends that is horrible. It’s horrible to think of people committing such sin, knowing full well the consequences of such sin. But it should not surprise us. For you see, each and every one of us knows born again Christians, indwelt apparently by the Spirit of God, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb according to their own testimony, who knowing the penalty for drunkenness get drunk anyway, who knowing the consequences of illicit drug use use illicit drugs anyway, who knowing the whirlwind that is reaped for sex sins will commit sex sins anyway. Is this not an accurate description of man’s depraved nature? I think it is. Can anyone still maintain that a race of beings who behave in this way is still basically good on the inside? Not in light of this truth he cannot. People try to fool themselves into thinking they are good, but the reality is that not only is each one of us bad, but we are also totally depraved. This is reflected by the fact that unsaved individuals are not described in God’s Word as either ignorant in this respect, or as being spiritually sick as the cause for such conduct. The unsaved are spiritually dead, Ephesians 2.1.




“but have pleasure in them that do them.”


Look at the verb “have pleasure.” In the margin of your Bible, you might see the synonym “consent with.” And in the lexicon we see that this verb is elsewhere translated “agree with, approve of, consent to, sympathize with.”[3] Is there a difference between the person who commits sex sins and the person who thinks that sex sins are “cool” and “neat” and who wishes he could do the same? And what about the person who admires the “boaster” and seeks to emulate the “malicious” man?

What about the basketball player or the music star or the film personality whose reputation is a “wicked” person? What does this phrase say about the person who has “pleasure in them that do them?” Ever wonder what is wrong with people who support and side with, people who sympathize with, such evil people? It’s very simple. They are partakers in the same rebellion against God. Therefore, they are also recipients of the same judgment from God.


With a statement of knowing, a statement of doing, and a statement of approving, Paul draws to a close his presentation of evidence showing that “they” stand in great need of God’s justification, showing that “they” stand in great need of God’s great redeeming work in their lives. The problem as I see it is two-fold: On one hand there is the problem of reaching the unsaved pagans of the world with the truth which alone can result in their salvation. Though they know God’s judgment their behavior does not change, showing that what you know does not affect your spiritual life, so much as Who you know.

“We need to educate people.” Really? Sinners who are more knowledgeable are just more knowledgeable sinners. And knowing what God is going to do to them who commit such sins does not alter, one whit, their behavior . . . proving that lost people are slaves to sin, no matter how much they know. Obviously, deliverance from bondage to sin through Christ is their only hope. But what about Christians? Christians aren’t supposed to commit such sins as these. And Christians aren’t supposed to “have pleasure in them that do them,” but they all too frequently do. How can this be?

This can only be true if, #1, those Christians who do these things aren’t really Christians at all (which I have little trouble believing), or, #2, if those Christians are so deceived and blinded by Satan as a result of their continual dabbling in sin that they don’t know which end is spiritually up. So, where are you? Do you even know? Are you lost or are you saved but deceived? In either case, you need to attend to the matter, do you not? Allow me to illustrate the depth of the spiritual blindness and lack of discernment.

Consider the case of the unsaved mom and dad who have a beloved child they seek to raise in a protected environment, who they pray with at meals and at bedtime, who they read Bible stories to, and even on occasion send or take to Church. That mom and dad think they are doing right by their child, when in reality they are confusing her, clouding her judgment, and making her comprehension of the Gospel more difficult. You see, children are not stupid. They are extremely observant and possess great memories. Do you not think that kid doesn’t know the emptiness of her parents, knowing that their prayers are artificial, their protective environment is so much pretense, the nice Bible stories they sometimes read before bedtime are not really believed and that even taking or sending her to Church is really little more than an exercise in mollifying their consciences? You see, unsaved mom and dad know the judgment of God. Their child is said by God’s Word to also know the judgment of God. So when mom and dad do things that are not springing from anything like a real relationship with Christ the child is only confused, tugged in one direction by a love for mom and dad who can be seen, while tugged in another direction by what truth the child is exposed to that comes from the mind and heart of the unseen God.

The reality is that there is absolutely nothing the unsaved mom and dad can do that will be of spiritual benefit to their child other than repenting of their sins and trusting the Savior. That and that alone will help their child, encourage their child to consider the claims of Christ, and establish a credible example for their child to follow. Anything short of conversion for the well-intentioned but unsaved parents is, sadly, folly. There is no wiggle room with God. If you are not with Him you are completely against Him and nothing you do when you are against Him is in any way beneficial to anyone. Thus, the only option for the unsaved father or mother is conversion to Christ, and nothing short of that will do their child any spiritual good at all.


[1] John MacArthur, Jr., The Vanishing Conscience, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994), page 91.

[2] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 369.

[3] Ibid., page 970.

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