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;
This is the third and final letting go of God. The first time is when He lets go of us to glorify a false god, the second time is when He lets go of us to error and falsehood and the third and final time is when He lets go of us to a reprobate mind.
Again, Paul takes the care to ensure that we know God only lets go of us because we have chosen not to retain God in our knowledge. The word retain simply means to “have”, one of the most common words in the Greek and the word for knowledge means to know on a personal level.
You see because people make a clear decision to have nothing to do with God and refuse to acknowledge Him as Creator, they turned to false gods and sexual immorality.
Because people make a clear decision to have nothing to do with God and refuse to acknowledge Him as Truthful and Honest, they turned to falsehood and vile passions.
But here – because people make a clear decision to have nothing to do with God at all on any level, they turned to a reprobate mind.
This is life in many Western countries now: God is not even acknowledged in literature, in law, in rituals and in calendars. The nod-to-God (religious values but no dynamic walk with God) squad is dying out and being replaced by people who have a reprobrate mind. The Greek word for reprobate is adokimos.
In his commentary on Romans 14.18, Donald Barnhouse says this about the Greek word dokimos:
“In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft, and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens to stop the practice of whittling down the coins then in circulation. But some money-changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money; they were men of honour who put only genuine, full-weight money into circulation. Such men were called dokimos, and this word is used here for the Christian as he is to be seen by the world.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: God’s Glory, p. 18.)
Dokimos means someone who is completely honest, the same on the inside as he is on the outside. Someone whose character you can rely on, someone whose value you can accept.
Adokimos means the exact opposite. The Greeks use “a-” at the beginning of words in the same way that we use “un-” (for example: atheist or agnostic) to mean the exact opposite.
If you – or a community or nation – rejects God completely by rejecting His values, His personality and His life then your mind becomes adokimos. That is a fact. You cannot rely on your mind, your mind will play tricks on you, your mind will not work properly, your life will never be a success ever because your own worst enemy is your own mind.
That is true of many people today. You will see them experience pain, loss, anguish and regret over things that at the time they genuinely thought were a great idea: have sex with that person, tell that person what you think of them, get revenge on that person, hurt that person. Why so many errors of judgment? Because their own mind cannot be relied on at all. Their own mind cannot be trusted to give them logical, rational and godly advice.
And what is the end of people who cannot trust their mind: [They] do those things which are not convenient.
Look at that phrase in the NIV: to do what ought not to be done.
In the NLT it says: do things that should never be done.
The Greek word is possibly best translated “inappropriate”. This is what happens when you reject God as a person: you act inappropriately. When a nation or a generation rejects God everyone in that nation acts inappropriately. They do things that should never be done.
This is what happens when you reject God. You do things that should never be done because your own mind does not function properly.
Your mind is part of your soul. It is according to Strong’s, “the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially”.
Today there are many young people (and older people) who cannot rely on their power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially. In the news (on the front page) today was a story of a young rapper who interrupted the music awards in the middle of someone receiving an award to tell her that she did not deserve it. He is now on national and international TV apologising.
Why did he get up and do such a thing that has ruined his reputation and endangered his career? His mind was reprobrate – he does not even acknowledge God as a person.
On a far more horrific note, in the news this week a mother has been arrested for murdering her two daughters so that her ex-husband could not win custody for them. Why would someone murder a human, their own babies, just to spite someone else? A reprobate mind.
Any time you read a story that is horrific and you cannot understand why someone did not judge soberly you know that person has a reprobrate mind. This is a serious stage to be in and signifies that you are out of control. You need set free, you need restored, you need a dose of truth.
My friend, never let yourself get to the stage where your mind is reprobate. If there is an area of your life in which you are continually making stupid decisions and the consequences are genuinely surprising you then in that area your mind could be reprobate. If so, you need to go back and read Romans 1.21 and see how you started down that path and start to glorify and praise God, and thank Him for His goodness. You need to acknowledge Him as a person who you can relate to and walk with and talk with and glorify and enjoy!