"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done." - Romans 1:28 (NIV)
I always read Romans 1 with mixed feelings. Is it that some people have become too wicked to be redeemed and restored to God? Has God sealed the fate of these people? We read that it is God who has given them over to a depraved mind and makes one wonder whether there is a way around it.
In today's society, we also observe the same conditions described in Romans 1; where people engage in all manner of perversions. It is more challenging because they have been able to justify all these and even strive for the Church to accept them "for who they are". After all, there is nothing wrong and pin it on God for creating them that way. I really cannot see any explanation for this but what was described as being given over to a depraved mind.
What I want to further investigate is what possibly occurs in the realm of the spirit that puts people in this condition. I believe God is not the author of evil and for such things to occur there should be more than meets the eye.
Three stories from the Bible come to mind that could explain what happens.
1 Kings 22
This is the story about 400 prophets who prophesied in favour of Ahab and Micaiah, the only prophet who prophesied against Ahab. We already understand from the previous chapters that Ahab was a King who did what was not pleasing in the sight of God. He had subjected the kingdom to idolatry under the influence of his wife, Jezebel. He partners with King Jehoshaphat (one who pleased the Lord) to go to war against Ramoth Gilead. Micaiah gives us a sneak peek into what took place in the realms of the spirit for the 400 prophets to receive misguided prophecies. 1 Kings 22: 19-23 (NIV)
19 "Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
1 Samuel 16:14
"Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the Lord tormented him." We read that the origin of the evil spirit that tormented Saul is the Lord. This can be quite confusing because God will not author evil.
'While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”' We understand that it was the devil who had been permitted to test Job, therefore, the fire that caused the destruction was not from God.
I believe what happens in the realm of the spirit when people are given up to a depraved mind is actually demonic oppression or the work of a demonic force that has taken over because the person has rejected God.
We read in the reference from Samuel that the evil spirit came from the Lord but I dare say that the scenario could be same as the work of the devil as reported in the story of Job and not the Lord actively causing it.
What we learn from Ahab's story is that when men reject what God has already shown them to be the right thing to do and yet demand that God approves their evil ways, a deceiving spirit can easily set in to grant them their wish.
You know in your heart what God has already instructed you concerning your evil ways but if you go on to "coerce" God to give a different verdict, you will surely get it "from God". You may get a prophetic word of some sort to affirm your evil ways but I want to assure you that you are sealing your fate and digging your grave.
Does it then mean such persons will be left in their deception until they ruin their lives? I answer in the negative. I believe they are not beyond redemption. Our Lord doesn't delight in the death of sinners and there must definitely be a way out of this.
Entering the scene are the "Players of the Lyre" men who produce the sound that exorcises the spirit of deception, restoring the depraved minds into a state that accepts God. The sound produced brings light into the lives of the deceived, translating them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's marvellous light.
1 Samuel 16:23 "Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."
Like Saul, the world is looking for people who will pick up their lyres and play for the evil spirit to leave. We know the gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation. The culture at the moment appears sophisticated but I can assure you there is nothing new under the sun. No matter the level of depravity, the Gospel has the power to save men.
That God so loved the world an He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
To my fellow labourers in the Lord's vineyard may we receive grace to continue sounding the Lyre. The world needs to hear the sound from the Lyre. Would you sound your Lyre today? Shalom!!!!!!!!!