Lust begins in the heart of man, yet it manifests itself and grows collectively in a society. In Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, King David makes the same insightful and tragic lament:
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
Interesting that the Hebrew word for corrupt here, is the same word used to describe the earth in Gen. 6:11, 12: The earth was corrupt before God. It is the Hebrew word shachath, and it literally means to be spoiled, marred, or ruined. This is how God saw the earth and its inhabitants in Noah’s day – as completely spoiled and worthless. According to these Psalms, this doesn’t just happen when a few people decide to rebel. It happens collectively, when society denies God, and rejects His authority. They are corrupt; They have done abominable works; There is none who does good.
It is safe to say that this was the condition of the people of Noah’s day, and that this condition paved the way for the rampant demonic influence which infiltrated the entire world.
Romans 1:24-29 describes the spiritual progression of a people who completely give themselves over to idolatry and lust. In turn, God “gave them up” to uncleanness and vile passions.
Rom. 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie (idolatry), and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator
Rom. 1:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.
Ephesians 4:19 also describes the progression of these people, who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
By lewdness is meant all manner of lusts, and wanton and unbridled course of sinning; and their giving themselves over unto it denotes their voluntariness in sinning....to commit every unclean lust with greediness…..never satisfied with sinning, but always craving more sinful lusts and pleasures.(1)
In both passages we have the word uncleanness. The Greek word used here is akatharsias, and denotes the impurity of lustful luxurious, profligate living. Ironically enough, this same word, akatharsis, is used in every New Testament passage which refers to demons, or unclean spirits. They are demonic spirits of lust and covetousness. According to the Ephesians and Romans passages, it is THIS demonic spirit which is at work in men who willingly partake in these activities. Clearly, lust and covetousness have demonic roots. It is no surprise, then, that the men of Noah’s day had opened themselves up to rampant demonic influence, and even possession, when “the thoughts of their hearts were evil continually” and “wickedness upon the earth increased.”
The Romans passage elaborates further:
Rom. 1:28, 29 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness......
Both the Ephesians and Romans passages touch on the spiritual progression of such a people. In both passages, people are described as having their understanding/hearts darkened, meaning “to be covered with darkness.” This happens because they suppressed the truth of God in their unrighteous deeds, as does anyone who continually engages in sexual sin.
Romans 1:24-29 says that, because of this, God gave them over to 3 things:
(1) Uncleanness (v.24) – akatharsia: the impurity of lustful living (also used in reference to unclean spirits).
(2) Vile passions (v.26) – “vile” is atimia: Dishonour, ignominy, disgrace. Basically, passions which bring dishonour and disgrace to one’s personhood.
(3) A debased mind (v.28) – a mind in which the divine distinctions of right and wrong are confused and lost, so that God’s condemnation cannot but fall on it at last(2)....a mind completely incapable of discerning or understanding the things of God.
In the Noahic account, God states that He would no longer strive with man; in other words, He would no longer do His work of reproving and restraining. Man had basically shut God out; therefore, God left him to follow his own lusts, and demonic spirits.
The only hope that humans have of discerning spiritual realities is through God’s personal revelation. When God no longer reveals those things to men, when God “gives them up” to the lusts of their flesh, they no longer have the capacity to understand or grasp the person or things of God. They become creatures of the flesh. This is how the Genesis account described the men of Noah’s day.
According to Romans, men get to this point when they suppress the knowledge of God.
Rom. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind.....
The original Greek implies that they “did not search to retain God in their knowledge,” though they had all of the evidence before them, through creation and their innate sense of right and wrong. Verse 21 states that they knew God, but did not glorify Him as God. Thus, they were left to serve their own lusts without abandon.
There is a movement today, spurned by a serious anti-God agenda, to remove Him from virtually every facet of society. Despite the overwhelming evidence, many people choose not only to dispose of God in their own knowledge, but to keep others from acknowledging Him as well.
Gen. 6 reveals that in the days of Noah, God’s Spirit had been striving with man, yet man chose to ignore Him. This is the same scenario described in Rom. 1:21. The result was that their thoughts became futile, and their hearts became darkened. They were unable to think straight or comprehend any sort of truth.
Furthermore, Rom. 1:28 states that they were filled with all manner of wickedness, unrighteousness, sexual immorality, etc., having no room for anything of worth or goodness. Gen. 6:5 paints this same picture.
It is safe to say that the description in Rom. 1:24-29 fits perfectly with what we know of those in Noah’s day. Both passages describe a group of people who have completely given themselves over to lust and idolatry, to the point where God “gives them up” to their own godless condition. The Romans passage tells us why these people had reached such a point: idolatry. It is safe to say that the people of Noah’s day also practiced idolatry, when Genesis 6 describes is a group of people who have completely abandoned any acknowledgement of God.
In both instances, they did not like to retain God in their knowledge; and likewise, God gave them over to a debased mind. Luke 17:26 tells us that the last days will be like the days of Noah in many respects. If demonic activity was as rampant in Noah’s day as many believe it to be, then Romans 1 gives us a pretty clear indication of what opens the door to this kind of activity. It begins in the heart of man, and manifests itself collectively in society. There is plenty of reason to believe that demonic activity will manifest itself more and more in the last days, as man’s heart strays farther from God, and wickedness increases upon the face of the earth.
(1) John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Eph. 4:19
(2) Wuest’s Word Studies, Rom. 1:28